Gracie is my 11-year-old daughter.

Gracie was diagnosed with autism two years ago. A late diagnosis that has brought plenty of challenges. For those of you that have the pleasure of knowing Gracie, you know she is feisty yet quiet, hesitant yet has no fear, an over-thinker like her father, and creative like me. She wants to learn, yet gets easily confused. Always worried about what others think, but does not have a problem calling you out if you upset her. Gracie is my third child, my first daughter, and has taught me so many life lessons along the way.

Last year, Gracie was in 5th grade, getting ready to say good-bye to elementary school. Her dad and I had to go through the agonizing decision of “what now?” It was time for middle school, and we had two options. Two options that my husband was not pleased with. If he had his way, I would be homeschooling Gracie.

Many meetings were had with Gracie’s teachers at her elementary school. Which school, which program, would best fit my daughter?

I was doing my research behind the scenes.

Finally, collectively, Gracie’s support system had narrowed it down to two schools.

School 1~ A self-contained classroom. Usually having a small group, between 5-10 students, with one on one teaching from a special ed teacher and a para. Self contained classrooms help children with special needs feel safe, while also learning.

School 2~ A resource room classroom. A separate classroom that helps students with educational disabilities. Students are given specific instruction and help, while slowly getting them used to general ed. (transitioning classes, mainstreaming)

Clearly, I wanted Gracie in a self-contained classroom. With her transitioning to middle school, I knew it would be too hard, she would get over stimulated, trying to navigate the hallways to find her class. PE. Forget it. I already knew Gracie would have issues with changing into the PE uniform. Even at 11 years old, she still needs help getting dressed.

Yep! Self contained classroom, that was Gracie’s best fit.

Imagine my surprise when Gracie’s “team” disagreed with me. Although they were supportive (Teacher, Speech Therapist, School Psychologist) they assured me that they had all the confidence in the world with Gracie. There was no doubt in their mind that she would blossom in a resource room setting.

I of course thought they were nuts.

My husband and I talked it over for hours on end. Each and every night, we would talk, weigh the pros and cons, go over everything with a fine tooth comb. Finally, we relented and said we could try to the resource room school. In all honesty, the only reason we ended up agreeing on that is because the school in general had better reviews than the school that offered the self-contained classroom.

And so a new journey begins.

When my husband and I took Gracie to her new school to pick up her new schedule, she had a breakdown. A full fledge breakdown. Crying, yelling “I hate this school, I am not coming here!”

When I took Gracie to 6th grade “camp” at her new school (a time for the new 6th graders to get to know their new school) another breakdown.

When the principal came over, Gracie had no problem telling him “I want to go home and I want to go home now!”

The principal gave us permission to go home.

At this point, I was beating myself up for not pushing for a self-contained classroom, and my husband was thisclose to telling Gracie she did not have to go to school.

I was fighting an uphill battle.

My new school routine with Gracie.

I could only walk her to her class when there were no other kids. I had to make sure the halls were empty, and, the school grounds were clear.

When her teacher walked her out at the end of the day, I had to make sure I was standing right there, in my same spot next to the flag pole.

I had to straighten her hair every day and pack her the same lunch of a ham sandwich, juice box, a bag of sour cream and onion chips and an oatmeal Little Debbie.

I could not ask her about her day. If I did, a breakdown would follow.

Every night before bed she would tell me “I just want to die, I do not want to go to school”

Every morning when I wake Gracie up “Do I really have to go to school today?”

I was blaming myself. I should have fought harder, I just KNEW Gracie was not ready for a resource room atmosphere.

My husband and I were struggling. Do we let this play out? Do we ask for a transfer to a new school? A school that offers a self-contained class room? Do we put Gracie through the stress of adapting to something new again, when she is already struggling? It was hard. Lots of fights, disagreements, questioning on if we were good parents.

Then, something started to change.

Gracie would have lunch with another autistic boy, in a quiet place away from the stress of the cafeteria.

When I would take Gracie to school, she would look at me with her almond shape brown eyes and ask “Can I walk by myself to class?”

When I picked her up from school she would tell me “School was boring, but I will come back.”

Gracie no longer needed to see me standing by the flag pole. It was now safe for me to sit on the benches….a safe distance away from the flag pole.

When I gave Gracie the opportunity to stay home from school because she would have a substitute in all of her classes for three days straight, she told me “No mom, I have to go to school so I do not fall behind.”

This is pretty powerful. It shows me that Gracie is willing to go through the hard things now, because she knows it will make her future things easier.

A shift was taking place.

The same kind of shift her former teachers knew would happen, but I was too blind to see.

Let me explain. These teachers are trained to see things that sometimes, we as the parents cannot see. We, as parents, want to protect are children, keep them safe and help navigate them through life.

These teachers, Gracie’s teachers, old and new, Gracie’s support system, at her former school and current school, saw the bigger picture. They were able to see things neither I or Gracie were able to see.

They were able to see Gracie’s strength in a different view.

Her teachers and I were looking through the same lens, just from a different advantage point.

My daughter is making progress.

That is all I ever wanted, that is what I need. What we need.

Progress. Progress at Gracie’s pace.



Glue (Part 1)

She was sitting at her computer in her tiny three bedroom duplex. It’s barely after 10pm. She has a house full. Any hope of getting any kind of work done is quickly forgotten about. Aside from her own children, there were two toddlers occupying her living room and her space. Not just her physical space, but her mental space too. She was in a bad place. Something needed to give or else she would break.

She remembers when she was a little girl, running around in her childhood home. She accidentally broke her mother’s favorite vase. With the help of her older brother, they quickly glued as much of it as they could back in place. The finished result? Is it possible it looked better than the original? Sure, it was a messy fit, yet, it gave the vase character. Is that what needs to happen to her? Does she need to break so she can be fixed, messy and different, but still in working order, fixed?
Her husband knows how she feels. If anything through this entire mess, she can say she has always been truthful with her husband. She was not happy and something was not working. The glue was becoming unglued, and now, there was no more glue on hand to put the pieces back in place. She understands that her husband is caught between a rock and a hard place. She understands that there are no easy answers, what she did not understand is why he did not just run to the store to buy more glue?
Of course she is fully capable of buying the glue on her own. Maybe that is exactly what needs to happen. She needs to fix what is broken without relying on anyone else to. Then at the end of it all, she can say “I did it, I fixed what needed to be fixed.”
Yet…that did not seem to be enough.

Last Call

Twelve years ago, Christin and I had a much-needed night out. The following is our take on that night, one story told by two different perspectives. A night, that in many was the end of the beginning.


It was Friday night. After a long week at work and dealing with the daily stress that comes with being a single working mom, Christin, Shawn and I decided we deserved a night out. Babysitters had been in place since Monday, outfits were a last-minute decision. Just because I was now a full-time mother, I still wanted to look pretty, well, as pretty as I thought I could. Christin and I were on a tighter schedule than Shawn, yet we made it work. Just a few hours out, at the local bar would do me some good. An opportunity to regroup without worrying about dirty diapers, playdates or the usual stress from work. The plan was for Christin and Shawn to meet me at my apartment by 9pm.

There we were, the three of us. If you were an outsider, you would say you could not find a more diverse group than Christin, Shawn and me. An insider would know we all had more in common than one would think. Little did we know, that by the end of the night, our bond would be even stronger than it already was.

PJ Pockets was our local pool joint. It had incredible greasy bar food, with a small dance floor that left a local up and coming band to play occasionally. I loved the music. Music is what feelings sound like, and tonight, tonight I just wanted to listen to the music.
We found our usual round table in the not yet crowded bar, took our seats and did what we always do. Ordered our drinks, along with an “appetizer” making sure we had something to nibble on so our our buzz did not get out of hand too fast.

PJ Pockets was quickly filling up. Somewhere between my third vodka and coke, Christin’s long island, and Shawn’s sampler platter, I noticed a line now at the door. The three of us had our table secured, and we would stay at that table until last call.  Conversation flowed nicely. Never any awkwardness between us. We shared work stories, the trials and tribulations of raising kids, and we were all asked countless questions about our dating life, or lack thereof. I was single. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed this.

As Mathcbox 20’s “3am” blared from the speakers, the gentleman at the table next to us asked me if he could use the extra chair that was at our table. I did a quick glance over at his table and noticed about eight very large Samoans, with one of them left with nowhere to sit. “Sure, no problem!” He grabbed the chair, positioned it so it was next to mine, took a seat in it, while the gentleman left standing, took the now empty chair. Well. This is awkward.

I glanced at Christin and Shawn, who were looking at each other. I knew them well enough to know they were talking with their eyes. They both gave me a “nod” indicating to me “It’s okay for now, we are here.”  Introductions were quickly made, while Shawn ordered another round of. I was chatting it up with my new friend, Vico. I learned that his fellow Samoans that were sitting a whopping two feet away were his brothers and cousins. This was his first night out since  “coming home” (not exactly sure what that meant) and the family decided to take him out, yet here he was talking to me. As I am downing my vodka and coke, not quite sure what it was I was supposed to do or say, I found myself wondering if there was anyway possible this guy could be related to my ex. My ex was also Samoan/Tongan and if you go down the family tree long enough, it usually ends with everyone being related somehow. This kinda made me happy.

My ex was not a very good person. Some would say he was evil. Some would be right. In my own little “Jen Logic” way, I thought to myself “how funny would it be if this guy was indeed related to my ex, and somehow my ex found out that I was chatting it up with his cousin who was most likely five times removed.” Immediately I took more of an interest in what Vico had to say.

About five minutes later, Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” was playing. I looked at Christin, she looked at me “This is our song!” and it was. We had history to that song. Apparently my excitement of hearing “Hanging by a Moment” led Vico to believe he could come in and kiss me. I am sitting there, enjoying my drink, enjoying the music, sorta-kinda enjoying Vico and then boom, he kisses me. Not a quick kiss mind you. It was a long passionate kiss, right there at the table. I was caught off guard, and then I went with it, and then, it went on a little longer than I liked and I stopped it. I pulled away, noticeing Christin and Shawn were looking at me with their eyes as big as saucers and their mouths wide open. I glance at Vico’s table hoping none of them noticed. One of the older gentlemen did not look happy at all. He was sitting there, arms crossed on his chest, pretty much “mean mugging” me. Really? It is not as if Vico had an open invitation into my mouth…even though he thought he did. Vico ended up going back to his table, and my focus was now back to Christin and Shawn, and of course my vodka and coke.

As the night progressed, the drinks kept coming. Shawn attempted to teach Christin and I how to play darts, and well, that did not end up well. Twelve plus years later, I still have the scar to prove it.

Christin and I were at our limit, and then some. Clearly we had too much to drink. With Shawn being our DD we figured, “what the hell, let’s have another before last call.”  We had three more rounds.

About thirty minutes before “Last Call” I had to use the restroom. Christin asked if I wanted her to come with me. I looked towards the restroom, noticed there was no line and told her I would be fine.  The restroom was empty. I could feel the vodka and coke catching up to me. I knew I had a small window to get some food into me, or else I would be useless. As I am washing my hands, the door opens. My hands are filled with cheap soapy lather, and before I knew it, Vico is behind me. He wraps his hands around my waist and starts kissing my neck. I am simultaneously trying to squirm out of his embrace while finding a way to dry my hands. “What are you doing , you can’t be in here.!” He was not letting go. My mind was racing. I was always taught how to get out of situations like this. You kick them in the balls. Vico was behind me. You go for the nose, full force, with everything you have, you always go for the nose…. again, he was behind me. I  found myself wondering exactly how stupid could he be to try anything in a public restroom with a bar full of people outside.

As soon as Vico heard the bathroom door open, he took his hands off of me, yet refused to leave. “Jen, you in here, everything okay?” Christin! It was Christin. As soon as she saw Vico, and I am assuming the look on my face, she ordered me to follow her . “Let’s go, we are ready to leave.” Vico told Christin that I was okay, that I would be out in a minute, and told Christin to leave. Christin is not a stupid person and refused to leave. Although, now it put us in a tough spot. Vico was blocking the door. Trying to usher Christin out while keeping me inside. I was starting to feel dizzy thanks to my vodka and coke.  I knew I had to keep it together. This guy was bound to pounce on my weakness, and I could not allow that.

Everything after that happened so fast. The restroom door opened one last time. It was Shawn. Shawn took one look at Vico, one look at Christin and me “You mother fucker, you better get out of here.” Vico ran.

Shawn asked both Christin and I if we were okay. A little rattled but fine. The three of us left the restroom with no sign of Vico or his crew in site.

We ordered our third last round. My nerves we shot to hell. Just thinking of the “what if” scenario. One would think after a situation like that, we would have sobered up real fast. Not the case. That last drink put both Christin and I over the edge. Two classy looking girls stumbling to the car. Nice. I passed out in the backseat while Christin took the front. Shawn had his hands full.

When we returned to my apartment, Shawn ordered me to stay in the car while he walked Christin up, then he would come back for me. In my drunken stupor, I decided that I could make the long walk all by myself because I was fine!

I was not fine. I was anything but fine. I passed out in the grass. My last thoughts were of Vico and what could have happened. I was being punished for something. Somehow I always seemed to mess up. My vodka and coke told me all I needed to do was sleep. Just go to sleep on the cold wet grass and in the morning everything would be fine. When Shawn found me laying on grass, he did everything in his power to get me up. I am not sure what his last words were to me, but I reluctantly got up and made that long stumbling walk to the safety of my apartment where I immediately passed out.

That night changed a lot of things. In a few short months, I would be dating Shawn, then I would break up with Shawn. Shortly after that, Shawn and Christin would give it a try. It was never weird between us. The three of us wanted each other to be happy. Shawn was the not the guy for neither Christin or myself. I hope over the years he found the right girl for him, and I hope, he never forgets how important he was to us, how in many ways, he saved both Christin and I that night. In more ways than one, that night was our Last Call.



I had been looking forward to this night for a while. I hadn’t been out in 2+ years and was overdue to for a night out with friends, not to mention, having a drink or two. A babysitter was in place, yet I was feeling anxious about leaving Kharizma for the time since she was born, other than to go to work.  My good friend/babysitter assured me she would be fine, but still I shed a few tears before getting ready. As I slipped into some new jeans, and a cute top, I couldn’t help but to get excited. Jen and I hadn’t been out in years—both of us were doing the mom thing. Pulling out my favorite black boots and actually doing my hair, instead of the messy bun I was used to, made me feel good—and ready for whatever the night had in store for us.

I arrived at Jen’s about 8:45pm. Jen and I nominated Shawn to drive us—he didn’t have a choice. Outnumbered, he got in the driver’s seat and we were off.

PJ Pockets was packed. Weekends always brought the crowds out. Jen and I played some pool while Shawn stood by closely, trying to give us pointers on how to play. After seeing how we couldn’t even hit 1 ball–he walked away and got us a table. Even the most patient person can’t deal with both Jen and I at the same time. It’s like the blind leading blind. Shawn was no exception.

Being the good friend he was, Shawn had our drinks waiting at the table when we came back. Vodka and coke for Jen and for me, a long island iced tea.

I had noticed a table next to us, about 8 or 9 big Samoan guys. They were talking in their native language, so we didn’t know what they were saying, but they kept looking over at our table. We joked amongst ourselves that they were talking crap about what an odd group the three of us were. Whatever. Nothing was going to ruin this rare night out for me or Jen.

Conversation amongst the three of us was easy. We talked about our current love lives, or there lack of and, of course, the endless drama at work. There was always something going on there. The latest gossip was about an assistant manager who was caught in the office…kissing an associate. The scandal was the talk of the store—and our little table. As we were chatting away, enjoying ourselves, I saw one of the Samoan guys come over. He introduced himself as Vico, and sat down in the chair next to Jen. After some initial awkwardness, Vico joined in the conversation. He explained that he just got back into town, and was celebrating with his boys. About this time, “Hanging by a Moment” by Lifehouse began blaring over the speakers. Jen and I made eye contact and at the same time exclaimed—this is our song! So many memories of living in our old apartment was attached to this one song. Both good and bad, as you know.

I took a sip of my drink and looked up…

Jen and Vico were making out!

What did I miss?

My first instinct was to punch him out, but I knew as long as she was with Shawn and I close by, it wouldn’t get carried away. Besides, she deserved a little fun. With all she had been through with T, Jen, of all people, needed to let loose and forget about that loser. If that fun came in the form of some handsome Samoan’s lips—then so be it. Even so, my guard was up.

Shawn and I continued our conversation while Jen and Vico got acquainted. 

Just as quickly as it began—it ended.

Vico whispered something in Jen’s ear and left. He went back to his table, telling all his boys about his homecoming kiss, I’m sure. Jen was on her 3rd or 4th vodka and coke, and by this time I’d lost count of how many I had.

It was a bad idea at the time, but Shawn offered to teach us how to play darts. I don’t recommend drinking and darting—the scar on Jen’s arm is a testament to that.

Last Call was nearing, both Jen and I had to get our final drinks in. Shawn ordered us our final round along with his Pepsi.  Jen and I were beyond tipsy. The floor was spinning and Shawn looked like he had a third eye.

Jen got up to go to the bathroom. I offered to go with her, a habit from the good old days I guess. Back in our party days we always made sure to go together, just in case.

“I can go by myself—it’s just right there” she pointed about 10 feet away.

“Ok, I’m going to grab the check so we can split it”

Jen made her way towards the bathroom while I went to the bar area to get our tab. It took about 5 minutes to grab the waitress’s attention, but finally I walked back to the table with the check in hand.

“Where’s Jen? She’s not back yet?” I asked Shawn, after making my way back to the table.

“No, you know Jen, she’s probably fixing her hair or make-up”

He had a point. Jen always was fixing herself, making sure she looked impeccable.

Shawn and I calculated the tab, splitting it three ways.

Jen was still not back. I had a bad feeling as I got up and slowly walked (swayed) to the bathroom.

I opened the door, and came around the corner to see Vico pinning Jen to the sink.

Vico stopped struggling and turned around. Jen was able to unpin herself and turn around. The fear in her eyes is something I had seen very few times–but this was one of them. I started walking towards them, trying to keep steady.

“Jen, it’s time to go”

Vico started walking towards me, blocking my path from Jen.

“It’s okay, we are good— we’ll be out in a minute” Vico said. He was about 6’3” and 250 lbs. of pure muscle.

What the hell was I supposed to do now?

I knew I wasn’t leaving that bathroom without my friend. I knew that both Jen and I might get hurt but I wasn’t leaving. I kept saying “Jen we got to go…its last call”.  I was trying to get by but he wasn’t budging. I could tell Jen was on the verge of tears.

After what felt like forever, Shawn walked in the women’s bathroom and saw the three of us standing there. He looked at Vico straight in his eyes and told him that he better get out of there now. Vico, knew he was in a losing battle, and walked out. I grabbed Jen, and the three of us quickly walked out to the table and sat down. Drinking our last drinks, Shawn kept asking if we were okay. Both Jen and I were shaken up a bit, but Shawn was too. I could tell by the way he kept looking around—presumably for Vico.

We paid our tab and somehow, with one of us on each side of Shawn, he semi-carried both of us out to the car.

Jen got in the back seat and laid down. I got in the front and seat, placing my feet on the dashboard. What just happened?

We had been in some sticky situations before, but this…this was different. This was a close call.

I awoke to Shawn telling me we were at the apartment. He told Jen he would be back for her. Slowly, with my arm slung over his neck and his arm around my waist, we made it up the stairs.

I laid down on the couch and vaguely remember Jen walking in the door with grass in her hair and on her face.

All the what-if’s were swirling in my mind. What if I hadn’t walked in when I did? What if Shawn hadn’t come in when he did? Jen and I had lived on the brink of danger for so many years—but somehow we came away virtually unscathed.

Except for tonight. This one couldn’t be forgotten.

Soon after our night out, Jen and Shawn dated for a while. It didn’t work out and somehow, Shawn and I decided to give it a shot. A few dates later, we realized we were better off just friends. He will forever hold a special place in my heart—for the time that he saved my best friend and me from something—someone bad. This was one of our last nights out for Jen and I— it was a night that we’ll most likely never forget. The night of our “last call”.


various type of alcoholic drinks isolated on white

Just another Friday…

My alarm went off at its usual time of 6am. With it being Friday, I was feeling pretty good for only having four hours of sleep. It’s Friday, just need to get through today, then I can relax. I jumped out of bed telling myself my daily mantra of “Let’s do this!”

As soon as I got out of bed I tripped on something. Most likely a cat. The screeching “meow” I heard kind of tipped me off. Dumb cat, you would think they would know my routine by now.  At this time, I knew I only had five minutes to make it to the bathroom, our one and only bathroom mind you, before Vinnie, my 15-year-old, made his way in there. I will grab my robe and then make a mad dash to the bathroom before he takes his usual 30 minute shower. Problem…I cannot find my robe, and being that I have a house full of people, I need my robe.

Okay…where is my robe? Why does everyone touch my things? I bet Joe moved it as he was getting ready for work, and now I am clearly annoyed. I do not touch his clothes, unless I am doing laundry, so why does he feel the need to move mine?!

The bathroom door slams closed, which means I now have to wait 30 minutes to take a shower. Crap! Why does my son take longer to get ready than I do? I yank one of Joes shirts off the hanger and throw it on. I justify this by telling myself “Well…he moved my robe so I am moving his shirt, on to my body, so HA!”

I manuever my way to the kitchen while tripping over another cat. Thankfully, it is not the new cat that I kinda snuck in the house, two weeks ago. Hmmm. I wonder if my husband has noticed, or is he still playing dumb? Whatever, it is too early for this. Coffee, I need my coffee! I make coffee every single day of the year, all 365 days I make coffee. So, why, why is it on this particular morning can’t I remember if I poured the water into the keurig or not? Probably not. I pour the water in, grab a K-cup and I wait for my much-needed coffee.

Coffee pot overflowed. Apparently I had previously filled the keurig with water. Whatever. I cannot deal with this. I still need to find my robe, and I need the bathroom, and coffee, and….oh my god, did I seriously just trip over another cat? How many do I have now? Well, it does not matter, because all of my cats (except one) have been in this house long enough to know my routine.

Now I am 30 minutes behind schedule, yet I am not quite ready to wake up the kids…so……I will jump on Facebook! Who knows if I missed some important update of a picture of someone’s breakfast.

Finally my 15-year-old emerges from the bathroom reeking of Axe body spray. Kill me now. Don’t get me wrong, the “scent” of Axe body spray is so much more appealing than body odor, but…really? It’s a thing with me. I adore cologne on guys. With the right scent, cologne is a very classy addition to your every day look. Axe Body Spray, well, that just does not do it.

Trying to control my gag reflex, I listen to my son tell me his schedule for the day. “Mom…what are you wearing?” Ugh. Why does he feel the need to critique my pajamas of all things. I mean I have not even had coffee yet, and I know he is going to make fun of me for something. “Are you wearing dad’s shirt over your robe?” What is he talking about? I look down, oh, well look at that, I must have fallen asleep with my robe on.

Let’s recap. I have been up for an hour. I am 30 minutes behind schedule. I spent about twenty minutes looking for my robe, that I had on the entire time. I tripped over a few of my cats, and somehow screwed up my coffee.  All in the span of an hour. I am afraid to see what the rest of the day has to offer.

I am just going to bullet point the rest of my day, otherwise we will be here all night.

• Got into a slight argument with the principal at Gracie’s school.

• I was totally winning the argument until he realized that I was the mother of Vinnie.

• Almost fell asleep during some parent meeting at Sofia’s school.

• Probably best for the PTA president to NOT fall asleep during a meeting.

• Extended an olive branch to one of my three mortal enemies.

• Almost got hit (AGAIN) in the school parking lot (not by my mortal enemy, by a car)

• Apparently I am in denial about having a cold.

• I never get sick, so it is very important that I keep this record going.

• My 101 fever tells me I “might” be sick. (but this stays just between us)

• I wonder how many people I came in contact with today? Does not matter, because I am not sick!

• Gracie told a woman in the school office who was picking up her “son” that she was too old to be a mother.

• Come to find out Gracie was right, the woman was the grandmother.

• I was gifted a Starbucks coffee travel mug this morning, which makes my coffee story, (or lack there of) even more funny.

If you ever wondered how it is I came about the name of Vodka Calling…..well…now you know.





The holidays have always been a special time for me. It started as a kid when my grandma would decorate the house from top to bottom. She would direct my grandpa as to where to put the boxes. Slowly and methodically, my grandma, cousins, aunts and me would pull out each out knick-knack and décor, placing it where grandma thought it would look best. I now have passed this tradition on with my own kids. Every year we would pull out the totes of decorations, taking everything out, admire each one and ultimately find the “perfect place” for it.

Until this year.

Here it is, a couple of months before Halloween and I have a certified Pinterest addiction. Any given evening you can find me making bloody candles (search it) and scary Halloween wreaths made out of laundry baskets. (I’m not kidding!) Well, there I was sitting in between piles of branches I am making into a Halloween tree (google it), and the kids walk in from school.

“Mom, what are you doing?”

“I’m making Halloween things—aren’t you guys excited?? We can put the Halloween decorations up soon!!”

“Mom—you are ridiculous. It’s too early to put up Halloween stuff.”

“Mom—I don’t want to put up Halloween decorations this year”


I paused for a moment. Was it indeed too early to be putting it up?

Fast forward a few days later. I’m on the phone with Jen and she happens to mention that she will be putting up her Halloween decorations soon. I relayed to her my kids’ thoughts on the subject.

“It’s never too early to put up Halloween!”

Well, that did it. My faith was restored in decorating my house. I am going to go all out this year. I don’t care if it’s still September.

On another note, the kids are getting older. The things that we used to do together when they were younger is beginning to change. No more excitement when pulling out the holiday ornaments and wreaths. It will most likely just be me and my cat admiring the talking skeleton and glow-in-the dark pumpkins. I will be the only one stretching the cobwebs from one end of the house to the other.

On my mission to find everything I needed to make my vision a reality, I rounded up the kids and we were off. First stop, Goodwill. I love this place. You can find anything and everything you need here. Of course, the kids wanted to find their perfect Halloween costumes.  10 stores later I found some great additions for my “haunted house”, and well, the kids did not find their costumes, but at least I have some pictures that will be very useful in either a) blackmailing them into doing their chores or b) getting revenge on them when they are older for all the sleepless nights and dirty diapers I had to change.

Happy Halloween!!


5 cookies and a lump

I was exhausted Friday night. It had been a very long day of running around. Even though my body was tired, mentally I was not ready to go to sleep. Joe however, did go to sleep early,  he had to be up at 3am. I was sitting on the sofa, watching “The Fosters” on Netflix, contemplating if I wanted three out of the five chocolate chip cookies that were calling my name from the kitchen table. Of course I wanted the cookies. Usually, at this point I would talk myself out of devouring them in mere minutes. Not this time. I absolutely deserved those decadent chocolate chip cookies. I was going to take them all. All five would be mine, forget having just three, and I will not feel guilty at all.

I found a lump. Not on the cookies mind you, a lump on my underarm. It started out as something small. I figured I nicked myself shaving or something. I do that a lot. Except, two weeks later this lump was not going away. It was actually getting bigger, with a new pea size lump forming. Crap. Of course, in my rational state of mind, when realizing I now have one large lump and a new small one, I went to Google. I Googled every possible thing I could that pertained to lumps, and I did so while eating my chocolate chip cookies.

The thing is, it could be nothing (cyst) or as we all know, it could be “something.” Just knowing is could be “something” , already has me freaked out. I was putting the laundry away today, and out of the blue my mind took me to a place where I did not want to go.

“I have to write notes. Lots of notes, because if it is “something” then Joe will need notes. I will have to be specific on letting him know when to put the summer clothes away and when to bring out the winter clothes…and he will need to know that usually in the month of May, he will need to do summer shopping for the kids…..and the school uniforms, he will not be able to handle picking out the school uniforms….and if it is “something” then I have to write many many letters to my kids, but give them to a person who will take care of them, because it’s guranteed they will get lost in this house…….”

Clearly I am jumping the gun, but c’mon, you all know how I am now. I do not know if it is just me or not, but it is funny how your outlook may change when “something”could potentionally be wrong. Certain things seem different, definitely there are some things that do not even matter, and then others, well other things have now made their way to the top of the list.

This could either be the start of a new chapter in my life, or just a little detour. Either way I wanted to write about it. I did not want to forget the different kinds of emotions I have been having for the past few days, and since writing is kinda my thing, then you understand why I wanted to write about this way.

Also, and I am excited about this part. Right next door to my doctor’s office, a new skin care, laser service clinic just opened up…and I signed up for a free consultation! I will also be writing about that too.



Where were you when the world stopped turning?


2001 was a year of big changes for me. I moved back to Washington State from California in May 2001.  In July 2001 I turned 21. I could finally drink and go to clubs. Not too important in the scheme of things, but at the time it was a huge milestone. I was surprised with some new roommates in August of 2001, Jen being one of them. I didn’t think this would be very important at the time but here we are 15 years later revealing our life stories on this blog and collaborating on some other things.

And yet, September 11th stands out amongst everything else that happened that year. It started out as a very ordinary day.

I hit snooze for the 5th time. It was 6:30am and I had to be to work by 7am. Reluctantly, I got up, threw some clothes on, and grabbed my blue Wal-Mart vest with the cheesy smiley face on the back. Everyone was still asleep as usual. Alphonso and Jen had worked the late shift the previous night, so as expected, they were passed out. I grabbed my purse and keys, shut the door behind me and made my way down to the parking garage. Luckily, the store was only 5 minutes away. Just enough time to clock in right at 7am. The work day began as any other. Starting with putting away the “return carts” in my department. Zone the department and scan all out-of-stocks were next on the list. Somewhere in the middle of zoning (organizing) my infants department, the boy’s apparel department manager came by to chat. Val and I talked about an upcoming clearance sale for our departments. Right above our department sat 2 TV’s hanging from the ceiling. They usually played an endless string of Wal-Mart commercials and promotions. Val and I were in the middle of the conversation when we looked up. The TV’s were no longer playing the monotonous commercials. What kind of movie was this?

Somewhere in the midst of watching a building explode and listening to a confusing monologue about an attack, both Val and I realized it was real. This was happening in real time. A moment later, I took note of my surroundings. The store, which is usually busy with screaming kids and chatter was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. Eerily silent. It was 8:57am. I remember looking at time on the T.V. A group of employees joined us in watching. Shock, confusion and worry kept everyone quiet and attentive to the news broadcast. There was not much new information being shown just a repeat of the attacks on the twin towers and talk of other possible attacks. An announcement over the intercom urged all the department managers to the back. All 30 of us crammed into the lunchroom. Everyone sat silently while the Store manager informed everyone on what was going on.  There was a terrorist attack in New York and  possibly another attack aimed at the Pentagon. Some of my fellow managers were visibly upset and shaking. Later, I found out they had family members and/or friends that lived in the area of the attacks. We were told by the store manager that they might send us all home and close the store. They were waiting on the corporate office to make the call if that was going to happen or not. Until then, we were to continue the day as usual and we would be kept up to date on further news.

After the impromptu meeting, I went to the fitting room. I had to let Jen and Alphonso know what was going on. I called the apartment. Ring, ring, ring, ring. No answer. They were probably still sleeping. I tried again.

“Hello” Jen answered, still half asleep.

“Jen..There’s planes falling out of the sky!”

“What are you talking about, Christin?”

I repeated myself. A few times I think. I couldn’t quite get her to understand what I was saying so I resorted to telling her to turn the news on. The conversation ended and I got back to work.

Except it really wasn’t back to work. In between watching the news on T.V. and getting updates from other co-workers, there wasn’t much work that got done that day. The store stayed empty for the entire day. People weren’t out shopping for shampoo or a pair of jeans on this day. They were at home, watching the horror of the attacks on not only the people of New York but the country. Our Country.

It was an attack on innocent men, women and children. A day that people will never forget.  Never forget.

By the end of the work day, I had seen the twin towers explode hundreds of times. I rushed home and flipped on the T.V. Images of people running for their lives flashed on the screen. People crying, people bloody, people in crisis.

I was too young to really comprehend everything at the time. However, over the years, I have heard the stories of strangers saving strangers and firefighters running into the rubble to come to the aid of those in need. All is not in vain. The hundreds of stories of heroism and courage on this day outshines the story of what those terrorist did on that September day.


“What do you mean there are planes falling out of the sky?!” I had no idea what Christin was talking about. My lack of sleep did not help. Christin was hysterical on the phone.  Was this one of her weird jokes? She always gave Alphonso and I a hard time for sleeping in. We worked the late shift, sometimes not getting home until 1 am!

Christin hung up on me, and  I went back to bed. “What’s going on?” Alphonso asked, half asleep but not wanting to miss out if Christin was trying to pull one of her jokes on us. “I don’t know, she said something about planes falling out of the sky.” I laid back down on the sofa, while Alphonso continued to toss and turn on the other. “Planes falling out of the sky?”  Alphonso asked once again.

Alphonso and I laid there on our respective “beds” for about three minutes in silence. We both had the same thoughts. “Well,maybe we should turn on the news, I am sure it’s nothing?” I made my way to the t.v.  Alphonso reluctantly got up to start the coffee.

It was a matter of seconds before we realized this was no joke. Christin was right. Everything after that happened so fast. Alphonso and I are glued to the t.v. Not wanting to miss a thing. Both of us had family in New York. My grandfathers kitchen window offered a spectacular view of the World Trade Center. Is this really happening? Are we really under attack? Neither Alphonso nor myself had a cell phone. We had a land line. Alphonso and I  took turns calling work, calling our family, making sure everyone was as safe as they can be, while the other was watching the coverage.

I remember I called my dad. I was worried for him. Although he was no longer living in New York, his dad, my grandfather was. The conversation between dad and I was so sporadic. Nothing made sense, how could it? I asked dad if Grandpa was okay, if he had talked to him. In between my dad’s sadness and anger he told me that my grandfather saw the attack happening from his window, “Those Bastards, those Bastards attacked my city.”

Alphonso and I did not say much. We went through our routine of getting ready for work, and made the five-minute drive. The store was empty. The Wal-Mart t.v’s has non stop coverage. We had associates and store managers watching along with the very few customers and a homeless guy. I felt so helpless. Why am I even here? The USA is under attack and I am here.

It was not until later that evening, when Alphonso, Christin and I were sitting in front of our tiny 19 inch t.v watching the continuous coverage. We all knew, all three of us knew, that we would never forget, we would never forget where we were, what we were doing, or how we felt, when the world stopped turning.


“This is a photo I took an eternity ago. It was taken from the kitchen window of my parents apartment in New York. It’s where my brother and I spent much of our childhood. Seeing those gorgeous towers every morning as we started off to school…. Seeing them beautifully lit up at night before bed……..
Then one horrendous day, they were gone. God forgive me, but there is still hate in my heart.
I will never forget.”