Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Originally uploaded by Shawna:)
Yesterday we had an Hallaca marathon--from 9am-2am this morning we were knee deep in plantain leaves and hallaca makings. The hallaca heroes are Sofia and her friend Kim, who worked from dawn til dusk! The final count was 107, including 12 vegetarian ones and 15 "bollos". The bollos as the hodge podge of what's left of the ingredients, made into a mixed up batch at the end. We had helpers in two shifts and really appreciated everyone coming out to lend a hand! Today Gloria came to clean the house and we're officially ready for the party tomorrow. All we have left is to buy the champagne and make the chicken salad. My goal for tomorrow is to enjoy the evening outside, by the fire. It should be a perfect and chilly evening. Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
One of the things I love about the holidays is seeing people you love, who live far away or you don't get to connect with often enough. Ricardo called the Baques when we were in Lafayette and we had a nice visit with them on Christmas day. It had been over 20 years since Ricardo saw them. He and his sister Lica were sort of adopted by them when they were in college. In fact, they were the ones that took Ricardo out for a celebratory meal after attending his college graduation. All those years past and when we went to visit it was as if it was only yesterday, that's when you know the friendship is genuine. I also got to visit with Renee and her family in Baton Rouge. I did have a regret though, our neighbor Judy LeJeune died after Thanksgiving. She was one of my "grownup friends" during high school, the kind you could talk to and know she would give good advice without judging. I hadn't see Judy in years. Over Thanksgiving I thought about her one day while walking the dog around the neighborhood, but we were only staying two days and I knew time would run out, so I thought "I'll visit with her over Christmas". When we were leaving the Baques and I heard Ricardo tell Don and Cookie, "Thank you for your friendship. It meant so much to me when I lived here." I thought of Judy and how I never made the time to tell her that.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Traditions in Transition

Santa Returns
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
Merry Christmas everyone! Like everyone else, our Christmas traditions, like everything in life, have evolved over time. Some of the things we used to do when the girls were little have kind of fizzled out (stockings, Santa's gifts Christmas morning), or morphed into something new (they used to make gifts for their "tias", ie. Janet, Renee, Shelley, etc.--this year Hannah has been crocheting a bunch of really cool scarves for her friends). And then there's the cooking. It just wouldn't be Christmas without turning our kitchen into a major restaurant operation. Last year we made Hallacas for the first time, MAJOR, and Sofia and Ricardo really really want to make it again so we're foregoing the traditional deboned turkey in favor of making over 80 Hallacas, yikes! Speaking of last year, my brother made very clear to me over Thanksgiving that if we forgot the girls' gifts this time I was "on my own"--I still cannot believe he drove me to Dallas and back in one turn....so the girls would have their gifts under the tree.

This year we really simplified gift giving and house decorating. It seems the whole world is scaling back. It just doesn't feel right to be lavish this year. I was reading one of my high school journals the other day and found my description of the gifts I received: a sweater from my parents, a set of hankies from my best friend Veronica, lotion from her sister Victoria. Even I was surprised by the modesty of our gifts. Christmas has become this massive shopping operation, well...not here, not any more. Now that I've scaled back, I know I won't go back, it just doesn't make sense!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Parranda 2008

Our Parranda Venezuela Christmas season is winding to a close. As always, it's been a huge part of our life, starting in October with weekly practice, through the jam packed holidays with presentations up to 3 times in one week. This is the second year that I've taken more of a back seat, no longer singing and serving as just a contact and supporter (and enjoying it as an audience member). This gives me a chance to be the group photographer. Hopefully in January once I take the little workshop on my camera (a year after buying the camera...) I will learn some lighting techniques that will help me take better action pictures.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and Happy 2009!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Taking your picture for my phone

“Why are you wasting time reading that book when you could be checking your Facebook?” I bet you don’t imagine yourself asking that question! Trying to control your teen’s seemingly endless opportunities to chat, IM, text, call or email is mission impossible. And now for the good news, maybe it’s ok that they can text faster than you will ever type.

According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy “Teenagers who spend hours online socializing are sharpening their ability to handle 21st-century communications”, based on a new study by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, in Chicago.

“It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it’s on MySpace or sending instant messages,” said Mizuko Ito, who led the study of 800 young Web users for MacArthur. “But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”

Let that sink in...shortly afer our seniors in high school were born practicallly everyone had cell phones, before DVD’s, CD players in cars, a computer in almost every home or wifi / internet in coffee shops! The shocking pace of technological changes is normal to them.

In their reality--you don’t have to memorize anyone’s phone, that’s what caller ID is for. You can watch what you want, when you want with TiVo, DVD’s and 24 hour cable. To them, life without cable is like a combination of child abuse and lack of indoor plumbing--cruel and untenable (parents MUST be lying when they say that they only had 3 networks growing up and that their parents got to choose what the family watched on their one TV).

So, next time you tell them “you spend too much texting/surfing/emailing” go ahead and add “and don’t make that face, it will freeze that way”-- even though neither may be true you’ll be upholding a long tradition in parenting.

(Article written for the PTA newsletter, TAG High School)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall in Wyoming

The Mamas
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
I'm visiting Wyoming for a few weeks. Sneaking in the summer vacation I didn't get to have this summer. This fall visit may become an annual visit though. For one thing, I'm closing down the cabin for my parents. Yes, this is the first year I'm going through with the full close out on my own. Another reason, the fall is a spectacular time to visit. It's full of dramatic weather turns, cloudy one moment, snowing the next, and then beautiful and warm sunshine. It's a pleasure to see such familiar views under light dusting of snow. The quality of light is different, and of course the vegetation and animals look different too. Lastly, I'm enjoying the peace and quiet around here, without droves of rv's, cars and motorcycles barrelling down the highway in front of our cabin. It is hunting season right now so there are a lot of orange hats, but that doesn't really affect me much other than a crowd at Dirty Annie's, otherwise they get up so early and are up on the mountain all day, way off the roads.

I brought Apra with me, to keep me company and give her the opportunity to see another part of the US she's never been to. My parents were here for a few days before we arrived so they two mamas got to spend some time together, swapping stories, recipes and bragging about their children.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Taking your picture for my phone

I feel so old saying this...things were SO DIFFERENT when I was a kid! I know that I was constantly on the family phone when I was a teenager, it's part of the family lore--especially the time when my dad left for the office one Saturday morning walking over me sprawled on the floor, talking to my boyfriend...and returned many hours later to find me exactly where he left me. Still, I wasn't CONNECTED to the phone in such a personal way. The girls stress out if they don't have their phone on them at all times, and are constantly checking messages, sending texts, taking pictures... we even have (way too many) rules about phone use, in an effort to curb its overwhelming presence. 1) no phone at the dinner table, and no I don't care who is calling, 2) no phone after 10pm, and no I don't care who is calling, 3)if you don't answer MY calls, I'm taking up your phone.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cupcake Madness

Cupcake Madness
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
We were going to have a nice birthday get together last Saturday, but the hurricane-like weather prognosis made us decide to cancel. When the weather turned out fine, we decided to have a mini-get together of just us Virgo's...in this case Kim, Sofia, Tristyn and myself. I sold a picture and bought myself a cake pan that makes ONE GIANT CUPCAKE, as a birthday present to myself! Our first try was a bit of a disaster because I was not very patient in letting the cake cool. You can see how we have a ribbon tied around it to hold the thing together...It was DELICIOUS though, and the cupcake was perfect for this little team of Virgo's.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Sophomore and SENIOR!

It's going to be a VERY BUSY YEAR around here! I can't believe I'm the mother of a 16 and 17 year old, the parent of a senior, and drivers! Yikes, what happened? Here are the girls on the first day of school. For the first time ever, Daddy got to be the one taking the traditional picture on the front step of the house. This year I had a meeting I could not get out of, and had to miss the first day of school. I'm pretty sure I was way more upset about that fact than the girls were. Luckily Ricardo figured out a way to get to his school super early (a very busy day for him as you can imagine) and then rush back to the house to snap the pic and take them in to school. Don't they look beautiful?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sunset on Summer

Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
School starts on Monday. There's a flurry of socializing and listmaking going on around here. Somehow, even though staying in Dallas was supposed to make summer last longer, it still flew by and now it's over....

Hannah starts her senior year, and Sofia is a sophomore. We've been reading up on various colleges, and even took a drive to New Orleans this summer. Somehow, even though it seems inconceivable, between now and Spring it will be decided...where Hannah goes to college! Yikes....

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Drive or No Drive

Drive or No Drive
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
The girls are taking drivers ed this summer. As usual, they are so different in their approach to any task! Both of them want to know how to drive, but only Sofia wants to *learn* how to drive. After the first few days Sofie had pages of notes, and Hannah has a really accurate drawing of the teacher, and funny quotes from his "lectures" ("if you need to ligurgitate pull over"), perhaps this is a helpful hint for drinking and driving? I'll have to look up "ligurgitate" though, that's a new one.

We have no plans to purchase a car for these fabulous up and coming new drivers. For now, the girls of the house will be sharing one cute little volkswagon beetle...although I do have my eye on a vespa....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ricardo Lost 70+ Lbs and Counting!

I haven't blogged in ages, sorry! Just wanted to check in with everyone, and show off Ricardo and how much weight he's lost. He's doing really well, exercising and eating well, and is really enjoying the progress!

Happy father's day to all the Dads out there!!! Today we woke up Ricardo with presents and one verse of Las Mananitas, and then went back to sleep!! Later we got up and got things together for a little father's day shindig we hosted. The food was "Daddy's Choice" ie lots of meat! Mahnaz and Sara came over and of course we had wonderful Persian rice (YUM), along with sausage, tbone, skirt steak and grilled veggies. Carlotta and her husband came and they brought some wonderful quesillo (Venezuelan flan). Hannah's boyfriend Alex was here, and brought some fun old vinyls that made for a festive mood. Sara's boyfriend Tim was here for a few minutes too. A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

End of the School Year

These three "happy campers" have a lot to celebrate! This pic was taken on TAG Prom Night, which only Sofia attended. Hannah played fairy godmother to Sofia and her friend Kim, putting on their makeup and reassuring them that they looked fabulous (which they did!). This has been a big school year for Hannah and even moreso for Sofia. Hannah got through some really tough classes (we're still waiting for the final grades but are hoping for the big finish!), think Advanced Placement Pre-Calculus as well as Advanced Placement Physics...yikes. This was Sofia's big 9th grade year. She discovered that she really likes computer science and that English is not so bad after all....As for Ricardo, really big news, his school "made it" to Recognized. This is HUGE, and has been 7 years in the making. So, as always, even though things often feel chaotic, out of control, and time slips out of my hands at an alarming rate....I do have a lot to feel thankful for.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Briefly a Pelican

Briefly a Pelican
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
Spring has definitely sprung. Lots of little blooms, and green popping up everywhere. It's been such a crazy March with alternating cold and hot weather. This year, we didn't do Spring Break together, or go camping. Ricardo and the girls went to Houston for a few days without me while I worked. I then joined them for a few days and stayed in Houston while they came on home to Dallas. I took this picture at White Rock lake during my bachelorette weekend alone at home. I've never stayed home by myself and it was very quiet! I did enjoy some time alone, which was much needed and refreshing. I missed the girls and was happy to see them when we did get together. Being a mom of teenagers has been difficult lately. This alone time can help me refocus on what's important, on keeping the peace, and enjoying what time I have left with them at home.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

We met Hillary Clinton!

(that's Rob Reiner behind me under the no smoking sign!)

On Super Tuesday, after voting (I was number 117) I had a chance to meet Hillary Clinton! Ricardo told me that he was told she would be at Herrera's restaurant during the lunch hour. So, we went there and sure enough a bunch of supporters, photographers, camera crews and pols there there! We ate lunch, I had enchiladas, he had papas con huevos...and in she comes! It was fascinating to watch and feel the buzz of excitement in the room. It's amazing to think this is her day to day experience right now. She didn't eat, she walked in and worked the room, talking to each and every person who wanted to shake her hand, get her autograph or take a picture with her. That has to be exhausting! I saw her on the news later in the day, in the same red suit and silver necklace...in Houston in the morning and Ohio in the evening. I voted for Hillary but was really torn. I would be happy with either Hillary or Obama. I'm really curious to see who finally makes it! I'm proud to be able to choose between a woman and an African American. If either one of them won it would only be the second candidate I voted for who wins a presidential election.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Weeks 1-6

Weeks 1-6
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
Tomorrow (Monday) marks Ricardo's 6th week after surgery. This weekend he had his first arepa and a little bit of beef for the first time. He's already lost 50 pounds! He started going backwards in his wardrobe and is wearing things he hasn't worn in years. Every Sunday I take a picture of him and as you can see from the first to the last picture...his progress is obvious!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Alamo Plaza Courts

One day, trolling around in flickr, I found a picture of a postcard of the Alamo Plaza Courts! I just HAD to take this picture and show how it looks now. Aparently this was part of a 5 or 6 motel chain in the south/west. It's still a really cool building even though it's fallen into disrepair. The facade, and more importantly the sign is still in good condition. I'm hoping that someone will purchase and revive it since it's so close to the now plush Hotel Belmont.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A New Tune for Ricardo

Two weeks ago today Ricardo underwent bariatric surgery. He's recovered and adjusted amazingly rapidly in those two weeks! This weekend he got to eat solid foods for the first time and today he went back to work. It has been a life changing decision that has affected the whole family. We're supporting him all the way and are already seeing progress, 30 lbs as a matter of fact! We're taking a picture of him every Sunday to document his amazing changes. I'll post pictures in a few weeks so everyone can see! Thanks everyone who dropped by, called in or said a prayer for us.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Making Hallacas Alone is No Fun

Sofia and Shawna folding and tying
This year, against my better judgement, we decided to make Hallacas. I say against my better judgement because Ricardo's cousin was going to come and make them with us, we've only made them once, and when she canceled her plans to visit I felt it was too much for us to handle. Well, thanks to wonderful friends, the Anderson-Gilly family and the Ehrlicher family...we made Hallacas! Making them basically became the pre-party to the New Year celebration party. They came our very yummy, although we're going to have to tweak the masa recipe for the vegetarian version. Everyone seemed to have fun and we made over 70 hallacas!! Woo hoo!!! The next day was the 31st and we had a good little party. Smaller than in the past but a lot of fun because I actually got to sit down and visit with guests and really enjoy the party. Hannah and Sofia each invited some of their friends and a good time was had by all. Happy New Year!