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)