Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wax On, Wax Off

The title of this blog entry may not be completely accurate.  I am going to tell you about my first (and potentially only) foray into the world of Martial Arts.  In my mind, I thought perhaps I could become the Middle-Aged Karate Kid.  Oh, how wrong was I.  (El Hubbo wanted me to name this "Sweep the Leg, Johnny!")

I need to give you some background.  There was a time when I was an in-shape, stud-athlete, in-her-prime physical specimen.  I played any sport with ease.  Well, except maybe soccer.  Soccer was hard.  But, any other sport came naturally, and I was uber competitive, so I was driven to be the best.  Even if I wasn't the best, it certainly would not have been for lack of trying.  I played softball and baseball for 31 years.  In super -competitive A/B leagues in Houston, TX, for crying-out-loud.  I would show up to ballparks and reps from other teams waited to see if they could get me to play for them that night to fill in for other players.  Three or four games a night, two to three nights a week was not uncommon.  

In college, I was the girl the guys called when they were one guy short for whatever pick-up game they were playing.....volleyball, football, basketball, baseball.  I played softball on a men's league team.  

So, when I tell you I know what it is to be athletic and in-shape, I know where-of I speak.

Fast forward to when I got married.  I decided to hang up my glove.  I moved across Texas and took a desk job.  It is amazing how fast your body can fall apart under such circumstances.

I decided recently that I had had enough.  I know what it is to feel good....and I ain't feeling it.  Unfortunately, I know myself.  While I will run all day after a ball, or to prevent someone else from getting a ball, I HATE a standard workout.  Running for no purpose?  ANATHEMA.  Push-ups, sit-ups?  BORING.  I need something that engages the competitor in me.

Little Sunshine has been taking Karate, and she looked like she was having so much fun, and it didn't look like something I would be bored with, and I would get to hit things - BONUS.  I talked to the instructor at the dojo and asked if they had (and I quote) "an old fat lady class?"  He said, come one evening in workout wear, he thought I would enjoy it, they had people of all ages and fitness levels.  He'd even let me try it for free.

Ok, great.  But, then just as I had my head in the right place, came all the roadblocks.  I had a scare from the doctor and had to have some ultrasounds and other tests.  Finally, the doctor decided I was ok.  Then, I showed up one night and chickened out.  I saw all the other people and they were not of "all ages" and "all fitness levels".  Then, I got sick with my annual sinus issues (thank you cotton harvest.)  Then I got a cold and was a mucus-generating machine.

Finally, today I decided was the day.

I planned.  Truly planned.  I lay out my workout pants and shirt so that when I got home I couldn't claim I couldn't find them.

I spent all day saying positive reinforcement like, you can do this, Brenda.  You know how to be an athlete.  Just do it.  And then I would follow it up with negative threats.  (Which mostly involved self-deprecating name-calling that I shall spare you.)  And then positive encouragement.

I had dinner planned, fixed and consumed early.  Taco Tuesday, if you are curious.  I took my cold medicine to hopefully keep my coughing in check.

I changed, gathered up my bag and told Little Sunshine to get in the car.

I watched her lesson and at the very last possible moment, I took a deep breath, and I went up to the counter and asked for the release form to try the workout session.  Little Sunshine came out and said, "You are really going to do it this time?"  (Thanks, kid.)  I handed her my purse and my phone and said, "Yep.  Hold my purse."

I strode confidently down the hallway to the door of the gym floor.  I took my place in line and lifted my chin with confidence.  (I have always felt that you should fake it 'till you make it.)

The instructor told us to run laps.  Ok, no problem.  I ran laps.  The floor is covered with cushioned mats.  So, running was not too bad.  No knee or hip-shock issues.  This may be doable!

Next came pushups and sit ups.  As I have admitted, not a fan.  But I did them.  

Then squats.  I've always been supernaturally strong in the legs, courtesy of my genetics.  (My poor Irish ancestors couldn't afford a mule to pull the plow, so it would appear they used the kids.  Never Indian leg wrestle with a member of my family.)  I was breathing fairly hard at this point, but still hanging in there.

Then the masochistic son of Satan decided we needed more pushups.  But not normal ones.  hands in triangle, nose to floor, offset hands (both sides), hands wide, hands below shoulders.  Ten of each of about 5000 styles.  I'm pretty sure I am forgetting some.  I am also pretty sure that I lost the ability to count due to the lack of oxygen I was experiencing.  There is no way I did all of them.

Then, we had to pair up.  The partner stood directly over you with their feet under your armpits, facing your feet.  You had to lift your legs up and they would push them down.  So, I had a great view of some guy's butt that i did not know.  I have a thing about personal space....and there is no reason someone I do not know should be that up in my business.  Even worse, when we had to switch and I had to stand over him, I spent half the time praying that I wouldn't cough and pee in his face.  (I have had two children, this is a reality most women can relate to.)

Finally, about the time I thought I was going to die, he decided we were warmed up.  I was told to go with the Krav Maga group.  (If I understood correctly, this is a form of Israeli martial arts.)

I thought, Ok, if I can catch my breath, now maybe we will get to the fun part.

He paired us up, and I was odd woman out.  He decided he would be my partner.  This is not good....it's kind of like taking a class where the instructor wrote the book.  Sigh.

He grabs a big pad and explains that he wants everyone to punch the bag their partner was holding, and when he said drop, we were to drop all the way to the floor and then pop back up.  He looks at me and says, just throw some punches and then I'll work with you on technique.

I am the daughter of a boxer.  I know how to throw a punch.  I was, however, worried a bit about my ability to "drop and pop back up".  I mean, I could utilize gravity for the drop part, but gravity was going to be my enemy on the popping back up part.  We began, and he (rightfully so) had assessed my fitness level and decided he did not need to worry about bracing for my punches.  He was wrong.  While my fitness level stinks, and I was in sore need of an oxygen mask at this point, I am still strong as a horse.  After my first couple punches set him back on his heels, he put his shoulder into it.  Then he said, "Drop".

There is no "Drop" in my body.  Ergo, there is no "pop back up" in my body.  I think he may have rolled his eyes.  I was tempted to punch him in the face and tell him to respect his elders.  

Next he put us in threes.  I was teamed with a couple young ladies (at least 10-15 years my junior), who were obviously at a better fitness level than I.  The objective here was that one person had to hold the bag, while the other two had to fight to see who could punch it more.  Losers had to do pushups.

Now we were talking.  1. I operate best with a clear target/objective.  2.  I was very motivated to NOT do any more pushups.  This is exactly what I am born to do.  I threw my elbows, shoved, hip-checked and punched like my life depended on it.  In the midst of battle I gave no thought to the fact that my heart was about to burst, and my lungs were on fire.  I had been given an objective, my mission was clear, they were the enemy.  I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR.  After both those girls picked themselves up off the floor, somewhat ashamed that a woman of my age and obviously bad fitness level had laid them flat, I found myself bent over, unable to breathe and with the room spinning at an alarming rate.

For the first time since my old coaches in high school ran us until we dropped, I felt nauseous from working out.  I told the instructor, gotta go!  I wobbled (my legs were very iffy at this point) to the ladies bathroom.  Dizzy, cold-sweats, racing heart, inability to catch my breath, I determined that it was quite possible that I was going to die on the bathroom floor of a dojo.  Not how I had envisioned the end.  I hear a knock on the door, and a timid, "Mama?  Are you alright?"

Oh yeah.  I had forgotten that Little Sunshine was there and witnessing her mother's demise.  "Yes," I said, "Just give me a minute."

I finally managed to open the door and let her in.  The poor thing held my glasses while my dinner reappeared.  She patted my back and said, "Maybe we should leave now, and when we get home you lay down and I will bring you anything you need."

Thank you, my sweet child.  I'll double your portion of my will.

Finally, I get to the point that I think I might be able to drive, and we leave.  I motion to the instructor that I was leaving.  Little Sunshine carried my purse, got out my keys, and I admit at one point I considered letting her drive.  But, she can't reach the pedals.  Note to self, bring Number One Son next time.  He can reach the pedals.

I just sit in the car for a moment, not turning it on.  Just pondering the levels to which I have allowed myself to sink physically, and Little Sunshine reaches over and pats my shoulder again.  "Maybe you should not do this, mama.  Maybe we'll start slow at home and see if someday you can work up to this."

Thanks for the wisdom, girl-child, (and the vote of confidence) but couldn't you have told me that before I put myself through such a humiliating experience.

So, tomorrow will be interesting.  I have already found that my legs are so wobbly, I can only walk with locked-knees.  My fingers move now, but I can tell my shoulders and arms will be weak from the excessive push-ups.  I am not sure I'll be able to feed myself, so that may be a bonus.  I know I definitely won't want tacos.

It's almost three hours later and my heart still has not returned to its normal resting rate.  I may have to delay my plans of obtaining my blackbelt.  Perhaps I should follow Little Sunshine's advice and start with a more realistic goal more appropriate for a middle-aged woman of my fitness level.  Something that does not involve pushups.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell 2016, Welcome 2017

As we near the end of the year, we have a tendency to rehash the past months, or make huge plans for the upcoming ones.  I've spent this past week trying to simply stay in the moment.  As a working mom, I don't often have such extended time to spend with my family, and it seemed to me the best thing I could do was soak up as much of them as I could.

Time has been spent baking and cooking, watching movies, playing games, putting together a puzzle, going to the movies.  Laughing, cuddling, napping, and just generally trying to make memories.  

Today, we've packed in a trip to a well-regarded bbq joint, Evie Mae's.  It's the best brisket in Lubbock.....high praise from me, as I happen to live with one of the best meat-smoker's in the state.  As an amateur smoked meat connoisseur, I can tell you that the brisket is divine.  The turkey  is phenomenal.  El Hubbo has them beat on pulled pork.  (And, just so you know, I do believe El Hubbo is pretty close in the brisket department - if he could spend more time, I think he'd have them beat.)  

We then took a trip to Cavendar's for the annual shopping of the pig-showing outfits.  The kids must look as good, if not better, than the animals they will be showing.  And, as a long-time western wear afficianado, I have high standards for what the proper look must be.  

Next stop was an afternoon showing of Star Wars:  Rogue One.  I was highly confused as I was expecting this to be the next of the sequels, but turns out it was a sequel to the prequels, and it took me thirty minutes to figure it out.  But, a good movie nonetheless.

Home we came as we have no desire to be out amongst the crazy people.  We made our meal tonight as a family, and we used family recipes to do so.  My mother-in-law is a fabulous cook, and as Emma declared while browning meat:  "I bet Mimi could beat Bobby Flay!"  We made a hamburger stew she makes that I think is one of the best comfort meals ever.  To go with it, we decided to make tortillas.  We all donned our aprons, and flour began to fly everywhere.  This turned out to be highly entertaining, and the kids were pretty good at it!

The Martinez Tortilla Factory 
We specialize in state-shaped tortillas.  This is Vermont.

We'll spend the rest of the evening playing games, watching tv and getting ready for the new year.  My hope for us is that we'll all live a little more in the moment; worry less about what is outside of our control.  Smile more, let the inconsequential go, focus on what is important.  We'll thank the Lord for his patience with us, and try to do a better job of honoring him as our Lord and Master.  

And with that, I'll wish you a Happy New Year from El Hubbo, West Texas Mama, Number One Son, and Little Sunshine!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Sunshine Holiday

Little Sunshine still believes in Santa.  Number One Son puts on a good act, but I think he is doing so just to let us have a little more fun.

Emma was highly concerned about the lack of appearance of our Elf, Fideo.  Every morning the first week of December she searched the house looking for the little trouble-maker, but to no avail.  Finally, her father remembered and managed find him and set him out.  But then he didn't move for a couple days and she began to ask what was wrong with him.  We completely fail as parents.  So, I set him up one morning wrapped in a blanket next to a big bottle of Ibuprofen and a thermometer.  I felt pretty good about my recover, and Emma was partially relieved and partially concerned about Fideo's health.

The next day, Fideo and his new-found frog friend got into the candy bowl.  So, he is obviously on the mend.

When we recently told her we would take her to see Santa at the mall, she told us, "THAT is not the real Santa.  That is just some fat hobo.  I want to see the real Santa."

First, I am not sure why she thinks only hobos are hired to be the mall Santa.  Second, how does she know about hobos?

So, we nix the mall Santa trip.

We decided to go to the National Ranching Heritage Center event, Candlelight at the Ranch.  We informed Emma that Santa would be there.  Our reasoning was that this is not a mall, therefore, she will be more inclined to believe it is the real Santa.

Our reasoning was faulty.

She informed us that she would be pulling Santa's beard to see if he was real or just a fat hobo.  I whispered harshly in her ear, "You better NOT pull his beard, or I will take all of your gifts back to the store."  She gave me her highly skeptical, stubborn look that I am certain she inherited from her father and crossed her arms. "We'll see," she said.  "We'd better not see," I replied.  Given the western environment of our current surroundings, I am sure the fellow guests at the ranch got a good chuckle from the OK Corral-like standoff that me and my mini-me were having next to the hitching post.

We get in line at the barn to see Santa, whereupon Emma loudly announced to me, "THAT is not Santa!  He's way too skinny.  It's just a SKINNY HOBO."  You are welcome fellow-parents whose kids were actually having a good time and believing they were seeing the jolly old man up until that point.

I recognize that telling your kid to "SHUT UP!" is generally frowned upon, but for any of you reading this who find yourself looking down upon me for doing so, and who have much less strong-willed children than I do, I am happy for you having children who do not drive you to the brink of public-strangulation.

She looked up at me defiantly and said, "Fine!  I'll sit on his lap and tell him what I want.  But you had better call the real Santa and let him know, too!"  This sounded reasonable at this point, so I agreed.

We spent the rest of the evening touring the grounds and seeing how Christmas was celebrated at cowboy camps, ranch houses, farm dugouts, etc.  We worked up a hunger and decided we'd go for dinner, and while the rest of this story has nothing to do with Christmas, it made us laugh, so I am sharing it.

We stopped at a restaurant that was popular with our local law enforcement.  We know this because there were several police vehicles parked out front.  Either it was popular, or we were walking into a bad situation.  Fortunately, it was the prior.

We eat a lovely meal and get ready to leave.  As we exit the restaurant, Emma turns to me, holds up a packet of crackers she had taken from the table and says, "I just stole this from the table.  Man, it feels good to be a Gangsta!"  

I look at her father and calmly asked, "Just what do you let her listen to in your truck?"  He proclaimed his innocence, but the giggling children trying to crawl into my car does not support his claim.  I looked around to see if any of the officers were still around, as I thought perhaps an impromptu "scared straight" program was needed, but they had all left the scene.

Someone needs to inform my precious daughter that there ain't no "gangsta" that stands a chance with an exhausted, ticked-off, old cowgirl.  But, I do secretly admire her moxie.

So, there you have it, hug a fat hobo, embrace a gangsta, and have a Happy Holiday!

Merry Christmas from West Texas Mama, El Hubbo, Number One Son, and Little Sunshine!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Imparting Wisdom (Threatening the Preacher)

I find myself flinching when I see either of my children's Bible class teachers practically leaping over pews to catch me.  From about three pews away they drop the normal lead-in, "You HAVE to hear this...."

You've read my blog.  You know my children.  This couldn't possibly turn out well.  Especially in church.

I sigh, resigned to my fate, and say, "Which one are you teaching this quarter?"

I then find out if it is the boy or girl child which will continue to disparage my good name.

Most recently, it was Little Sunshine.  Her teacher stopped me with the usual lead-in and then proceeded to tell me the following:

"We were studying I Corinthians 12 and talking about how each member of the church has an important role.  We talked last week about how an eye cannot be an ear or a hand a foot, each has an important job with our bodies and all together it is stronger.  So, I was reviewing the lesson, and I said, What if our preacher decided he didn't want to preach anymore....and Emma immediately commented "Well, I'd just have to slap some sense into that man." and I just had to laugh!"

Glad she is laughing.....and afraid that I know exactly where the child got it.  But, wait, it gets better:

"So I just had to tell the preacher...."

Oy.  Yet another sermon topic my children have provided the preacher.  It's very, very hard to overcome one's raising.  But in my defense, I do believe that generations of the women in my family would offer evidence that at times the only way to impart wisdom is through a gentle application of love to the back of the head.

As we walked out to the parking lot, I saw the preacher walking with Emma and heard him ask her, "So, there's a chance you might not be happy if I quit preaching?"

Emma replied, "Yep, I'd just have to slap you."

Well, he asked, I am going to say this one is his own fault.  At least she is steadfast and consistent.  I'm pretty sure Sunday's sermon will revolve around I Corinthians 4: 21  "What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?"

Better have my steel-toed shoes on for that one.

Monday, October 3, 2016

PSA of Burning Importance

There are things my friends from the north will never be able to fully appreciate.  One of those things is the satisfaction of growing your very own cooking staple:  jalapenos.  We Texans love our jalapenos.  They can go in almost anything.  I spend so much money on jalapenos for various recipes that I decided this year I would grow my own.

The kids have been fascinated.  They report daily on the plants' progress, tallying the totals for each plant and letting me know if some of the jalapenos are turning red, which is a little past the prime of their use for my cooking.

Little Sunshine was giving me her report and brought in a few jalapenos one night.  She showed me they were red and asked what I wanted her to do with them.  I told her thank you, and that I was not in need of jalapenos at just that moment, so why not put them in the kitchen.

She skipped away, and I did not give it another thought.  El Hubbo hollered at her that it was time to take her shower.  She skipped back in my bedroom, wrapped in a towel, and headed for the shower.

Now, the shower process for the tiniest human in the house is generally the longest for any human in the house.  On average, she spends 30-45 minutes.  I mean, it takes time to clean that little body, sing songs, wash hair, sing more songs, tease the dog and then squeal when he joins her.

This evening, however, instead of songs about rainbows and how awesome she is, we heard screams of "IT BURNS!"  "HELP ME!  OH SOOOOMMMMEEEOOONNNEEE HELP ME!"  "IT BURNS!"  "WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME!?!"

El Hubbo and I looked quizzically at each other and then dashed for the bathroom.

I pull back the curtain, and my naked little girl was screaming and rubbing her eyes.

"What is wrong baby??"


"Well, let me see?"


I am completely dumbfounded.  El Hubbo and I look at each other and it is clear that the Parents of the Year have no idea what is going on.  I finally reach my hand into the shower, half afraid that maybe acid is flowing forth from the shower head, and I was about to watch the skin melt from my hand.

It was just water, whew.  Skin still intact.


El Hubbo and I begin quizzing her.  Every question was met with:  "I DON'T KNOW! IT BURNS!  DO SOMETHING!"

Finally, El Hubbo looks at me and says, "Did she wash her hands after she brought in the jalapenos?"


I snapped my fingers and ran to the kitchen to get the milk.  We rinsed her face and hands, washed her eyes out, and slowly she became a wet, wiggly, snotty mess in the shower.

We snickered (out of her earshot) and made comment to each other that we bet she'd remember to wash her hands after picking jalapenos from now on!

But there is more to the story......

A few days later, she proudly announced that her sentence had won Best Sentence in class.   Take a gander at this, and tell me you don't stifle a laugh:

"My lips burned with intensity and my eyes hurt from rubbing them after touching jalapenos."

And that Public Service Announcement comes to you courtesy of Little Sunshine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Random Report from the West

I lay here in multi-splendored glory, pondering those things that make a marriage work.  This past week has been a prime example of many of the concepts that I believe make it work:  support, willingness to be used, allowing your OCD to be aggravated by new toys.

In less positive news, my in-laws were in a very scary accident as they left their hometown.  It would seem a youngster with a rather large truck with a reinforced bumper (extremely common in our neck of the woods) failed to yield the right-of-way as he rushed to his destination point.  Fortunately, my father-in-law saw him coming and was able to minimize the t-bone impact, but it left my in-laws very bumped, bruised, and bloody and with an unexpected trip to the ER.  They were released and continue to recover, and will eventually be alright, but understandably the family was scrambling as we worked out a plan to take care of everything.

My very minor role was to drive to a town about 45 minutes away (with kids in tow) and retrieve suitcases from the car.  I arrived and met the wrecker-driver only to find no suitcases.  As I called El Hubbo and reported the lack of travel gear, he began to question his father.  I questioned the wisdom of expecting a man who had taken an extremely hard hit to the head any questions related to the whereabouts of his t-shirts and other sundries.  The wrecker driver, observing our inexperience at handling such situations, suggested we call the police or sherriff's department in the town where the wreck occurred. (About 30 minutes away.....remember we are technically in "rural 'merica".)

El Hubbo, began the hunt, I took the kids to eat.  Soon, I received the call....the mystery was solved.  Bags were in the hometown fire station.  Alrighty, so the kids and I loaded up and headed out.  Thirty minutes later, the bags were secured and we began a race to beat incoming storms back to Lubbock.

We delivered the bags and checked on Mimi and Papa.  We then headed home where I was greeted with this......

Yes, my closet imploded.  I sighed, turned the light off, texted my boss that I would not be coming in the next morning and went to bed.  I'm a firm believer that Scarlett O'Hara said it best:  "Tomorrow is another day."

The next day was spent sorting out clothes for donation and creating various piles of clothes throughout my house that I could roam around like a lost zombie each morning attempting to cobble together an acceptable outfit for work.  I researched closet systems, and informed El Hubbo that he officially had plans for the weekend.  If you wish to test the strength of your vows, attempt to work on a project such as this.  I'm not sure who may have had the most creative death threat lobbed at the other, but when we both arrived at the checkout lane of the Home Depot with a shovel, we decided a military detente was in order.

On a happy note, I won something!  Or, technically, El Hubbo did.  You see, I am big Circle E candle fan.  As in they are my candle of choice.  I follow them on facebook.  They posted a special that if you commented on a picture they had posted with a recommendation for a teacher to win a candle, they would select three deserving teachers to win.  In my not-so-altruistic way I commented the following:

"Few realize the time an ag teacher spends in and out of the classroom. Darin Martinez loves his job and is always working in the classroom, at the shop, at the school farm to try to provide students with a great experience. He's on the road to stock shows, judging contests, leadership contests, scholarship interviews, meetings, etc. Given he is around not-so-pleasant smells most of the time, he loves when I burn a Circle E Candles, inc in the house. Love you, babe!"

And we, I mean, HE won!  I, er HE, was soooo excited!  And it has already come in it's fabulous, peanut-packed glory!

Finally, for being a relatively good sport, I got El Hubbo something he could really be excited about.  Ladies, let me tell you, this is a cheap, homerun of a gift.  You need not buy your guy anything else for Christmas.  There are lightbulbs that also serve as bluetooth speakers.

As all little kids, he couldn't wait to get it open and installed.  Interestingly, the directions are not grammatically correct, which causes me some concern about what the potential safety rating may be, however, this did not stop him from playing incessantly with the color change feature until I almost experienced a seizure.  It comes with a remote, so he can lay in bed, listen to his music and change the colors of the light.  This makes our bedroom seem way too much like a bad European discotheque, but you can see he is happy.

That's it.  Bonus post complete.  As you can see we are rocking right along.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mid-Life Crisis

Lately I have felt much older than my actual age.  Life can sometimes be hard.  Stress takes it's toll.  Things happen.  Years pile on.

This is apparently not how El Hubbo has felt.  Living in a world where one is youthful and exuberant with rainbows and lollipops is what he prefers.

I may have remedied that with a big ol' dose of reality.

Our dinner conversation:

Me:  "Hey, the other day when I picked up the kids I saw you had a new welder delivered.  I saw the sub come out and try to figure out what he needed to do."

Him:  "What?  Oh yeah!  Who did you see?"

Me:  "It looked like one of the coaches.  Maybe an older or middle-aged coach?"

Him:  "Oh, yeah - no, he's not that old."

Me:  "Well at least middle-aged."

Him:  "No, he's about my age."

Me;  (Looking at him quizzically) "Well, you are aware you are in your late forties?  That is middle-aged."

Realization dawned on him.  His youth has fled.  The dew is no longer on the flower.  The sun is setting.

Ever sensitive to his emotional needs, I begin to laugh.  "Well, I guess you can start your Mid-Life Crisis now."

He frowned, lowered his head and began to ponder life as an old man.  Number One Son attempted to console him by patting him on the back.

El Hubbo looked at both of us and said, "I'm going to stab you both in the eye."

Ah, family love.  The Martinez way.