Keeping with Music (for a moment)

I’m trying to remember the day that I stopped buying physical forms of music and started buying music on iTunes. I can’t remember the first album I bought on iTunes. It was likely something I already owned.

That made me try to remember the day I stopped buying music on iTunes and started streaming. It was Spotify at first. Now, it’s Apple Music (I LOVE Apple Music).

For my last two moves, I carted around tubs of CDs that I haven’t played in a decade. Now, I only own about five – a few that I couldn’t bear to give up.

The reason for this thinking is I was very anti-Kindle. My parents gifted me a Nook for Christmas probably ten years ago, but I could never read books on it. It felt largely inauthentic, and I had a hard time focusing. (I had a similar issue when I first switched from newspapers to online news – now I avoid it all together, but that’s another story.)

Then, I tried audio books, and couldn’t do it either. I couldn’t follow the stories very well. I guess I was always trying to multitask and didn’t have the focus.

But then I had kids.

And Audible became my best friend. I could listen to books as I walked with the stroller. That’s the only way I read the few books I did over the past four years. I listened. But even that wasn’t as fulfilling as reading a book.

So, I went back to Kindle – the app, not the device. And turns out my brain is much more primed to read digitally. The best thing is I use it on my phone, and I read five minutes at a time whenever I have a chance. Works perfectly for this stay-at-home, work-at-home mom. And I’m actually reading!

I just finished Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and have started The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ah, but back to the point of this post. I purchased a few books about three months ago and have read none of them, unfortunately, despite my best efforts.

So, as I sit here wanting to pre-order Michelle Obama’s Becoming, I’m wondering for the first time, should I order the book or a kindle version? And I wonder what will be the last print book I order.

When Pandora was Life

I never come back to this blog because I don’t want to write “I’m-coming-back-to-this-blog” post. It seems so daunting. Do I have to update everything that I’ve done in the years since I’ve last posted? Do I have to apologize for the random few posts when my daughter was first born and I wanted to try out Amazon affiliates? Do I pretend like it never happened and start fresh?

I’ve decided upon: sit down and write. Write it like you used to write. I’m the same. Except I’m not.

The samely different, I think.

But I remember. I remember when Pandora was life. I loved my stations. I worked hard to create them. They were beautiful. They helped me write. They helped me run.

Two things that have fallen the way of Pandora.

Except I write every day. I did it. I’m a full-time, work from home curriculum write. Full time. Like for real. I’ve been plugging away at this for over a decade. Tiny little projects. Huge projects. Breaks from freelancing because it was too hard to maintain and still teach. And then I quit. Again. And then I panicked. For the first time ever. And I told myself – three applications a day until you get it. And I did.

And bam! A year later – a year of extreme sweat and sacrifice – my company brought in a quarter of a million dollars. Like seriously.

I made it.

The girl who dreamed of this. Who developed these playlists and listened to them ad nauseum plugging away at my life dreams.

I did it.

And this was the first week that I didn’t work an insane amount of hours, and I wanted to write something for myself. So, I dusted off — my, uh password? – and came back in here.

And guess what?

Pandora is playing. I started with the station made from my favorites. And they’re still favorites. It’s like a little slice of nostalgia.

Everything’s changed but it’s still exactly the same.

I don’t teach anymore. At least not for now. Who knows what will happen. But the fact that I actually left the classroom is monumental for me. It was such a huge part of my identity for so long. It was me. And now it’s not. And it’s weird. It’s really weird. I don’t miss it in my day-to-day life, but I miss it theoretically if that makes sense.

I’m a mom. For real. Of two kids (I’m ignoring those Amazon posts). A girl and a boy. And they’re my everything. They are the reason that I have pushed so hard for the past year. And you know what? It’s an amazing feeling to be able to care for them and feed them and buy things they want and need. It’s all I could have wanted.

Layla just came on. I always said I’d name my daughter Layla Rhiannon. I didn’t. Probably a good thing. But it’s good.

Life is good.

It’s not Pandora anymore, but it’s beautiful.


Activities for an 11-Week Old

We have a pretty active little girl, and we both think that it’s important to keep her engaged with her environment while developing her cognitive, social and gross motor skills. After eleven weeks of practice, we’ve learned what her favorite activities are and have a pretty good selection of activities that our daughter engages in daily.

Some of her (and our) favorites:

  • Tummy time! Our little one only likes it on the boppy. She’s been working hard since birth to hold her head up, so she has no problems in that area. We give her a selection of chime toys and her black and white mat to grab as she plays.
  • Walking. She loves to put weight on her legs. With daddy’s help, she can move about a foot across her play mat — usually toward her toys.
  • Reading. We read as many books as we can each day. Favorites right now include those thFuzzy Bee and Friendsat rustle and board books with high contrast shapes and characters.
  • Music time. Music often overlaps the other activities. Favorites right now include the ABC song, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the Wheels on the Bus, Motown and Mozart.
  • Swinging. Grandma and Grandpa gave us a swing that our little one loves to spend time in. Sometimes she’ll sleep in it, but often she’ll coo.
  • Mobile time. Our daughter spends about an hour a day — not at once — under her mobile. She loves to talk to it and gurgle in response to it.

When you add in naps and eating, she’s a pretty busy little one!

Toys at Two Months

A couple of weeks ago, I painted the alphabet on a white canvas in solid black letters. My now-almost-three-month-old daughter loves to stare at it. We knew that the contrast is what appeals to her. That and the fact that babies can’t entirely see color at this point. My intention was to continue painting shapes and patterns for her, but — well, having an infant affords you little free time for art projects.

I’ve done a couple of very quick searches for toys that would meet these requirements, but my husband struck gold when he found Manhattan Toys.

The black and white designs for the first few months of life are well-designed to attract baby's attention.

The black and white designs for the first few months of life are well-designed to attract baby’s attention.

We replaced her mobile containing stuffed animals with a seemingly less exciting version of the toy that does not move or play sounds. The Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile for Cribs is made of plastic cards with black and white designs — which can later be upgraded to color designs. The best part is that the upgrades are included in your purchase!

We also purchased a Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Double Sided 3-in-1 Triangle Play and Pat Activity Mat and a bumper for her crib with the same designs. She was immediately drawn to all of the objects and spends a pretty significant amount of time staring at them.

The best part is that I know developmentally these are exactly what she needs!


Novel Synopsis ~ Lucha

I finally finished a draft of my novel Lucha that I was okay with calling finished. Very, very strange feeling. I just received the draft back from an editor and have some additions and changes to make (personal deadline = one week).

I am also working on the synopsis for this novel and am looking for feedback. From the basics of does it make sense to is it any good?

(And p.s. I started posting the novel by chapter on this site: Teresa Jordan Crimes. It’s a few drafts old, but if you’re interested in the first  chapters of one of the original drafts, you can find them there.)


Teresa Jordan, a detective who has been suspended from every job she’s ever held, is wrapping up a drug trafficking case before serving her latest suspension. Moving between the U.S. and Mexico, she finds herself in the world of lucha libre wrestling where she sets her sights set on El Scorpion as the mastermind behind the drug operation. Teresa thinks she is close to wrapping up the case when the bodies of three young women dressed in the insignia of El Scorpion turn up on the border.

Ayanna Sanchez is the manager behind El Scorpion, a star wrestler and her brother. Ayanna has developed a large clientele of fans and bettors on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. She has teamed up with bookies, Saul and Carlos, and assures her brother that betting is perfectly legitimate in this business, but the money isn’t enough for her. She double-crosses the team of Saul and Carlos by partnering with drug traffickers who increase her revenue exponentially. The wrestling business works well as a cover operation, and she begins to hire a staff of young women whom she grooms to look, act and think like she does.

Lucha is the story of Teresa Jordan’s investigation of a triple homicide during an attempt to solve a drug-trafficking case. From the moment Teresa adds murder to the investigation, she’s thoroughly confused about who to trust, which only takes her deeper into the world of lucha libre wrestling and El Scorpion. Time seems to be running out, though, as another body turns up at the border, and Teresa appears to be the next target.

about the Rolling Stone cover

Over the past ten years, print journalism has suffered badly. One of the remaining bright spots in reporting and writing over this period has been Rolling Stone. This is evidenced by Matt Taibbi, who has been an extremely positive force in a very weak pool of reporters in this decade. He has written extraordinary pieces on the financial crisis, on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many contemporary social issues.

So, when Rolling Stone decides to feature Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover, I had to believe that it was for purely journalistic reasons. You see, in my mind, journalism not only seeks to tell the truth, but it tells the truth so well that it helps us to think.

I am so disappointed with the backlash over the Tsarnaev cover, with some news stands even pulling the issue from their racks. 

The editors at Rolling Stone didn’t try to make Tsarnaev look like a rock star. They merely printed a picture of a young man who – without our knowledge of what evil he is capable of – happens to look like the typical teen. Who happens to look like he wants to be a rock star.

And that is the very point. 

It is very troubling to me that there is expressed outrage over what this young man looks like on this cover. You see, we have been conditioned to believe that there is a certain way  a terrorist should look. He certainly shouldn’t look Americanized. He certainly shouldn’t look like a rock star. And he certainly shouldn’t look like he belongs on the cover of a rock magazine.

Except for the fact that we are talking about a magazine with exceptional journalistic practices and principles.

Further, had any of these detractors bothered to read the article before decrying the editorial decision, they might have realized exactly what Rolling Stone was trying to say.

There is no “other” in the war on terrorism. There is no easy way to identify a terrorist. And sometimes, there is no way to “Americanize” a child enough. 

Under Armour

Just sent this off to Under Armour to thank them for my favorite workout capris.

(Side note: The fall referenced in the letter was not a bad one. Just some scrapes and bruises. I returned home and went to the gym.)

Dear Under Armour,

I am so thrilled by your Shatter Capris that I had to write you to explain. I bought my first pair over two years ago as I was training for a half marathon. The compression in these helped me with the IT Band issues I was struggling with.

About 9 months ago, I bought a bike and signed up for AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I bought a second pair of Shatter Capris for training, fully intending to switch to padded shorts for the ride itself. Three days into the ride, I was so grateful that I had brought your capris with me – both pairs! They outperformed my cycling shorts in so many ways – they were more comfortable, wick away more sweat and allow for more breathing. On top of all of this, the tried and true compression factor helped my legs recover quickly.

(I have to add in here that not only do I love the performance of this garment, the quality is excellent as my original pair – which have seen huge mileage both running and cycling – are still in great shape!)

Unfortunately, a few days ago, I had my first big fall while cycling. And yet again, I was so thankful that I was wearing these Shatter Capris. My knees were only slightly scraped under this fabric instead of skinned as my elbows were. Not only that, but the fabric held up. There was not a tear or a single stitch out of place.

Thank you so very much for your products!

AIDS/LifeCycle – Training Week 1

Because of my work schedule, I’m going to log my training weeks from Friday to the following Thursday. It was a pretty good week. No injuries. And I was able to complete all of the workouts, which is the bigger concern I had initially.

Day One – Friday 

Short ride. It was a debate between hill repeats and sprint intervals. A Boyle Heights route was the compromise. I never realized why they call it Boyle “Heights” until I rode there for the first time. 14.04 miles with an average 5:31 minute mile. It was a good ride to warm up for the longer Saturday ride.

Day Two – Saturday

Long ride. This was the Three Rivers ride. It was a really good ride without any major problems. 75.45 miles with an average 4:50 minute mile. (That sub-5 minute mile showed me how hilly the previous day’s ride was.)

Day Three – Sunday

Was supposed to be a recovery ride. I skipped it because I had to work, and I honestly needed the rest. 75 miles for the first time made me really need to give my legs a rest.

Day Four – Monday

Power walk. Or in my words, “I need to use my legs in another way.” This was actually tougher than the long ride. My co-worker emphasizes the power in these walks. 5.10 miles.

Day Five – Tuesday

Actual rest day. Yay! It’s my longest day of work, so I figured it would be the best day to rest.

Day Six – Wednesday

In the gym. Stationary bike for 10 miles of hill intervals. 15 minutes on the elliptical. And about 10 minutes of core work. My not-so-favorite part of working out.

Day Seven – Thursday

Treadmill. Very easy run. 5 miles. I ended with six 90-second boxing intervals on a punching bag.

It wasn’t too bad of a first week. I thought the plan was manageable, and the adjustments (particularly dropping Sunday’s ride) made sense for where I’m at.

If you’d like to support my participation in this ride, $10 will do it!


AIDS/LifeCycle – Long Ride #1

The plan was to bike 65 miles last Saturday. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition sponsored a Three River Ride that included the Rio Hondo, the San Gabriel and the Los Angeles rivers. It was a 44-mile loop led by one of the authors of Where to Bike Los Angeles.

Since G and I are training together for this, we decided that we would ride 10 miles to and from downtown Los Angeles to reach the necessary 65 miles.

I have to admit that setting an alarm for 6:30 on a Saturday after a long week of work was not my first choice to start off the weekend. My disdain for the plan was furthered by the fog that appeared once daylight hit downtown. But out the door I went.

The first 11 miles to the park (we were already off in our calculations) was a lot faster than we had planned, which made me feel really good about the start of the day. And at that point, I was warm and ready to go.

We met with a group of about 20 riders – most older than us. My initial comment was, I bet they’re faster than us anyways. And they were definitely faster than me, but they were extremely nice people. They were very caring and the whole group was attentive to each other and looked out for all of the riders. So, it was a lot of fun.

Which is probably why we rode five miles past our first turn off. This added an additional ten miles to my overall ride, which was good and bad. After having trained for a half marathon a couple of years ago, I try my hardest to keep increases in mileage reasonable at 10% per week, and at the moment that I figured out what the increase in miles meant, I had a brief moment of doubt. The truth was, though, I felt great.

We ended with the group around 64 miles, which meant taco time as a break. This is my second long ride, and both times I have had carne asada tacos to refuel. So, that might be a tradition for me. Who knows…

The next five miles were not too bad. I was definitely tired. The food gave me a little energy, but my legs were tiring quickly.

Then, we hit some really good head winds, which are my biggest enemy psychologically. I think they are going to become the equivalent to my “Mile 8 Issues” from running. So, I was less than thrilled to finish the ride.

But I do have to say that when all was said and done, I’m extremely proud of this ride.

The lessons from this ride:

  • Check the map! Even if other people are leading. Still check the map!
  • My hydration plan is not a good one. I can’t keep a solid pace and use a water bottle. I was planning on a CamelBak, and I guess that’s going to have to be sooner rather than later.
  • Eat. Eat. Eat. The day before mostly. I did a good job on this one, I think. 
  • Stop to reapply sunblock. 
  • Get more than six  hours of sleep the night before. Particularly if I’ve gotten six or less hours for consecutive nights. I don’t know how realistic that’s going to be for the next two weeks, but it’s a goal. This didn’t hurt my ride too much, but I was done for the rest of the day.