Hall Pass

hall fort

“Choose your battles” is advice every parent hears and practices at one time or another, and then there are the arguments you don’t even want to have to choose what to do, so you just give up.

Tonight my five year-old is sleeping in the hall in his newly constructed fort right outside our bedroom. He did a good job with three dining room chairs for walls, a blanket roof and sheets and pillows for the floor.

Azul presented his argument for sleeping in the hall by assuming it was already going to happen, saying “Since I’m obviously sleeping here tonight, I set up my turtle light.” His turtle light is his stuffed nightlight which is shaped like, well, a turtle. I appreciated his approach and thought that alone deserved some reward; besides, I had already come to the conclusion that I didn’t care where he slept tonight.

When it was eight, zero, zero and time for bed he settled into his fort and I turned off all the lights and laid down in my own bed. Again — I just gave up!

At this point you can decide to be the parent who paces around nervously, followed by a walk in the hall, a toe stubbing, an expletive and finally a conversation with your child on why they would be more comfortable in their own bed (actually meaning that YOU will be more comfortable if they are in their own bed), or you can be the parent who giggles in bed while listening to it all.

The choice is yours, good night and good luck!

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No Ifs Ands Or Butts.

Carmelina Hart:

Today is my forty-second birthday and unlike last year, I am feeling some excitement! And I know I will not be wearing a skirt today, it’s still pretty hot outside.

Originally posted on Carmelina Hart:

Today I turn 41. I don’t feel any excitement or disappointment in 41, it is what it is. But, I remember the first time I did feel old, it was not the last, but of course your first is always the most memorable. It was the summer of 2007; I was only thirty-four, just months before I turned thirty five. It was an extremely hot day and I was outside with my best friend Ann Dee and her family. It was the day of her dad’s funeral and burial. It was an old family plot, mostly dust and sand, and the family was responsible for digging the grave. I’m not sure when the miscalculations took place, but when it was time to lower the coffin into the ground, it didn’t fit. So, as you could imagine, it was uncomfortably funny and the coffin had to be pulled out and more dirt dug…

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Mommy Mania

Mommy Mania

I never set out to be a stay-at-home mom, it just kind of happened. Most of my son’s life I have worked. I worked while I was pregnant, I worked through his infancy, and I was working on his first day of Pre-school (way back in 2011). Things are now different and I am not reporting to a job in the traditional sense. This summer Azul, my five year-old, was my job, and like many of my other jobs, I took it very seriously.

Azul was on Summer Break from school and now a stay-at-home kid, and I was not working and therefore a stay-at-home mom. Our circumstances and titles brought us together, but the last thing we were going to do was stay at home!

This is when “Mommy Mania” began. I set out from the beginning to do as much as possible and expose him to as many learning experiences as I could. The learning was actually the easy part because at this age any experience is a learning one, the doing was harder. We tried to get out of the house at least five times a week, some weeks were better than others, and then there were the lazy, all day in our pajamas days too. But overall we got dressed, ready and were out and about!

Ready, set, go…Let the madness begin!

The first day of Summer Break, the first thing we did, first thing in the morning was play putt-putt. We were the first ones there, just before 10 a.m. when they opened. We golfed two games of 18 holes, had pizza and soda, because Azul was starving at 10:30 in the morning and ready for lunch, and acted as if we hadn’t eaten breakfast just two hours earlier. This was the first time Azul had putt-putted, a nice way to kick off Mommy Mania.


There were some activities we really took advantage of and did a lot, like play dates, going out to lunch, feeding the ducks at various duck ponds around town, catching the first matinée showings at the movie theater, lots of baseball games at the Albuquerque Isotopes Stadium, eating gallons of ice cream, and Azul’s favorite, pool time.

pool time

We attended weekly activities at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library where Azul’s Daddy works. And discovered he now wants to be a Librarian just like his Daddy.

He participated in gymnastics classes, swimming classes, and one of the coolest Summer Programs around. He was involved in a production of the Sound of Music performed solely by children in grades k-8.


We were lucky enough to be able to go out-of-town a few times this summer. Azul and I visited my Aunt Jeannette’s pecan farm in southern New Mexico, where we lived the farm life for a couple of days and went to a Rodeo in El Paso one night. Our family camped at Cochiti Lake in New Mexico and spent a week at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. Azul was surprised how quick our red-eye flight was coming back compared to the trip over, saying, “They didn’t even have the movie or serve us any drinks it was so fast!” Of course, although he adamantly denies it, he slept for the entire flight home.

Azul did earn some money this summer at a yard sale we held with our neighbors. He picked some old toys he didn’t play with anymore, set them out in the morning and worked the sale when people came by to peer at our goods. He was quite the salesman and able to keep all the money he made.

Because of the warm and sometimes really hot weather in Albuquerque it is easy to enjoy the outdoors by walking and biking the Bosque Trail. At other times we visited the Albuquerque Botanic Garden, Albuquerque Aquarium and Tingley Aquatic Park. While at Tingley we rented a pedal boat and were able to pedal around while followed by a flock of ducks! And we loved seeing all the baby animals at the Rio Grande Zoo.


When it was too hot, we spent hours at The Natural History Museum and Explora Science Center, the hands-on children’s museum. My favorite indoor activity was going roller skating! I don’t think I had been skating in over twenty years and I know that was Azul’s first skating experience. Every time we knocked each other down, off our skates, it took us a while to get up because we were laughing so hard. One day, courtesy of PBS, we even met The Cat In The Hat.

cat in the hat

Then there was our trip to Cliff’s Amusement Park, where after riding every ride his height allowed, we rode the roller coaster eight more times — IN A ROW! We also went to an indoor playground called Monkey Mania. I preferred it when we took a friend with us, then I didn’t have to slouch through the spongy maze made for little people who actually wanted to do this.

roller coaster

One of the last things on the list was to visit a Fire Station. I got ahold of an old friend from high school (so, yes, old) who was a firefighter and he set up a tour for Azul. He got to sit in the truck, pull the horn, turn on the lights and even got to talk on the PA system at the station. All he kept saying was, “cool,” over and over. When we left, I asked him if he wanted to be a Fireman when he grew up and he replied, “No I still want to be a Librarian and work at the Library.”

I will never be able to repeat this summer, but it was fun while it lasted, and although it is still August, sunny and 90 degrees outside, with our last trip to get mani-pedis together, my summer solstice has set. Mommy Mania has come to an end and my constant companion is now going to All-day Kindergarten. Whew, I’m tired!

The weeks leading up the start of school were bittersweet for me. Tears rolled down my cheeks more than once while I reflected on how fortunate I was to spend so much time with Azul and looked to the future where there is less time for us to be together. In his beautiful attempt to comfort me he said, “You might get lucky and when I get sick you will have some bonus days with me!”

My little friend will soon be six years old, in his new school, with his summer experiences under his belt and new titles to claim, he is moving on. And I am returning to my old title of stay-at-home mom and get to look forward to sick days?! Ugh…



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Summer ManiPedi

Back in May when the school year was coming to an end, Azul and I had a conversation about what to do this summer (scroll down to find the audio). Well, I wanted us to get ManiPedis to celebrate the start of Summer Break, but my five year-old had other ideas.

It took all summer, but on the last day of Summer Break, I got my ManiPedi date!

summer manipedi

Summer Talk… (Original post from May 2014)

This week was Azul’s last week of Pre-school and for some crazy emotional Mommy reason it has come to a bittersweet end for me. My baby is going to all-day Kindergarten next year and I’m having some unexpected troubles with it.

We have done the new “big boy” school visit and went through registration, granted I was almost in tears that night after I put him to bed, thinking about how big he is getting. But, in front of him, I have been the shining example of support for my five year-old’s next big step! He is ready and excited and I am a little scared!

There are things I am NOT going to miss about Pre-school, like these little devils that haunt every room in my house! The playground woodchips are in my carpet, couches and I even find them in the beds sometimes.


With Azul’s new school being only five minutes away, the one thing I am going to miss is our twenty-minute commute. We have some of the best conversations in the morning. This has become private time for us and no one else, time where just the two of us can be together and laugh. Today’s conversation consisted of talk about what we were going to do during Summer Break. This is just a slice of our morning commute.

I’m glad we have all summer to hang out and talk, but first ManiPedis!

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Fast Is The New F-Bomb


The saying is true, kids really do grow up too fast. Azul, my five year-old, soon to be six, dropped his first f-bomb and my husband’s response was, “I’m surprised it took this long.”

Now, I have never claimed to be the best influence on my child, he’s mine and I’m his, so we get what we get, and I am well aware of the hypocrisy of parenthood, but trying to be a completely different person around him seems to be more effort than I am willing to exert. I freely admit to having a potty mouth and Azul does know what constitutes a “bad word.” He usually asks, “Can I say a bad word?” when he is telling a story, and because I want to know what he’s thinking, I generally say, “Yes.” I appreciate the fact that he asks permission and it most commonly happens when he is quoting someone. Not me!

We were recently on a family vacation and spent a lot of time walking around and checking out the sights. One afternoon while walking down the main drag in Waikiki, there was a sign advertising hair braids and henna tattoos, so of course I asked my five year-old, “Do you want to get some hair braids and henna tattoos?” In addition to talking inappropriately in front of him I am also extremely sarcastic. I think it is good for the soul to not take everything so seriously and it promotes critical thinking. So I am either raising a son who won’t be gullibly taken advantage of, or an ass. Sigh!

After the question I posed, holding his daddy’s hand, he looked at me with a funny expression on his face and said, “Can I say a bad word?” Well, the bad words he normally experiments with are not bad words at all, like “damn” or “heck” or “hate.” Oh, there is the occasional “shit,” but who doesn’t let that slip every once in a while? Even the FCC has a term for it, it’s called a “fleeting expletive.”

So, in true fashion, yes was my reply. And he looked up at me with his cute little five year-old face and said, “Fuck no!” With disappointment in my husband’s eyes, I cracked up laughing and said, “Well I guess he doesn’t want it. And he is very adamant about it.”

Even without the hair braids and henna tattoos, his growth has been one fleeting expletive after another!

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Azulism #15

He doesn’t believe a thing I say and he’s probably right.



“That’s probably…”

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Boy Enforcements

boy enforcements

At the age of five, almost six, Azul has made a very important life decision and I think we both may have contributed to it. My contribution: taking him everywhere with me, watching the news while he is in the room and being very open with him while we are talking. And his contribution: HE IS FIVE!

There is no question he can’t ask, and I have tried to reinforce that ever since he started talking. So, he is good at asking when he doesn’t understand something and he pays attention to very minute details. Now, not every question is answered to its fullest, but enough to understand the basics. Also, being an only child he is around a lot of adults and therefore adult conversations.

One current topic of conversation was having babies. My sister just had twins and we went through the “baby talk” and the fact that babies are in the mother’s belly and when they are born they come out. EEK! You can read that uncomfortable conversation at Oh Baby!. His concern and I guess what he understood was, it hurt! He decided that, “I never want to give birth to a baby.” So, I explained that women have the babies and not the men. That seemed to get him through and ease his mind. Ugh, men!

Another current event covered in the News a lot lately is same-sex marriage equality. I explained to Azul what that means legally and for the people who want to be married. He never had a problem with this or questioned it at any point; it is amazing how intuitive children can be.

The third idea to throw into the mix is adoption. A little over a year ago we had new next-door neighbors move in who have a little girl, Nadia, who is originally from Guatemala and was adopted when she was an infant. She is now eight and the two of them play together all the time. It is cute to watch them. Of course he had some questions and this idea of adoption intrigued my astute five year-old. I’m not sure what he was thinking when we talked about this, but again it seemed like his concern was over pain and how neither parent had to go through it.

He is now five, two months away from being six, and the one thing he does not like is GIRLS! Not even Nadia, he would never admit she was his friend. He calls his friends who are boys his “boyfriends,” and I’ve referred to girls who are his friends as “girlfriends,” and his reply is always the same, “I wouldn’t go that far!” Meaning they are just girls. When I asked why, he answered, “because sometimes you need boy enforcements!” Again, ugh, men!

Put all this together in a developing brain, where all ideas are new and original thoughts are original, and you get the proclamation, “I’m going to marry a man. And adopt a baby!”

“Really?” was my response, while I paused my dinner prep and looked up at him.

“Yes, I don’t like girls and I don’t want to have a baby, that will hurt. And I’ll adopt a baby.” He said it very matter-of-factly, as if he had put some thought into it and this was his conclusion.

He had it all set out, so the only thing left for me to do was compliment him on his thought process and continue with dinner. Huh? I wonder if we should have peas or corn tonight.

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Running Scared

I am going to start this by saying something I thought I would never say, “the other day when I was running,” now the rest happens to me all the time, “I needed to pee.”

The running part is new to me, it is amazing what your body can do when your favorite hobby, smoking, is no longer a part of your life. I am working myself up (and no not in the way that I would need a cigarette after) to running a half marathon. That is about thirteen miles, and I am feeling a little intimidated, but I am ready to do it. I ran a few 5ks and a 10k, so I thought I would step it up and get beyond six miles. The problem is I always need to pee. Usually I deal with this urge by knowing where every public restroom is, and I have no problem peeing on the side of the road during a road or camping trip.

So, about five miles in, sure enough, I needed to go and started to evaluate the situation.

In my favor: I was running in an area called the “Bosque,” meaning woodlands or forest, which in the drought-riddled high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico is actually ”trees near the river.” And trees are good when you gotta go and it looks like this…

bosque view

Against me: I didn’t want to get caught with my pants down and it made me think of this local story from last year, where a runner was caught on security cameras crapping in someone’s yard.

Now, in my defense, I was nowhere near that point, but whatever, I still didn’t want to be recorded peeing and later seen on the local news, with or without the blurry bubble covering my face. What if I was recognized with my pants around my ankles? No, thank you!

This led me to think: First, who was actually watching me? I don’t think there are cameras out here, but maybe the City has some secret Bosque watch party going on, I don’t know. Second, there are a lot of animals who live out here and I didn’t want to run into one of them. What actually lives out here? I’ve seen rabbits and squirrels and snakes, random birds, but what else? I wouldn’t want to experience a beaver to beaver encounter while I was relieving myself.

No, I can hold it…I really need to pee!

Then I started to think about the people who live here. There are a lot of stories about the homeless who live in the Bosque and I certainly did not want to urinate in their dwelling.

I’m fine…Oh, who am I kidding I am going to pee my pants!

So I started to scope it out again and look for a good place to stop. I didn’t see anyone, fellow visitors or inhabitants in the area, and thought this is my chance, my moment to take care of things and then continue running in peace. Then I saw him…

bosque coyote

A coyote! WTF! I wasn’t even sure at first because it was so skinny, which of course means it’s hungry.

I had a feeling the dependable Bugs Bunny anvil would not be falling from the sky to stop him, so I ran! Not sure if it was my bladder or the wildlife, but I ran eight miles that day. Next time I will probably just pee myself.

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A Dirty Job

dirty job

I have been a mommy for five years, ten months and 2 days, and I have also been dirty for five years, ten months and 2 days. It is an odd coincidence, that the dirtiness starts immediately with parenthood, and you won’t even know what hit you, but one day you’ll look in the mirror and see the white crusty spit-up you have been wearing proudly like a well-planned accessory on your shoulder all day without noticing. And spit-up is not the worst of it, you’ll be peed on, pooped on and puked on, the sad fact being you get used to wearing the “Three Ps” and then eventually come to expect it.

During your child’s infancy your primary adornment will be mostly involuntary bodily excretions. But soon your little blessing will start to develop hand coordination, which of course means dirty hands. They will grab, touch and hug you, which is one of the best parts of being a parent, but they also grab food, dirt and any and everything sticky. So when those chubby little arms wrap around your face and you are getting the best hug you’ve ever received, you’re also getting a facial of sloppy wet teething cookie infused with cat hair.

And the dirt seems to grow along with your child, taking on a life of its own. Sometimes you won’t even be able to identify it or figure out its original origins. This is most obvious during the next milestone, crawling. When mobility starts, all of a sudden you will notice first of all how dirty your floors are, then how much of that stuff gathers on your pants right around the ankles. It moves up your legs and to your knees like a vine circling round and climbing, finally ending with little blooms of hand prints on your derriere.

Through the years those hands get bigger and so do other parts like that cute little nose and all the things it holds. You will soon become a human tissue and the preferred one as well. And when you squat down to hug your little “big-kid,” who is running toward you at full speed, you make contact and then in all the excitement, an unexpected sneeze! With a wipe of their face on your sleeve, a new embellishment rests there.

Wear your badge proudly parents. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it!

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Little Firecracker!


We will be taking our annual trip to New Mexico Fireworks to get supplies for our celebration of Independence Day. Last year for the 4th of July, sparks flew!

From July 6, 2013

My buddy Angelo, who runs New Mexico Fireworks, called tonight. Azul said, “Who are you talking to?” I answered, “Angelo.” He waved his hand and said, “I need to talk to him.” I handed Azul the phone and he began speaking immediately. “Angelo, actually, those chickens didn’t work out so good.” He said in a very matter of fact manner, referring to the chicken fireworks Angelo sold us. Azul tells it like it is.

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Smiley Pie Face! A kid friendly pie pecan.

Pie Smiley Face

This Summer I have decided that Azul and I are going to do as much as we can, and sometimes one activity leads to another. Luckily, I have an aunt who owns a pecan farm in Southern New Mexico, so visiting her was on our Summer break list. We stayed the weekend and had a blast!

Azul was able to interact with the animals, feed the chickens and collect their eggs.

Pie 1

He ran in the mud in-between the freshly irrigated pecan trees.

Pie 2

And he was able to get on the tractor.

Pie 3

We made out like bandits that weekend, and upon our return home we relished in all our booty.

Pie 4

Fresh eggs and pecans!

The next question was, what do we do with all of this? After much consideration, we decided to make pies. This was not on the original Summer break list, but a welcomed addition.

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. It’s super kid friendly and delicious. Of course, you don’t have to visit a pecan farm in order to complete this recipe and bonus, no corn syrup needed.

This is what you do need:

1 cup maple syrup

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon molasses

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces

½ teaspoon salt

6 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 ½ cups pecans, toasted and chopped

9 inch unbaked pie shell

Step 1 – Shell the nuts (if your nuts are shelled skip to Step 2) This took us about an hour and my little helper started strong, but after about ten minutes he said with a stretch of his arms, “Ahhh! I need to take a break.” And he moved from the kitchen counter to the couch. I continued cracking. I did hear a small voice proclaim, “Nothing’s better than sitting back and listening to nut cracks! How relaxing!” He did say, “nut cracks,” that was not a typo. If you can get your kids to stay longer, more power to you!

Pie 5

Step 2 – Pre-heat oven to 450 and adjust the oven rack to the lowest level.

Step 3 – Make the filling by heating the syrup, sugar, cream and molasses in a saucepan over medium heat stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Slowly stirring can be a perfect chore for your child. Keep in mind, they’re at the stove.

Pie 6

Step 4 – Lightly toast the nuts and remove them from the heat.

Step 5 – Remove the filling from the heat and let cool for five minutes. Then whisk in butter and salt until combined. Next whisk in eggs yolks until incorporated. More stirring and more kid participation. Yay!

Step 6 – Scatter pecans in the pie shell and carefully pour filling over the nuts. The scattering can be done by your child without any concerns of injury. I suggest you do the pouring.

Pie 7

Step 7 – Place the pie in the hot oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until filling is set and center slightly jiggles when gently shaken. This is all you parent.

Step 8 – Cool pie on a rack for one hour, then refrigerate for three hours to set. This seems to take an eternity!

Pie 8

Step 9 – Eat! Bring it to room temperature before serving. Everyone gets to do this. Unless you have a nut allergy! And if you do, this is not the pie for you.

Pie 9

My five year-old loved it so much he said, “I want this for my birthday instead of cake!”

It’ll bring a smile to your face!

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awkward george

Yesterday Azul was telling me about some trouble Curious George was getting into on the latest episode, and in the middle of the story he used “air quotes.”

I can’t stand air quotes, almost as much as I can’t stand the over use of the word “literally.” Both of them are unnecessary. If you are quoting someone in a story you usually mention that and there is no use for air quotes, and if you are explaining someone’s actions, you don’t need to say it literally happened. None the less, I got air quoted by my five year-old.

“Did you just air quote me?” I asked, interrupting his story.

“Whaaaat? You mean this?” was his response and he quickly did it again.

With my arms in the air, shaking my head from side to side, with a big smile of my face, I said, “Yeeees!”

While he was getting ready to respond, it was as if everything turned to slow motion. His little fingers were moving into peace signs and he began, “I though it meant…” And up came the peace signs to the side of his head and the slow fold of his fingers. He literally did it again while saying, “Awkward.”

AARRUUGGHHH! Oh it was “awkward!”

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Rage Against The Machine

Azul, like most five year-olds is very observant and curious, a behavior I have always tried to encourage until today.

While we were shopping for a birthday present at a bookstore for an upcoming birthday party, the first stop we made when we got there was to the ladies room. After taking care of our business, he noticed something he had never seen before. The shiny silver machine calling to him like a leprechaun to a pot of gold, with its knobs and small shelf, all things he couldn’t wait to touch. In a daze of fascination he walked over to his new-found treasure.

rage against the machine

“Mommy, what is this for?” His curiosity was taking over.

I replied in a short, I don’t want to talk about this tone, “Tampons.” I didn’t expect there would be a follow-up question, but of course there was.

“What are tampons?” He asked in his high-pitched little voice.

Ugh! Was what I was thinking, but, “things ladies use,” was all I could think of to say at that moment while I held his hand and escorted him out. Damn you Barnes and Noble!

Well, I guess I could count myself lucky, at least he didn’t have any quarters.

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On Guard!


For some odd reason last weekend, my husband decided he was going to be the bad influence on my five year-old instead of me, and I am not comfortable with this. That is my job! His job is to be the safe and stable parent.

“We are shooting Craps!” my husband repeatedly said to me.

“Okay” was my answer to every announcement. I was not upset with the game they were playing, but how he kept reminding me what he was teaching our son. I’m fine with dice games; there are a lot of skills that are needed to successfully play. Counting and recognizing the dots on the dice, determining the value of each coin for the bet, and understanding what numbers were needed to win, all just seemed like a math lesson. And Azul was having fun.

But it was like a challenge was being issued, a figurative “On guard!” before the swords were drawn. I am not one to back down from a challenge, especially when regarding my son, and I don’t know what I’m going to do yet to redeem my position, but when I come up with something, it will teach my husband a lesson for sure! On guard indeed.


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