for better or worse: a guide to 23 years and counting

In 1987, I was 21 and I fell in love. In a nightclub. Heavy on the fog machine and even heavier on “The Cure.” It wasn’t the first time I had met the 31-year-old Larkin, but it was the first time I “saw” him. The way we both remember it, through all of that artificial fog, we finally looked at each other and just fell.

Like many couples, you start dating and spending more time together. Lots of phone calls just to hear each others voice. Then you start to have those long amazing talks, swapping all of your stories over long, slow bottles of wine, finding that you connect on a deeper level. You realize you have never felt this kind of connection. And then, as I always tell my girls, you just KNOW.

Is there anything more wonderful, scary, brave, crazy, romantic, insane than falling in love?

We all grow up with an image of what marriage is going to be like or look like.  That image can be quite damning for those who feel a need to itemize qualities or define their future Mr. or Mrs.

For instance, I swore I would never marry someone with kids. And, Larkin said he would never marry again, after his first marriage. Did I mention that we actually made these statements to each other, on one of those aforementioned wine fueled “amazing, long talks”?

Obviously, like most imbeciles in love, we threw all caution, warning, parental feelings, sound advice and genuine criticism to the wind. How could we go wrong?! I was a “Model/Actress”, (which meant equally less in 1987) and he was a cool, nightclub owner. Wasn’t this exactly what Jane Austen was talking about? Or maybe I’m thinking Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. You can see where I’d get confused.

In six months we were engaged, six months later we were married and six months later we were pregnant. It was just like Han Solo making the jump to light speed with the “Millennium Falcon”. We didn’t just fall, we kicked it in to hyper-drive and dove in head first.

Today, we have been married 23 years. “Been married” sounds so casual, like “been there, done that.” No one says we’ve “achieved” 23 years. Or, “earned” 23 years.  Or, even “survived”. That last one may not look as nice on a Hallmark card, but truly, it is … Read the rest

lifestyle, sports, Uncategorized

loving, living and losing…or grace

What a Super Bowl Sunday! Just like NBC’s exceptional marathon coverage began early in the day, I started early, too. Everything turned out lovely except for the outcome I wanted. So, my dearly beloved Patriots lost. Heavy sigh.

Congratulations to the Giants and the fans of New York. But, I’ve ended up changing a lot of this original post due to the articles, tweets and news reports I have read and tried to digest today. Also, a quick thank you for all the nice emails, messages and tweets. I’m going to be fine.

(ADHD moment: AstroTurf makes a great tablecloth! I’ll definitely be using it for Kentucky Derby Day.)

As a follow-up to my last post, I feel that I need to add a few lines about every day sportsmanship, or as I like to call it, every day grace. Watching a close game like this can bring out the best or the worst in someone. It is more widely damaging when the worst is brought out in influential characters with a wider audience. A sports loss is disappointing and heartbreaking, but it is also where loyalty begins. When you choose to participate as a spectator and take it upon yourself to root for a specific team, you commit to being a fan. And, as with every commitment, there is a risk of disappointment.


Taking a risk is living. I would take disappointment, heartbreak and just the rush of putting myself out there and trying, over feeling like I never truly LIVED. (And, FYI, you can mimic that rush just by walking into your local “Zumba” class.)

Think of the great lengths we go through to create all of the Santa magic for our kids. Why not go to those lengths everyday for yourself? There is a great quote by Diane Ackerman , “I don’t want to get to the end of life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” I thought about this quote deeply as I committed to starting this blog. Living the “width” of life is one of the best descriptions I can give of “Living Lola”.

Why would I take the time to do anything and not add my own, special “Lola” flair. I am suited up. I am here to play full-out. And, dance at half-time!

Today, I am … Read the rest

lifestyle, sports

A Woman’s Ode to Football

I love football. And, this is the big week.

It is particularly big for me since my home team is playing. Well, my “other home”, New England. My love for the Patriots is no big surprise to my Twitter followers. But, many here in Houston, Texas just don’t understand. Also, it makes sense for me to cheer for a state in which we pay property taxes and will pay a total of 4 Boston universities/college tuitions.

I have been watching football as long as I can remember because my dad watched football. When I was 8, I started drill team. Until I was 20 years old, there wasn’t a football season that went by that I wasn’t dancing at a half-time show somewhere in Texas.

I still remember the head coach of our local youth football team, facing 65 little girls, explaining football fundamentals to us, just so we would know why we were showing up every Saturday morning, to sit in the bleachers in our sparkly uniforms and cheer on our “Space Bandits”. I was 10.  I knew all of the players, some were my neighbors, so it was easy to watch and cheer on my fellow classmates.

If you grew up in Houston during “Luv Ya’ Blue”, then you remember how we all had our hearts broken as our Houston Oilers fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978…and again in 1979. I can still remember complaining to my dad that it was so “unfair” that we had to play in Pittsburgh with all of those cheering fans waving their yellow towels. That is when I learned about home field advantage.

My husband isn’t a big football fan, but he puts up with me as I yell at the TV every week in the fall. I only seasoned my kids with the big sporting events…Super Bowl, NBA Houston Rockets “Repeat”, the World Series, the Olympics…as they were growing up, but their own childhoods were too busy to really keep up with any regularity. But, still, I couldn’t believe it when Houston lost the Oilers in 1997. What was a Sunday without the background white noise of a distant stadium filled with muffled cheers and ref whistles? (Larkin, don’t EVEN say golf!)

Enter Drew Blesdoe and the 1997 New England Patriots. (Yes, I cheered for them before Tom Brady. So tread lightly before injecting some ‘UGG Model’ joke here.) I … Read the rest

motherhood, parenting

Because I’m a Mom

From the moment my daughter Jordan walked into my room in pain, I was “on”. That is what moms do, it’s one of our strengths. I don’t turn into a panicky mom. I use humor and laughter to get through. We dressed in minutes, made it to the car and laughed all the way to the 24 hour ER clinic, in between breathing through sharp stomach pains, of course.

It was odd for me to have the admitting and attending nurses address all questions to my daughter, not me. She is 21, now. An adult. She was amazing to watch as she described her condition over and over to the various health professionals. After an hour and a CAT scan, it was determined she needed to have surgery…quickly. Now, the phone calls.

I am a Latina. From a long line of strong, Tejana women. Once the phone calls start, widespread prayers, candles and vigils spring into action. I am the ONE who has to keep it together. I don’t fall apart. There are others who will, but not me. Because I am a Mom, I am the rock. I am the comic relief. My husband and I opted to drive our girl to the hospital ourselves. My parents and my sister met us there. (Mexicans do not wait alone in waiting rooms.) The Boy, our son Joshua, waited with friends. My oldest stepdaughter joined us, as well. Everyone was concerned, but understood it was a routine surgery but, still…it IS surgery, as my mother reminded me.

Jordan and I had a few good laughs in pre-op, before they wheeled her away. Our “thing” is quoting movie/TV lines. We did lines from “Arthur”, “Friends” and to keep it a little dark, “Steel Magnolias”…”Open your eyes, Shelby…open, open open your eyes”.)  I’m sure some people think we can be inappropriate at times, but humor has ALWAYS been our default mode.

In the waiting room, my husband was way more unnerved than I expected. She is Daddy’s girl, alright. I had to keep him up. My parents, who have been through their medical nightmare this past year with Dad’s heart attack and surgery, were worried. My sister, the awesome “cool aunt”, was helpful and attentive to my parents, so I could concentrate on my husband. Separately, in the waiting room, there was a young woman, who upon receiving good news from a doctor … Read the rest


A Simple Thank You


Over the weekend, I finally got around to writing my holiday Thank You notes. If you read my previous posts, you know why. In the past several years, there has been such a push for “Gratitude”. But, I feel this gratitude movement became so inwardly focused with journals and online classes to practice being grateful. With all of the introspection, the act of just writing a simple thank you note has been lost with our “iiGeneration”.

Maybe it’s my southern-ness, but I truly feel that penning a thank you note is an art that our rapidly changing, high tech society needs to hold on to. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to write a quick note of thanks to someone, sending good energy out into the world. I save all the thank you notes I receive. Whenever I come across them, they always put a lift in my day.

I have raised my kids to appreciate the art of the TY note. My 3 girls are very good with ink and gratitude. However, it almost killed me when The Boy didn’t send his high school graduation TY’s. But, that’s a whole other post. He did, however, very eloquently acknowledge me:

“Thanks for putting up with my teenage bullshit. Your a Queen, and I love you.”

You, see? Your sentiment can be expressed in a few lines, that’s it. What more could a mother ask for? (I didn’t even mention the incorrect usage of “your”) Simple elegance.

My oldest stepdaughter types her 2-3 page heartfelt sentiments in a small font, then literally cuts and pastes them into her cards or stationary. If I were to put them all in a book, it would rival an Oprah read. And you need tissues to get through them.

Excluding said stepdaughter, a common excuse is, “I never know what to say.” All you have to say is “thank you”. That is why it’s called a “Thank You” note. Sorry. Spoiler alert. Here is one of my favorite TY’s, received from My Girl (our youngest daughter). Short, very sweet and very to the point. Easy. I love it.

For inspiration, check out Leah Dieterich’s for her beautifully simple gratitude examples. To pine for an era gone by, go to  and see just how far we have really fallen.

For 2012, how about committing to upping the gratitude with a little pen … Read the rest

empty nesters, parenting

3 steps forward, 2 steps back

Your college freshman is home! You are so proud. Hell, he graduated from high school and got into college, all in this past year. Wow!

However, the first winter break for college Freshman is a very long, exhausting break. And, not just for the parents. These kids come home and try and reconnect with every friend they’ve had since middle school, cram in visits with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all while trying to catch up on their coveted sleep. You can try and set up dentist and doctor appointments, but don’t have your heart set on it. And, parents, get ready to roll out all of the old mantras all over again. “Don’t drink. Call me if you do. Don’t do drugs. We will come get you whatever time. Remember what happened to___________” (insert your local tragic teen story here…sadly, there are too many.)

It seems that many of these newbie young adults revert right back to that high school mentality of living in the moment and throwing consequence to the wind. Life is a party! Even worse, they don’t have jobs or school responsibilities to keep them on any kind of schedule. Over the long break, the college-ness begins to wear off. I keep wondering, where is that college kid we saw at Parents Weekend back in October? The one that knew his way around Boston, walked confidently through the school, actually woke up and met us for brunch? Will he be showing up again soon? Or does he only reside in Boston?

It has come up more than once, these past few weeks, the idea of which childhood relationships are real and which are just being kept alive through the magic and wonder of Facebook. Just because a “friend” posts a party on FB doesn’t mean everyone has to show up. The fact that we were having these discussion made me feel that these savvy kids know the difference. Every evening, I watch our kids’ beautiful faces illuminate with that bluish hue of their iPhone screens, as they scroll all of the possibilities for the night. Then, in a very non committal tone, The Boy: Well, ‘so and so’ is going to ‘so and where’ and there’s a bunch of people going, so I might meet up with them. Me: Oh? I don’t remember ‘so and so’. The Boy: Mom, remember? Sophomore year. That guy.

That guy. … Read the rest



While everyone is making resolutions and lists for the new year, I feel somewhat hazy from the long holiday. In full automatic pilot mode, I will begin to take down, pare down and store my holiday decor.

Last year, we sold our big house in anticipation of our new “empty nest” life. Our new “grown-up” city home is a third of the size. It is more the size of the homes my husband and I grew up in. We always shared rooms, made pallets on the floor or slept on couches for sleepovers or when grandparents came to visit. But, when we started to raise our family, it was important to us for everyone to have their own space. More importantly, we wanted my husband’s two young daughters to feel that it was their home, too, when they visited on the weekends.

Now, that our kids are 28, 26, 21 and 18 and off doing their thing, we are left with the boxes and boxes of childhood and parenting memories. My job now is to gauge just how precious these memories are and do we need the physical proof taking up space! Downsizing is a tremendous challenge, but it is also very zen-like. It can be so liberating purging the miscellany and holding on to what is “truly important” is a big lesson in this culture of having “things”.

Our home has always been the gathering place; the home to host all of the holidays, the big game, the birthday parties, the showers, the home where all of the kids gathered. We realized that with selling the big house, we were giving up that privilege. It was obvious to us, that our little abode would not lend itself to big gatherings or big sleepovers.

To our kids, God bless them, not so obvious.

These past two weeks, we have not gone without having a guest or guests, of some sort for one day. And with 3 out of 4 kids over 21, can I just mention the hit my personal bar has taken?! (and when I say personal, it is…The Mr. doesn’t drink. It is ALL mine.) I kept asking myself, “Where is everyone going to sleep? How are we going to fit everyone? How are they comfortable?” Sharing rooms, pallets on the floor and couches. Just like when we were kids. It doesn’t even seem to occur to them … Read the rest


A Project for a New Year

A blog. Let’s do this.

I just realized that I signed up for an account in September 2009. That speaks loads about me. Oh, I’ve got ideas. I just need a little help in the follow through and time management department. In September, The Mr. and I took are fourth and final child to college. So, after being a stay at home mom for the past 21 years, you’d think I would have nothing BUT time. These first few months of “empty nest” have been overwhelmingly….(awesome!)…easy. Hence, when the two college kids came home for the holidays last week, I began to wonder how in the hell I did this for so long without becoming an alcoholic or addicted to Ambien. And, when did they get so loud?! Anyway, this blog may just be the “time management” thing I need to figure out what exactly I plan on doing for the next half of my life. Everything I have ever created has been from home. My marriage, my kids, our home; everyday life has been my life’s work. t is my industry. It is what I know. It isn’t glamorous or exciting, at first. But, it can be with the right attitude and, of course, good lighting and good champagne. I am not a writer. Or a chef. Or a decorator. Or a photographer. (That would be my stepdaughter in Austin, Texas: ) But I’ve played one for the past 24 years.

So, i’ll wing this blog. Just like I did with wifehood, step-parenting and motherhood.