A couple of months ago I posted something similar in memory of Jon. Today, January 10, 2009 marks the 11 year anniversary of his death.

Jon passed away on the very early morning hours of our older sister’s birthday. Every year at this time, I remember Jon as he was and imagine what he would be like today. I don’t think any of us can picture him being any different…youthful, generous, caring, kind. He was young and discovering himself as most young (and old) people do. If you were to ask my mom, he was able to make amends and find closure with some of the important things in his life just before he died.

I know that he would want his sister to celebrate her birthday as anyone should as difficult as it may be at first. That’s just the kind of person he was.

So in remembering today as the anniversary of Jon’s death, we remember that Jewel was born on this day – a celebration of two lives, if you will.

We love you both!


Jonathan Scott Mendoza, May 29, 1977 - January 10, 1998


Happy Birthday Jewel!

Happy Birthday Jewel!

Let me start from the beginning…

It was a week before Christmas. All we were trying to do was get a refund on an overcharged iTunes card at a ToysRUs customer service desk. Then they walked in and planted an unopened Wii Sports package right along side of us. My husband and I looked at each other wincing trying to read each other’s minds. Should we?he whispered. NO,” I whispered right back.

Early in the season we had convinced each other that a new gaming system would be a terrible addition to this family. We were one of the few who held on to the Gamecube and our scanty lineup of games. And every now and then, and we were pretty good about this, pull out the cube from it’s little hiding place and let the kids play for a predetermined time frame. Just when the little buggers thought hey maybe mom and dad forgot about stashing the games away, we’d pull the plug and put away the box for an indefinite period of time.

Out of site, out of mind.

Ok. So Christmas rolls along. Someone told us that you could play gamecube games on the Wii system. I didn’t know that did you know that? I started looking online for the Wii system, just to get an idea, and most of the merchants were sold out or on backorder. Great, then it was never meant to be. No way was I going to wait in line to get one. It was just not that big of a deal to me to not get a Wii system.

There we were standing at the ToysRus help desk and a Wii is placed mere inches from our personal space. The couple who returned it seemed oddly pleased to be getting rid of it. Maybe they needed the money. Perhaps it was a response to kids behaving badly. Whatever the reason, it was sitting there and we eyed it like a cat on mouse. We knew there weren’t any left in the electronics department. My husband placed a hand on it as if to show ownership fearing a Wii hungry passerby would catch on. “Do you want it? I’ll be taking it to electronics soon,” spoke the customer service woman. “Give us a minute,” we replied in unison.

A minute is all it took. She asked us one more time. “Well, do you want it?” Her cheerful smile in all its holiday glow begged for nothing less than a yes. “Yeah, we’ll take it.” my husband responded. “Oh my god.” I replied stupefied. Ironically, the pleased look on my face was a sure enough confirmation to my husband that this was the right thing to do. It was not hard for us to rationalize our impulsiveness at the time. We managed to convince ourselves that the couple returning the one and only Wii system remaining in the tristate area returned it for us.

Since owning one, we’ve broken a couple of glass ornaments, pulled a couple of elbows and woke many a morning very, very sore. If you’re a new owner like us, you’ll definitely like its interactiveness, just give yourself enough room and use the wrist strap or you’ll be cracking more than just tree ornaments.


In most cases, first grade handwriting needs to be translated…

My son’s odd wish list reads:

  1. Dinosaur floss
  2. that skate board fix
  3. A really hard puzzle
  4. A toothbrush
  5. A little stocking (to go inside the big stocking, he says)
  6. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
  7. Plus sign
  8. A ball that has your signature (don’t flatter yourself Hazel, he means Santa’s signature)

winterAs the season of giving approaches, the hum of holiday music becomes a temporary backdrop of our daily lives, thanks to my 80s obsessed daughter who, like clockwork, dusts off the Elf soundtrack, Christmas With the Rat Pack, Barbara Streisand/A Christmas Album, Nat King Cole/The Christmas Song and Elvis Presley/ If Every Day Was Like Christmas, and places it conveniently next to our table top stereo where it will sit for the good of the next few months and be played over and over and over again as she dances sprightly, spinning recklessly across our slippery hardwood floors.

For many, this may cause grief, enough so to make one puke. I sit here having just watched a full Ben 10 movie and not a minute had passed when my daughter slipped our good ‘ole ‘Christmas in Santa Fe’ cd in the player and started dancing away. With We Three Kings rearing at high volume in classical Spanish guitar, I look out the window to see my son’s pathetic green pumpkin imploding on the front stoop and I think this just isn’t right. We’re barely in the month of November.


Then I think about the leaves that have fallen already and the trees that are almost bare and get a little melancholy regretting having not paid much attention to the changing foliage during this season that I love so much. I tried to take a picture of a tree that stands fifteen feet out our front door in all its blazing red color and just as I snapped the shot the low battery light flashed across the screen before it turned completely black.

I am missing the best part of the season and realize it is speedily passing by me. But it doesn’t take long for mypumpkin daughter’s joyous spirit and odd two-stepping to contaminate the entire household, especially when Elvis finds his way into the cd player. My son joins his sister on the family room dance floor. My husband is making a hearty lentil soup and curry meatloaf in the kitchen. The smells couldn’t make this moment any better. It is picture perfect.

But momentary it is. My other daughter pulls out her nintendo ds, the other two begin to argue about who spilled the popcorn on the floor, my husband finishes his bowl of soup and annoyed by the banter of the children heads on upstairs and I sit glued to this computer finishing this story, half-heartedly disciplining the two squabblers after the word idiot makes its way out my daughter’s mouth.

The holiday spirit takes form in beautiful ways at our house. But as quickly as it sneaks up on us, it can just as soon disappear. Sibling rivalry, petulant parents, or simple disregard can do the trick. So I should thank my kids for reminding me of the changing seasons by the effortless way in which they bring it into our house. But let’s face it, we’re a real family with typical six member family chaotic moments that we need to deal with every day. Not to say, that I couldn’t be a little more mindful and attentive in handling some of these moments especially with this computer at bay.

This is the time when I need to log off wordpress and shut down the laptop, gather the family back together in somewhat better terms and begin our double feature “movie night”: for the kids, Jack Frost; for the big kids, Transsiberian.

Good night.

Hello crab!

Hello crab!

The dining room table was well prepared for this feast. The cozy breakfast nook was no place for the debauchery that unfolded this Labor Day weekend. Mother laid out the disposable tablecloth as I stockpiled the heavy duty napkins, pre-moistened for added cleaning power. Sister took inventory of all necessary supplies i.e. nutcrackers, picks, vinegar dip, and rice. Even my youngest made sure all drinks were at hand within reasonable grasp. The towering bushel of crabs, haphazardly packed in a white cardboard box, was beautifully seasoned and placed as the one and only centerpiece, rightfully so. Extra chairs were set in place to accommodate all. Even my husband who didn’t plan on eating any, partook in the jovial camaraderie associated with crab eating, and ate one or two of his own. Do you eat as you go, or do you accumulate like me. In other words, I like to shell as many crabs as I can, piling high on my plate a mountain of crab meat then rewarding myself with spoonfuls of crab and rice. Yummy.

Box o' crabs

Box o' crabs

This crab fest is a once a year event for us. So we make sure we enjoy it. It was the perfect way to close the summer season at mom’s house. There was other food to enjoy as well: potato salad, roast beef, baked ziti, fries, chicken tenders (the kid must have), chocolate cream pie, watermelon, and jersey sweet corn.

Thanks mom and dad for making your home a constant source of fun and food for all of us and, as always, making this summer something to remember.