Punk Rock Parents

Saturday, April 07, 2018

11 years

The years just keep flying by. As I get older there are some memories that become hazy, and there are others that remain crystal clear. The day you left us is one of those clear memories.

For the last few days I have had Lili and Felix here with us. As much I love to have them here, Phi and Louie love it more. When I was growing up I got to be with my cousins all the time and I thought that was what kept us close. But then we grew up and moved away from each other. We don't see each other very often. And Phi, Louie, Lili and Felix don't get to see each other too often, but that doesn't seem to matter. When they are together they laugh and play and talk and genuinely love being around each other.

It's the same with my cousins now. Even though  I don't see them often, I think about my cousins everyday. I find myself every morning as I am driving to work wondering what you are all doing. I wonder if Cassie is up with Benji, I wonder if Erika is just coming home from work, I wonder if Eric is driving to work too. I wonder if Monique has school that day. If Patty is kissing the boys good-bye as they head out for school. I wonder if Mikey has already taught a spin class. I wonder if Leo is out driving a truck, or if Emilo let Manual get enough sleep. And I always wonder what you are doing. I wonder what you think about how we are all doing. If you wake up and check on each and everyone of us.

I don't get to see everyone every weekend like I did when I was a kid, but we stay connected and when we do see each other we pick up where we left off. I pray that when we meet again, we get to pick up right where we left off. Even with all the years between visits.

I love you and I miss you.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Why Don't We? So We Did

Now if anyone understands the love for a boy band, it's me. I spent the late 80's and early 90's listening to every New Kids on the Block cassette on repeat. Watching the Hanging Tough Live VHS constantly. Begging my parents to buy me every issue of every teen magazine. (Shout out to my Nina Josie for those years of Bop Magazine subscriptions!!!) And plastering my walls with every NKOTB poster I could find. I spent my spare time writing notes to my BFF all about why Joey McIntyre was gods gift to the world. And when I wasn't doing that I was making fake wedding invitations to mine and Joey's wedding. (Whoa! I ended up with a real wedding invitation to Elissa and Joey's wedding!)

So when the girls suddenly could only talk about the boy band Why Don't We, I get it. And even though I get it, it has been super annoying. Jack this..... Zach that.......Corbin this..........those are the only three names that I can remember. There are 5 because well, that is the boy band formula that sells.

Why Don't We are currently on their "Invitation Tour" and while lunching one day Joey and I found tickets to their Anaheim show for $13 each. We couldn't pass them up. So we got 4 and surprised the girls after school.

They cried.

The big day was last Tuesday. We stood in line for almost 2 hours to get in. Then they hit the stage...

And the girls flipped out.

And I got a little teary eyed because my kids were oh so very happy! Like super super happy.

Could be any boy band!
 It was the first concert I have every been to where I did not know one song. But live music is always fun. I love standing in a venue with my back against Joey and his arms around me. It is the best. Even when it's a boy band that you don't know.

The girls had been hoarding their money to buy some merch. And they spent it all (and some of ours) for a sweatshirt and t-shirt.

Look how happy they are!

Joey and I felt like this was a parenting rite of passage. Suffering though 2 hours of high pitched screaming pre-teens and 2 hours of mega-pop music. We know it's a night the girls will never forget.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Our Lady of Guadalupe- 3 years later

Our Lady of Guadalupe church has been standing tall on Oak Street in Santa Paula since 1929. This was my church growing up. I have been there hundreds of times. My parents were married here. I was baptized here with my Ninos the Blackshears by my side. My Nana and Tata had a 25th wedding anniversary ceremony here. I made my first communion here, where I was so proud to have my Tia Josie walk with me and become my Godmother. I went to 9 years of weekly catechism here. I was flower girl in a few of my Tia's weddings in this church. I remember the Christmas play in the hall where my parents were Mary and Joseph and my little sister was just 3 months old and got to be the Baby Jesus. There was the weekly Sunday mass where the Nuns would use a old school overhead projector with a clean film with the words to all the hymns written down. It made it easier to follow along and I can still sing the songs. Even the Spanish ones. I have celebrated cousin's sacraments and weddings here. I have come here on Dec 12th to bring flowers to La Virgen.

Hundreds of times, so many events but now every time I walk in here I can only remember one thing. I can only remember my Tata's funeral. We went to mass last Sunday and all I could think about was his casket in front of the altar. The giant photo of him on a stand. All the flowers. As I looked around to see a lot of my family there last Sunday, all I could think about was that day that we all sat, dressed in black, holding each others hand and passing tissues as my Tia Mary gave a beautiful eulogy. I see my handsome cousins as pall bearers, and the babies Seli and Bubbs passing out the program that Patricia and I worked so hard on.

All I could see was his casket. The dark wood with the white flowers. After all the times I had been inside this church, that day has had the most impact. I feel like it left me scarred and it was so traumatic it's hard to go back. Because even though last Sunday was just a mass, it still felt so heavy on my heart.

3 years ago today our Tata died. And it still sometimes doesn't feel real. And reality hits at odd times and it crashes all around and I can't do anything but let the sadness of that reality take over. It's hard to believe that we have lived 3 years without him. In those 3 years my family has held tight to each other. We have cheered each other on. We have had some really amazingly happy things happen. Marriage proposals, new beautiful babies and high school and university graduations. My goodness my Tata would have loved all these new babies. I have no idea how he did it. There are a lot of us. And every time a new baby was born he adored them. So much that it was impossible to think that he could have more love to give. And then another baby would be born and he would love that one just as much. I never saw more pride in his eyes as when he got to hold a new baby. Like he knew that we were his legacy and he poured his heart and soul into each and everyone of us.

And now it's been 3 years since we have had him look at each and every one of us with that pride. And we now have to remember what that felt like and know that he gave each of us all he had. And it's time for us to honor that and make him proud of the people we have become, in how we treat others, and how we love each other. But days like today are really hard to get through. To have someone so loving, so smart, so magnetic taken from us will always hurt our hearts. I am not sure how the rest of my family deals with today but I am thinking about them and holding the tight in my heart. I know for me today will be a lot of tears but I just don't have the strength yet to do anything else. I don't know if I ever will that have that kind of strength on February 13th. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

School Choice Week

Every year the girls school has a "school choice" week. All week long the kids have different dress up days like college day and school spirit day. The week ends with free lunch Friday, where the parents came come and have lunch with their kids. 

The whole purpose of the school choice week is to celebrate charter schools and the fact that they provide parents with a choice when it comes to their kids education. So on Friday I went and had lunch with the girls and spent some time with them and their friends. 

It reminded me how lucky we are to have found this school when we did. Growing up I was lucky to go to Briggs School. A small school with about 300 kids from Kinder to 8th grade. I went all 9 years at the same school with the same kids. I still have my best friend from kindergarten. I truly believe that going to such a small school and growing up with the same friends for so long had a significant impact on who I am today. The small environment allowed me to stay a kid longer than most. When all the parents know each other and the parents know the teachers you have a family vibe. And like family you know that the teachers and administrators love you and genuinely want you to succeed.

I have found this same vibe at my kids charter school. We have been a part of this school since day 1. We enrolled Phi by going to the principals house before they even had a location confirmed. We took a chance on the school as much as they took a chance on us and over the last 5 years we have been so happy. I love that I am friendly with the teachers, because they are not just passionate about teaching, they are intelligent and creative people who I admire.

When I can start emails to the principal with DUDE! I know we are at the right place for us.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Their faces make it all worth it.

Every year the holiday stress is real. The lists, the shopping, the crowds, those last minute gifts I ALWAYS forget. Add to that all the travel and packing. Every year I wonder if it's all worth it and I think "next year we just stay home". 

And then every single year Christmas morning comes and we all eat breakfast and sit around the living room and open gifts and we get to see these 6 faces light up. 

And it's all totally worth it and I would do it over and over again to be with these 6 kiddos. I mean even Felix smiles!

And to have us all together with our bonus McClendon family is just perfection.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas from us to you...

by my talented Phi! 

Oh 2017 where did you go? Just in case you don’t follow us on social media, (but seriously why don’t you follow us?) here are some highlights of our year…
  • We rang in 2017 in Atascadero with the family and witnessed Mariah Carey totally have a meltdown on stage. Seriously the kids are STILL talking about it.
  • We hit up Chinatown in LA for the first time. Which is totally crazy because it’s literally across the street from Olvera Street and we go there ALL THE TIME.
  • Our picture from when we adopted Elwood made it on the KTLA news for about 2.5 seconds. Now we all know how the Kardashians feel being so famous.
  • We hit up so many art walks and art museums this year. We go in hopes of finding a new piece and also to help inspire the kids but now we have the outrageous idea to open our own gallery.
  • We overdosed on the Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen soundtracks. I am completely surprised Joey didn’t pack his bags and leave us. He is not a fan of the musicals.
  • For a quick second the girls got into baseball and we clocked in some hours at the batting cages. But like with most things with us, our interest faded quickly.
  • We took many day trips to San Diego. And Joey and I took one epic weekend trip out there without the ball (Phi) and chain (Louie).
  • Louie made the most badass book report to ever be made on a book about a bear with a beard. It’s called Bearded and it’s on our YouTube channel. (Shameless plug!)
  • We watched our niece Chone graduate from high school and we cried because we are so proud of her, and then we cried because we are getting so old.
  • We celebrated Sea Otter Awareness Week because apparently Louie runs our lives.
  • This year’s big birthday trip had us back in Morro Bay to visit the sea otters (I wasn’t joking Louie runs this ship). We also visited Hearst Castle and The Madonna Inn.
  • Bass Lake was amazeballs as always. It was the Gomez Fam’s 30th year going and we had a blast even though we totally got robbed for the talent show trophy.
  • We spent so much more time outdoors this year thanks to Elwood. Dang dogs and them wanting walks. What’s up with that?
  • The girls have taken an interest that is now a borderline obsession with a boy band called Why Don’t We and talk non-stop about them. Joey and Elissa are slowly going insane. Nice move Karma, nice move. #NKOTBForever
  • Joey has taken a big interest in craft beers and has dragged us to many, many breweries. Elissa is loving it and the girls are getting really good at bar games like darts and pinball.
  • Louie turned 7 and started 2nd grade in an all-day school, to our complete surprise she is doing really well in everything but spelling. Hey, she can’t be everything to everyone.
  • Phi turned 12 and started 7th grade. Our star student continues to earn perfect grades and her drawing has gone to a whole other level. We tend to stand around and stare at her waiting for the terrible teen attitude to kick in. So far we have only seen short glimpses.
  • Elissa turned 40 this year. Please don’t mention this to her as she is very sensitive about this milestone.  She has successfully completed her 75 book reading challenge for the year (NERD!) and has successfully annoyed both her husband and children by only listening to New Found Glory songs for the last 6 months.
Wishing you and yours an extraordinary 2018!
The Lerma’s
Joey, Elissa, Sophia, Louie and Elwood

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Worst Christmas Tree Ever...

When the kids were little we were able to get away with a little 5 foot fake tree that we had got on sale for like $15 in 2003. But about 5 years ago Phi wanted a big tree, a fuller tree, a real tree. So since then we have been getting an annual real Christmas tree. Because apparently the kids run this show. And I have really liked it. I love the lights on a big tree, the glow it gives the house and the pine smell!

Every year we head to Home Depot and find our perfect tree. This year Joey and the girls went to Home Depot after school while I was at work. The picked our tree without me. And this tree has been the absolute worst tree we ever had. 


First it would not stand up straight. And we tried everything. Joey used pieces of wood, string, and even tie downs. All those things and it still would not stand up straight. The trunk itself is curved.

Second it dried out in like 2 days. It would not soak up water. Like at all. A few days in and it wasn't as green and needles were falling like crazy. We are now a few weeks in and the branches are drooping and the needles are so dry they just break off. 

Third, Elwood seems to have issues with the tree this year. Last year he left it and the presents alone. This year he has managed to eat about 3 ornaments and then one day we came home to find that he bit off the cord to the lights. Like completely off. 

We now have to put the cord up and tuck it high into the tree. AND we have to put the dining room chairs around the tree so Elwood won't get to it. 

So we have a crooked dried out droopy tree that we have to guard before we leave the house.

Those fake trees are looking better and better everyday.  

Monday, December 18, 2017

NFG 1997-Forever

I had to wait a month to use my 40th birthday present from Joey. Like all mature 40 year olds all I wanted for my birthday was to see my favorite pop punk band New Found Glory on their 20th anniversary tour. The weeks crawled by and finally the big weekend was here! We went all out and bought tickets to the Saturday and Sunday show in San Diego at the House of Blues. My awesome work boss got us a hotel for the weekend for my birthday. We stayed at the Palomar Hotel right next to the House of Blues.

We dropped the kids off with some awesome friends and started the trek down to SD. We hit a little traffic but it was nice to talk to each other without our kid filter. We got into Downtown SD and our first obstacle was parking. A week earlier we started looking into overnight parking. The hotel was charging about $50 per night! Everywhere else we looked was even more! We looked into airport long-term and even hospital long-term parking. Instead we found a lot a few blocks away for $12 a night. Score!

The hotel room was gorgeous! And best of all it was just for us two!

We headed out for a quick bite of burgers and a cold beer at Barley Mash. Then it was almost show time. We had heard about a pre-party at the House of Blues bar starting at 6pm. What we didn't know was that they were only letting in the first 100 people. We were probably the 110th and 111th people so we did not get in. (sad face emoji). So we stood in line with the rest of the regular non-pre-party peeps.

Even waiting in line for an hour is fun with Joey and without kids whining that they are bored or that their feet hurt. When we got into the venue my jaw dropped because it was so small! Even better we walked up to the front of the stage. Joey went to the bar and grabbed 2 tall cans and we stood around for another hour until the opening act hit the stage.

So remember that pop-punk bank with the kid with the long blond bangs whose big hit was a cover of Summer of '69? Yea I hadn't thought of The Ataris for a long time, but there they were. Looking a lot older (join the club) but sounding really good. No more long shaggy blond hair, more like no hair. But sounding just as good as the days when New Found Glory opened for The Ataris!

Then the moment I had been waiting months for finally happened and it was everything I hoped for and then some. The set opened with a short video highlighting the bands journey over the last 20 years. And then some "Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down..." and then BOOM there they were...

I was a sweaty mess by the third song. I was screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs. Jumping and fist pumping like it was 2001. The played their Sticks and Stones and Resurrection albums and it was so absolutley the best time ever.

For the next two hours it was non-stop pop punk rock. By the end of the night I was gross and sticky and my voice was mega hoarse and I was on a big adrenaline rush.

After a good nights sleep we woke up to explore San Diego. We had a big breakfast in Old Town and took a leisurely stroll through some shops. Then we drove into North Park to window shop and to try out some new beers at the Modern Times brewery. Then it was back to Downtown where we scored free street parking! We hit up one more brewery. This time Resident Brewery where I had a really good beer called Perky Blonde.

For night two we were determined to get into the pre-party. So we lined up even earlier and got the coveted wrist band. We headed into the bar where Modern Times was pouring beer and cold brew coffee. We got to chatting with Lo from Modern Times and learned a lot about this awesome company. Then it was time for the show!

This time we were even closer than night 1. EEKKK! And this time we stood stage left. Right is front of dreamy Chad the guitar player!

For the Sunday show they played the Self-titled album which includes my favorite song "Sincerely Me" and their movie soundtrack cover albums. So we got to hear songs like "Kiss Me", "Never Ending Story", "My Heart Will Go On" and even "King of Wishful Thinking"

Were we older than most of the people there? Yes, but we weren't alone. New Found Glory was celebrating 20 years, and are about my age. So their fans age range is big.

NFG lyrics speak to teens of all generations and then 20 years later those teenagers grow up and then those same lyrics remind you of those good times when you were a teen. Or in our case reminds us of the time when we fell in love.

It was so fun for us to relive our punk rock show days. It was like no time had passed. It was still me dancing and singing with my ever steady body guard Joey standing right behind me keeping the mosh pit from knocking me over.

There are some differences between 2003 punk rock show us and 2017 punk rock show us. In 2003 there were late night post-show meals. These days we are exhausted afterwards and 2 kids to rush home to. And I don't remember being so sore the next day.

The weekend was epic and one I will never forget. It was a reminder of how alive live music can make you feel. How much fun singing along with your favorite band is. How freaking awesome my husband is and how much I love to be with him.

Best birthday present ever.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Our First Ever Parent Teacher Conference

Last week we had our first ever parent teacher conference. Now if this would have been for Phi there would have been no anxiety. We would have went in expecting Phi's teacher to give high praise for our brilliant child! But this conference was for .....


our crazy one.

We walked into the classroom and Louie settled in.

Why so nervous Lou? 
We sat down with Louie's teacher, and the sub who has been teaching the class for a few weeks now since OG teach is out on maternity leave.

They offered us fresh fruit and cookies, which we declined. We chit-chatted with Louie's teacher. (She's a friend!) Then we got down to the nitty-gritty.

I held my breath expecting to hear how she is behind and to put together a game plan to catch her up before the end of the year. Remember Louie was homeschooled until this year and my expectations of my own child is WAY different than an actual teachers.

Turns our Louie is doing awesome. Words like exceptional and phenomenal where thrown around. Not only is she doing well, but she is showing improvements in all subjects and has mastered her 2nd grade math and reading requirements are moving on to 3rd grade math and reading.

Not only is she doing great in academics, she is also well-behaved and even helpful to her friends in class. Her teacher told a sweet story about when Louie's friend was in charge of calendar for the week. Calendar is when a student goes up in front of the class and tells the date, what the day was before, what the day is after, gives the weather and counts the class money and tells if the day is even or odd. (I would have been nervous too!)

See Louie had done calendar a few weeks earlier. The weekend before Louie's turn for calendar she was really nervous. She keep wanting to practice with us. After that Monday we asked Louie how calendar went and she loved it. So fast forward a few weeks later and it was Louie's friend turn. Her friend was nervous, so all on her own, Louie went up and helped her friend with the whole calendar job.

That's my girl.

This story made me so proud. Because of course I want my kids to do well academically, but more importantly I want them to be kind.

So all and all in was a great experience as far as parent teacher conferences go.

Louie with her 41+ week pregnant teacher.
Thank goodness she had the baby the next day! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Right in Our Backyard: Palm Springs Botanical Gardens

Lots and lots of pictures... you have been warned... 

Exploring these gems near our house is so much fun. I have heard lots of cool things about the Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs. More importantly I had seen a ton of very cool Instagram pics from this place.

We went one weekend, cameras and even selfie stick in hand. The place is not like your typical botanical garden. You are not going to find a huge variety of different types of flowers and plants. Instead you are going to see more types of cactus than you even knew existed!

Walking around the grounds almost feels like you have been transported to another planet.

Or maybe its like walking through a Dr. Seuss book.

And some of these are like no joke when it comes to needles.

There were parts where Louie exclaimed "Mom, it's like walking underwater".  Totally Louie. Totally.

And when you think you have seen every shade of green imaginable, you turn and a pop of purple.

Guys.... every corner is Insta-worthy.

As if the grounds are not enough, my absolute favorite part was the "Cactarium"

I could have spent all day in this place. There were plants that looked other worldly!

After they dragged me out of the Cactarium we continued on....

Much like my Grandma Rachel, Louie loves her a good Buddha statue.

This was one of my favorite ones. It almost looks alive!

Cactus graveyard....

My only advice would be, tie your shoelaces tight because this is not a place you want to take a fall. Imagine one of these piercing your skin. OUCH!

Of course towards the end of the trail they have a plant stand where you can purchase you own desert beauties! We took home 6. Let's see how long I can keep them alive. 

It took us maybe an hour to see the entire thing, but I could have easily spent hours looking through everything again.

It is a must see. I mean just go for the Instagram pics you'll get to post.