My Emotional Ties With Thanksgiving Food

I was awake muy muy temprano all week. It’s always like that with all the hustle and bustle of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season and all the birthday celebrations between. Today la familia will be celebrating mi mas chiquito grandson; Uriah Benjamin, 1 year old. What a wonderful way to end a Thanksgiving and enter into Christmas verdad?  

With that thought, as I was waking up today, I considered the wonderful Thanksgiving feast we’ve shared every year for the past 34 years. Rich in carbs, calories and fats. It’s not anything extraordinary really, pero this morning, the years of tradition in these simple foods overwhelmed me with appreciation. I went down my list:

Yams for Patty and me, nobody else appreciates them in my home. Yams, brown sugar and marshmallows. These remind me a bit of the camote my ama used to buy every morning when we were visiting Tia Angela in Guadalajara. The vendor would roll down the street on his three wheel bike equipped with a huge basket of delicious sweet camotes, yelling in a deep voice “camote” and we’d eat them drenched in leche. Today, I make a very small casserole dish of yams, since I alone partake of them now. I thank God every Thanksgiving for those years Patty and I shared the “gringo camotes” 🙂

Green beans with almonds for Ben and Rosie since our kids avoid veggies like the plague.

I’m gonna choose to avoid the ‘bad mom’ stares. Ben doesn’t have a stomach for green bean casserole and he stated that very clearly from the beginning of our voyage. I was glad because what was just the word ‘casserole’ intimidated me. Instead we enjoy fresh green beans stir fried in butter, diced garlic, sliced onions and almonds. Just for my flaco and I. It almost makes it our romantic thanksgiving side dish.

Stuffing for everyone! It’s the only time of the year I can get my sons to eat veggies. Finely diced onion,carrot and celery. Extremely disguised into the stuffing with the sausage and breading. I was pretty sure of myself, until I wasn’t. This year, My daughter in-law Denise asked me to share my stuffing recipe, because she was making some at home. Y pues, my shoulders straightened as I proudly began to share my recipe. When I said make sure to dice bien chiquito the celery and carrots, she interrupted me. “Actually, Jon asked me to leave out the celery this time.” Que! All these years despite loving my stuffing, he was so quick to alter it as soon as it was out of my hands. Luego, the worst thing that you can imagine happened! Asi es, a Thanksgiving tragedia.  my stuffing was…not good! my traditional stuffing was off and I hated it, and my sons didn’t fight for it.. I threw my hands up in total defeat, what else would change this Thanksgiving? I love feeding my family and others, and even as I write I feel the weight of that stuffing fumble, pues, I can’t have my sons not fighting over who gets more stuffing, verdad? Ok, think good thoughts, all my children and grandchildren were thanking God with me.

Desserts in our house. Classic San Diego Greene style. Cookies and Pumpkin pie are not traditions in danger of being removed. Until they don’t appear. Not one cookie, ni uno! And pumpkin pie? Daniella came filled with a desire for pumpkin pie. I prepared with the cool whip and proceeded to assign someone else the task of pumpkin pie. I can’t even say it, my brain isn’t wrapping around the fact that there was NO PUMPKIN PIE!  My newest daughter in-law Monique Greene introduced a pumpkin roll, y pues, it was delicious, we barely had enough of it. I’m impressed at her ease en la cocina. I can already tell that my lil Flaco, her flaco is putting on some weight. …but tradition took another hit. 

This year Thomas, our baker, made delicious cheese cakes, recipes he learned from the bakery he works at. Muy dalishious! Another change for my “anchored in tradition” heart to endure. We have always made Philadelphia’s classic 3 step cheesecake. It was right up my budget and my “teaching the kids” ability.

The Peanut butter, chocolate and cool whip pie that Emery has made for years, the “Terni Pie” because the recipe was shared by our dear friend Ternisha, remained in its traditional place. He always remembers it almost too late to share with anyone.

Gracias a Dios, I was worried that he was too much in the honeymoon clouds to worry about a silly pie. 

Ya se que change is inevitable, I’m learning to unlatch myself from the old ways when I must, and embrace the new things.

My pastor preached last Wednesday that everyday could be a day of Thanksgiving, “Gracias te damos Senor” everyday? Amen! good preaching indeed.  If we choose to practice Philippians 4:6 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything (not even the changes).Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. (Jesus, you’ve done so much for me, I cannot tell it all!) Then you will experience the peace of God, which exceeds anything we can understand.

At times it takes focus and grit to not go down the lonely path of losses and “what ifs.” Even the losses, like no pumpkin pie or mediocre stuffing can be made into a beautiful thankful moment. I hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Have a beautiful Christmas season, y que Dios los bendiga

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Reminders to be Thankful and Pick up the Phone

It’s Thanksgiving season and I’ve been doing some gratitude research. Learning the science behind gratitude has been an eye opening, or maybe reopening experience, a wonderful reminder of how good it is to be grateful. 

When I was little and I happened to be in the house taking a break from playing hard outdoors and it was novela hour, I had to be quiet or else! Since novelas are so dramatic, body language so extreme and words so powerful, some of it will still ring in my head at random times, like now. “Que Ingrata eres!!” in english it’s not that powerful “You’re so ungrateful!” Or isn’t it?

Holidays tend to want to make me focus on the voids in my life. I’ve been making a mess of my memory treasure box trying to find the perfect Thanksgiving memory. Pulling out all kinds of stuff that is great, or sad or hijole! That stuff that you don’t ever bring up again. Asi es, I miss my ama, my apa and my sisters, I miss Thanksgiving with them, I’m grateful for the ones I did have.  I do want to go into that lonely place and just remember.

Then it hit me, right between my ears, knocking over the memories. Chilindrina, my apas favorite little girl always said Si seras! I’ve got so much here, on this earth journey to be grateful for. Pero, digging further is appreciating the things I wouldn’t normally give a shout out to. Ahora, while I can and while I still have these tangible blessings I’m going to count a couple of them out loud.

DIY Thanksgiving Wreaths:

I’ve had 4 children that brought home so many crafts from their school days. Can I say, without them hearing me, that I had so many school projects I dreaded them. Shhh, it’s not supposed to be said out loud. Asi es, and through the years I’ve had to minimize my DIY treasures.

Pues, the other day, my grandson Marcus sent me  a Thanksgiving wreath, made by his own two little hands. Y ahora, I realize that those treasures only come for a short season, I’m so blessed that he decided to give it to his ama.  Immediatamente I said, I’m gonna get my phone and take a picture and send it to Daniella to share with Marcus, with a text, saying “I love my wreath, thank you” Pero, I got distracted and didn’t pick up my phone to take that pic and send a message. 

How To Appreciate A Phone Call:

So this big brother of mine, Fernando, apa called him Chapparro, is very good about keeping in touch with me. All through my adult years he’s mostly been connected and concerned for me. He calls me to check on me, then we chat about his favorite topic, politics. He fills me in on all the bad news of my state and at some point our conversation will always get animated. We are both blessed with our mothers vocal chords so it gets to be a loud interrupting conversation. My son Thomas loves to hear us talking, or is it shouting? He says it’s a novela. I am thankful for these phone calls, I’m so glad to have a big familia and sibling experience.

I am guilty as charged. My sister Patty was always frustrated with me. “Why do I always have to call you?” Por supuesto that I always had perfectly good excuses, and I rarely admitted my fault and gracias a Dios that she always forgave me and very impatiently continued to be the leader and make the calls to me. 

Then, for a short season, my older sister Lupe would call me every morning on her drive to work. “Good morning Sunshine” was her greeting. Sometimes I was sunshine, other times I just hoped she wouldn’t hear my morning rush voice. I mean, a little sister doesn’t mess with her big sister in the hierarchy scale. It was a short chapter in our lives, maybe six months or so. My sister was a brand new Christian, esperate, she always believed in God and respected her religion, but she had never known about repentance and inviting Christ into her heart. Wow! She had a radical conversion. Her hurt and pain were immediately replaced with joy and curiosity of this new found friend in Jesus. These phone calls were critical.  Thankfully with her, I never did face the truth that I didn’t pick up the phone to call her, I didn’t have to, morning was coming soon enough.

Through the years, picking up the phone and making a phone call has really been an issue for me. I have to be prompted by a “premonition” or just something extraordinary, like Holy Ghost conviction 😭 to make a call and even then, I put it off. Unfortunately, I have faced this uncovering with my sister Marina. She takes this neglect personal, except that it isn’t. Mira Rosalba, It’s just a phone call, it can be done while you pack Bens lunch, it can be done at any time, but it isn’t. And, here’s where I’m grateful for mi hermana. Thankfully, as much as it hurts us both, she makes me aware of my neglect and like Patty she is frustrated with me and we work through the offenses. Also, thankfully she doesn’t cancel me out of her life or herself out of mine. I know I have her loyal and strong support and I believe she knows she has mine too. 

 I am grateful for my patient and sometimes impatient siblings, we are family and they love me y le doy gracias a Dios in this Thanksgiving season that they keep on calling me. Y por supuesto that I am grateful for the DIY works of art that will come my way again through my sweet grandkids. 

How to Remove Dinosaur Hair from a Three Year Old’s Nostril

Daily Benefits from God

I read a scripture that arrested me: Psalms 68:19 Bless be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation. (NKJ version) Of course I “know” that, o no? I mean, daily, todo los dias, he abundantly gives us benefits, yet so many times, I haven’t paid attention. I’ve taken for granted God’s constant watch over us, protecting us and wanting us to enjoy life. I decided I needed to pay more attention by counting my blessings. God is good always, he keeps a good eye on my inheritance (mis nietos)  for sure.

Grandkids bring such joy to our daily lives, bringing laugh out loud moments. Sometimes the weight of stuff distracts us and we don’t realize what an incredible benefit grandkids and laughter are to our lives.

Jeremiah and the Dinosaur Hair 

So it happened this past Wednesday night, Jonathan, mi hijo, and his family were home from church, they had a great midweek service. That was the report I got from the pastor’s wife, Denise, who just happens to be mi nuera, Jonathan’s wife. Winding down five hyper but tired children is not an easy task. When the lights were out and finally, not a creature was stirring, even impatient little Uriah was asleep. Denise, my daughter in law was herself entering that second stage of sleep where the brain slows down and eye movement stops. Sweet rest was descending. 

Derepente! Jeremiah, her three year old, burst into the room! Esperate. This is a common nightly occurrence and it always disturbs the peace. He was squirmy and mumbling something about his nose and his dinosaur. Denise was tired and groggy. During the day she has to be in complete focus mode to interpret his lively conversation and that is hard enough! Night time interpretation is impossible. Besides, he should be sleeping, not talking or playing with his dinosaur still!

Mommy: Jeremiah you need to go back to bed.

Jeremiah: mumble mumble…my nose.

Mommy: Jeremiah, then go blow your nose. 

He hurries to blow his nose and comes back to the room.

Jeremiah: Mommy, mumble mumble, dinosaur mumble nose…

Mommy: Jeremiah…please get back in bed.

Jeremiah: mumble mumble, dinosaur.

Ahora si, my son wakes up to hear him talking about his dinosaur and assuming he wants somebody to play with him, he orders him back to bed.

Daddy: Jeremiah go back to bed. (Groggy but stern voice)

Jeremiah, turned around and went back to bed where his dinosaur awaited. No use arguing with stubborn and tired parents. Somehow he managed to sleep again, another night time episode was over and all was quiet in the house, good night stuffy dinosaur.

In the morning, the busyness of breakfast and school kept everyone occupied. Ama was coming over for P.E. and deskwork had to be completed. While the girls were finishing their  last assignment, Denise went to put the baby down for a nap, y otra vez just as he was dozing off, Jeremiah burst into the room.

Jeremiah: Mommy mumble mumble my nose.

Mommy: What is it Jeremiah? 

Jeremiah: something in my nose.

That’s when Denise noticed a white string hanging out of his nose. Asi es.

Mommy: What in the World? Come here Jeremiah, what is that? 

She pulled on the string and Jeremiah sneezed, spraying her. Pero, the string didn’t budge! Jeremiah squirmed. Denise pulled again, causing him to sneeze again. Hijole! Jeremiah has big nostrils for a three year old and out of one nostril came out a big white snot ball! Denise was able to grab the “specimen” into a diaper wipe and clean off all the mucus that had formed around it. A white spongy mass the size of a pea was revealed. Que?! When Jeremiah saw it, he recognized it.

Mommy: What is this Jeremiah?

Jeremiah: It’s dinosaur hair!

By the time I arrived and heard the story, Jeremiah had been listening and needed to correct and change it a bit. He had a story to tell his ama, mommy had obviously missed some very important parts in the story.

After hearing Denise’s version I decided to ask Jeremiah what happened, he was waiting for his chance, get the camera rolling Ama!. Here’s my attempt at interpreting Jeremiah’s account, with  translation from his mother.

“Here’s my dinosaur. He has an owie. Here and here and here and here. I prayed for him. He’s gonna die. I went like this (he put the dinosaur to his face) and I got his hair in my nose. I went to tell my mommy. I told her I needed my Bibleman costume to help him. 

En Conclusion:

Ves, God’s providence is beautiful! We can’t always see or know all the things a curious toddler does, objects in the nose can be painful and/or dangerous, gracias a Dios that the string was detectable and my lil Jeremiah was able to quickly sneeze out that “dinosaur hair” I wish I could say that he learned a lesson, pero mi hijo, says that Jeremiah walks into every imaginable and unimaginable situation possible! Y me pregunto, How in the world could we even live without the loads of benefits God provides daily? 

Mil Gracias to All Our Veterans

Mil Gracias to All Our Veterans

I was going to get deep into the meaning of war, the purpose of war, the conquests of war, y the losses of war. Pero it was too much. Sufficient to say that war is ugly and costly, but needed at times to keep order and dominion. November 11, Veterans Day is our time to honor those who served our nation loyally. The liberty and prosperity we experience is due partly to our veterans. Thank you for your service. 

Ben and I will celebrate Veterans Day. I thank God for my veteran sailor who served in the United States Navy. I am privileged to have brothers and nephews who also served in our military. 

I have a great deal of respect for military families who endure hard separations, constant relocations and wartime assignments. My respect to young men and women who experience war before they experience living. Also, much admiration goes out to parents who endure as their children are away and many times in danger. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord shine his face upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

My flaco, Ben, sent this letter out to his veteran friends today. It was written by his grandfather Norman Torrey, who was there on Armistice Day when WW1 was finally over.

How To Play Basketball When You’re Almost Sixty

I was going to attempt to make this a catchy poem, porque I wanted it to be muy bonito,  but my brain doesn’t work in poetry. The  the raw story, no flowery lines.

Homeschooling and Physical Education

A need arose for my homeschooling grandchildren. They were in need of a formal Physical education class (PE) with concepts taught and learned of course. So, Ama was called to the rescue. Por su puesto that I was flattered, challenged, a little bit worried and excited to be a part of their PE time.

Would my abuela bones and muscles permit me to “teach” P.E.? Would I be able to keep up with the kids? I think I have to demonstrate the drills, que no? I’ve been walking regularly, that should help my cardio.

My Basketball Portfolio

I drifted back into my own homeschooling days. Man! I better not tell my daughter in law about my previous PE class or I’d lose the opportunity.  I would take my kids and their cousins to play basketball, not really teaching them any concepts or rules. I just divided us up into two teams and we played to win. It was quite a sight. Daniella bounced the ball then slapped it because she didn’t know what dribbling was. Her cousin Cassi was ferocious on defense, all she knew was that she had to keep her opponent from shooting and scoring. She was doing a lot of slapping and shoving. Jonathan was taller so he could easily keep the ball from the girls but couldn’t really shoot to score. My nephew Emmanuel mostly laughed at his sister Cassi as she raged against him in defense. Nikki, on the other hand, was cool and serious, her team had to win, or else, she had some natural coordination. Those particular PE days were exhausting and painful, I hated how uncoordinated we were but I loved the competitiveness to win.

I also remembered my high school days when I coached a basketball team. My team was composed of 3rd and 4th grade little girls, it was our first year of little league basketball for girls. I was teaching concepts and working on drills. I wanted my team to win every game. And we did! An exciting time for my little desert town of Calipatria. I loved it! 

I was still very much looking forward to teaching them how to play basketball, though my own high school basketball ambitions weren’t going as planned. Hijole, I do feel like a ‘confession’ is needed here, my cheeks are pink, muy avergonzada,  as I tell you that although I knew I could play basketball well enough for starting lineup or first string,  Mr. Wilson the basketball coach couldn’t see my potential, he was stuck on my speed! Or lack of it 🙄 He said “Rosie, you can play more, if you stay on the J.V. squad.” 😭 I was a Junior, what humiliation. Was I there to play basketball or look cool on the bench?  But that’s in the past buried now…almost, maybe after this post.

I’ve had three PE classes with my grandkids. The first one was a full class. My three older grandsons and my two older granddaughters. Primos competing! The boys were showing off their speed and the girls were trying to keep up. In another class I had just the girls and my two year grandson, he was determined to keep up with his sisters and I wasn’t going to baby him.  He ran the sprints, although he cheated, he dribbled, and ran around and ran out of gas, or maybe it was his battery depleted? I can tell they’re having a good time and so am I.The girls  practice their dribbling at home and hey have improved. I also sent home easy drills for them to strengthen their arm muscles to get that heavy ball up to the hoop. This abuela is taking her PE class muy seriamente. 

En conclusion:

A few years ago, before grandkids I participated in a weight loss clinical study and when I was asked why, I said, well, soon I’ll have grandkids and I need to be able to keep up with them, and I do! Mas o menos, because they are fast and full of energy. I did quickly discover that my quads needed strength and my arm muscles have turned into wings now.  To be able to play basketball or any easy sport I have to just keep moving. Y asi es, I’m again an unofficial PE coach. The beauty in this story is that while I never knew what it was like to enjoy my abuelas,God has given me a chance for ‘grand’ relationships.

How To Survive October 31

Costumes and Candy

El Halloween is here and it can be a stressful time. Costumes and candy is something we do all year round, but en Halloween, it really was a dread to me as we were raising our children. 

When I was chiquita, I loved that candy season, a pillowcase full of all kinds of dulces that of course, I ate in moderation. That’s right, no cute plastic pumpkin basket, a sturdy pillowcase to contain all my loot was needed, besides, like every other holiday, mi ama was a minimalist when it came to holiday paraphernalia. What I didn’t know was that October 31 most likely stressed her out too. The whining and the nagging for stuff for that day rained down on her usually a couple of days before Halloween.

“Ama, can you buy me a costume like Lil Debbie’s?” A bruja costume? All the little girls were witches

Ama, we’re having a party at school, will you buy cookies? 

“Ama, what costume can I wear? I have to have a costume

“Ama, do you have enough candy for the kids that come to our house?

“Amaaaa, I don’t know what to wear for Halloween.” (read that in the whiny voice)

“Ama, can I use your _____ for my costume? I’ll be careful with it.

“Ama, can I go trick or treating? (this started around kindergarten age)

“Ama, Patty doesn’t want to go with me. (I had to bargain with Patty with candy I didn’t have yet)

Then it was over and she was left with the aftermath of too much candy and cavities lurking, waiting to pounce.

Then when I grew up, or when I turned 18 and became a Christian, Halloween became the “holiday of witches and goblins” Hijole! No more Halloween as I knew it. Pero luego, my pastor turned it into a tool for evangelism. All of a sudden, my church was out on the streets on trick or treat day, maximizing the opportunity to bring the Gospel to the streets. Y pues that was great for me as a single young woman, we created street dramas and introduced a “Haunted House” with a Gospel message, they were scary! I had a great time sharing candy and the  message of Jesus, a win, win situation. Pero! Then I grew up some more.  I got married and had kids and they learned about costumes and candy, hijole! 

I found myself slowly unraveling in my resolve to not participate in Halloween like the world did. If I dressed my kid up, was I a compromising Christian? Was I partaking in the devil’s schemes? Would I confuse my kids? What would Jesus Do? Esperate. I’m not mocking or dwindling this issue down to a “silly notion” this was a real fight within me, I was frustrated that I seemed alone in this stand I was making. 

 Here’s how it went down through the years as we raised our kids.

  • At school if Halloween fell on a school day, I didn’t dress them up, but la maestra always had back up costumes for those poor little kids who didn’t bring a costume from home. My son Jonathan, in his first year of school, asked if he could wear his cowboy boots, vest and hat to school that week of Halloween and I confess, I knew what he was doing, but I also knew that he loved to dress like a cowboy all the time, so I let him. I think it was Daniella who told me how “terrible” it was for them to be singled out as the pobrecitos, poor little kids who were denied the costume experience on Halloween. Everyone felt sorry for them.
  • At church, while the adults evangelized the kids had fun at a small church Harvest Festival we moms organized. Pero! No witches, ghosts or scary costumes were allowed. We even tried bible characters, but as creative as we mom’s got, the kids all looked alike! Once in a while a mom stepped out and dressed her kid like the Balaams donkey who talked in the bible. Like my ama, I was “the minimalist mom” with costumes. I knew how to work with what you already had at home.
  • The adolescent years were tricky. Three  kids in the mix had whittled down my resolve. The secret discussions about Halloween always happened between my kids, they planned without me and I was always impressed at their creativity. Emery was the master at pushing for what he wanted. He worded and timed his requests for help  for optimal results. Y pues, I remembered how I plotted as a kid during Halloween.

  • By the fourth kid, I was hands on in planning out costumes for Thomas. Daniella, his “little mother” was creative and resourceful, y pues we had a good time. At this point in parenting I realized that trick or treating and costumes were the least of my parenting battles. They were harassed by temptation and peer pressure at school and at church. They were facing the reality of God’s pressure. 

En conclusion:

Halloween isn’t so scary to me anymore. We buy candy to share, appreciate the creative costumes and take the opportunity to share the message of Jesus. As far as surviving, just keep the main thing, the main. Porque sabes que? Even on October 31 Jesus is Lord!

How to Survive Youth and Age Gracefully.

How to Grow old with Grace

As I’ve grown older, I have always loved birthday celebrations, especially mine. Bien vanidosa! I love all the happy birthday wishes I receive all day long, and throughout the week 🥳 and all of a sudden I don’t mind sharing my size, hijole!

Dale, dale, dale. (Hit hit hit)

No pierdas el tino, (Don’t lose your sureness)

porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino. (because if you lose it, you’ll lose your way)

Ya le diste una, ya le diste dos, ya le diste tres. (You’ve hit it once, you’ve hit it twice, you’ve hit it thrice)

Y tu tiempo se acabó.(Now your time is up)

My birthday celebration

A Birthday Memory

 I was going on sixteen, los gringos dicen “a sweet 16 birthday”, que sweet! I was feeling anything but sweet. I was feeling like the emotional teen I was. Nothing special was gonna happen, my birthday was on a weekday, and if it wasn’t, I wasn’t going to have a big birthday party anyway. Things were terrible in every part of my life!  They had not miraculously changed liked I thought they would when I entered high school and they seemed to progress to horrible!  I was supposed to be pretty, instead I was getting pimples. High school was supposed to be all fun and games, it wasn’t. Volleyball season, my favorite sport, was in jeopardy. My position as ‘the’ setter was shared with a little freshman girl, she was trying to steal my starting place on the varsity team! Imaginate! How could Miss George do this to me? I was the setter, I was relieved that at least she couldn’t serve like me, that should keep me off the bench. 

I was struggling in math, my geometry class was almost too much for me, it was pretty humiliating to have to constantly be asking for help in class and out. Pero, the worst of all my tribulations was that the love of my life, the most handsome boy in school, still didn’t know I existed. It didn’t help me that I was a wreck anytime he even came near me. At sixteen with all these dramatic situations I felt like my life was over? 

I wasn’t gonna make a big deal of my birthday. Manana I would pretend like it was just another day and it would pass without notice. Quizas, the whole year would just pass unnoticed. y de repente! I could just be all grown up and pretty and ‘he’ would notice me then. But I couldn’t help it, I always made a big deal on my birthday, my mind always went into fantastic fantasies of a surprise party with a bang. Maybe, just maybe this time ama would surprise me? Don’t get me wrong, I definitely didn’t want another dress up birthday, my quince was way too much for me.  Anyway, I went to bed pushing down that hope, after all it was just another weekday, nothing special ever happened in the middle of week. 

Posole Celebration:

The next morning, while I was still sleeping, ama was preparing a celebration. She had invited Sarah and Lisa, our friends from down the street. Patty and Marina were present, it was early, the day hadn’t begun and my ama had stirred them awake to celebrate. 

When everyone was ready, they burst into my bedroom wishing me a happy birthday, they were singing and I was surprised. My ama had gotten up extra early or went to bed super late and in very Mexican tradition prepared Posole, a delicious red chile meat and hominy soup. however she did it, we all enjoyed a nice hot bowl of chicken posole with all the fixings for my birthday. It is a sweet sixteen birthday memory that only now I can truly appreciate. Gracias ama, there’s that wish again for sending texts to heaven. “Ama, I really did love your posole, and I didn’t notice then, how much sacrifice and love you put into serving us a hot bowl or plate of your delicious food, but I know it now. I can’t wait to thank you in person ama, I’m all grown up now. 

Throughout that day, my first day of sixteen, I got lots of attention from my friends and teachers for my birthday and I reveled in it. It kind of got me addicted to wanting ‘extra doses’ of attention on my birthdays.

Here are some things I’ve appreciated throughout the years on my birthday:

-Phone calls from Marina to wish me a happy birthday, although sometimes she’s done it on Daniella’s birthday or my anniversary, es que she thinks often of me verdad?

-My brother Fernando was always very good about calling or sending a card

-Brother Ben, before he was my Benjamin, gave me a bible as my first birthday gift when we were dating. I was impressed by his spirituality.

-My Benjamin does everything he can to make it special for me, with help from the kids and my friends of course. I learned a hard lesson the year I moved my apa into our home. I was struggling with the caregiving transition and I was feeling sorry for myself. I said to him “Don’t worry about doing anything special for my birthday this year, things are kind of hard right now” Y sabes que? He believed me, he really thought I didn’t want to celebrate?! Hijole! The day of my birthday came and he wished me a happy birthday, gave me my gift and my kids did the same and it was a quiet day and I couldn’t believe it! An uneventful birthday! I was so indignant, how could Ben be so cold blooded? He had taken my words literally!? Like I said, he goes the extra mile to ensure my happy birthdays 😀 Mira nomas, maybe I haven’t grown up yet? 

-On my 40th birthday, I had been mourning the “falling” of my body, so my son Jonathan figured he would cheer me up by making a cake of a woman (me) with boobs in the proper place, hijole!

-One year my kids pitched in to pay for a nice trip to visit my bestie.

-Jonathan, my first born has had a new birthday family tradition. He has enjoyed ruining the rhythm of the Happy Birthday Song, he believes off key or no key is much more fun. In the end it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo laughter before the candles get blown out. 

-My church family loves me and lavishes me with beautiful happy birthday wishes and gifts and lunch dates

En Conclusion 

Pero, when I’m not celebrating the time of my birthday, I see too much gray and too much wrinkles. Luego, I feel and sometimes hear my creaky bones. Asi es, and it shouldn’t be like this. Thomas, my youngest, is the best gift receiver I’ve ever known. He is always delighted with every gift he receives and with the same token he is always excited to give the gifts he buys others on their birthday. When I really really grow up, I want to be just like Thomas, a grateful person. I do give thanks to God for my life, and for my new year, 57 is not a milestone year but it has a few new beginnings in it, y gracias a Dios for that too.

How To Talk With To Your Husband

I was entertained by my grandsons this week and in between smirks and laughter, without their knowledge of course, I was reminded of the age old dilemma of communication with the opposite sex. I write through the lens of my own experiences, married to a quiet man, a very quiet man and raising three boys. Y pues, of course like a true woman I talk to other ladies, who are also looking for ways to fix them, I mean the problem of communication. Por supuesto que there are the rare occasions  where in a relationship a man is a talker and the woman could be, but she’s not quick enough to get her words out.  

Asi es, for a long time it has been discovered, or maybe uncovered? Girls love to talk and want to be heard, by anyone, by everyone, pero, especially by their husband or honey. Ves, it’s so important it’s got to come out now! Meanwhile boys don’t want to talk, but they will if the topic is in their radar. Otherwise, they would prefer not to hear us, because when they do, they are confused!  “What is she talking about?” Or in the doghouse, “What did I do?”

 Por supuesto, in a good womanly fashion, I must tell you some back story before I share my “Conversations with the opposite sex” stories.

I think that the empty nest changes have provoked Ben and I to work on “us” more intimately. Like in, working really hard at better communication. Imaginate, my cold blooded Englishman is digging deep, maybe even borrowing words from others to have a conversation with me. Meanwhile I’m exercising much self control to not say too much, or worse! Say nothing at all and still communicate my love and peace with him. Hijole! Ya se, ya se, you would think that after 34 years of marriage we would be “coaching” others verdad? I can report that God is patient and longsuffering even when we’re not. He isa great coach for us, when we let him, he directs us from his word and through easily accessible resources.

One of the places I’ve gleaned from is a recent podcast called Real Relationship Talk. After listening to Dana Che I realized that we just didn’t communicate at all, but now I realize that we were! It was just not good communication. She puts both sides of an issue on the table, raw and real conversations that have helped us. As Empty Nesters were starting from the beginning, getting on the same page😉.

Without further ado, here’s a clip of some of my conversations :

Rosie: Man! I didn’t take my walk this morning, I have to make sure I do it tomorrow morning.

Ben:   If you can wait for me, I’ll walk with you tomorrow”

Rosie: Oh, ok.  (But in my mind I had mixed emotions since my morning walks are my “hashing     out my issues” in conversation with God, now I had to talk to Ben. Duh! Isn’t this what I want, time with Ben? 

The next morning…

Rosie: Are you ready?

Ben: Yup, just let me get my tennis shoes on.

We stepped outside and the silence wasn’t acceptable so I started talking.

Rosie: Maybe we can listen to a conference sermon?

Ben:  Oh, ok. (regarding the neighbors yard) I don’t care for this yard, rocks instead of grass. 

A few steps of quiet, oh oh.

Rosie: (I pull out my phone) Let me find that sermon.

Ben: I don’t think it’s gonna rain after all.

Rosie: I don’t know, it looks like it might. (I hold off on the sermon)

A few more seconds of empty space. Ok, I’ll talk then. 

Rosie: It’s going to be…

Ben: (regarding another yard)  I don’t like this ivy, I prefer grass, just nice green grass.

Rosie: (In my mind- Maybe I’ll not play the sermon, maybe he’s gonna want to talk)  Yes, I think green…

Ben: See it gets brown and messy.  (regarding someone’s boat) I don’t like those kinds of boats.

Rosie: (looking over at the big speed boat-aren’t they all the same?) Really, why?

Ben: they’re just power boats, no place to sit, they’re just for speed.

I had no response and I worried the conversation attempt would die.

Rosie: I wonder How Joe’s doing?

Ben: I liked  my dad’s boat, it had character. 

Rosie: oh (in my mind- he doesn’t need me to hold a conversation)

All of a sudden, I had nothing to say and I was walking faster. The warnings blared as he glanced over at me and the words escaped Ben as he tried to figure out what happened.

Later that morning I was watching my grandson Judah. Judah was happy to read a book. Then I also had a couple of little girls from church to babysit. When they arrived Judah kept on reading. They immediately wanted to play with him, he wasn’t interested, nor was he listening as they jabbered away. Then he snuck out to the backyard, but the girls were quick to get their shoes and go outside too. A short while later I went outside to check on them.

Judah was standing there just staring at them.

Ama: What’s going on out here? Is everyone behaving?

Judah: Yes, but I don’t understand what they’re saying.

Belen: My name is Belen, b. e. l. e. n.

Judah stared at her confused.

Ama: What are you saying Belen?

Belen: His name is Judah. My name is Belen, b.e.l.e.n. (all that was said as she multitasked, climbing in and out of the toy car)

Judah stared at her blankly. 

Ama: Alveena? (the toddler was also jabbering away)  What are you saying? Judah, can you tell me what she’s saying?

Judah: No, I do not know what she’s saying.

And as she ran across the yard she screeched

Alveena: I chay it! 

Belen: cheese, cheese cheese

Ama: Oh my gosh

Judah was immersed in their words and not knowing what to do he decided it was best to ignore them.

I had a good laugh, poor Judah, he would never understand them, or any woman for that matter. De repente, it hit me! Ben and I had just had that very same experience! Lack of understanding or misunderstanding. He thought I wanted words from him, it is what I have said to him. Pero, doesn’t he understand that what I really want is time well spent with him, communicating in silence is doable, I’ve had to learn things when I step into his quiet space, pero, I also want and need meaningful conversation. What I didn’t see was that Ben was really trying, he was using topics he was comfortable in. Ok, scrap that attempt, let’s try again.

Luego, the next evening,  on another round of abuela watch, I loaded up the van with the other  grandchildren. We were off to keep Thomas busy at his job at the city recreation center. 

During the drive, I was reminded of how straight forward men talk, no backstory and minimal description. Fijate.

11 month old Uriah: Da Da Da Da Da Da

3 year old Jeremiah: D’mamybabybrotherdays

Uriah: Da Da Da

Jeremiah: D’maD’ma

Ama: Yes Jeremiah?

Uriah: Da Da Da

Jeremiah: D’maD’ma

Ama: Yes Jeremiah

Jeremiah: mybabybruderdays…mybabybruderdays…hedayshelovesyou

Ama: Jeremiah I don’t understand you. Say it again, slower (I listened with a sharp ear)

Jeremiah: Riah days he loves you D’ma!.

Ama: Really?

Jeremiah: Des

Uriah: Da Da Da

Ama: Awe Uriah, thank you, I love you too.

Jeremiah: wecum

En conclusion:

Some couples flow in their ability to communicate so easily. Well, at least that’s what it looks like from the outside looking in. I’m encouraged, God has been with us for thirty-four years and as empty nesters we are relearning and learning new ways (new to us at least) of communication  con la ayuda de Dios, because God has always helped us, I’ll learn and respect “Benese” and he’ll learn and navigate through “Rosiese” 

God Bless you all in your communication growth 🙃

My Greene Side

Ben and I enjoyed a beautiful 2nd weekend of our 34th year of marriage. I won’t talk about the weekend before, except to say that rewinds, redos, they are needed at times, advice from a wise new 30 year old, I’m glad we took her suggestion.

So while we had a quiet lunch, acuerdense, with my flaco, it usually is quiet, unless I’m spilling out my many words. I was hunkering down to really rest while I listened to a Nicolas Sparks audiobook. Then Ben did it, he threw me off with spontaneity! He calculated the afternoon time and figured we could have a nice walk at Coronado Island and then come home for his Sunday afternoon nap. Sorry to be so non romantic here, Pero, I too calculated my winnings, time spent with my Cold Blooded Englishman or a novela? Hard cold calculations didn’t stop us, so off we went to Coronado.

Crossing the Coronado bridge is a beautiful sight: the boats on the bay, the ocean water, and sunbathing on the sand, it is what San Diego thrives on. Bien bonito! It felt good to be out with Ben, just because. Then, with the boats on his radar, my flaco began to share his memories and I peeked into his childhood again. Hijole! His memories always floor me, because what he experienced with his family  is so completely foriegn to me, deveras que, I get a little, no! MUY uncomfortable at the reminder of how different the worlds we came from are. I’m thinking of the famous Mexican singer/actor Pedro Infante. One of his movies is called “Nosotros Los Pobres.” “We The Poor.” I’ll have to sit down and watch it with my sis again, he was a favorite of my ama and our unreachable heart throb. 

 I have joked with Ben about his rich upbringing, and he laughs, because he says they weren’t rich, they were just middle class. Pero fijense, with very little prompting as we walked hand in hand, Ben remembered his childhood summer vacations.  My brain was working hard to grasp what he described, and it kept coming to a blank wall. His family drove to the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island where they chartered a boat and sailed from one island to another. “What did you do?” Ben was puzzled at my question, well, they enjoyed the ocean air, fishing, visiting the different islands, pero, my California mind couldn’t imagine such quiet repose as enjoyment. In the end he had to show me on google maps and images what he enjoyed.

Ben’s father, whom I didn’t get the chance to meet, was an architect. He designed the house Ben and his brothers grew up in. It was designed in Mid Century style, and Nancy, mi suegra decorated her house beautifully with her artistic flair. The first time I went there I was nervous, it felt a little bit like I was walking through a museum. Mid century modern furniture and real painting on the walls and expensive pottery, everything individual yet it all tied together nicely. The predominant trait was the huge glass windows from ceiling to floor all around the house. The windows all around the house intimidated me. Anyone could look right into the house. Even though you could see the beautiful scenery outdoors, I wondered what I was going to do when I had to use the bathroom, not to mention a shower. Pero, gracias a Dios that Ben taught me the trick of steaming up the large bathroom windows first, hijole!

This style of houses were “trending” in those days and Bens apa Walter Farrar Greene aka “Skip” had connections with other architects, thus he was able to acquire the use of the well known Glass House in Martha’s Vineyard for their family vacations! And he says they weren’t rich?! He’s quick to humbly correct my assumptions by telling me that his dad knew the brother of the architect, and I say “Ok, vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Island.” True vacations, where they rested, enjoyed good books, took in the nature of the island and of course went spent time on the boat. Maybe the only “unrest” that my suegra experienced was her three little boys nagging her to take them to the beach again. When I go over to Ben’s world in New England and we vacation, my Southern California spirit yearns for action and activity after three days of rest! The quietness gets too noisy for me. A la otra, on our next vacation I’ll have to have Ben take me to one of those Islands he visited. 

It was bien nice hanging out with my flaco on our own San Diego Island in Coronado last weekend. We walked and he talked, asi es, my man of few words, shared them with me. Luego, I danced with Elvis. 

En conclusion, 

Again I’m amazed that after 34 years of incompatibility and our different worlds God has blessed our journey and carried us through the very difficult terrain. Gracias a Dios, that he is always with us.

Labor and Delivery Tales

Labor and deliveries are always bien dramaticos.The stories we ladies exchange are so extra! Y por supuesto que our story is the best/worst experience. When we relive the experience it magnifies, suddenly the pain level of those contractions are off the chart! The messy water bag breakage covers the entire house.

Pues, here’s how I remember my second labor and delivery 30 years ago. 

 Our second child was another boy. My two older sisters wondered and hoped I would get a girl, since we all had only boys. Pero during my ultrasound the technician kept referring to the baby as “he” and while I was disappointed, I was also relieved. I had a secret fear of little girls, frilly dressy, high pitched crying and whining hijole!  What the heck was I gonna do if a girl came into my life?! 

Except for one scare early on, it was an easy peasy pregnancy and except for the anxiety of going past my due date, everything was really really good.

Then my due date came and went, un dia, luego dos. That last week of September, I was waddling along doing life impatiently. Finally that last Sunday morning as I walked down the stairs to the bathroom again, lo and behold! The process had begun! I was in labor for sure as I stared down at the plug!  Asi es, lil Joshua would most likely arrive by that evening of September 27th.

I walked as quickly as I could, just imagine a combination of a duck and a penguin walking. I had to be careful, what if the baby slipped out right there on the stairs? I was excited, we rushed home to call the doctor, acuerdense, it was pre-cellphone era, we were sure he would say “rush over to the hospital, I’ll meet you there.”  I didn’t get through to the doctor right away. The call center would relay my emergency call. I waited and waited and waited, an eternity of 20 minutes. The doctor asked a couple of questions about my contractions, and I wondered, heck yea! I’m in pain, I felt like I was gonna start my period, it was so bad! How did I feel? Sick and tired, ready to get this baby out. Then he said “Hopefully, you’ll have the baby soon. We’ll see how you’re doing tomorrow after your sonogram and measure the baby.” Que? Manana?! I was still going to be pregnant tomorrow?!

I was forced to wait and watch all through the evening and late into the night. Slowly I began to feel what the real contractions were. Then, I think I was recognizing a pattern? Yes, it was definitely a pattern, Ben had to wake up. I called the hospital, I told them they were coming in strong and close together. Yup, it was about every 5 minutes, I’m sure. So they said come on in so we can check you. Ahora si, Ben got up and dressed and off we went to have our baby.

An hour later, midnite. It was officially tomorrow and I was still pregnant and on my way back home. At home I couldn’t rest, the baby was active, quietly laboring while Ben snored, bien agusto. I sat miserable in the living room, trying to get comfortable on the couch. Y de repente! Pop! Not heard but felt. That! Was not pee. On and on it gushed out, all over my sofa and carpet. Vamonos! They wouldn’t send me home this time and they didn’t. My coaching team was there to support me, sort of. My older sis, Lupe and Ben were there. She was telling me not to tense up because it was only making things worse. Screaming wouldn’t help anyone, so I didn’t, crying didn’t make things better either. The secret to enduring the contractions was to relax by breathing. Relax? When your belly is suddenly in a vice grip contraction? Pero pues, I coped and my breathing technique was to whistle through a contraction, I would handle this pain. with smiling eyes my sister silently chuckled at how silly I looked, Ben smiled only with his eyes, he knew better. After 12 hours I was desperate and at 1 centimeter dilated, it would be the end of me. If I wasn’t given pain meds soon, Ben would have to take baby Joshua home alone. I got the much needed relief through an epidural and feeling only the pressure of contractions I was able to laugh with my sister about my whistling. De repente! Something went wrong and the epidural wasn’t working. I went from no pain to horrific shocking pain every few minutes. The nurse said “It’s not pain, it’s pressure” Que pressure! I was having shocking pain. It was discovered that the catheter wasn’t delivering the meds. My body was distressed and so was my baby. By the time the problem was fixed, the focus was on calming my baby down. Hijole! 16 hours later and dilated to 3, the doctor said my baby’s heart was racing and it was measuring at a dangerous rate. The verdict, another C-section delivery. I cried. I felt like I had failed.  Ben was with me and tried not to look too hard as the doctor pulled that little human out of the womb, just a little messy. I felt no pain, the epidural was doing it’s job. I was very aware of what was happening, but I couldn’t see anything. A fat little baby had been squeezed out nice and plump, a healthy 9 lb. 6 oz. baby girl with dark hair. Such relief. Wait! A girl?! Una niña?! Hijole! Sugar and Spice and everything nice? What was I to do? Ben took hold of our baby girl and knew exactly how to love her. Me on the other hand, that first day we met, I was a nervous wreck!  Did I have to hold her differently? 

Por supuesto that I loved her immediately, but how would I show her? Would she ‘feel’ and accept my fierce latina love?

Daniella and I

I had no idea what I was doing. Pero, gracias a Dios that he was with us.  I quickly discovered that my girl and I were night and day! Yet we have a good friendship.  What I didn’t know then I know now. My sweet girl was stronger than I thought. I forget that sweet doesn’t mean weak. What I discovered immediately was how smart and beautiful she is. Hay si! Every mother says that verdad? Pero pues it’s true, Daniella is like her father, she can fix most things when they break or need to be assembled. Y, in her strong latina fashion which is laced with the English blood she loves her family well. 

This week we celebrated our daughter, the gift she’s been to us all. Her dad and brothers still keep her a princess in her own rightful place and she wears her tiara with quiet dignity, even sharing the princess dust with her nieces. 

Que Dios te bendiga hija, and like your tata would say, “echale ganas!” Let this new year, this new decade be prosperous and may God fulfill his will for you my love.