How To Manage Changes

I have made some changes. One has been to  increase my posting, y pues it is a challenge. I sit down to write and stare at my computer, I look at my phone… Oh! I gotta answer that text immediately. Hmmm…. I wonder what I can make for dinner? I am struggling. I don’t know if there’s a method, una llave? A special technique or touch that will open up the words, phrases and prose vault, where de repente, I’m flowing in writing fluency and writing good stuff regularly, like more than once a week. It’s coming, I know it, inspiration is around the corner.

 Mientras llega, I’ll share an essay (a rough draft, very rough) that I enjoyed rereading without my homeschooling teacher glasses on. No creas, I reread it and wanted to make all the corrections needed, but I remembered homeschooling days are finished! The essay was written by my 14 year old Benjamin Emery Greene, he was most likely in a hurry to get the assignment done.  Almost exactly 11 years ago, he was a very new brother in law. His older brother Jonathan and sister Daniella had just gotten married 2 months prior and he  was pondering on the big changes in our familia. It is always interesting to me the different perspectives people have, especially through the lens of children with life changing events.

Before the Weddings, After the Weddings

by Emery (age 14)

It was a week before the weddings and the house was crazy. We had guests living in our house until the weddings were over and we had my uncle staying in a trailer in our backyard. I suppose I would have been sad that my two siblings were getting married and leaving but there was no room in our house for that yet. The pantries were overflowing with pasta and our living room and backroom had wedding decorations all over. The fridge was filled with oranges and the closets had plastic plates and cups. With all the frenzy it was actually pretty fun. I liked the busyness, but then it came to a stop. After the two weddings were over, the guests slowly started to leave and the busyness vanished. Pretty soon it was down to just four; me, my little brother, my mom and my dad, but change can change you and that could be a good thing.

The weddings were beautiful. First came Jonathan’s. I especially liked his because I was a groomsman along with two of my cousins, Meno and Gerardo. I was super excited because I had never been a groomsman before and I really didn’t expect it. It was very exhilarating for me being able to sit at the big table and being served first. First we had to get ready at the house. It was actually really awkward at first because the photographers kept taking pictures of random things, like me buttoning up my shirt and putting my shoes on. But I had a lot of fun. Then when I was walking up the aisle and standing up I kept moving around because I had just heard that if you stand straight for too long you might pass out. I really didn’t want to pass out so I was really careful. Anyways it was a lot of fun. 

In Danielle’s wedding I wasn’t able to be a groomsman but I did walk down the aisle with her holding up her train with my little brother Thomas. In Danielle’s I didn’t have as much fun but it was still a nice wedding. Danielle’s was sadder to me though because she is my sister. It was especially sad when my Dad sang her a song. I think practically everyone cried. It was very sweet. Jonathan and I actually did our own song for her too. It was fun. The food was actually really good at both weddings and everyone had a good time. 

Before the weddings life was pretty different. I would say Jonathan was over more but that part hasn’t really changed. The only part that’s really different with Joanthan is that he doesn’t spend the night and he and Denise always kiss. When Jonathan first got married I thought he would never hang out with us anymore and he wouldn’t take me places but I can see now that I was wrong. I don’t go with them on dates anymore because they don’t need me. Three weeks after they were married I went to McDonalds with them. McDonalds isn’t the best place to go but it was still cool. I hung out with them almost all day because of the church outreach. It’s when our church goes around handing out flyers and stuff for church. Jonathan also came over a LOT, mainly to see his new dog, Oso. The day they got married they got a nice husky as their wedding gift. He has to stay at our house because their apartments don’t allow dogs. He’s very handsome. Denise also works close so when he gets off early he waits at our house to pick her up. As far as Danielle and Marcus, we only see them at church and sometimes a fellowship. They don’t come over much but she is really happy with him. It’s kind of funny to see the differences between Danielle and Marcus (compared) to Jonathan and Denise. Jonathan and Denise always kiss and hug but Danielle and Marcus, I don’t think I’ve seen them kiss other than on their wedding day.

Now that Danielle and Jonathan are married and have their own spouses, our life at home is a little different. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my sister’s room but I guess I’m fine with mine. It actually feels really nice being the oldest kid in my house now but my favorite part of all is that we have more food and snacks. I guess you could call this whole experience a “journey” to help us grow and adjust. The hard part for me is the quietness. Our house is a lot quieter and less busy now that they’re gone. My schedule is also a lot freer now that I don’t have chaperone duties.  Chaperoning was fun mostly with Denise and Jonathan because they actually went out and got food and did stuff. They also included me in their conversations and laughed when I was funny. With Danielle they just went to some mountain or park and talked. They were also a good ride source for all the fellowships (church youth gatherings) and hangouts but now I need to find a new ride source. I really do miss the old times our family had; however there are benefits to our new family lifestyle also.

I have to say I didn’t mourn too much after the weddings but I definitely was sad. I am really happy for my two older siblings and their spouses and hope they have  good lives together. I hope they don’t leave their two little brothers and family out of their equation now that they’re married but remember all the times we helped and chaperoned them. Hopefully this experience has helped me grow and mature. Sometimes I don’t like the changes but as I said before. Change can change you, and that can be a good thing!

En Conclusíon:

I let the “writing bloopers” pass, it reminded me of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books without the cartoons. As I read Emery’s essay I was pulled back into those emotionally difficult days, y hasta ahora, I realized that the whole family was experiencing major changes. My Cold blooded Englishman exercised much self control as he sang a song to our beautiful daughter. My lil boys felt the loneliness of our quiet home. I mourned the loss of two children, not realizing that I would gain so much more. Por su puesto que Emery was right “Change can change you and that can be a good thing! Gracias a Dios for the many blessings that can come through changes. 

Mexican American Girl Goes To Jalisco

When I was growing up, I heard tiny little snippets about my parents’ lives in Jalisco, Mexico. I would toss these nuggets of information carelessly to a corner of my mind and file them away, like a receipt that might be needed one day. Luego, during those caregiving years of  la tercera edad, my apa at 80 years old was telling his life story. I was hearing him speak about things I’d never known. I took notes and fact checked him, asi es, I googled the info he was sharing, que sin vergüenza! As if google knows more than my apa!  

 I felt like the scales had fallen from my eyes. I wanted to know more about my parents, my roots. Something in me was born. I gathered all the snippets in my memory and I asked my apa for more details. A longing to see the places my parents grew up in sparked. I desired to meet and reconnect with my family in Mexico. I wanted to organize the stories, to share them with my family. A flame of curiosity and discovery had been lit. I wanted to go to Jalisco, Mexico to retrace my fathers experiences and discover more about my mother.

The cares of his life and mine, minimized the fire to a smoldering wick, but it did not go out. De ves en cuando I would make comments about my desire to go to Jalisco one day. Meanwhile, I organized my stories and I gleaned memories from my tia Chepina and my tio Chuy. This kept me writing.  Ben would, in his cool manner, acknowledge that algun dia we might go to Mexico.  I tended to squelch the flame with “small minded” thinking. Es que, it could be too expensive and besides I didn’t really know my family in Mexico, it was just too much to hope for a trip with husband to Jalisco, a family reunion and romance, at our age? But the dream persisted.

As Ben and I have been facing the empty nest we have been working on our friendship. Ahora, now that we’re not so busy with raising children we are “getting to know” each other again. I’ve dared to be vulnerable and share my heart with him. He knows of my hope to write and publish my fathers stories. I’ve let him see and hear that yearning I have about going to Guadalajara and connecting with my family history. 

One nice practice that he has started, has been to leave me an occasional note as he leaves to work. Even though getting words out is hard for him, he knows I need them, so he strives to “dwell with me with understanding” He doesn’t want his prayers to be hindered. ☺️ Fijate, for being a cold blooded Englishman of few words, his notes always stir my heart. His last note is what re-sparked the flame in me. 

“I want us to plan this trip to Mexico as soon as possible. Before NH. I don’t want to put it off too much. I’m praying you can get these stories published and books”

Imaginate, my heart leaped as I noted his confidence in me and his desire to be in all of my life, including the long buried raíces of Mexico. Luego! As I was organizing myself for the day, we both got a text from our pastor asking us to pray for his upcoming Mexico trip. He was going to visit our Missionary couple in Mexico City; Misael and Elma Moreno and I responded in jest “take us with you” He opened the door and de repente!, while Ben and I were busy with our lives, focused on what mattered, like our marriage, the opportunity was before us. Like a whirlwind, the possibilities were stirring me up. Sera posible? When we talked that night, Ben was trying to slow me down, travel plans were not that easy to make, we needed to think about it first.  Pero, before we knew it, we were scrambling to find a family connection and rescheduling his clients. They were willing to wait for their house to be painted. Maybe we would also go to Jalisco? The obstacles were cleared out of the way, and we shopped for good deals on flights. 

The state of Mexico was our first stop. Our missionary couple needed some good ole fashion connection with their church family. I was excited to meet face to face some of the people I had been praying for. I had not expected to get connected with my Mesoamerica roots and before I knew it I was visiting the pyramids in Teotihuacan! 

Finalmente, I went to Jalisco. It had been over 40 years since I’d been to Guadalajara, the land of El Tapatio. there I would reconnect with mi familia.

I was anxious to visit Etzatlan  and El Amparo, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like, what would I see that connected me to my parents? I worried that at the last minute that part of the trip would be canceled, what torment that was! I hoped to see traces of the famoso  American Mining Company, the builders of my apas hometown.

En conclusíon:

Quizas it is silly that to me “going to Mexico” was such a big deal, people travel all the time, plans are just a click away. Yo soy ranchera, I get timid and I fall prey to fear. For me this trip was a pilgrimage. I uncovered some secrets, I found some missing pieces of my parents story, and even better I met family members I’ve never known. Finally, I am able to put a setting to some of the stories my apa told me.

A veces we pray, forgetting that our prayers, our petitions and our desires matter to God. In his timing He answered my prayer. There is a wealth of treasure that I came back home with and I’m excited to share my treasure and get back on track with my book writing. 

Gathering New and Old Memories in Guadalajara

Since my days with my apa, a desire, more than just a dream, has been alive in me. I have wanted to go to Guadalajara Jalisco in Mexico. I want to see where my parents grew up and connect with my familia in Guadalajara. ¡Se me ha concedió!

The last time I was in Guadalajara was when I was 15 years old. And the only time I went further into Mexico than Tijuana was with Ben on our honeymoon to Mazatlán. Entonces, Mexican-American girl, went to Mexico. Así muy ranchera, timid about my Spanish which is mostly Spanglish, I went. My familia in Guadalajara kept saying “Que dices?” every time I slipped and “Spanglished” ¡Hijole! This strong Latina woman was too aware of my American accent, but I forged on. This trip was an answer to my prayer.

Beautiful memories were made as I visited my fathers youngest sister. Tía Consuelo is now 79 and fighting hard to stay at peace at home, her mind is betraying her. Then, I visited my apas closest brother’s family. Tio Antonio was 94 when he passed away in 2020 just before my apa. I was nervous about visiting his wife, Tia Camilla and her kids, mis primas. Tía Camilla is 96, and in a pretty good mental state. I love the friendly open manner in Mexican culture. “Mi casa es su casa” is practiced with such gracious love. I felt welcomed and the energy of reconnection was felt. Maggi, my cousin, is the primary caregiver to Tia Camilla and I compared notes about the brothers, our fathers. She truly wanted to know how Tio Manuel (that’s my apa) had lived. She wanted to know if my apa was as stiff and awkward about hugs and love like her dad, from my experience the Zepedas are a pretty awkward bunch as far as hugging and public displays of affection go, yet we are fierce about love and loyalty.

It was a wonderful reunion. I hope to stay connected, technology has removed many of the obstacles. 

I have walked away with some treasures and I’m going to share some with you here.

How to Get the Girl the Old Fashioned Way

Since we’re not so past El día del amor y amistad, I want to share a sweet short version of my tio Antonio and Camilla’s Cupid moment. This was her account. 

My apa and his brother  Antonio were on their way home from el Norte. The small colonia was buzzing with excited young ladies, they knew the hermanos were coming. Tía Camilla said that they all seemed hopeful to capture one of those brothers. She didn’t include herself in the “race” but her eyes twinkled at the memory. 

Camilla had an edge over the other girls since she was a favorite of my abuela Rosario. They both loved to garden and Camilla was always available for her when her flowers needed watering.

When Manuel and Antonio arrived, I imagine them walking very confidently with money in their pocket with the Levi jeans swag, Camilla was quietly present as they made their way around town toward the place where everyone gathered for swimming. Hijole! I forgot to ask her more details, like what did that look like. As I’m writing the warm fuzzy feelings of a love story are filling in all those details she left out. 

One day as Camilla was preparing food for selling at her puesto, she looked out her kitchen window y de repente she saw them. Here’s how I imagine the scene, cómo las películas. When she saw the two brothers were heading her way she made sure to be noticed. Antonio noticed and after a while he came to her window and asked, “aren’t you going to offer me something to eat?” “Pásale, come in” she told him.  She looked at me with that twinkle in her eye “after that we continued our courtship” and added a little later “All the girls were hoping to get their attention. Pero, mi and Chuy (mi ama) got it” These two sister inlaws became dear friends later. Tía remembered that Antonio never left al Norte again, “Que bonitos recuerdos son” She quietly appreciates the memories she has.

They were married for over 60 years, they had 14 children and raised 9.

En conclusión:

I am not going to lie, I was disappointed I wanted more, much more details, like how did you “feel” when you saw Antonio? Pero pues, I loved seeing her eyes twinkle with a smile as she remembered her youth which included my apa and ama and I’m grateful to have this little nugget for my treasure chest.

A Visit to Los Angeles

I went to Los Angeles last weekend. Usually L.A. traffic keeps us away, pero I’m glad I didn’t stay away last weekend.  We picked up our friends from San Pedro Port of Los Angeles, after a world class cruise in Mexico. We planned to spend the day as their tour guides, except that our East Coast friends were much better informed about L.A. than we were. For many relaxed San Diegans, L.A. is mostly about Disneyland, LAX, smog and traffic congestion. Y para mi, it’s also about my tia Chepina

Whenever I know I’m going to be in Los Angeles, I’m anxious to check on her. She and her husband, my tio Raymundo, aka Mundo, live alone. He needs 24 hour care and supervision. My cousins work together and help with his care, but she’s the only one who is constantly with him! Es mucho. My Apas hermanita,  is now 82. Tia Josefina is mostly known as Chepina. We Mexicans, and Mexican Americans have a love of creating nicknames for people and things. As I investigated the “science” behind nicknames I was hit with words such as syncopation and apheresis, imediatamente! I had nicknames for these words; cinco y fer! Except that they didn’t necessarily follow the rules of the definitions. Por supuesto que I’ll have to do a blogpost about Mexican nicknames and the variations used in my family. 

Tia Chepina keeps me connected to my apa and she has been the glue of the Zepeda family, keeping her 3 brothers and their families in California connected to the family at large in Jalisco, Mexico. Honestamente, if it were not for Tia Chepina and my primos,  I would avoid L.A. altogether, except for the occasional LAX drive. It turned out to be a beautiful day in Los Angeles. 


Our friends had one request for us as we prepared to see un poquito of the big city. George wanted to visit the grave of the man who was instrumental in the Azusa street revival; William J Seymour. Meanwhile Margie, his wife, had wondered about Hollywood and the Walk of Fame. These would be new experiences for us all. 

San Diego and L.A had been experiencing a torrent of rainy days, aunque any amount of rain for us Californians is a lot, I was anxious to see our sunny California weather y gracias a Dios it was a beautiful day. We walked along the Port enjoying the sun and breeze, then we headed to Evergreen cemetery in East L.A. It was a solemn moment. We rejoiced and hoped for the day that California would see this kind of revival again and right there among the gravestones we agreed in prayer, asking Jesus to bring salvation, hope and peace to our families. 

After the cemetery we decided to go to Azusa street, I didn’t realize how close we were to my tias house, but I had yet to make my request known. I felt silly to bring my friends with me. Derepente! Our car starting making a terrible scraping, scratching sound. Hijole! The brakes were screeching! Ben was confused because usually we hear and feel minimal symptoms to warn us that it’s time to replace them. After he checked them, not really sure which needed replacing, we googled the nearest auto parts store and very carefully drove there. We were in East L.A., we figured Ben would right there in the parking lot do the job. Pero, we had to drive somewhere else to do it, hijole! We didn’t know what to do. Luego, I said “Well I could call my tia Chepina, she might not be too far away.” She was delighted to hear from me. We were all so relieved, but we still had to get there. Again, back into L.A. traffic. Ben was being very cautious, but now we were not hearing the scratching and screeching. Hmm? As soon as it was safe Ben tested the brakes, it didn’t feel good, but it had to be done. No awful sounds, no dangerous skidding. When we arrived to her house he checked them more thoroughly. It was strange, but the brakes were fine, Ben speculated that maybe a small rock had gotten in there somehow. Margie and I chalked it up to God wanting me to check on tia

It was a beautiful short visit. She had made posole  for my primo but he wasn’t coming after all and I was thrilled to take his portion. Ahora si, George and Margie were going to have some authentic Mexican food, they used to think Del Taco was a good place for Mexican food. Neither Margie nor George were very hungry, but I warned them that you cannot refuse a strong latina woman’s food. They were glad they didn’t. 

Siempre, when I am with tia, she remembers my apa, that big brother who was so handsome in his blue jeans and cowboy hat. Quizas I’ve said it already pero, I love hearing it. My apa was a handsome vaquero. She loved remembering her own childhood, and  I soaked it all in. She was very attentive to my friends, hearing about their travels to Mexico and affirming  their love of La Costa, where they enjoyed those famous beach resorts.  My tio interjected with his  jokes and they laughed with him. It was a sweet moment. Tia needed the break and I needed to see that she was ok. It worked out perfectly.

En conclusion 

Los Angeles, The City of Angels, definitely felt like that last Saturday. It was a beautiful day with friends and laced with family. Y pues, we didn’t make it to Hollywood, sori Margie, but for me at least,  Tia Chepinas cooking and conversation was better than any sightseeing. Gracias a Dios for his protection and his attention to the details of our lives.

A Kiss From Ama

It was a busy Christmas season and as always things in my life came to a screeching halt and I hit the wall on Monday. I was dazed as to what I should do now. Por supuesto, things hadn’t changed, my housework, laundry, errands and deskwork were waiting for attention, but I didn’t feel the pressure that busyness with deadlines brings. Luego, as I was slowly getting back into some kind of rhythm I began to feel the cobwebs of neglect in my most vital connection; mi esposo. With Christmas over those warm fuzzy feelings were gone, our house was way too quiet. and well I realized I missed my flaco and I tried to hint at it. Luego, I just spelled it out, and still we struggled to connect. Imaginate! After a sweet Christmas day, in the last few days of 2022 I was feeling stranded. Pues, in my dramatic latina fashion I let him see my hurt, el dolor de mi corazon was all over my face, tears and all. Pero what did he show me? Confusion! What was going on? He wanted to know. Hijole! To quote Cornelia Bryant from the book series Anne of Green Gables “Isn’t that just like a man?” 

“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.”

—Benjamin Franklin

And just like a woman I need to hash things out in my head. As I was doing that this week, I came across a conversation (I had written  it down) I had with my sis one day, not too long ago. It turned out to be just what I needed. I didn’t want my year to end on a sour note. My big sis came to the rescue again. 

Un dia, as Marina and I were chatting on the phone, comparing notes on how God speaks to us and shows us the concern he has for the littlest of details in our lives, we turned to talking about the most vulnerable and sometimes very difficult relationship we are experiencing, our marriage relationship. That relationship that God created for a man and a woman,God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Even though Adam was busy and preoccupied, God knew he needed Eve; his help meet. Por supuesto que my latina, novela driven mind always imagines what that first meeting must have been like for the man and his wife. Eve, innocent, batting her lashes and Adam exploding in wonder at the gift before him. No longer alone, a journey for two, oh what responsibility lay before him. Anyway, back to my story.

As women we yearn to express so freely our love for our husbands, to tell them, to show them, but circumstances, upbringing or baggage inhibit us. There we were on the phone talking about our need for our husbands love and how hard it is for us to get the message across to them when they are so preoccupied. Marina said, “Don’t you remember the way my mom always kissed dad on the forehead?” I was shocked, Que?! I don’t remember that? Of course I was gone a lot, sports dominated my teenage years so I never saw my ama kiss my apa, never!” Marina was surprised, maybe a bit sad for me because she saw it often. 

For Marina, after all these years, that sweet kiss has been a great tool that our ama used generously. Y ahora, she too pulls out that magic kiss and it pulls her through whatever wave wants to knock her down. When things are turbulent and difficult, the walls of isolation want to stubbornly climb higher and higher. That’s when she’ll do like our ama did and look at her busy husband, without even interrupting him, she goes over to him and kisses him on the forehead. Ese besito covers a multitude of hurts, it helps her. And although, “just like a man”, my brother in law probably doesn’t realize it, I believe it helps him too. 

I was humbled again at my mothers strength. I appreciated her perseverance in the most difficult relationship she chose to maintain. I told Marina that I too was going to use that kiss to break down a wall. I left that conversation so incredibly blessed with the kiss my ama gave me. 

Feliz año nuevo, y que Dios los bendiga with much prosperity and may you feel his strong love, like a soft kiss everyday.

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 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.

In Memory of Patty

I don’t want to remember that day I walked home from the library and heard Pattys voice on my answering machine. “Rosie, I’m here at Kaiser, I was admitted…”

I want to remember a sweet visit instead. A day we laughed and rejoiced at being together.

It was Thanksgiving and I was busy cooking. I’m always in the kitchen when the company is visiting. Several of us ladies, maybe my sister, maybe our dear friend Cecilia, Daniella for sure, were gathered in the dining room. As always the conversation headed to the “weight” room. Each of us whining about how difficult it is to lose weight. Quien sabe I might have been stuffing the turkey right about the moment. We had the menu lined up and I was busy getting it ready. We always talked about quick weight loss- which jumps right back on you the moment you turn your back. And laid out the wisdom of slow weight loss and establishing good habits. Pero, we rarely talked about an important component of this good kind of living which is Exercise 😬. Then Patty took over the conversation as we listened to her version of “How To Get Buns Of Steel” 

She said it was quite easy and could be done anywhere anytime! To prove it she stood up and demonstrated. She turned her back to everyone and faced me, I was in the kitchen dicing and slicing. She said “while you work there dicing just squeeze your butt cheeks and hold, release, then repeat” I did, it was too easy. “It’s that easy, ok let’s try it!” And there in my dining room, me in the kitchen, we stood squeezing, holding, holding, holding, then releasing, the repeating. The whole time we were working on making our buns of steel we were laughing out loud at how ridiculous we looked! Describing scenarios of our “exercise” while we stand in line at the bank or grocery store! Hijole! What would the person behind us think, especially if you are well endowed with plenty of butt to convert to steel 😁

En conclusión: 

Today marks 14 years since Patty, mi hermana, one of my besties went home before me. Now that I think about it, she was always late! My hope remains on the resurrection of Christ, for thru his sacrifice I can hope for reuniting…there we shouldn’t need to worry about flab in our new bodies 🥰

Que Dios los bendiga and give you a beautiful Sunday. 

A Love Story

All this wedding activity stirred me up for a love story. I went back and pulled up a story I pieced together a few years ago from the fragment pieces of information that my apa and ama had shared through the years. One day as I was feeling muy romantica I asked my father “How did you meet my Ama?” He dropped this into my brain and heart:

En la Fiesta del Señor, le ofrecí una flor ye ella la acepto, y alli empezo” I melted with anxious desire to know more. When you offered that flower, who was she with? What’s La Fiesta Del Señor? What was she wearing? Y muchas mas preguntas, details that a girl needs to have. This story is grounded in facts but does have plenty of embellishments to tie it all in.  I can only imagine the hardship they experienced trying to make ends meet and the pain my ama suffered when dad came to America leaving her and the baby. I filled in the gaps to write their story.


Maria ran inside breathless and Angel came zooming in behind her, bending down she lifted him up, Ugh! He was getting so big, nuzzling him, while she looked over at her husband’s picture on the small table she whispered “He’s coming home baby, Apa viene a casa.” She missed him so much, but Angel wasn’t affected by her news, he didn’t know the man in the picture. It was another reality that pointed to their “separate lives” marriage. She studied his handsome face and lean body, standing tall in his Levi Strauss  jeans and cowboy hat, looking tan Americano. It seemed like an eternity since he had left, worrying that he wouldn’t come back. She had spent too many days angry with her husband for leaving, but today, despite her fears, and his obvious change, she embraced the yearning she felt for him and allowed herself to remember how wonderful his full lips felt on her. She hugged her toddler tight, and whispered “you’re going to love your Apa” trying to stop the memory of the day he had left. 


“No llores”. He hated her tears.

 “Chuy, We talked about this. I need to feed my family and I need money to do that. I must go. En el otro lado, I’ll make lots of money and then come home quickly, before you know it!” 

 “Por favor no te vayas. Think of your hijo” Maria clung to him, hoping that duty to his son would keep him home with her.

“I’m not leaving you like that! Comprendeme, I need to go? My mother will help you with the baby” He pulled her close.

“You don’t have to leave Manuel, I will work”

 He stiffened at her words and pulled her away from him.

 “You work too hard, too long, too much. Look at you, you’re pale, you’re too thin, and the dark circles under your eyes accuse me. What kind of a man am I to allow this?

“Oh, I see.” She hugged herself trying to hide her unattractiveness from him.

“I should have left a long time ago, then I would already be back with plenty of dólares to sustain us. I’ll send money, I promise you will not have to work so hard.” 

“No Manuel, don’t leave. I promise to take better care of myself. You’ll have better eyes for me, please don’t leave. I don’t care if everyone else is living like this. I hate seeing families separate! Wives are forgotten while husbands go off to chase dolares  and who knows what else!”

“I’ll return quickly, te lo prometo” He reached for her but she turned and ran to the bathroom. His promise of a quick return pierced her while she vomited her breakfast and crumbled to the floor, holding her abdomen. Their family was growing and he was leaving. Receiving a letter meant his prolonged stay, yet not receiving a letter provoked such worry in her. What if he got ill? What if he decided not to come home?


Querida Chuy,

I hope you and Angel are well. I am now situated in a small room in Mexicali, Baja California, tomorrow I will look for more work on the other side, the gringos are always looking for strong help so it has been easy to get work and make money. There is plenty of work, I’ll be able to make a lot of money. Hace mucho calor! The heat is almost unbearable, pero me aguanto!  knowing that you and Angel need me I will endure this inferno. The money I’ve sent should cover all the household expenses for a while.  Como esta mi hijo? Tell him that I love him, saludos a tu familia. 

Que Dios te bendiga, te lo desea



At first she had been too angry to tell him about the pregnancy. After the morning sickness had passed, she was well and so was their son. Life didn’t change much for Angel, he had quickly adopted her oldest brother; Chino as his dad and life was peachy for him. Gracias a Dios that she had him to fill her days. The baby safely grew in her womb and she yearned for her husband. She reminded herself often “He said he would come back” Maybe, telling him about the second baby would prompt him to return quickly and be with her when her time came. She wrote him a letter hoping it would arrive quickly, there wasn’t much time. 

 Her  heart was broken when she went into labor, she received a letter and more money to sustain them comfortably, but no mention of the baby. Alone she welcomed their second son and called him Arturo.


Eventually a letter did reach him in the Sierra Nevada mountains. His patron needed a sheep herder and he needed to keep working. A numbingly cold and lonely job, just him, the horse, Kazam the dog and the sheep in the cold outdoors. The patron had brought supplies and mail, he was ready for news from home. A letter from his wife and mother, good news he hoped. Que?! “Manuel estoy embarazada” Maria wrote that she was pregnant, But his mother had said in her letter “El niño y Chuy are just fine but come as soon as you’re able” Un hijo?! 


 “Apa, Apa” Angel clapped his chubby hands “Tío, mi apa!” Angels enthusiasm brought her back, “No, baby, your uncle is not your daddy. Your daddy is coming back from El Norte very soon, maybe today you’ll meet him again” she pressed on her breast as they filled with milk, “He’s coming back! And you and your baby brother will have apa home!” Angel laughed as she twirled him around, “Our family will be together again, everyone will see that we were not abandoned. She stopped abruptly in front of her broken mirror “Wow! I’ve changed so much too”  

She put her son down and touched her head, so much of her hair had fallen out during her pregnancy. Her body was still flabby from her labor and delivery. her skin pale from lack of sleep, she wondered what Manuel would think of her now. She pulled on her face, peering into the mirror piece “ aayy! que fea estoy. Ugly!” She accused the image just as Arturo wailed for his lunch, her hands flew to her breast, she winced at how hard they got if she waited too long to nurse the baby. She hesitated, looking again into her broken mirror, if Manuel walked in right now, he would notice her full rounded breast, maybe that wasn’t so bad. Beauty would have to wait again, her boys were hungry. The baby wailed demanding to be nursed and Angel pulled on her skirt, asking for a taco, he too was hungry. Manuel was coming soon and she had to do something about herself, she said to the mirror piece ”I’ll be back and maybe you’ll help me see the areas I can work on.” She ran to get a tortilla for Angel and then picked up her screaming baby. While the baby gurgled at her breast she sighed ready to end this separation and the anxiety it produced. 

She remembered her mother in-laws inability to understand her. It didn’t matter that young wives and their babies were being abandoned at epidemic proportions, while young husbands imagined streets paved with dolares. Did Manuels mother think her anxieties were unfounded? Dona Rosario was confident that her son would be loyal to his family and return as soon as he was able.  It was Marias job to care for the boys and make a nice home for them with his money. She hated when Maria wasted money, and the mirror had been a waste. 

 “Why do you need a mirror Maria? You need to be wise with the money my son sends you.” “Pero, Doña Rosario, how am I supposed to keep myself beautiful for your son if I can’t see what I look like? “No buts Maria, don’t waste money, you need to worry more about Angel and the baby that will be here soon” “No señora I need it so that if Manuel returns I will have maintained myself” She was careful all the way home, then Angel raced out to meet her and when the mirror slipped to the ground it broke in two pieces, with no time to regret it, she swooped her toddler up and took him inside so she could pick up her mirrors.

She looked into the mirror as she burped her baby, “Doña Rosario was right, Manuel is coming home and you, Mirror Mirror you really didn’t help, but you certainly taunted me every time you pointed out how unraveled I’ve been. She adjusted her dress and planted a kiss on Arturo’s cheek. 

She got busy with the meager meal, glad that soon they would eat more than frijoles,  she was tired of beans. She poured the last of the lard into the hot pan and waited for it to get hot then poured the beans into it. They sizzled then splattered, spitting on to her cheek, “Owww!” she hissed and turned to her mirror piece and it seemed to laugh at her with her red blotchy cheek.  She sighed and was glad when her toddler  took the plate of beans with such gusto, as if she had served him a steaming hot bowl of pozole, the hominy chicken soup was his favorite. She smiled and hoped that there would be enough tortillas to satisfy her growing boy. She knew Manuel had not left her to chase a dream, but to take care of them. When Manuel came they had too much business to attend to, her appearance shouldn’t matter now, but again she glanced in the mirror piece “Oh no! Now I’ll have a scar! She should get rid of that accusing glass! Tears of anxiety squeezed from her eyes as much as she was determined not to cry over such vanities. Worry marked her face as Angel ran to her and asked “Mama? Coco?” And reached up for her. “Si, Angel, just a little owie” she hugged him as a tear rolled down her face, Manuel was coming home, he promised.

Manuel walked in, quietly watching his wife and son. Angel looked up and snapped “NO! Swinging at the stranger as he clung to his mother. “Amor, que te pasa?” Maria looked up wondering what was wrong as her son’s anxiety accelerated “No, no!” Maria swung around and there stood her beautiful husband, he looked like a dark American under his cowboy hat, his blue jeans and boots.  She shrunk back anxious, noticing the American in him and his presence reminded her that she was quite undone. While Angel swung to protect his mother from the stranger she slowly took in how good he looked.  Manuel reached for the screaming toddler, murmuring his name. “Angel, Mi hijo” Angel screamed in terror “Amaaa!” Maria smiled, “Ya mi amor, ya. There There She said between tears, “Es tu papa” Manuel quickly closed the gap and embraced them both. There in his arms Maria let the tears of relief roll down her cheeks, slumping her shoulders, she allowed Manuel to take care of his family.