Mother of the Groom Wedding Week Recap

Emery’s Wedding Season

This wedding season has ended for us and the younger Ben has stepped into his “husband shoes”. My head is still spinning at this reality, soy suegra de tres, hijole! I hope I can share the wedding season days and the wedding day with you and not be all over the place.

Wedding Planning

The weeks prior to the wedding we discussed in detail all the big parts and the minute details of the ceremony and reception. We were covering all our bases, we all had our assignments. It felt weird helping to plan from far away, definitely out of our comfort zone. A groomsman had to step out of his attending duties to attend to his very pregnant wife. Okay, Emery made an adjustment. Meanwhile, we figured out how to cut expenses with DIY projects, and the supplies for decor that we were bringing were set apart ready to be packed. Life in San Diego was so calm for us, unnaturally calm. The glitches and problems in projects were solved. Projects were complete and boxed. The Monday before the wedding burst into our lives and we had only to get through the maze of preparations for the trip. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you and I’m not trying to scare the upcoming wedding planners, pero, every last minute detail from the flowers being ready for pick up five days too early, to the macarons not being perfectly shaped, hit a bump.

Monday- My dress needed an easy tailoring fix and I took it to my dear friend who stepped right in to help me. Pero no fue fácil. I had to run to the fabric store, she couldn’t go herself. Thank God for facetime and good courteous help at the store. La senorita helped me find a certain kind of lace for a proper adjustment. The clock was ticking, I had my hair appointment at noon. A three hour slot for color, with lowlights and haircut. This was to be a tribute to my sister Patty who would have  been with me, but couldn’t. Ves, she always wanted me to do the highlights in my hair but I just never wanted to, somehow this ocasión seemed right to me. Patty was extra as far as a good presentation and this middle child of mine is too. Pero, after all that work, the lowlights in my hair were so low they weren’t visible! When I looked real hard I sort of saw a different color splash. I was so nervous about the change that she had been quite conservative with the “lowlights” . The hairdresser, my friend said, “well at least it softens and adds texture to your hair.” Not being too savvy about good hair or bad hair I smiled and said that my hair looked nice, y vamonos, to the next task.

Then in my fresh new cut and color I rushed over to Emery’s new place. He asked his Tia Sandra and I if we could make his place look clean, cozy and inviting for when he brought his wife home. Hijole! We did, because Emery is that child that asks and receives.

Ahora si I could zoom over to see about my dress. That night was filled with chores and errands.

Tuesday was for my much needed manicure and pedicure. I’m embarrassed to admit that usually it takes a special occasion or a trip to get me to do this much needed grooming. When you’re an abuela, the hang nails are overlooked and the arrugas might be appreciated. But for a soon to be mother in law to be, hijole my hands and feet also needed a complete makeover. Of course we made an occasion of it  and got together to do this, I was feeling pretty good as I looked down at my freshly done toes, que bonita. Derrepente, the pressure of responsibility changed for me when Cita, my niece, announced, “I’m handing over the ring to you, don’t let it leave your side, don’t forget to bring it and do be careful with it.” Immediatamente after my pedi and mani  I went shopping for a different cross body purse. 

Wednesday we were loaded up and on the road to Washington. Eighteen hour drive? No problem. “Sense and Sensibility” was not making much sense as I drove and listened at 1am. While Ben rested, or slept with not too much rest. Ouch! Oooh! Hijole! Twenty hours later we had arrived, we were ready to face the onslaught of work upon arrival to Everett WA. Ready to organize the wed…ding…zzzzz.

Ahora si, after some rest we could tell the wedding trolls “bring it on!” Rehearsal dinner, bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces and baked penne ala mexicana- all done with that purse on my body or at least very watchful eyes on it. Here’s a good place to mention that a 2nd groomsman had to step out of his wedding duties, having just been married himself, it was too much. Heavy sigh, it wouldn’t stop Emery. Luego, somewhere right smack in the middle of the rehearsal dinner, Cita did it again! She hands me the grooms ring and says “Rosie, you’ve got to hold on to this ring too, it’s Emery’s ring!” Ring duty was stressful. I’m still wary every time I put my purse down! El anillo! Que trauma! 

Bride and Groom at the Rehearsal Dinner

Y aun asi,  despite all our energy, enthusiasm and preparedness, life happened, those trolls snuck in. All those expected and unexpected bloopers happened. Like a building up of a great wave to ride, that last week of things to do and the anxious expectation of big changes, and the oopses piled up like a holding wall.

Sunday morning showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed. We were up by 5am and out in the car by 5:45am, a thirty minute drive to the venue with not an ounce of coffee in us, but the adrenaline was moving us into action.

Wedding Day Set Up Crew

We were the wedding party/ set up crew, with the groom right there setting up with us. Her church fam and our out of town guests were there ready and willing to help make the wedding day beautiful. Y así fue, It was a beautiful day lined with sweet moments. I did feel those bloopers though. “I thought you were doing that?” and “Did anyone bring scissors? A knife? Trashbags? Hay! What would become of this reception?!  I ran around here and there at the beautiful Blue Boy West Golf Course and Event Center like I knew what I was doing. The only thing I really knew was that my boy was getting married. After a while I went upstairs to the dressing room where the bride and her entourage were getting ready. Bam! I walked into one of the things that scares me most, getting all dressed up and glamourous, who was I kidding! All this girly glamy stuff made me want to run, córrele Rosalba! Then, in the far end of the room was my soon to be daughter In-law.

Em’s Mo

I peered into her morning makeover, in this case it might be more appropriately called a “natural beauty enhancement.”  Monique is a natural beauty. Her family calls her Nikki, she prefers Mo as a nickname and I have taken to calling her Ems Mo. She sat there sweet, innocent and beautiful. I felt her nervousness. I wondered about the Jewish beauty, Queen Esther in the ancient days. She had a whole team preparing her to meet the king. My son solo es un príncipe 🥰

I took a couple of blurry pictures with my ancient IPhone 7 of this beautiful girl, then went to get my dress on.

Did I mention that my friend fixed it and I was comfortable and felt pretty when I was all done up, hair, makeup, jewelry and shoes?

Ben, mi hijo, was ready to get his first peek at his bride. Up until this point I had kept it all together, not allowing the threat of changes to steal my peace.  When I looked upon my ‘Lil Em,” so grown up, a man ready for his bride, my resolve cracked a bit. I went up to him, and gave him my informal blessing and told him how much I knew God was in this whole wedding and marriage. I couldn’t hold back the admonishment that he should make sure to take good care of this beautiful wife God helped him find, a treasure indeed. We hugged and I prayed and I held back the tears. I was so proud to be that man’s momma.

I know my big sis is proud of him too. I wish again I could share the pics with my ama and my sisters in heaven, they too will be just as happy for him. Por su puesto que his tata would remind him “El que se casa, casa quiere” He who is getting married (casa) must be looking for a home (also casa) of his own. (sorri, en espanol it makes total sense) And I could almost hear my apa saying “Echale ganas!”

The Other Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Greene

This young couple gave all the glory to God for this moment in their lives. The flower girls were sweet little peas and the wedding boy basked in the wedding day, es que, he too loves Ems Mo.

The bride’s daddy held on to his princess as he walked her down the aisle and prepared to give her away. Senior Ben, yikes! Read a beautifully written prayer/blessing for his son from his heart. Just before the vows, the song; Growing Old With You  was executed beautifully, con mis hijos y nuera and other church fam members performing on stage blessing the newest Greene pareja. After the I dos, Emery reached for his wife hungrily! The pastor announced Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Greene, and the senior Benjamin Greenes, that would be me and my flaco had to resist the urge to stand amidst the cheers and clapping, the other Benjamin Greene and his wife walked triumphantly down the aisle. 

The Reception:

At a Greene celebration you will most likely find my salsa, we can’t have it no other way. Rosie’s salsa and chips to hold you over until the Taco cart ensemble is ready to serve. That sounded muy fancy, but those street tacos were as Emery and Thomas would say “fire!”

My baby, el Thomas, was the very best man! Y, in his unique stilo shared his heart about his love for his brother with the guests. Luego, his big brother Jonathan, spoke such beautiful words and blessings over his brother. Mi hija is so happy to be gaining another sister. Ben, the very fresh husband, sang a song to his new bride. y lo digo again, I am so glad God made me their Ama. In a whirl they went away under the sparklers. Pero, a warning: make sure you buy the right sparklers to prevent an accident. We had a close call.

En Conclusion: The Greene’s didn’t always “keep cool” but Jesus was among us and God’s peace sustained us throughout the season. Daniella was a great wedding coordinator. Mo and  her team did a beautiful job decorating at the church, did I mention that the rough gruff groomsmen had to pitch in and do their share of creativity with those centerpieces? They did a great job and everything looked beautiful. Hopefully Daniella will share some wedding day pictures with you. I’ll say this, a beautiful couple for sure. Felicitaciones a Mr and Mrs. Benjamin Emery Greene y que Dios los Bendiga siempre.

Ama Heard Me Crying

I was having a quiet moment with my daughter, por supuesto que we were talking about very important matters, when her ears perked up, I could see in her face that she was making a calculation about something in her head. Then as I heard my grandbaby crying, her youngest son who’s not so baby, she put her attention back to our conversation. I had already put on my “Ama al rescate” cape. I was ready to rescue him. I said “Don’t you hear?” She calmly responded “yes, but I can tell he’s not hurt, they’ll work it out” A pos si! I’d forgotten that a mother can recognize and distinguish the different alarms her child sounds. And usually she knows when to run to him, or when he’s safe and he must figure it out. Hijole! I was all tangled up in my “rescue cape” Don’t get me wrong, I know moms (me) who have missed the cry for help or were too slow, but God helped us. Thankfully, in todays story, my Ama arrived to pull Fernando out of his mess!

The American Dream

Para mi familia, coming to “El Norte” was a slow process that began in Mexicali Baja California, a border city. This is where many other  immigrants began their pursuit of the “American Dream. My apa worked across the border and my ama probably worked harder at taking care of their growing family. They went to live in a colonia where housing and plumbing wasn’t very personal and definitely not cozy. The need for housing intensified as people were arriving. One “solution” to the growing population and daily needs was to build shared outhouses in the colonia. Everything in my sheltered inexperienced mind is grappling with the idea of leaving my house to use the bathroom. Pero pues, I’m trying to understand the logic behind this solucion. Gracias a Dios, that children are different. They’re resilient, they see most things as adventures.

Un dia, while my ama was busy, the kids were out playing. Fernando was out in the colonia playing ball with his friends, he doesn’t remember if he was playing soccer, but he was hard at play. Y de repente! That’s how it is with latinos, every story has an “all of a sudden!” element. They all noticed the BIG hole in the ground and curiosity got a hold of them. After having raised three boys myself, I can attest to the fact that boys like to take curiosity to another level! After some speculation they concluded that the ollo was for the new outhouse that was coming soon. They peered into it, they sized it up and one another and put out the challenge. “Who can get out of the ollo?” They all decided they could easily, no problem. Right here, I’ll embellish Fernandos story, because he doesn’t remember, and I have faced 3 little boys who ALWAYS did everything better and faster. Is it possible that Chapparro was too eager to top all the other boys? Por supuesto que si! And before he knew it, they were all daring him to prove it. He faced that hole and the dare, I can only imagine how much time he took ruminating about the act of the big jump. For sure the voices of his friends echoed in his mind. “You can’t do it” “Tienes miedo” and then, he was in the hole. When he looked up, his friends were gone and he was stuck. A hole that was all of a sudden an insurmountable height, maybe five feet high, he was about 3 ft high himself. Panic struck him as he realized that he couldn’t get out, forever trapped in the newly dug outhouse hole. It took him no time at all to sound his alarm. “Ama! Ama!” No response. Panic gripped him and his voice went up a notch “Ama! Ama!” and the tears gushed as he cried “Amaaa! Amaaa!” The ollo was closing in on him as he screamed for ama. And then she was there, relief flooded him. 

The Board of Education

When he was out of the hole, his relief lasted a moment because he had to face ama and answer the questions. “Porque hiciste eso?” She would never understand his need to prove himself, but he would have to learn quickly that he must stay away from dangerous scenarios. And for that short quick lesson the ‘board of education’ was needed. Fernando says that one of his grade school teachers referred to the paddle for disciplining like this. Ya se, this is a sensitive topic, so I’m just sharing facts, ama spanked him as needed, y pues all of her children felt the “board of education” as needed. She didn’t beat or abuse him, she loved him. The lesson of not following the crowd, or listening to the voices of foolishness would be ongoing lessons that everyone faces.

Gracias a Dios that my ama learned how to discern those different cries we let out as we experienced life and came to our rescue, aid or encouragement as needed. It’s pretty special to watch a mom in action when her child cries out. I have a beautiful friend who sometimes will hear her kids cry and doesn’t follow the crowd of moms who sometimes apapachan, you know hover and immediately pull their child out of their distress, without giving him/her a chance to work things out and learn their own boundaries and establish them. This fiesty latina, will hear and recognize their need and choose not to be anxious for them. 

Whether or not a mother hovers about and runs to every cry, or picks and chooses which cry is a genuine emergency, the main thing is that a mother hears her child’s cries. 

My Mothers Shoes (a poem)

Big Sister, Little momma

A shout out to all the big sisters who have to at times step into their mothers shoes. If you’ve got one of those big sisters do not neglect to thank her for stepping in to help your mother. I’m a little sister, y Gracias a Dios that I had 3 big sisters who had my back, my big sis Marina, embraced her role and kept a good eye on me when my ama had her hands full, with 8 kids to raise, imaginate they were always bien llenas! Thanks big sis!  A few years ago I wrote this simple poem in honor of my big sis Marina. Now that I’ve revisited it, I realize that it was pretty cheesy and not quite descriptive of our home life. Pero, the message remains, when your big sister puts on her mommas shoes, se agradecida

 My Mother’s Shoes

Three boys & three girls was a nice even number, 

a quiver and more!

From sun up to sun down she worked, 

raising 6 kids was no easy chore!

The work never stopped 

as the needs piled on top.

Stacks of dishes and laundry miles high, 

with a heavy sigh she washed & she dried

With a pair of preteens, and another of teens

She learned to spy, behind her head she had extra eyes

Sweeping and mopping? Impossible! 

Her two toddler girls needed to play.

She asked God for strength and help 

as he granted another day.

At night, with weary exhaustion 

Mom took off her shoes 

Morning came all too soon 

with mouths to feed and no time to lose

 She had no quiet place

Still she took a moment to rest, 

but then came another test.

Her eyelids were heavy, 

she yearned for some sleep. 

Her lids closed for a moment 

but she caught her breath

She felt the stirring within.

She new what this meant, 

she was expecting again, 

And when the new baby came, 

she felt the stirring again!

Now her brood was complete; 

God gave her eight children to raise.

At night, more weary than ever, 

She would take off her shoes

She’d whisper a prayer for patience

And the strength God renews

She was created to nurture, 

to give all that she had,

But she needed a helper 

who could nurture 

like her

When my mothers hands were too full 

and I cried with my need

My Big Sister came, she was ready to give 

and ready to watch over me

She wasn’t my mom!

I wanted my mom!  

Big Sister shushed me

It was then that I knew 

she was wearing my mommas’ shoes!

Fast forward to my own mothering experience, I only had 4 kids and they kept me busy, I can’t imagine my amas experience. Pero, gracias a Dios for Emery and Thomas’ big sister!  My daughter Daniella stepped into my shoes so easily, at least she made it seem smooth.  A little confession right here is appropriate. Bien Concha, enjoying my motherhood, boasting that my last two babies were so easy at night, they slept through the night! Pero un dia, Daniella set the record straight, hijole! When the baby woke up and I didn’t, she would pat him back to sleep while I kept sleeping. Que verguenza, what a blow to my mothering ego!

There’s much more mothering practice that she experienced through her little brothers, but confessing this was too much for me already! Today, Daniella is an amazing mother: She uses all the talent God gave her and sometimes that strong latina woman comes out in her and she manages very well. 

Sunday is mothers day, bless your ama and if you have a big sis, thank her for every time she stepped into your mothers shoes.

My Middle Child

According to the Birth Order character trait mold, my middle child should have been one that avoided conflict, looked for the road that was smooth and avoided conflict. Hijole! My middle child broke that mold! This is my birthday shout out to my hijo!, his birthday is coming up next week, his golden birthday.

He was for five years el “baby” enjoying his papis shoulder. Everywhere we went he was seen carried by his daddy. It was a cozy time for him,  but one day, all of a sudden, he was squished into the middle position, his daddy was carrying his little brother. He would have to fight for his turn on daddy’s shoulder now. Today, I’ll brag about my middle child. He is a sweet little brother and a great big brother. He is a grateful son who honors his parents by his godly choices. 

How can I describe my son to you? I want to paint the beautiful picture of what I see, what God sees. Pero, he’s the watercolor painter, not me. 

One of the ways I love to commemorate the gift of my children on is by remembering the day they were born. Unforgettable experiences for sure. Pero, pa que me hago! I love talking about my inheritance any chance I get. Fíjense, these are just a glimpse of my roller coaster ride with this child of mine:

Emery is a tardy kid, he manages to make people wait. On the day that he was born, I pushed for two hours before he realized it was time to make his grand entry. It was more like he was prodded out. 

Emery was a quiet child, until he was not. Some of our friends wondered if he could talk, they don’t anymore. He said what needed to be said for his “rights” to be considered. His little voice would chime in with, “I don’t agree” when plans were being made. His two older siblings say that he got away with way too many things.

Emery was my one child that went to preschool, because the doctor prescribed it. His pediatrician was worried that he was much too clingy to me. He warned me that kindergarten would be a nightmare for him if I didn’t get him started in preschool. Perhaps we were both clingy because when I dropped him off, we both cried. 

Emery clung to the ‘baby’ title as long as he could. Even after Thomas, the baby, was born, he still had the ‘power’ to influence me before the verdict was pronounced, “caso cerrado!” When the case was closed and I said no, he found a loophole. When the verdict had gone in his favor, he asked for more! 

Emery makes a friend easily. Una vez, when he was a young teen, I had to intervene with a friendship and bring a healthy separation, hijole! You would think that I had condemned him to a life of banishment! He used all his “debating skills” Ya se! A real Mexicana would have squelched that right down, con la mirada! You know that look that warns you to stop while you’re ahead. Pero, Emery Greene, he’s something else. That day, he cried at the injustice of my mothering, and in secret I cried too. Pero mira, it all worked nicely, he established good healthy friendship boundaries.

Emery is confident in our love for him. He loves us, he trusts us and appreciates us. I wanted to say “Emery loves me” but it felt a little narcissistic. Es que, somehow, through the years this pushy middle child of mine has not been repelled by this strong Latina woman and he’s pulled me, su madre,  into his circle of most confidant friends.

En conclusión: 

I said to myself, I hope que todo el mundo sees, just how blessed I am! when I put on that “madre culeca” robe and tell you about my blessings, it’s because the Bible says “let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” 

Feliz cumpleaños a mi little flaco: Benjamin Emery Greene. Like my cuñada Mary says “Que te valla bien y Que Dios te bendiga y te cuide” May It go well with you, May God bless and keep you.

Crossing The International Border

I’ve been having alot of conversations with my cuñada Maria. She’s married to my oldest brother Angél.  We’ve been talking about everything from childhood, to cooking, to travesuras, those daring exploits my lil brother Hector did and scared my ama half to death. We’ve also talked about our experiences in Mexicali. Quizas, I’m also thinking of Mexicali since I’ll be visiting the border city of Calexico, Ca. soon.  

Chinese Food In Mexicali

Mexicali, in Baja California Mexico was the last stop just before my apa brought his family to California in the U.S. My parents lived there for a few years and they grew accustomed to it. When dad brought his family to live in America, they still crossed the border into Mexico almost every weekend to do some of their business and socializing. My ama preferred to do her shopping there. She was able to converse and haggle about prices, while we hit the street vendors and looked over the goodies they sold. My apa enjoyed the cocteles de camarón, I loved the mango on a stick with chile y limon, and we all loved the candy, but my ama loved la comida China. 

Asi es, Mexicali has a large Chinese population, which probably grew larger when the railroads were completed and the irrigation system project established. My mother looked forward to our Saturdays in Mexicali, but sitting down to eat Chinese food with her family was an especially wonderful treat for her, not to mention that we loved it too. The chop suey, the red carnitas, the egg patties and the fortune cookies still linger in my memory. Pero, once in a while when we had to hurry to get to the linea to cross the border we did stop for a delicious hamburguesa in Calexico, Ca. These hamburgers were traditionally American, embellished just perfectly, with tomate, lechuga and pickles, then topped with a jalapeno chile to make them a great Spanglish burger served with fat papas fritas that we covered in catsup! It was another favorite. 

The Vendors En La Linea

Ok, back to my memory. One Saturday we had to get back home quickly. There was no time for treats that day. The line moved along slowly. We avoided eye contact with the kids and moms asking for money, we didn’t know what to do about them, but we loved the vendors who displayed their artesenias, there was always something new in their beautiful crafted work, but our ama was rarely impressed. We were not supposed to look at them either because if we stared too long the vendor would come running to our window. We loved it and did it on purpose, without fail it just got us scolded. 

Our family was mixed as far as immigration. Dad, mom and my older siblings had to show their resident alien cards, green cards, but my lil brother and I just had to say “American born” and the officer would ask us where we were born and a few questions in English and let us through. Easy peasy! Except for one day. That particular day, the officer asked to see our birth certificates. My mother emptied her purse and didn’t find the documents. Dad tried to explain the certificates were at home and simply apologized for the mistake. Nope! Not acceptable. A secundaria, to secondary where a full investigation would take place. First we had to get out of the car for the vehicle inspection. The officer talked to my father and through an interpreter to my mother.  No amount of explanations, apologies or other proof of residency changed the verdict. The bottom line was that he would have to prove that their last two kids were American born. So dad left us there at the border and he took the rest of my siblings home. Our family separated to find the needed documents. I was always a big chicken when I felt tension, my lil brother was busy looking at everything and my ama wasn’t too happy about the whole deal. Those couple of hours were pretty long, I never wanted to be stuck in secundaria again! 

Los “American Born”

Imaginate my flashback! Boy does history repeat itself! Thirty years later,  we had our two youngest boys; with us at the international border, this time in Tijuana, Mexico. Emery was about 7 and Thomas was about 2 years old. Hijole! We had rushed out of the house, I barely remembered to grab my “birth certificate” wallet and we went to Mexico. It was a late night as we returned home, the line was not horrific, we inched through it in just about an hour and half. By the time we reached the officer it was late. The boys were knocked out and I wasn’t ready with the documents, strike 1! Then I couldn’t find the birth certificates, I had accidentally grabbed the pouch that carried their immunizations. Strike 2! I explained, my husband explained, he peered in at the boys, they were knocked out, he could not stir them awake, strike 3! Off to secondary. Before they had us get out of the vehicle I tried shaking the boys awake, then the officer tried again. This time, Emery, the oldest of the two groaned, the officer asked “what’s your name? But Emery just moaned. Oh no! I snapped “Emery, wake up!” He asked again. This time Emery whined and said “I don’t know” Oh my gosh! He was delirious, y ahora?! Meanwhile Thomas just moaned. Ben was frantically calling friends so they could go to the house and get the birth certificates. Then, the officer asked, do you have a family picture? You all would think, Of course every mother has a family picture in her wallet, verdad? Bad mother! Bad mother! SMH is how the officer looked at me. Then the heavens opened up and Ben found a family picture in his paint splattered wallet. There we were the happy Greene’s. By this time almost another hour had passed and they hadn’t gotten us out of our vehicle yet so the officer scolded us about our carelessness and explained that many children are stolen and drugged to get them across the border, he had to be sure that they were truly ours, by now Emery was waking up and answering questions. What a scary moment. What an ugly reality of that kind of danger. 

The Things I Learned in Secundaria

I can only finish this post with a reminder of a few things I find important:

Don’t leave home and go into another country without your documents!

Be ready to show them when you’re asked.

Carry a family photo. 😀

And be grateful to the God of the universe! He always makes a legitimate way to help his children.

The Picture that Ben carried in his wallet

2021 Recap ¿Aprovechaste el Año?

It’s the last day of the year, incredible! (I started this post last year, 24 hours ago, hijole!) Every time another year comes to a close, I look backward and forward, and all the cliche thoughts pop up. I could have done that thing I wanted to do and I should have made that change that was so desperately needed. All of the what if’s tug at me. Y por su puesto, the goal markers come marching in. Next year is gonna be different. I’m gonna do things better and bigger. I will get…I will do… I will be…Esperate!

 It’s early evening and that part of the last day of the year is also passed on. Que bueno, because tomorrow, I think I’m supposed to reconfigure my goals, verdad? For Christmas, I got a very efficient planner and desk calendar to aid me, I’ll keep you posted.

Pero, instead of sharing goals or making resolutions, I’ll share the notables of the 12 months of 2021.

Mexican-American Girls 2021 Recap

-En Enero, after covid obstacles we were able to bury my apa. we needed that finality and then I closed that chapter of my life with my apa with a grand finale. My sis and I honored him with a beautiful memorial service, 96 years can’t be captured in a 10 minute video of course, pero mi hijo did capture his Tatas good side 😀 I also got a chance to spend time with 2 of my brothers. 

-Luego en Febrero- Ben and I always take advantage of our annual Valentines Day/Marriage seminar tune up. Always a good reminder that we enter into marriage two very selfish individuals and as we persevere we are converted…con el favor de Dios of course

The valentines day photo booth also works for photos with my nietas!

-March came marching in with birthdays galore, mi hijo, mis nietos and mis buenas amigas-I would catch my breath and then ready myself for the next cumpleanos, I spent a lot of time en la cocina.

-No April fools jokes lurked around the corner to surprise me, well actually one did and it turned sour. “The Real Ben” he’s really the little Ben, anyway he played a cruel joke on me way back then, and I’m barely able to laugh about it. He made me think I had cracked a bone in his neck!! Imaginate my fear, I layed hands on him praying, then when I saw that he was laughing! I layed hands on him with my foot! These are the things my boys, muy chistosos! Do to me!

-Eventually I recovered and forgave him enough to accept his gift for mothers day, muy victima que me senti.

-In June Ben got his glory time for fathers day, I got an incredible deal for a kayak, I’m trying to be that good wife after more than 30 years and trying the things he loves to do, anything thats connected to the ocean.

-July gave me an opportunity to go to our annual summer bible conference with my sister.  It was her first experience and what an experience. Our fellowship of churches are pentecostal with a vision to see lives changed through the message of the gospel. Once a couple is transformed by Jesus and has vision, they will get sent out somewhere in the world to make disciples. These bible conferences are opportunities to fuel up on God’s spirit and vision. 

Our own little church has that vision and this year we sent one couple into Mexico City for their missionary assignment, covid no longer detained them. By “sent” I mean we backed them financially, we are there for them as they build a church. We launched them and they are thriving! Luego, we sent a 2nd couple into Detroit Michigan, these San Diego natives are acclimating to the cold weather of Detroit and breaking ground as they build a congregation of believers.

-August came around and I realized that I could pick up my school books again, so I did. I’ll be the oldest graduating college student in the world, pero, I am really hoping to finish this race, did you notice I didn’t say quickly 😀 

 -September always kicks our celebration season wide open, birthdays and anniversaries. We kicked off the season with Bens 59th birthday (my Flaco is kinda tripping “Yikes! I’m almost 60” thought reality) Just before this party I was able to squeeze in a trip to Nogales to visit my dear and beautiful friend. Somehow God always helps me make a way to strengthen the cords of friendship. Then just before Daniellas birthday I squeezed in a trip to the NorthWest to celebrate a marriage covenant, my besties son got married.

-I never let my birthday in October go by without a bang, and this year was no exception.

-Our 3rd Benjamin was welcomed into the family on the day after Thanksgiving and we rejoiced at the ease 😀 of it all. I tell you, Abuela status is the way to refill that empty nest for short moments. They always go home to momma. 

-November also marked un ano for MexicanAmericangirl.com. It has been running at a good pace all year long, bueno, more like a good walk. November also brought my dear friend home from a long battle against covid. Those difficult days were insulated with the prayer of the saints, her church family contending for her. When the doctors gave up, when we were too weary, Jesus was always there with her. Gracias a Dios.

-I told you all about my December days already, except of course the sick bug hit me, it snuck in a quick punch and wanted to topple me over, but like Nacho Libre, I was quick on my feet and in my stretchys avoided the knock out! I was able to wish my loves a Feliz Ano nuevo at midnight as the clock marked a new year.

Now it’s a new year and of course I’m hopeful. I’ve got goals, I’ve got plans and I’ve got work to do!

I do hope and pray your Ano Nuevo is one filled with peace, you know that kind of peace that keeps you steady when chaos is erupting? I’m also believing that this new kind of normal will bring heart changes and restoration into broken lives. Y tambien, I hope that this new normal will provoke new avenues for progress for us all.

God bless you everyone and “Carpe annum” Seize the year, don’t let it seize you!  

Guest Post: ‘Twas the Morning of Christmas (a short story by Mexican-American Girl’s daughter Daniella)

‘Twas the morning of Christmas and all through la casa, not a creature was stirring except Emery and Lala. Little brother Emery had tiptoed into Lala’s room. He knew she’d be up. 

“Do you think we can go out to the living room yet?” Emery asked.

“No it’s only 5:43, let’s let them sleep will 6:30” 

Lala was organizing her little pile of handmade and dollar store gifts that her 12 year old budget could muster together for her familia. 

“Do you want to go take a peek?” she whispered. Emery nodded eagerly.

She was thinking about a certain box she had seen under the tree. Mom usually didn’t put gifts under the tree before Christmas Eve. This helped reduce the temptations that came with waiting until Christmas and it increased the magic on Christmas morning. But this box was from Tia Patty. The small cylinder shaped box could only be one thing. Never before had she done this, but she shook the box to make sure. A mixture of guilt and sheer joy exploded inside. The sound of small plastic butterfly clips shaking together in the plastic container confirmed that Tia Patty had gotten her exactly what she wanted. 

Emery’s big eyes were excited and waiting. 

“Ok,” she said, “let’s go!”

With their arms full of gifts to add to treasure under the tree, they tiptoed down the hall.

“Wow” It took their breath away. The morning was so quiet and peaceful. For those few minutes, time seemed to stop.


Every year it was the same, but every year it was a bigger surprise. The lights were twinkling on the tree, the fireplace was stacked with wood and ready to be lit, and the presents. There were so many  presents. Where or how Mom always managed to hide all of these presents until the night before Christmas they never knew, but they always knew that late into the night on Christmas Eve, Mom and Dad were busy preparing. They couldn’t remember ever truly believing in Santa Claus, the magic of Christmas created by their Mexican-American Mama, was more than enough. 

“Let’s let them sleep for ten more minutes,” Lala said. They added their little gifts to the hearth and tiptoed back to Lala’s room. 

Christmas Spirit Lives On

Now on Christmas morning there are too many stockings for the mantle to hold. All of the nietos and nietas come to Ama’s house to experience Mexican-American girls Christmas magic.

Emery & Lala

Christmas Decorating the Mexican American Girl Way

21 Days til Christmas

Feliz Navidad! We have entered into the Christmas season and I have seen all around me some scurrying about and preparing, hopefully for a wonderful time. O quizas for some, it’s just a busy time or a sad one. Te comprendo, in Christmases past, I’ve had my share of busyness and my portion of sad losses. With Covid hovering about, it can kill the Christmas joy so we must resist the oppression that tries to creep in. Set the stage, pullout all the stops, bring Christmas into your home, rejoice! and again I say rejoice.

Be Merry and Decorate

On 511 E Delta Street, adrenaline would run high, anxiety would peak until our decorations were in place. We’d pull out our fake Christmas tree, covered in ‘snow’. We had to  insert all the branches, hang the shatterproof ornaments we had and sprinkle the tinsel all over the tree, this was done without mother supervision, so you can imagine the beautiful tree. Something about decorating our arbolito, covering our front door with Christmas wrapping paper and flicking on the foquitos so they could shine bright on Delta street. Ahora si! The season was official. Now the adrenaline of anticipation runs over. I can’t remember if Santa Clos got the credit for our gifts, I don’t think he ever did, you see, we didn’t have a chimney. Besides, somehow every year on Christmas Eve we knew our presents were in the trunk of the car.

Ahora  en mi casa, it still makes a difference to decorate. Por favor, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about a Pinterest perfect Christmas, not country, not vintage, not rustic or traditional red. I’m definitely not talking about a glamorous and glittery style or girly Christmas. Hijole, I don’t think my Christmas stilo has a name. 

The day after Thanksgiving Ben drags in the ladder, climbs up to the attic or mejor dicho the crawl space where we store our Christmas collection and he pulls out box after box labelled Christmas. Mira nomas! The San Diego Greenes have some very valuable  relics. I don’t believe I can put a price tag on my kids’ kindergarten ornaments. I loved showing my funny looking “lightbulb face ornament” to my granddaughters and seeing their surprise when they heard that their daddy made it, de repente, it wasn’t so funny looking.

Then there’s my “ugly bear” who faithfully comes out of hibernation for his Christmas shine. This ugly bear was christened Ugly Bear when I wondered where he came from and why he was still around. 

“Lets get rid of him, ” I said. 

“I bought him for you for Christmas when I was little mom, but you’re right, he is ugly, you can get rid of him”  He was not a little indignant, the sting in his voice made me want to  run and hide.

Shame! Shame! Tsk! Tsk! When a mother is not appreciative of a gift from her middle son. Suddenly that hard plastic osito feito was beautiful and valuable. 

Valuable Decorations

That’s how my decorations shine beautifully, nothing really matches, everything is old and faded. There’s a wealth of homemade crafts that carry me back to Christmases of long ago. My snowman print kitchen window valance. My dear friend Raquel and I worked together on these while my little Thomas sewed his own Christmas mat with a lopsided santa. These are worn but they carry weight. 

We have a very old and serious looking Santa who is teamed up with very old and fragile reindeers. They stand regally on the secretary, or maybe now they stand feebly since a few have toothpicks for legs. They used to belong to Ben’s parents who got them from their parents, hijole! Santa barely makes it to town! 

Traditions

Then there’s my snow globe collection and my Nativity collection, both were a tradition started by my sister Patty. Some of my globes have lost their water, their beauty and their music. One little tiny one doesn’t even have its’ glass dome, it shattered a couple of Christmases ago, technically it’s not a snowglobe anymore, but that tiny samurai struts amongst the snowglobes. My Nativity sets are ceramic, wood and plastic. Somehow after 3 generations of Greenes I have one surviving piece of a nativity, a walnut shell cradle with baby Jesus sleeping in it.  Ves, pulling out the decorations reminds you of what you had and have and can have in Christ. Decorating for Christmas is not an easy task to accomplish, for a long while the house looks like Christmas exploded upon us. My artist son, with his critical attention to detail, arranges and rearranges everything, but when it’s all said and done, we know it’s official, Christmas has come. Right here I will confess a great infraction on my part, I thought I would get stoned that night in September when the kids discovered that my “all year round mistletoe” was gone!! And that I had replaced it. I believe my niece Sierra is still recovering from the shock and working out a forgiveness plan for me. Having learned a hard lesson, I am scrambling to replace it and vowing that never ever will I remove the mistletoe that hangs in my dining room during my watch.

 Going into our house at Christmas is fun for the grandkids and heart accelerating for me. This past week they walked into our house and were so awed by Christmas, same old decorations but they are still stirred by them.Then, just as strongly they get anxious to decorate their own houses, they want Christmas to visit them.  Meanwhile, I’m back and forth, que si, que no when it comes to all those little hands handling my Christmas decorations. Last year my outdoor snowman didn’t survive, he was lifted by the arm one too many times, and I’ll never know who the guilty culprit was. We had to put him to rest, he served his family well.

Again I say, Feliz Navidad. What is your Christmas decorating style? Bring it out, let it shine and be glad. 

diy halloween costume graphic

DIY Halloween Tradiciones

Halloween is upon us, my children are all grown up, but my DIY costume shenanigans live on in them and in my grandchildren. The costumes and events of halloween past are popping up again so instead of tucking them away I decided to display some of them. These may not be costumes you’ll find at the thrift store or or at Party City. We usually assemble pieces from around the home for our creations. I wonder what I’ll come up with today for our church’s harvest festival!

DIY

I tread on sacred ground with this DIY acronym. I am surrounded by incredibly talented women who can take an theme and visualize an entire hall beautifully arrayed for a special occasion. Por ejemplo,  “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth” The girls, my daughter Daniella and my adopted daughter Cita, and I are working on a baby shower for my daughter-in-law. They have exploded with ideas and DIY creations. Yo? I pictured arrows in certain directions, and a nice clean area to feast in. 

The harvest festival is next and the ladies who know me will laugh out loud wondering what kind of chicanada I will come up with and call a costume. 

To Halloween or Not to Halloween

Should Christians do the Halloween thing? In those early adult years before having children, Halloween was easy to manage. Our church promoted the gospel on trick or treat day by offering elaborate haunted houses. Lots of preparation and investment went into these presentations. Perhaps a more accurate description would be “reality houses.” A dramatized reality of the consequences that come from our choices. They were exhilarating as we boldly shared what Christ had done for us. My biggest worry was getting myself ready and believing God for a fruitful harvest.

Then came kids… Kids with eyes wide open, excited with expectation of halloween fun. Oh how I felt like my mother! I didn’t want to deal with Halloween like that! Celebrate El Cucuy? Were Christians supposed to do that? Hijole! What a roller coaster ride I got in with the Halloween celebration dilemma. Ya se, my kids just wanted to dress up and get candy, what was the big deal?  Que dramática verdad! Well I sat on that ride for several Halloweens. My older kids, sort of, kind of, mas o menos dressed up.They got some candy, nothing like I got when I was little. I was trying to stay neutral. They managed to not miss out on costumes. One October Jonathan was desperate to wear his cowboy boots and vest to school, and the teachers always accommodate their need for the costume parade. 

Finally, as my older kids were almost into adulthood I came to some resolution about October 31. Ni modo. It is another day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad. Que facil verdad? I need to take a closer look at them and see if they were scarred by those haunting wishy washy, “Que si, que no” ways.

Resourceful Costumes

So, taking my childhood experiences or habits of “costume making” I encouraged them to figure out a costume and dress up. I wasn’t sold on the idea of outrages expense thrown into a store bought costume, sorri. Look in the closet, look out in the yard for natural resources or dig out of the recycle bin the cardboard and reuse it.  Maybe I can take some credit for “encouraging” my kids to be creative and feed their talent? Jonathan stitched together a hot chile pepper costume one year, Another year he was a platano. My middle child Emery, would not, could not think of accepting a costume that wasn’t absolutely perfect! He’s my artist child, ya te imaginas! All of us pitched in to make costumes for Thomas, el baby. Well, honestly, like all things I get an idea and then expect them to create it with my limited resources 😀 One year I thought Thomas could be a peacock. Asi es. In our neighborhood, there was a peacock that strutted around his street, literally, like he owned the pavement. He showed off and carried himself with such confidence. My little Thomas was such a character, he might still be 😀 When it was all said and done, his huge cardboard peacock tail was hard for him to carry around gracefully.

I always enjoy the costumes these young talented moms create for their kids or have someone make for them. One year, my little granddaughter was a football! Carried by the quarterback, mi hijo. Last year, mi nietecito was a cop and his dad, Jonathan, was the jailbird. Now that I think about it, all those years of suppressed costumes are still coming out.

 Once I remembered that God created all of the days and decided to chill out about October 31 I have enjoyed them. This year it falls on Sunday, gloria a Dios! With all the changes that have happened because of COVID what are your plans? Today I’ll be working in one of the booths at our church carnival. I haven’t come up with a costume yet, hijole! I will add it below when I figure it out!

If you’ve DIY’d a costume this year, tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see and share.

Don’t Get a Red Card for Your Parenting

Do you have any parenting regrets? Those early years go so fast and the firstborn can often be a guinnea pig receiving all the mistakes first time mothers can give.

As I was frantically looking for my wedding day photo with my ama, going through picture after picture, my eyes scanned the images like flashcards, or flash photos, a lifetime on fast forward. Despite my worry at not finding that picture I couldn’t help smiling, remembering and even yearning for all the days gone by. 

Then my eyes were arrested on a memory of one of my kids’ birthday celebrations. Once again the regret of that day creeped up on me. How can some things be so vivid so many years later? It was no big deal to him, he enjoyed himself and he forgave me 😊 but the lesson I learned that day affected and changed me. 

Parenting gives us too many opportunities to respond quickly. All kinds of images conjure up verdad? Here’s one: A friend once told me that in her third trimester of pregnancy she was at a pool party, things were great until a toddler fell into the pool, hijole! And what happened? Everyone froze! Seconds ticked by in slow motion, but she immediately jumped into the pool and pulled that child out and saved a life. Mil veces! Thank God that her big belly didn’t slow her quick response. As parents we need that, but the quick response I’m talking about is with words and judgments, asi es. 

Sometimes people, that means me too, tend to be quick with words and responses, not stopping to consider a situation more closely. This can be costly or hurtful. Here’s a lesson I learned as a newbie mother. 

Although I was new at parenting I recognized that follow through was critical. Follow through meant your word was reliable. If you said you would do it, then you should. Maybe I was incredibly strict with this because God had delivered me from habitual lying. It was no longer my habit. So how does this apply to parenting? Bueno, God really helped me teach my first born and later my other kids that lying was sin, an ugly violation which only led to bigger lies, problems and unnecessary hurt. What I said to my kids I meant. If they were misbehaving and I threatened with a certain consequence, I followed through, I needed to be careful with my words verdad? Mira lo que paso, 

My 5 year old was starting kindergarten and it was nerve racking for all kinds of reasons I conjured up. At his Spanish Immersion School, he was going to learn Spanish since his mother was miserably failing at teaching him. No me juzguen, don’t judge me, just hear me out. Although I speak, read and write Spanish well enough, it’s not at the forefront of my mind. Acuerdense, I was born and raised here in the United States. Besides, in our home; the Greene household, we spoke English. Needless to say I needed help if I wanted my son to learn Spanish, so off to the immersion he went.

Spanish Immersion

 Immersed in Spanish, like when you get dunked in the pool was my 5 year old at school. Teachers, aids, administrators, most all adults spoke only in Spanish, he was lost in a sea of spanish words. For Kindergarteners communication was mostly charades and facial expressions for survival in those first few months. 

Good Card-Bad Card

The other thing they got immersed in was color coded behavioral cards. Each teacher; Senora o Senorita, had her own “code of conduct” color system. It might have been like this: green, yellow, orange and red cards. Every child started their day with a the green card for good behavior (no association with my name 😏 ) As the day wore on and infractions happened a child would get warnings for disrupting and get their card changed to yellow. If they continued to digress, they would be demoted to orange. Finally, after several warnings a child would get the dreaded red card. Shame! Shame! Daniella called it “the walk of shame” as the guilty child had to walk up the aisle while all eyes were on him or her and change the card under his or her name to the repulsive red card. Only if it wasn’t too late in the day, he or she might be able to regain the good conduct green card.

The Red Card

After getting over his nervousness of a new environment Jonathan was enjoying his independence, maybe too much. He tended to talk to his new friends in English, at the wrong times and with no volume control. He tends to be loud like his mother, a naturally booming voice. (I must say that today he is a good preacher :)) Pues ya te imaginas! It got him in a lot of “red card” trouble. La Maestra had already pulled me aside on Open House night to tell me about Jonathan’s talkative ways. I tried all kinds of threats and disciplines to get him to change “the error of his ways” By the time March rolled around, I was tired of the red cards. I must tell you that Jonathan when he was confronted by the teacher about disrupting, if he was guilty, he admitted it. He didn’t wait to be found out, he always disclosed the truth about the red card even though he knew he would get in trouble, he didn’t want to be a liar. Those red cards became his thorn and my nightmare!

My son’s birthday was around the corner. How could a red card put such a gloomy outlook on a birthday? February was closing in on us and the red card taunted me one Thursday afternoon. Como pues? I said to my not so self-controlled 5 year old “If you promise not get a red card for the next few days we’ll have your birthday party, otherwise we won’t”  What did his birthday have to do with the red card? At that point I wasn’t asking for a green card (no pun intended) I was asking for any color but a red card. 

The race was on. Red was chasing him through the class room but he finished the week with no red stains. It worked! Then it didn’t. He stepped off the bus the next school day and he wasted no time in telling me about the latest red card. We both cringed at the ugly truth. 

Que iba hacer? Birthdays have always been a “Let’s have a big party” occasion for me. Invite friends, family and have a great feast and fun. Everything was set and the invitations were out. I had to cancel, Jonathan got a red card and the judgment had already been pronounced, there was to be no party. Porque dije eso? Why had I threatened to punish him like this? Really? No birthday Party? Oh God, I was wrong to speak without thinking. I truly am not sure which of us was more sorry. 

I took him outside to the backyard and there I explained as best you can to a 5 year old that his birthday party would be cancelled. For a moment I think he believed his day would be erased from the calendar, then he realized he wouldn’t have friends over. The piñata and the candy wouldn’t be used and worse still, was all the gifts wouldn’t be lavished on him and he was sad. I cried because I regretted my words. I got a red card that day.

En Conclusion:

I did follow through and cancel his birthday party that year, we quietly celebrated his birthday with pizza and cake. His amigito Richard came to dinner that evening. 

Dios Mio! I learned a valuable lesson that day in parenting, beware of loose cannonball words and foolish empty threats because what you say matters. Thank God for His mercy, my son grew into a man of God. He’s using that powerful voice as a preacher today.

Pastor Greene and his proud Mexican-American Mama


Me imagino, that every parent has that “lesson learning” parenting occasion in life that makes you stop when you feel the pinch of reprimand and you recognize, “O.k. I’m not going that way again” Andale, tell me, what have you learned from your kids? Have you turned that “red card” day into a lesson learned and a profitable tool?