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?

Life Lessons While Raising Boys

A Strong Latina Woman

My boys always tease me and my sister Marina about being tough, strong latina ladies and maybe we are. I mean, I have shared with them stories of growing up and how my big sisters and myself had to face, “the giant”.  Dicen que, we are always ready to “throw down” to defend our home, kids, each other and our rights. There is some truth to their playful bantering. They love to share the stories of my “fight for rights”, always exaggerando by adding the perfect action words. They make me laugh out loud! Porque soy latina, a dash of chile does make some of the episodes of life spicier. They have witnessed a few… Ok, more than a few. It’s a tricky balance, stand your ground while standing in ‘Corem Deo’ osea, ‘in the presence of God’ 

Hopefully I’ve taught my kids by example, and preferably a good one. As they see my “strong latina” roots, my prayer is always that they would also see the grafting of God into his family.

It has been assigned to me the task of showing, NOT just telling them how a christian should behave through stress and fatigue. Hijole! Here’s one episode of a day in the life of the Greenes with they’re Mexican American born again ama. I fumbled, but I think I recovered.  Of course, when my sons retell the story, they add a lot of salsa to the story to spice it up… Here’s my version: 

It was time to take my boys for their monthly haircut, by the time a month went by, they were looking quite mechudos!  They liked going to Sals barber shop, at age 12 Emery was beginning to care about his appearance and this barber cut his hair to his liking. I liked Sals because it was very close, affordable and convenient, until this particular day. 

As usual, I was in a hurry, homeschooling had ended later than I’d hoped and I had to get dinner going, I was hoping to squeeze in 2 haircuts. The shop was busy, everybody wanted a haircut on the same day! Every chair was full. My boys only wanted Dennis to cut their hair, he was chistoso, but he tended to take too long. Heavy sigh, they had to get in line for their cut. Although it was going to interrupt my things, I decided we could wait… a little while.  After signing in, Dennis informed me with just a pinch of impatience in his voice, that ALL the customers were waiting for him to cut their hair, it didn’t matter that 2 other barbers were available, he was the star barber. Then, he proceeded to inform me that he must first take his break. I looked over at the patiently waiting customers, showing no concern that Dennis was going to take his break. No, it wouldn’t do. I didn’t have that much time to sit around. I said to my sons “Let’s go” and turned to leave but they dragged their feet behind me. This is the part of the story that the boys like to tell, the drama.

Dennis followed me out with a comb and scissors in his hand and pointing to me he said “I need a break too!” Really?! I stopped and turned around to face him. He seemed a little taken back, but stood his ground gripping his comb and scissors. My almost teen, Emery, was looking like he wished he could delete himself from the scene.  I said “Take your break! I’m not stopping you. I don’t have time for your break!” (Emery would add that I was pointing my finger in his face and menacingly walking toward him) I turned and stomped off expecting the boys to be right behind me. Emery was embarrassed  and he sheepishly said to Dennis “Sorry.” Que?! I was the mistreated customer! I had nothing to apologize for! I almost turned around and accused Dennis of turning my own son against me.

I drove home, the boys felt my indignation, they went straight to their room when we got home, almost as if they had gotten in trouble. Why shouldn’t I be angry? I wasn’t asking for a freebee, my impatience wasn’t toward him at first, or was it? I was a regular customer, couldn’t he have put me at the front of the line? De repente! I stopped in my tracks, All those indignant thoughts  smashed up against the conviction I felt. My countenance changed. Pero, it wasn’t my fault, how was I being a terrible example to my sons? Didn’t they have to see that other people couldn’t walk all over me? Right here, picture my youngest; Thomas, saying, in his loud voice like his ama  “Yea, my mom was ready to take that barber down!” 

Maybe I should have slowed down enough to consider the situation? He was pretty busy, and still had a line of customers, he probably did need a break. I should have nicely said “I’ll come by tomorrow instead, what’s a good time?” Heavy sigh. I braced myself, sabes, it’s hard for me to say I’m sorry, I call those “expensive” words to give. Hijole, now I had to tell my kids I was wr…wro…wrong, whew! I went and apologized to them first and told them that I was going to apologize to Sal too.  Both Thomas’ light brown brows and Emerys dark ones shot up in surprise. I added that it was not the way to talk to people or the way I wanted to be treated. Talk about eating crow! Or choking on sweet humble pie. I mean, no big deal to just never go back to that shop right? Wrong! I wanted them to know God’s right way of handling situations. I do have to say I’m glad they weren’t with me as I swallowed that piece of pie.

Dennis saw me as I pulled up and he seemed ready for me. I took a deep breath and walked the few steps to his shop, it felt like the march of death to self! He came out to meet me, the shop was still full of customers. We face one another like the old cowboy westerns when a duel was imminent. He stood his ground, waiting for me to draw first. I immediately dispelled his wariness. “I’m just here to apologize for the way I behaved earlier” and to his credit, except for a lift of his eyebrows he didn’t react. He said, shoulders relaxing, “No problem, you can bring your boys back, I’ll cut their hair.” I said “Thank you” and tried to walk away with grace in my step while  in my very humbled state. 

Afterwards, cuando estaba sola and I told my journal the whole scene, I was glad that I did it. I could tell that Dennis was glad to still have a customer. My boys were pleased with me, they already knew how hard it is to admit you’re wrong, then, to see  their strong latina ama allow God to show a better way is priceless.

In the Greene family when episodes happen and we can laugh about them because we’ve survived them, they always turn into novelas

I wonder if this post evoked your own past novela scenes and lessons learned in life.

Surviving a Morning Rush

Calmer Days

Recently I’ve experienced some really calm and quiet days…which is an almost supernatural circumstance for my life, so I’ve had time to reflect and read through my files and journals. Looking back to noisy, busy and chaotic days, I’m not necessarily missing them and I’m amazed that I, or that we all have survived.

Vamos a ver que piensan de esta reacción.

This is an excerpt from my journal after a packed day of going to and fro, coming in and going out, and even running in circles! Should I give you the backstory? I think I need to for my sake. 

It was the time of the year when things slow down for Benjamin Greene’s Painting and we were feeling the financial squeeze.  I had taken a new driving position, asi es. Then I took a 2nd one, a food delivery job. Que facil! My apa at this point was only with me part of the month. Also, I’m that mama and abuela that feels compelled to be needed and to be busy. So it is that in my life, I must have my cafecito with Jesus, then I can face the day. While this is a wonderful habit that has blessed my life, busy chaotic days still get the best of me.

Quizás se han encontrado aquí alguna vez, maybe you’ve been here a million times!

 A Chemical Reaction

  • 6:00 am Start the day right. My habit, the comfort of devotions assures me it’s going to be a good day. A good bubbly feeling is released. I’m ready to tackle the things on my list.
  • 7:00 am I should expect to have an interrupted day with my new driving jobs. Heavy sigh. Why did I add two jobs to my already busy schedule? Well because I like the chump change that gets dropped into my account weekly. A little bit of tension creeps in. Really?
  • 7:05 am I should be making my husband’s lunch for work, instead I bring up the lack of work… again… Isn’t there anyone who can afford to paint their house after the holidays? Did you talk to your customer in Scripps Ranch? What about the general contractor you occasionally work for? Nope. No work today…again…worry shows up.
  • 7:15 am Subject changes to the actual earnings of my driving jobs. Something stirs within. He doesn’t say much, theres a bitter taste in my mouth.
  • 7:30 am Cell phone rings, it’s Brian, the first driving job operator. I stare at the phone as it’s singing, and choose not to take his call. I do have a choice, but I still feel guilt, or is it regret? What if this one could have been more than chump change? Really, is money such a thorn? I have to get ready for the 2nd driving job. That one is much more structured. My block starts in 30 minutes, and I can’t be at 2 places at once.
  • 7:45 am Sister texts, she’s on her way. Stress. Is she ok? I need to leave.
  • 7:50 am I plan on leaving my homeschooled high schooler busy with his assignments. He won’t be interrupted and he will be productive. He can do his assignments alone. Happy juice released, he is my last child in school and at least my husband will be home.
  • 7:55 am House phone rings. A possible job lead for Ben, hopefully it leads to income. Relief.  Ben has to leave. Stress… Thomas will have to put off some of his school work, no computer use without parent supervision.
  • 8:00 am It’s time to log in. Ben leaves to chase that lead. Hopefully I’ll have time to go potty before….ding ding ding….the first offer pops up….$7.63..Really? Sorrento Valley. I do feel pressure to take it. More stress. The deal is, during my block I need to accept as many offers as possible if I want to get paid minimum wage aside from the actual job. Minimum wage, chemicals secrete…. I feel them stirring. 
  • 8:05 am I’m off to Sorrento Valley. 13 min. I should be on time. I’m early, I wait for the order. Off to deliver, I should be on time, ETA is 8:30 am
  • 8:15 am Wait?! How am I supposed to get the order to the person?…stress times 3, call the customer. No answer…anxiety. Call for help. Do I want to take a short survey after the call? Anger, stress, anxiety. “Just help me!” In the elevator the words resound, but just in my head. Ding ding ding, view and accept the offer. Did I just accept another offer? “Get off the script and help me!”, this time the words come out. Regret. Ding, another offer. Reaching the top floor. ding ding…times running out…view and accept, I can’t take another offer just now! As I step out of the elevator, I ask “Can I leave the order at the front desk?” The operator is compelled to stay on his scripted monologue. Knots bunch up my stomach. Ding, accept the offer? “Yes, you can leave the order.” Thanks. I delivered it late. I wish I could do that survey!  Ding. The next order is ready now. 
  • 8:35 am I’m late. Juices are building and bubbling up. I have got to hurry. The Mall! Oh no!? Veggie Grill? I’ve been there. Where is it? Arrived? Siri said I arrived. Where is it? Frustration. Anger. There it is, between breaths I pick up Abbey’s order and try to look cool as I rush out. Ding, my order is ready for pick up at the Corner Bakery. What order? When did I accept this? I hate this! Minimum wage, really?…this is stupid! Where is the Corner Bakery? Of course I have to walk back across the mall.
  • 8:45 am I have both orders, where’s my car? My phone is singing? Not Brian? 312 area code… Hello? Yes,  Abbey’s order was to be delivered at 8:30 am. yes!…please…skip the script! I swallowed those words in frustration! Blah blah, Anger! What? Yes, I am on my way to deliver for Abbey and then Jeffrey…yes…ok! I feel the juices and they’re not sweet. Where in the world did I park?
  • 8:55 am Just down the street. Huge luxury apartment complex! No parking, now what?
  • 9:05am Risk it and park in a designated numbered spot. Run to elevator, 3rd floor, number 312….to the left? Nope, the other way. Argh! Please God, help me with the customer.  
  • 9:10 am Deliver Abbey’s order. She’s calm. I leave and feel the sweet relief.  Run to Jeffrey, a quick drive. He’s waiting for his breakfast..
  •  9:15 am A business. Where’s the lobby? Anxiety. Late, late, late! Please God don’t let me get yelled at, I won’t handle it well.
  • 9:20 am Deliver to the lobby, won’t see the customer. I catch my breath and go sit in the car.
  • 9:30 am Done, my  block of time is over, I sigh and log off.
  • 9:35 am Back on the freeway again, now I need to pick up my daughter and her boys for her 10:00 o’clock appointment
  • 9:35 am Forgot to take meat out for dinner “Hey Siri call Thomas.” Thomas is my helper in the kitchen. He tells me Tia is waiting. I’m coming. Nothing for a quick meal. No help from home, no dinner plan. More stress about my sister waiting. Knots tighten.
  • 9:45 am Daniella and kids get buckled up and we rush to appointment.
  • 9:55 am We make it. We’ll wait in the car. The boys are quietly playing. That’s unusual. Click, Click, Click, Click. Click
  • 10:55 am Good, she’s coming, we can leave. Buckle up the boys. Hurry Lala. I turn the key, but the car doesn’t start. A dead battery?! I had left the key in with the ignition turned. The lights were on and the boys tinkered with the overhead lights. Tears. 
  • 11:00 am The boys are looking at me keenly aware of the brimming tears. I call Ben, he’s on his way, drops everything to come rescue us, 5 minutes. Where is he?!  What will I make for dinner? Ben shows up, he fixes everything. That didn’t matter for a moment, entitlement creeped in. He took his time. I felt no gratitude.
  • 11:10 am No relief, just more rushing. My heart is tight. Ben kisses me and turns to go home. I drive the other direction. A tense ride, Daniella gives me space.
  • 11:15 am Dropped Daniella and kids off. Bye. No dinner plan.
  • 11:20 am On Ashford street, a slow car, I hit my brakes. I’m in a hurry! … Screaming! Speeding. Wailing. Speed bump shocks me. What is wrong with me? What happened? Tears are streaming down. My shoulders slump. Feels good to cry. I slow down.
  • 11:30 am At home Thomas is oblivious, my tears have dried up. My heart rate is normal. Ben asks if I’m ok…I cry again…different tears. My sister’s ok and the morning is just about over, and I’m grateful for Ben and our life… but I still need to figure out what can I make for dinner? 

Happy Juices

Cortisol is a big deal for our body’s well being, just the right amount. Pero, every time I try to ‘help’ our situation my way, that cortisol is released at rapid rates. Luego, me pongo mis moños and I insist that ‘my’ plan will work. Those happy juices that come naturally to us with certain choices and activities we take on, they stay locked in the vault. Ya saben, I dropped those driving jobs as quickly as I could. In the end I chose to trust God to provide through my Benjamin for our needs. I’m sitting here bien agusto at my desk, after that season, appreciating the happy juices that flow.