A Wedding Day Miracle

Todo el mundo is wanting to know about my little nietas hemangioma story. Miren, I had much interest in the Sippy Cup post so I’m going to share more of Rachels experience, because it was definitely un besito de Dios, for my daughter in-law Denise also.

Rachel’s Birth

Rachel was born a few days before her due date, she weighed in at just over 6lbs. and 19 inches long. All was well when she went home from the hospital the next day. 

On their first day home Denise noticed that Rachels bottom lip was tight,and red on the right side. She also felt excruciating pain when the baby couldn’t latch, this was just the beginning. 

Protocol required that she take her baby for a followup within 2 days of birth and Denise was relieved, she needed to know what could be happening to her baby. 

It was a routine check up. All was well, the doctor said, Rachel was fine, and she had been, no signs of pain or distress other than the issue with nursing which brought up the question of the tight, red and a little puffy skin on the area of her lip. The doctor re-examined her and concluded that her lip was simply chapped! Nothing to worry about, a little balm on it would heal it right up. Oh! And be sure to schedule Rachels 2 month appointment. Pero, algo estaba mal. Denise felt uneasy about the baby. 

After the appointment Denise asked others about the red mark and soon discovered it was a ‘strawberry birthmark’. She began to research strawberry birthmarks. Everything she read said that they were harmless. She learned that it would grow and eventually after a few years it would most likely fade. This helped ease Denise’s anxiety. 

Denise had her 6 week appointment and her gynecologist confirmed that it was “a strawberry birthmark” As the days progressed, Rachels birthmark had spread across to half her lip and down her chin and it had puffed up, but still she was ok. 

Two Month Appointment

Rachel was 2 months old and her birthmark was dark red and puffed out. When the pediatrician saw her she was surprised at the size and rate it was growing, just a little concerned she said she would give her a referral for the dermatologist, there she could get a cream for it. 

One look at lil Rachel and the specialist knew that it wasn’t just a strawberry birthmark. Rachel was dealing with a hemangioma  which is common and more so in girls and caucasion children. Pero mira, What I didn’t tell you is that because of where the birthmark was situated, on her lip, it was probable that she could be dealing with a more severe and rare condition called PHACE syndrome. “the uncommon association between large infantile hemangiomas, usually of the face, and birth defects of the brain, heart, eyes, skin and/or arteries.” Ya se imaginan how my poor daughter in law must have felt. The doctor needed to find out immediatamente which, if any of Rachel’s organs were affected, her life depended on it. An MRI and several other major tests were requested. She would have to go under anesthesia to endure the testing. Luego! To make matters worse, her skin had stretched to such a degree that it had begun to ulcerate. 

As the family waited for an opening for the testing, Rachels ulcers grew deeper and with it came  pain. It was so difficult for the poor baby, whenever she nursed she yelped in pain, then she began to skip meals. Dios mio!, how difficult it was to watch our baby suffer.

The day of the testing fue un dia largissimo! A long and almost too hard to endure day. My dear 2 month old nietecita had to fast for 12 hours and be sedated for the tubes to go down her nose, a  camera that would reveal her internal condition. Oh what immense relief it was to discover that her organs were fine. Now, the doctors could implement a plan to control the rapidly growing hemangioma with a strong medication called Propranolol Hijole! Such a strong medicine but now there was the issue of the open ulcer that was continually open and painful. 

The medication was started immediately, but en realidad, the more urgent matter was the desperate pain lil Rachel almost constantly felt. The doctor had also prescribed a numbing gel that relieved her for about 45 min when applied. Things were getting desperate. 

Its hard to look at these photos and remember how difficult that time was. you can see how desperate we were and imagine how much pain she was in.

(Around this time, the sippy cup story took place.)

Wedding Bells 

During all this time, Denise and Jonathan (mi hijo) were doing all they could to keep life as normal as possible. The older 2 girls were feeling the absence of their momma. Many evenings Denise sat in their dim lighted bedroom comforting Rachel. In the midst of all this, like a spring bouquet, the family was having a wedding. My nephew Emmanuel (aka Meño) was to be married to our unofficially adopted daughter, Sierra, Oh happy day! Meño is a loyal primo, he picked Jonathan to be his best man. Hemangioma or not! Jonathan would do all he could to help his cousin on his wedding  day while helping Denise take care of Rachel.

Just days before the wedding, things hadn’t improved for Rachel, in fact, the hemangioma was quite large and the ulcer was constantly open. Laser treatments had only left a deeper gash on her lip and didn’t help. The doctor had pronounced that another level of treatment was needed. An infusion of the medication would be introduced the following week, the infusion would reach her heart quicker and thus hopefully affect the hemangioma and stop it from growing. ¡Qué desesperación! What a desperate feeling to see your baby in so much pain and growing disfiguration, 

Denise was desperate, the doctor’s solution was not her only hope. She clung to God’s word and allowed the popular song Even If by MercyMe  to comfort her. Through tears and desperate cries while the family prepared for the wedding, she held and comforted her baby and cried out to her God. “God I know you can, you are my hope, regardless of what doctors tell me. I’m gonna pray everytime she cries, I’m gonna beg until you do something Lord, because you’re my God.” The Wednesday after the wedding, plans for the treatment would be set.

Wedding Day Miracle

“Even if” tears came on the Sunday morning of the wedding, Denise knew there would also be tears of joy on Meño and Citas wedding day, she dressed her girls, then herself joyfully. 

In Jesus People weddings everyone is invited to the ceremony. The bride is not necessarily the center of attention. although all eyes are on her. In that beautiful magical time while the bride and groom look into each other’s eyes and promise themselves one to another “til death do them part” Rachel rested, the numbing gel had not worn off yet, so Denise breathed easy, sighing as the groom kissed his bride. Mr. and Mrs. Zepeda were introduced and the cheer went up, Rachel stirred. 

In the midst of hugs and kisses through joyful tears, someone bumped Rachel and we all froze. Seconds seemed to drop noisily as we waited. Que?! Where were the piercing cries? Denise took her quickly to nurse her. Since she still hadn’t cried out in pain she would wait for the numbing cream. Despite all the commotion of a wedding reception somehow both Rachel and Denise were at peace.

At home that evening Rachel still hadn’t needed the relief gel medication. She nursed and was quite content even though her ulcer was quite open and messy. The next day Rachel was still muy agusto, nursing and happy all day long. Denise was so relaxed herself that it wasn’t until she looked down at Rachel in her arms and saw a line across the ulcer of her lip. It was closing! That’s when reality hit her. Jesus had healed Rachel! Since the day before at the wedding she hadn’t had piercing painful cries and she was nursing without a struggle. Y ahora, she could see the wound beginning to heal. 

The next day, Tuesday. Jonathan took his family to SeaWorld to celebrate. 

Now they couldn’t wait to see the doctor the following day. 

At the doctors office, Denise could not hold it in. The moment the doctor walked through the door into their examination room she blurted out “She has no more pain! Jesus has healed her” But of course the doctor must examine Rachel, after all the strawberry birthmark deformed by the ulcer was still very visible. The doctor speculated that perhaps the medication was taking effect? That couldn’t explain how the ulcer was closing and the pain was suddenly and completely gone. 

While I am eternally grateful to doctors for their hard work, on this occasion God stepped in to help our little Rachel. It is our wedding day miracle.


Rachel Daniella’s first 3 months of life were incredibly difficult but as soon as God healed her, she got on with her living. She is no longer the baby, but a big sister and she’s well into her kindergarten year and absolutely loves it. Denise swears by Abeka Academy for her homeschooling needs. If you look closely at Rachel you’ll see the scars of the days gone by and I can only thank God for his goodness always.

The Sippy Cup

Nosotros los abuelos, have some experience with raising children. Ben and I raised four and we all survived. Now we are watching our children raise their own y sabes? I worry and wonder if they’ll survive. Our kids are busy people, quizás más que nosotros! I mean, we only had to juggle our marriage, our business, homemaking, homeschooling, ministry, friendships and extended family. But Ben and I had a few years between our kids, this allowed us to catch our breath and feel the relief of no diaper changing. Pero mis hijos, they have our inheritance to care for, and our grandkids are arriving one right after the other. Being around the grandkids is like being pulled into a whirlwind, we enjoy our nietos y nietas and perhaps let them get away with things their parents never got away with.

Rachel Daniella

Little Rachel Daniella came just before Christmas, our fifth grandchild. She came between Christmas shopping and gift wrapping. Por un ratito, she would be the baby, til the next grandchild bumped her off her throne.

A Hemangioma

Rachel was born with a “strawberry birthmark” that usually can be harmless, and initially Denise, mi nuera barely noticed it, but as the days turned into weeks this little momma realized that it wasn’t a normal baby discomfort and fuss. She saw that baby Rachel was experiencing pain from that birthmark as it grew and stretched her skin. It was on her delicate sweet lower lip.  Gracias a Dios que Denise, was a proactive advocate for her little baby girl. It turns out that Rachels birthmark or a  hemangioma went deeper and hers was of those rare occasions where the hemangioma can be bluish or purple and it caused her severe pain constantly. A numbing cream was prescribed but that only brought relief for a very short period. Needless to say that both Rachel and Denise were overwhelmed in those early weeks. 

Here is yet another opportunity to appreciate those parents who give all in their power to help their disabled or ailing child. They do it willingly, sometimes depleting themselves in order to bring their baby relief. Thank God for you que Dios los bendiga continuamente! I couldn’t imagine that kind of distress, I wanted to help and all I could do was babysit. Rachel was just over a month old and her parents desperately needed a break.

Jonathan, having paid attention to his fathers example, did not let an anniversary pass without celebrating and thanking God for his marriage. He planned a dinner cruise, a few hours, maybe 4 at max.

So it was, that duty called upon Ama and Apa and all hands were required on deck! Ben and I and our son Thomas would gather our whits and take care of baby Rachel and her big sisters, who weren’t so big, Nevaeh was 2 and Maricella was 4. We rolled up our sleeves, because these little mommies wanted to be involved in Rachel’s care. 

When they arrived with the girls for their big date, Rachel was sleeping, shhh, well fed and dry diaper, all was well.

Que Dios te bendiga hijo. Enjoy yourself, don’t worry Denise, I got this.”

Y asi fue, Thomas and I were busy with our chatty granddaughters while Ben was enjoying his quiet little Rachel. The first 2 hours flew by with “D’ma I want…D’ma can I help…” pero it was all under control… then Rachel woke up.

No problem, maybe the chatter woke her up, Ben would  just rock her back to sleep. Nope. Dos horas?! Already? She was hungry of course. Denise had pumped and prepared a bottle “in case” she needed it. This would be her first attempt at a bottle, but it wasn’t my first use of a bottle, I was experienced. Ben wanted to feed her, but of course she needed my expertise. Her crying was severe, boy was she hungry. Rocking, swaying, trying to calm her as I gave her the bottle. She tried to take the bottle, I adjusted it, moved it, and tried to prod her to take it and she wailed. Hijole! I was hurting her. She was hungry and wanted to nurse, what was that plastic thing? Her lip hurt, she seemed inconsolable.

Ben stepped in again, he took her and did calm her a bit but when no relief came to her she wailed on. Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen trying to warm her bottle again, maybe I didn’t warm it enough? I was beginning to unravel. Where had all my experience gone? When I unravel in anxious situations I don’t do it graciously, (I’m still trying to learn that New England calm) but I was trying to keep it together. My tears were beginning to spill as I heard my granddaughter’s cries, somehow it’s different when you hear your grandchild, you get all weak in the knees. 

Being a guy, Ben came up with a solution. He said we needed to try using his sippy cup. He turned with Rachel in his arms and went to the room to dig it out. Que?! Your sippy cup? My voice followed him and he felt my ridicule at his suggestion, he came back out rocking Rachel as her screams pierced our ears. He didn’t have the sippy cup. My heart was pricked between tears. He was only trying to help us both. “Where’s the cup? Lets try it” My coldblooded englishman saw my heart and said, “I’ll go get it, it just needs to be washed” 

We washed the little sippy/ladle cup, and added some of momma’s nice warm milk. Gently he allowed the narrow handle to touch her mouth and the milk slowly streamed down, Rachel lapped it up! With his old sippy cup Ben was able to feed little miss Rachel. She found a little comfort in her apas arms from the hemangioma as he rocked her and prayed for her until her momma returned. 

Rachel Greene was the first of Bens inheritance to use that little sippy cup after him. See, he had forgotten that cup, we should have had Thomas Walter sipping from it next. That little silver cup has been passed down through the generations to the Walters of the family, going back to the early 1800s. his great grandfather, grandfather, father and himself all bearing the family name Walter. 


Traditions are laced through our lives, what I brought, what Ben brought and what we created together, hermoso! Me encantan las tradiciones, family names being passed on, sippy cups used through the generations and more. what kind of treasures in traditions did you remember as you read this?

Two Days With Ama

Checking my Calendar

My cell buzzed on Monday evening, Nevaeh my nieta was calling me, she’s right between Maricella and Rachel. She was the self appointed spokesman for this plan my three granddaughters concocted.  

Me: Hello

Neveah: Hi D’ma, we were wondering, now that we’re on summer break and all the testing is done, we thought that maybe me and my sisters could spend 2 days and nights with you.

…..silence…..as I mentally reviewed my next 2 days. I was tired and I knew I would be more tired after 3 little girls milked me for all I was worth. 

Neveah: D’ma?

Me: I don’t think that will work because you have church on Wednesday night.

Neveah: We can just come to church in Clairemont. Oh wait, it’s ok, my mom says she will pick us up in the daytime.

Me: Well ok, when are you coming?

Nevaeh: We’re almost ready and we’ll be there soon. Bye D’ma.

And so it was that my neitas kicked off their summer break with two days at D’mas. Talk about pressure! I know my granddaughters, they are full of expectation. 

Grandma Rules

Right here I’ll interject a little of my grandmother “mode of operandi”. Somewhere in the transition from mom to grandma I didn’t quite switch hats correctly. I was a pretty strict parent, by today’s standards, ya se, sounds silly, but that’s what I’ve been told. I find it difficult to be an alcahueta with certain things. Turning a blind eye to lying, disrespect,  disobedience or manipulation were never acceptable or excusable to me as a parent, but all of a sudden, abuelas sometimes ignore those things in their adorable little grandkids. “Pobrecita, she didn’t mean to lie, or disrespect me, she didn’t disobey, she just didn’t hear me Hijole, that’s where my hats get all jumbled up. My beautiful little “chiquitas, bonitas” (That’s what my apa called them) are old enough to know my rules and obey them, sometimes (very rarely) in the middle of my  ama practices when they are tempted to commit an infraction, I must warn them in my most sternest voice that correction will be swift if they aren’t watchful. Their dad, my first born, says that I’ve gone soft in that area, but as long as the girls don’t know it, I’ll pull out that mother hat occasionally and use my stern voice and to really bring a point home I’ll knit my eyebrows together.

Ok back to the pressure of 2 days with my granddaughters. They are like the energizer bunnies, especially esa Nevaeh! I don’t have a pool, nor can they be on the computer or phone constantly. Those 2 days were getting longer by the minute!

Day One

I had warned them that I was having company for lunch and they must be on their best behavior. Of course they needed to know what I would be serving. I decided to go out of my “field of expertise” and make fettuccine alfredo, it was their favorite, I only hoped my friend liked pasta too. I would serve it with a green salad and bread.

Making bread is a Greene family tradition so, I figured it was time to teach them to make bread. They were excited, I was looking for a better word to describe their giddiness but couldn’t find one. But they were, I had been worried that they might not last through the whole process or find it boring: mixing, kneading, waiting to rise, rolling and shaping it and more rising and then baking…Hijole, just typing it made me tired. Imaginate, here I go with a showing off moment. I was very proud of the little loaves that they rolled out. Their Tio Thomas, the family baker, would be proud of them. They were so proud of their bread making and enjoyed that little loaf of bread through the 2 days! Que toast, que grilled cheese, buttered bread, they tried their bread in different ways and loved it.

While I was enjoying my fellowship with my dear friend, chatting and just relaxing, they were getting impatient. Porque? I had foolishly told them that after sister Vilma left we would go to the bay. I forgot you shouldn’t tell kids ahead of time these things. I felt really bad that maybe my chiquitas bonitas had rushed her out of the house! Note to self: Teach the girls about hospitality and how it takes time to build friendships. Of course my friend was gracious and even enjoyed the girls with me.

We packed our bag with towels, snacks and sunblock and went off to the bay. They loved the moment we crossed Coronado Bridge, seeing the little boats from so high a view. Beautiful San Diego indeed! I purposely invited no other women or kids because I didn’t want to be distracted from my time with them. It was fun to watch them and talk to them. I forgot one factor though, other kids at the bay. A couple of friendly kids would moved in on our time, and after Mari scrutinized them she relaxed, and we enjoyed our time with them included. Our afternoon was topped off with a visit from their Tio Emery, who came to join us. That did give me some good platica con mi hijo. Acuerdate que, when they grow up, you must wait for them to have time for you. Thankfully, we do enjoy the time we spend together, our family. 

Our first day was passed before I knew it, we were home, showering, eating more fettuccine and homemade bread and getting cozy for bed. It had been a successful day. I should say a fun day and enjoyable day, but I feel like the mission was accomplished. I was pretty wiped out.

Day Two

After a short quiet time before they woke up on our second day, I was praying for another beautiful day. In my house, the girls wake up hours before their normal time.

Having homeschooled my kids I’m still one of those parents that looks for fun in the lessons of life. Again, I went back to my mothering days and used the simple everyday activities to make it a good and busy day.

Little children love to help, or at least they think they’re helping and so as moms we let them right? Pero yo no. Nevaeh spoke up again and said “D’ma we need to earn money to buy ourselves a hoverboard, we’ll need more than $100 each.” She also informed me that Rachel would earn money to buy her own scooter. So I informed her that I liked to get what I paid for. If they worked en mi casa, they would have to do a nice job. She has a way of looking at you, a mix between confused and sizing you up, her long eyebrows do the calculating. After a few seconds, the deal was sealed. 

Mari cleaned in detail my living room-vacuumed, dusted and made sure there were no surprises under the cushions and then straightened the throw pillows, bien duro el trabajo 😉. She had to stop and serve herself a glass of ice water, ahhh! Nevaeh was in the backroom organizing the messy books that were all over the place, nevermind that it was mostly their own mess. Plus, she was to vacuum the backroom. She finished with a heavy sigh and said “house work is a lot of hard work D’ma!” Rachel worked hard at picking up all the scattered crayons and wiping the dining room table, she had never ever seen my table so clean! Mira nomas

Recycling

Then came time to recycle. I told them that their daddy had earned his first wages here in the recycling centers. They wanted to follow in their fathers steps. They crushed the cans, separated plastic bottles, then loaded everything into the car and off we went. I love the honest raw expressions that children make when they are in unfamiliar territory. The recycling center was stinky. The recycling containers were gross. While Mari held her nose she studied the people doing their recycling, just like her dad, watchful and wary, occasionally, her left eyebrow shifting upward. The two older girls transferred the cans and bottles into the containers for weighing, a dirty job for sure, I didn’t let Rachel off too easily, I was tough ama and she was instructed to pick up a can or two that had fallen to the ground. While they stood in line to weigh their recycling the bees buzzed around them, it was definitely a stern voice that I had to use to get them to be still. Those bees were making me antsy. As fast as we could we collected our pay, the bees and the smell ran us out!

We finished our mandados quickly because their momma was coming to get them and they were anxious to get back home to get their pay. Before we left the house we had written out 3 envelopes with their names and their fund name: Maricella Greene Hoverboard Fund: $100 and one for Neveah Greene. Rachels was a Scooter Fund $50. I had told them that they could make money in 2 different ways; ask for it or work for it. Nevaeh said “We’ll work for it, because I would feel bad if they gave us the money they needed for themselves” I will have to remind her of that when she asks me for money, although, now that I think about it, she doesn’t ask for money, she asks for things😁.

In Conclusion

I’ve read a book about grandparenting, telling me all the “how tos” as far as activities, and dividing my time well, especially as my inheritance multiplies😍. Some grandmas, do all the girly stuff. Once in a while they corner me into doing our nails, but I hope I can teach them some basketball soon, you know, I used to be a basketball coach when I was in high school (that’s for another post). Being their ama has been my blessing and I haven’t confused my hats very often. Are you a Grandma? Nana, Wata or Ama? What’s been your experience?

The Evolution of Girl Talk


Let’s Talk About Me

Como dice Toby Keith in his song?  “Every once in a while I wanna talk about me” Porque? Because girls love to talk.

Recently I have laughed with my peers, about what our conversations have come to. Asi es, las doñas comparing what life at halfway to 100 and beyond is like for us now. These conversations usually don’t happen with our menfolk because they fizzle pretty quickly. Hmmm, maybe it’s just with my Benjamin? Mira, here’s a sample of an afterwork conversation:

Benjamin comes home and greets me with a kiss:

Ben: Hello.

Me: Hi Honey, how was work?

Ben: good.

I wait to give him a chance to describe some of the good in his day. Too long a pause, I can’t wait.

Me: Oh, where did you work today?

Ben: Pt. Loma.

I wait. A longer pause. That was the end of that conversation. With my guy, if I want talk, I have to roll up my sleeves and work hard to extract it.

And So I Need Girl Talk

Girl talk goes up and down a long and windy path…and back again through the different seasons of life.

When I was a wee little girl, I jabbered about the latest coolest toys. Little Debbie always had the latest fads.

When I was a big little girl I talked about boys, how  they were disgustingly yucky in every way, not to mention annoying. 

When I was an awkward preteen we whispered about our periods. I was the last one to get mine, I wasn’t surprised, Zepedas were always last.

When I was 13, we shared our secret crushes and dreamed of being noticed. We didn’t know we were still quite awkward, so we strutted, swinging our ponytail as we walked and talked, aware of possible onlookers. Gone were the days of two pigtails.

When I was 15, we were openly discussing the cute boys and the current couples. I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend, pero, the one I crushed over definitely crushed my daydreaming. 

When I was 18 I worried about surviving college life. Serious, downcast talk with my one and only amiga. They included our grades, social life and more boys. Deep stuff.

When I was 20, I was changing my view about marriage and I talked with my friends, wondering if I’d ever get married. Imaginate! I was getting muy vieja.

When I was 23 and a young new wife I worried that I’d never ever have a baby. I worried with my friend that maybe there was something wrong with me? We talked anxiously and strategized and held our breath for our cycle, hoping it didn’t come this month.

When I was a mom, we talked about raising babies. Nursing or bottle fed? Could breastfeeding be the one way to bond with your newborn? Yikes! My almost 11 lb. baby didn’t care nothing about connecting to his ama, he wanted to eat! Gerber? Or do you puree your own food? Then there was the dilemma of cloth diapers or Disposables, hijole! I remember those pails of dirty diapers! My resolve didn’t last long. Later the talk was about choosing the right brand, Huggies or Pampers? Those conversations have not quite ended, but now they now include “back in my day.”

When I was carrying my 2nd baby, It only made sense that I should get a girl. But, these conversations were only with God. Sabes porque? I was so dang worried about having a girl!!! Raising a girl is a whole different level and I was just barely getting used to boys. What in the world was I gonna do with a nena in my arms? In my care? I went back and forth. Dios mio dame una niña ...But what would I do with her? It looked like they were more demanding. In fact, I knew I was pretty high maintenance as far as emotions go. What if I didn’t know how to dress her pretty like? What if she was a chillona? 

When I was 30, it looked like I was done having babies. I talked about being done with the older ladies. I shared the plans I had besides having babies, and they smiled. Ellas ya sabian.

When I was 35, I was talking about weight loss and exercise. Thankfully, since I wasn’t done having babies after all, I tweaked my conversations to not getting fat during my last pregnancy by eating healthy and exercising.

When I was 40 something and raising teens, or was that facing teens? I was definitely talking to the other moms, wondering if I was the only mom in the world that felt that teenage disdain of “I know mom, I know” They know it all.

When my teens had crossed over to adulthood, I was having good talks with them. Increible. I’ve enjoyed some girl talk with my girl, I’m not so scared of her anymore.

When I was really close to the ½ mark to 100 and becoming a mother in law, I talked to my friends, it was a very hard role to step into and most of them were not in that place yet. So those talks were more about the “what ifs” to come. Almost 10 years into the mother in law shoes, I sometimes find my heels are too high, pero ni modo I have to walk real nice, like my mother in law did for me.

When the Abuelita title came knocking at my door. I cringed. Two of my abuela friends were called Nana and the other was Grandma, Que? These were my homies, my Mexican American friends. Why weren’t they called Abuelita or Abue? Maybe they cringed too? Then I remembered my ama was called ama by her first grandkids. That was perfect. Talking to my girlfriends I realized that kids will call us what comes first, or natural to them. One of my friends is called “Wata”…ya se, I’m not sure how that evolved. Another one is called “Wela” I told my kids I wanted to be “Ama”, they were on board and when my first grandchild started addressing me, she pronounced it “Duh-ma” and so it is. These days ama, wata and grandma talk about the growing brood of grandkids… Did I mention that number 8 is on the way? 

Lately, when I talk to my peers, my homies, my comadres, guess what topic is always dying to come forth? Yup! Our aches and pains. Yesterday I talked with my friend about everything and winded down to our stiff bones and achy muscles. 

Today I spent a good long hour talking to my bestie about our grey hair. Asi es. Last month I was done with dyeing, this month I’m not sure. Should I go grey? Yes! Free yourself of the burden of beauty! No! You’ll look like a vieja, or an abuela…please don’t get me out of my delusion just yet. To grey or not? That is my question. We talked about the “appropriateness” of a woman my age coloring her hair in dark tones. She suggested I ease into my grey, como? By dyeing it! It was a deep discussion, involving age, investment, and facing reality.

In conclusion:

We girls need to talk. These seemingly insignificant topics are packed full and very important.

I still jump into the other cycles because maybe like the bible says “let the older women teach the younger” And, a bonus for me is that I have learned quite a bit in this rapidly changing world from the younger women. 



Most important in my opinion and Gods book is that girl talk can be, should be, good talk, fun talk, edifying talk. Girl Talk should be comfortable enough to have Jesus right there in the mix of the masa. 

Happy Independence Day!!!

Did you know that American independence was declared on July 2, 1776?! Deveras! Happy original independence Day to you all, enjoy your 4th of July commemorations. Maybe you’ve seen the movies? Perhaps you’ve read the articles written about our independence? Or, hopefully in history class you got the whole tamal regarding the road to our independence. 

Mi Familia, last Fourth of July

Now it’s History Class, pon atención

Visionaries who had originally felt the relief of freedoms in the new world and established a viable growing territory now had to fight to keep their prosperity and their peace. 

While colonists attempted to grow and flourish in America, the British government used a heavy hand to implement taxes and military rule. Americans would not be suppressed. They established their own form of government, defended themselves through various tactics and fought against their oppressors for years before striking out in rebellion. 

Finally Richard Lee Henry, a delegate from Virginia, proposed and submitted a resolution absolving the 13 colonies from loyalty to Great Britain. Independence won the vote on July 2nd, 1776, making it the first option for the independence birthday. However, after two days of editing and approving the formal public document, it was sent to print with July, 4, 1776 printed on the top. The Declaration of Independence; it was what the public would see and celebrate. 

It was almost a decade before the American and British negotiators could sit and talk peace. What a tremendous victory our nation’s founding fathers gained. Freedom in all stations of life, with incredible speed this land became “the land of the free” Where it seems if dreams could come true it was here. 

Now for Mexican-American Girl’s Own History

Right here, I make a sharp right turn and make this history telling a very personal one.  I was walking on that American dream road, practicing my religion very piously. I was enjoying the benefits of my version of financial freedom. I was experiencing liberty as an official adult away from my ama and my apa and la familia. Education=degree=money=material things. I was on this road to success, why in the world was I quite miserably lonely and scared. 

Asi es, that first adulting year when a person leaves the comfy nest of home life is muy differente.  

It was in this state that the idea that I was a sinner was presented to me. Oh my goodness! My good girl reputation was grated. Una pecadora? Obviously my sister had forgotten that I was a good person, I never sinned, well at least I didn’t do the big sins! I was just beginning to try smoking, only one who knew was Patty. I’m sure lying hadn’t become a big sin, like… anyway, si me entiendes verdad? There I was in my American dream struggling with the education part of the equation, and for months my heart was getting pricked with my own goodness and Gods goodness. Porque?! Was I really a person who “transgressed God’s divine law by committing immoral acts?” I couldn’t grasp the idea that I was offending God and even wilder was the idea that the God of the universe had eyes or time for me?! Increible! I could almost forget that he would call me a sinner. During those months the God I said I believed in was really just church attendance on Sunday.  

It was on 4th of July weekend where I experienced my own freedom. This new freedom released me from that angry bitter unforgiveness that I had clung on to with so much pride. It made me no longer a mentirosa. To this day I hate so much even the stupid little white lies. From self righteousness to Gods righteousness. He gave me wonderful choices, como dicen en el Norte, “it’s a wonderful life.”

I am so very grateful for our country, oh that God would continue to bless America!

This weekend, I’m celebrating 37 years of freedom with my bestie of 36 years!
Right now we’re on our way to hear my little Ben preach about complete independence.

The Fruits of My Freedom:

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.

Seasons of Life – The Next Chapter of Motherhood

One Life Transition at a Time

I am pro marriage. I’m pro marrying at a young age. You know, where a young man can experience life with the wife of his youth. We married young (sort of, though not as young as our kids).
Having a good marriage, a good husband and beautiful kids, I should have leaped at the chance to see my own children experience marriage like us, in God’s path. I did not. When love came courting our two adult kids I wanted to pull our welcome mat inside. Maybe because I was still adjusting to parenting adult children. Maybe because I loved our crazy, cozy family of six, (my goodness! I was barely adjusting to my first born being “Mr. Independent” Isn’t there a rule in life that says “one life transition at a time”?). I was afraid of the unknown, that fear is a part of life and you face it, right? But the rejection I perceived, that was a different demon. Love’s sweet song came and it screamed at me.

I would be forgotten

This winter marks ten years of our children marrying and starting their own families, apart from me. (My daughter would say “Not ten mom. I’ve been married nine years”). Pero, I’m counting the year before, when they made a choice for their life partner and marriage. Facing the reality that my two older children were gonna leave me and embrace another family was wrenching! (I was so emotional, some would say que exagerada! but the loss I felt was no exaggeration) I ached at the thought that when they married into “the other family” I would be forgotten, an afterthought. Listen, I want you to feel me here, please. My son (our first born) was getting married at the end of January 2012 and then the following week my daughter (our only daughter) would marry.

Two Weddings, Two Bridal Showers and Two Rehearsal Dinners

The public display of engagements rocked my world as they declared their love and commitment. I entered into work and planning mode. The details of both weddings overwhelmed me in one sense but kept me from melting down in another. Two weddings, two bridal showers, two rehearsal dinners. I pressed in.

A problem with the venue? Sorted out. A problem finding the most beautiful dress in San Diego? Mission accomplished! A mix up with the invitations? Fixed. Favors? Agreed upon. Feeding the 200 guests? No problem. An issue with the mother of the groom? (wait! that was me) An issue with the mother of the bride? (Also me). As the wedding mines exploded (Man, issues came up even throughout the wedding day!), we navigated through the rubble and put on two simple (HA! not in my eyes) and sweet weddings with two beautiful brides and dashing grooms.

Then life stopped moving, both my kids were gone. The whirlwind had settled and we were left with the guests, their noisy congratulations and the clean up. While I was unraveling I couldn’t see my Benjamin’s sad heart (Which is usually hard to do with quiet, in control people anyway) until I heard it.

Who Gives This Woman to be Married…

My husband, Steady Eddie (I call him a cold blooded Englishman, because he seems so unmoved and unemotional most times ) was giving his only daughter away to another man. I had teased him through the years of raising our daughter about him loving another girl. She was the apple of his eye and I saw how much he cherished her.
Ben tried to prepare himself for the part of the ceremony of “who gives this woman to be married to this man”. He searched for a song that would declare his heart and found the country song “I loved her first”. This is how he was going to give her to her new love. He would publicly declare his love and release her. (What?! such a public display of emotion) I wondered if he would go through with it.

On that February morning I saw just how difficult this give away was for him. When our pastor asked, “Who gives this woman (que woman! our little girl!) to be married to this man?”

I Loved Her First

Ben stood up and walked to the front of the pulpit and before all guests he sang . My unemotional husbands voice cracked as he quietly sang “I loved her first, I held her first, and a place in my heart will always be hers…” and it seemed like everyone in the room ached with him. I had been so busy trying to survive, that I never looked over at Daniella’s daddy until he gave her away.

When it was all over, we entered another stage of our lives and we moved toward adjusting to the quietness of our home. Now, I could see that we all (my two little boys felt her absence as well) were feeling a void. I wrote this as I relived my Benjamins part in his daughter’s ceremony:

Bens Little Love

Ben wanted a daughter; so sweet and soft.

Ben held his breath, he hoped and he prayed.

He peered at his baby, a wee little girl.

Immediately a new kind of love forged between

father and daughter as he held her first.

His eyes bright with awe as he looked at this bundle

Sweet little mouth, tiny little hands, wispy strands of hair

She wanted momma, and he patiently waited

She wanted up and he anxiously lifted her

She wanted more and he graciously gave it.

What a pleasure it was to give to his daughter

She took all that he gave

Our sweet handmaid had eyes only for him

Then one day, she grew up and loved another

He loved her so much, he must step out of the way

She still was his princess, always his princess

Ben’s Princess Remains…

After a decade, the three beautiful little grand-princesses prancing around us have brought joy to us for sure, but it is quite evident that Ben’s princess remains in her place within his heart. By the way, she’s giving back now. Three beautiful grandsons (I know I should describe them as handsome, but to Ama, they’re also beautiful!)

The Anticipation and Right of Passage of Becoming a Grandmother

(Or an Ama)

Rewards:

You all know what a reward is right? Something given to recognize your service, your effort or achievement. (Just in case, I’ll clarify that in this particular writing, I’m talking about a positive reward, not like a judgement, “like you get what you had coming”) I think deep down inside we all want to be rewarded for our efforts sometimes. Well, I know I do.

Have you ever known you’re getting a reward? Maybe a gift? You mentally plan your reaction, you practice the words you’ll say in gratitude. And, has it happened that you didn’t get it after all?? Or, maybe you had to wait longer for it. Oh the shock and disappointment.

Expectation

It happened to me. I was even given a date as to when to expect this gift. I considered it my recompense for all I’d “suffered” in the previous season. (I’m not inspired to write about that previous season yet.) 

Gracias, muchas gracias

My head exploded as I waited in anticipation for my reward. It would be another lane in my race to the finish, oh, but it gave me adrenaline, Andale pues, echale ganas! I was getting revved up for this. Of course I wasn’t sure how I should prepare, but I was excited for this. I tried not to hover over the gift givers. I tried not to track them, or over react to their actions. I wanted to appreciate them as they were gonna give so grand a gift.

A January Surprise

As I patiently waited for the appointed date, my husband surprised me with the great news that we would take a quick trip to our Prescott bible conference. (a six day span and six hour drive) Yay! A much needed time. Wait!? We couldn’t leave. Yes we could. Maybe we shouldn’t, yet there was plenty of time, it was twelve days before my appointed time. I consulted and reconsulted with Ben and anyone who would listen, I assured myself that everything would go as planned. How could it not?

Smooth Sailing

I love it when things go as planned. I had all my packing done on time and we were on the road as scheduled (It was a good sign) We arrived in Prescott having seen the beautiful cap of white shimmering snow on the mountain top excited for our winter conference, January 7-11, I was ready to hear from God :D. We went to the opening service that night and we knew it was gonna be incredible and for a moment I forgot about my gift back home.

Early morning call

I was enjoying peaceful sleep when my phone buzzed; 6am. My son was calling to tell me that they were on the way to the hospital. What?! It wasn’t time. What could be wrong? First babies didn’t arrive early, besides I wasn’t even there. I wasn’t even there! Ben was awake, which was good because I needed to go home, he needed to take me. I was supposed to be there. It wouldn’t take me long to throw everything in the suitcase now. Ben was groggy, but he was awake and he clearly told me we weren’t leaving. I had to leave. Didn’t he care? My first grandchild was perhaps already on the way, and I was in the mountains of Arizona!! I would get a flight, I needed a ride to phoenix. I wanted to be present, why couldn’t he understand? Why wasn’t Jonathan calling me back? Maybe it was a false alarm, that was certainly possible. He called me, they were keeping her, she was in active labor and I wasn’t there.What could I do? How quickly could I get home? 

DON’T TELL ANYONE!

I was worried (especially since I wasn’t there) but Jonathan put a restriction on me, (What? Kids don’t restrict parents!) he didn’t want me to tell anyone yet. I didn’t listen, I called my dear friend and asked her to pray. Then, I called my big sister. She said “Do you want me to go for you?” (That’s how she is you know, always looking out for me) Ben’s calm nature always calms me in my most difficult moments and it did this time also.

Labor and Delivery

The entire day, my first born was pretty good about calling me and letting me know the progress, my reward was coming down that birthing canal while I heard the preaching, but I was intently listening to the buzzing of my phone. When we returned in the evening, he called while I was praying (very distracted in that prayer meeting I must confess, a one track prayer that night) He suggested I find someone with an iphone so I could see this historical Greene moment at least via Facetime (He wanted me there too, I should be there! How could this be happening?) 

I found my friend and she released her iphone to me, and I saw my son’s face on the day he was to become a daddy; beautiful excitement, anticipation and some anxiousness on his handsome face. Then he turned the phone to my laboring daughter inlaw (so sweet, in that difficult painful moment, she was politely greeting me 😀 ) Denise’s face grimaced as she said she needed to push and I heard her mommas voice in the background. It was good, she should be there. My son turned the phone back to him explaining that he would show me as soon as the baby came out. He was hoping for a boy, I still didn’t know if I wanted a grandson or granddaughter, I don’t think that mattered too much, this baby was coming and we would know soon enough. Push. Rest. Push, this went on for a while, then, all the way from my location in the Prescott Conference tent I heard the commotion (I was kind of, sort of there) and saw my first grandchild. That beautiful little baby was a part of me? Oh Yes! She opened a whole new chapter in my life. She crowned me Ama :D. It was only the second night of the conference but I was ready to go home again. I needed to claim my reward.

Epilogue

Can there be epilogues in blog posts? Because this story has one. See, of course I didn’t go home, I impatiently waited for the conference to conclude and did manage to glean God’s blessing from it. When Friday came around I was excited. I would be ready really early Saturday so we could head home. As the day progressed I was feeling a cold was coming on. By the time we rolled into San Diego Saturday afternoon, the cold had come along for the ride and a sore throat with it. We went to see our first granddaughter.By this point, five days later, everyone but one loyal friend had held her before me/us (She told me she was going to wait for me to hold her first, I loved her more for that sacrifice :D) Now I watched as my husband held our sweet baby. How could I begrudge him, he had been anxious for this moment too. I gave my daughter in law the gifts I bought (shopping for my nieta had helped me as I waited to see her, great therapy). I knew I needed to wait a few more days to hold her and snuggle her, and smell her sweet breath and kiss her tiny toes. 

Maricella Sierra Greene born January 8, 2013. Rosalba Z. Greene aka Ama 😀 eventually held her reward before January was snuffed out into the past.