It’s Almost Cinco De Mayo

Most people love to see the underdog who is against all odds come out on top in his impossible circumstance. Let’s revisit this historic event as we celebrate another Cinco de Mayo!

Mexican-American Girl

A Cause to Celebrate

In general los Mexicanos, y los Mexican Americans are always down for a good fiesta. We can lay out a beautiful scene and cook a delicious spread! Verdad? Con mi familia, we usually celebrated the main events like weddings, quinces, baptismals and Navidad and yes Accion de Gracias, can’t leave out Thanksgiving! After that, other federal or famous days went unnoticed with my familia, my apa worked Monday- Saturday and sometimes on Sunday, all that to say that Cinco de Mayo did not stir up a fiesta around our house. Que si es un poco extraño, strange, because my apa loved to talk about the Mexican history, especially the Revolucion. You know, the Cinco de Mayo story is a great one and I think it should be a national holiday in Mexico, pero no lo es!

A Gringo Celebration?

Do you…

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How To Handle A Bully

I have three older sisters, all feisty fiery Latina’s!  Can’t say when I’ll see two of them again, so meanwhile, My sis Marina and I try to celebrate their birthday with sweet memories of them. I’ve told you about Marina and Patty, ahora, I’m celebrating Lupe, her birthday was this past week. 

Perhaps every little sister has that admiration glint in their eye for their hermana mayor, o no? My big sister was like the female version of the Godfather. De veras, just check out her name María Guadalupe Zepeda Sánchez. I Can hear my son Jonathan saying “Tía Lupe was a G” and I would agree with him. 

She was Passionate but in control (usually) Deep down inside she wanted to display outward affection but she held herself back, except of course when a fat little baby was near her and she couldn’t resist the rosy chubby cheeks, or the tiny rolls on the baby’s thighs. Only then would you hear that wonderful baby talk that my ama practiced and passed  down to us. Those catch phrases that are still heard around some Zepeda circles :D. “Que cosa tan fina!” o “Cosita fina” and of course the mumbo jumbo phrases, sweet nothings and kisses. With Lupe, after the infant stage was gone, you just had to know she loved you by her other actions.

From the heart of a little sister, I knew how to see and feel her love. Lupe allowed me into her heart and shared her life with me; the good, the bad and the ugly. Lupe loved my family. She knew how to win my angry little first born. Not having a girl of her own, she indulged mine with those girly frilles that I had no clue about. She knew just how to tantalize my finicky middle child with the right foods . She was smitten by my guerito, Thomas, always looking for ways to spoil him. And even my flaco, she enjoyed cooking for him, and he especially enjoyed her perfectly round soft tortillas and her nopalitos, we’ve never tasted a better cactus salad than my big sisters. 

One more of the ways she showed her love was in her “stand with you” position she took with family. My sister was a passionate and loyal latina. She loved her family and defended us when necessary or had us defend ourselves, but she was there for us.

My older brother just recently shared with me another story from the archives of Mexicali. The lesson he had to teach Lupe about facing the bully.

My apa hated to know we were being bullied, but I think he disliked even more the idea we were not pushing a bully back, or defending ourselves. He strongly believed that we had to send that message that we were not going to be walked on. Sometimes it just took a brave look into the eyes of the bully and other times it took more. I believe that we all learned that lesson at some point in our lives. Here’s a quick look at how Angel taught Lupe how to handle a bully.

Life was simple in those days, kids played outside in the yard or on the street, the most important thing in a little girl’s life in the colonia was play. Until it was not. Lupe was enjoying her liberty until Big Bully Girl came out. Then, she’d take from Lupe whatever she had or she’d shove, hit or hurt her. Lupe would run and hide, usually wailing to ama. Angel got wind of this “situation” He himself was now a street savvy neighborhood kid. He knew it had to change. 

One day, he happened to be home, outdoors with the kids when Big Bully Girl came out, and Lupe immediately ran to hide behind Angel. It was one of those moments: defend his little sister or teach her to defend herself. But why defend yourself when your big brother is there? In the flowery language he uses, he told me how he resolved her problem.  He told his little sister that she better quit hiding, go face that girl and show her she could not push her around. He didn’t say “tell her you’re not scared of her” What he did threaten was that if she didn’t face that girl immediately, she would have to deal with him! Lupe was more afraid of that consequence of course. When Lupe stopped hiding, Big Bully Girl was surprised when Lupe pushed back! Lesson learned, mission accomplished! Lupe never feared that bully again, in fact Angel said that he did feel sorry for the bully after that. 

Apa and 3 of his 4 girls. (That’s me in the frilly dress)

Por favor, I do realize that bullying can get way more serious than standing up to a bossy mean selfish kid. Bullying can turn ugly and dangerous. Family support is critical, but if you can’t talk to a family member there are places that will help a person in need. 

Por supuesto que, life brought on many difficulties and hurts for my big sis, many times she had no choice but to face them. When she had to fight for her rightful place she did with fierce strength, when she had to let things go, though it was a battle, though her heart ached she did so, fighting always to keep her head up. When she couldn’t defend herself, God showed himself strong.

There was a gap of 7 years between Lupe and I, but in our latter years as wives and mothers we enjoyed a wonderful friendship. She gave me a place of honor by making me her friend. In one sense I can’t wait to catch up with her in heaven one day and hear her morning greeting again. “Good morning sunshine”.

Getting Comfortable With My Cooking

Te Sirvo Mas?

I’m not sure my ama ‘loved’ to cook, but having a family of 10 and growing exponentially as the grandchildren arrived she spent a lot of time in the kitchen. It was here that she was very comfortable and, I believe, confident. When visitors came over they would eventually be sitting at the kitchen table eating some of her comida casera. “Te sirvo mas?” She delighted in serving a second helping. After meeting my flaco for the first time and seeing his need for “fattening up” She approved of his zeal for her good cooking as she put in front of him a second, then a third serving of her comida Mexicana. At the end of that visit mi ama concluded that maybe our mixed marriage would do well, after all she had taught me her ways in the kitchen. 

Finding My Way in the Kitchen:

Before I got married I was so intimidated by the beautiful pasta meals my roommate put together. Her stuffed shells were beautiful, she used ingredients I never heard of, like ‘ricotta cheese’ something the ricos used. Then she’d make a colorful green salad that accompanied the pasta, hijole, it was so ‘chef like’ that I hated messing it up by cutting into  her delicious presentation. Seeing her meals convinced me that I did not know how to cook, so I said that, until I got married. When I did marry my flaco, those words accused me “I don’t know how to cook”. Imagínate,  how relieved I was to receive for a wedding gift my little paperback Better Homes and Gardens “New Cook Book.”.

Ahora si, I felt equipped to cook for my gringo. I figured he needed his kind of food. I worked really hard at following the recipes…really, really hard… my greatest obstacle was sticking to the recipes. I’d hear my amas words Pruébalo, si necesita sal o chile, échale más” Did it need more salt or chile? Eventually I mastered some basic recipes. I discovered basic drop cookies, and learned that making cookies wasn’t too hard and much tastier than the store bought. I learned how to make white sauce, and the different variations, just like a pro. This Mexican American girl even made Quiche Lorraine, muy profesional! Asi es, every time it came out of the oven so nice and dark golden I was so proud of myself. Oh those unenlightened days before cell phone cameras, I couldn’t even show off! Ben’s lack of a reaction was always a mystery to me. 

Just Like my Ama

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and eventually I’ve made my way back to my mothers way of cooking, testing and tasting. I took those recipes I learned and I shaped them into my own stilo: a tweaked recipe and my amas way. I work with what’s in the cupboard. I remake a leftover dish into a whole new meal. I stretch my food to feed my unexpected children and grandchildren and rarely do I make the “favorites” exactly the same. It keeps my daughter in law  on her toes. Just as she has mastered something she learned from me, I change it. 

She comes to visit and finds me in the kitchen, after a brief interruption of hugs and kisses from my little loves and Jeremiahs sweet greeting mixed with a kiss and a “Hi ‘Ma.” She sits at the counter to chat while I cook and sure enough she notices I’ve done something new to the Mexican rice I taught her to make or the mac n cheese that her girls absolutely love. They say, “our mom makes the best mac n cheese.” I can’t resist telling them that I taught her how to make it. Of course it doesn’t phase them, their mom is the best mac n cheese maker in the world! As it should be. A standard conversation Denise and I have which usually starts with my back to her as I’m adding an ingredient while she tries to peer over my shoulder from the counter.

Denise: Wait! What are you adding to the sauce? I don’t remember you telling me to add that?

Me: What? Oh, yea. 

Denise: Have you always added that? 

Me: I have before. I don’t know if I always do.

Denise: Man! I wish I had a hidden camera here to watch you cooking and get those secrets.

Me: I don’t have secrets, I just work with what I have.

If my son Thomas happens to be home, he would add his spice to the conversation.

Thomas: Yea, whenever anyone asks mom for her recipe, she is never never sure what she added this time! I love her experiments.

Back to the Directions:

Recently I’ve been thinking that I need to “learn to cook” with recipes again. It’s needed. It teaches discipline. Just as I’ve convinced myself to use my cookbooks again, my little 5 year old Rachel made one comment and my resolve has tumbled to the ground.

Rachel– “D’ma I wish you douldn’t have tollowed the directions so that the pancakes dould have been delithish” Her lisp always makes this strong Latina woman melt.

I was focused on making pancakes for my little overnight visitors. I was reading the directions from the Bisquick mix but of course I was tweaking it so that I would make just enough and waste food. I hate wasting food. 

Me: What? Don’t you like these pancakes?

She mumbled something, but I couldn’t understand her. I chuckled, my brain received her comment as a compliment.

En Conclusión

I like to think that I’m like my ama when it comes to cooking. I enjoy feeding others. I work hard to prepare good food and love it when others eat it up. Thomas has established an unspoken rule. After you’ve tasted the food and your tastebuds rejoice, you must tell the cook her food is good. It boosts her confidence and keeps her cooking. “Good cook Ma” 

Taking His Name

When I get a chance to listen to Dennis Prager on good old fashioned radio, our San Diego’s 1170 am station, I enjoy it. The 2nd hour on Wednesday is called the Male-Female Hour. The hot topic this week was about taking your husband’s name when you marry: Did you? Did you not?  Why or why not?

I did it in a hyphenated fashion, like a true latina. 

Mrs. Benjamin Walter Greene

Of course, como siempre it sparked a memory. After the decision to marry my Benjamin came the realization that my name was going to change. Honestly it wasn’t even a question of would I? Taking his name in this traditional fashion is what I wanted, it connected me to him and I felt that it covered me, in the biblical sense “for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and the two shall become one flesh” Mrs. Benjamin Walter Greene.

I know that young girls  in their little dreamland fantasy world, dream about getting married. I can’t say I did that, but I definitely remember playing around with my childhood crush’s last name next to mine. Two latino names went well together for the most part. Pero, when it came time to marry my gringo, I was going to put on his name. His old English name. Hijole!

I examined the name change with a microscopic lens! 

I would no longer be the last person on the list or the last person called. However, the change meant I would take off my mothers maiden name.  No longer would I be Rosalba Flores Zepeda.

Then, I figured since Zepeda would be my middle name I would no longer have to make the needed pronunciation corrections: Not Zeepeeda, not Zepayda or Zepahda. Just Zepeda, like this, Cehpehdah, in spanish, soft c sound, short e’s, short a.  Not a big deal to anyone else I’m sure. 

I practiced writing my married name. Rosalba Zepeda Greene Hijole! I was comforted by the fact that it was still long. It is a well known fact, latinas have long or several names, verdad?. My greatest concern became how my new name combo would sound! (hand over face Emoji) It sounds odd, unmatched. This Spanglish speaking girl had no problem rolling out the Spanish name with the English one, but I knew it would be destroyed by others…and it has been. Spanish only speakers say Green-ee and english speakers drawl out the “sal” part of Rosalba and after 33 years I find myself correcting the pronunciation of my name still… “It’s Greene, like the color, with an ‘e’ at the end.” To the spanish speakers I say “no es Grini” (pronounced in spanish) es Green (pronounced in english) Did that confuse you? Welcome to my Spanglish world.

The idea of how unmatched or odd it sounded did make me nervous. A reminder that we were embarking into a whole new world. Sometimes we love the mixture of spices and other times things are quite bland. We leave the rolling “Rs to me.” 

I’m not going to pretend, 33 years of practice hasn’t helped  my name flow smoothly. Imaginate the shock I felt the first time I heard my son’s Spanish immersion teacher say “Buenos dias Senora Greene” My name in it’s various versions is  like going on a 30mph road and having to slow down suddenly because were not actually going 30mph, and the speed bump whacks us. I can hear myself saying “Aye Ben! be careful.” I have embraced my hyphenated Spanglish name, but to make things easier, I don’t mind if you just call me Rosie.

Your name or his name? or Both?


Did you take your husband’s name? Did you keep your own or mesh the two? Maybe you kept your mothers maiden name as well and just added his name to the list, like a true latina! Tell me about it in the comments.

The Bat in the Manse

We’ve been receiving our happy new year wishes from the Greenes and the Torreys on the East Coast. Covid stole our turn at the Manse and time with la familia, so it’s been a long while since we’ve been there.

I woke up one morning this week remembering our scary “bat night” in our room at the Manse. Que? This story should have been posted in October, verdad? It Sounds more dramatic in spanish, La noche del murciélago en mi cuarto…bah ha ha ha. 

The Big Old House

It takes a couple of days to get reacquainted with the New England time zone, moist weather and the very welcoming mosquitoes.

Acuerdense, the Manse, the family estate is very old and creaky. Most everyone enters through the kitchen, it’s the comfortable entrance, the foyer entry is for the dignitaries :D. The largeness of the Manse intimidates us so we all quietly enter, and the house receives us noisily. The screen door slams, the wood floors sound hollow, and creak with our weight. The house speaks in “loud quiet” tones. 

The kids  explore and go through the downstairs rooms. The long dining room, the reading room with Mary Minot watching us above the fireplace, and the music room, where they linger. The closet holds old fashion toys, and board games. They all go upstairs together, creaking all the way. The boys always shared one room that way they would take care of each other. Their sister Daniella was left to fend for herself. 

Thorndike Club

The days in Jaffrey are free and uncluttered! Screen time is banned and good old fashion outdoor time is enforced :D. It was hard for them to keep busy, honestly I think that with so much greenery and big trees, maybe they thought they were in the bosque and a bear would come out of the woods to eat them! but they managed to survive swinging high on the barn swing. Imaginate, a typical summer day was swimming in the lake, at  Thorndike Club,  I sound so muy muy verdad, it’s not. It’s good old fashion outdoor summer fun. It’s one of the benefits the family enjoys as the warm humid mosquitos filled days pass by.

One evening after one of those busy days and I had cleaned up after dinner I was going to relax upstairs,solita. I rarely went up alone, porque I did not like Labans eyes looking at me, well actually all of Ben’s ancestors followed me around with their eyes.
Sin embargo, I was determined to have my nice long chat con mi amiga. In Jaffrey, I had time for the simple things, so neither the eyes nor the creaks were going to rob me of this pleasure. 

 Bien agusto, we were chatting, interrupting one another and laughing all the way, when all of a sudden, I saw something fly across the room, I screamed for Ben. He came leaping up those stairs! Mi Principe Azul I was crouching on the bed waiting for him.

It’s A Bird…

What happened? He said as he looked at me and around, he thought I had seen a mouse. Un raton! Hijole, I couldn’t worry about that just then.

“I saw something up there” I pointed to the ceiling? 

“Where?” He looked around everywhere. 

“Maybe it’s nothing” Nada? No estoy loca.  

“I looked everywhere already, don’t worry about it” He turned to go back downstairs.

Maybe he was right. I picked up the phone again, mi amiga was waiting. I was laughing nervously, telling her that I thought I had seen something fly by. Then it flew by and I screamed again.

“Ben!” He was already there

“I think there’s a bird is up here” 

“A bird? Where? He looked around

“It flew to the Nursery” I pointed to the room that was connected right to ours. Ben looked around,

“There’s nothing here, besides IF there was a bird it’s gone now.” 

“He’s somewhere Ben, what if he plucks out my eye?”

“Come on, a bird won’t hurt you.”. 

 But he lingered a good while, we silently waited for the bird to fly out again. That was done, with no bird in sight he turned and went back down stairs.

I picked up the phone again telling my comadre about the haunted Manse and the mysterious bird. Derrepente! the flapping of his wings swooped over me! Yelling and whooping is all that could be heard in the upstairs bedroom and hallway. The bird was probably more scared than I. This time the whole family came running up the stairs and the bird slipped away again.

“It’s here Ben!”

“I know, I saw something, but where did it go?

“He flew into the Cannonball room” (I believe that it’s dramatically called the Cannon Ball room because at the top of each bedpost sits a “cannon” ball)

We all ran to that room, then I asked Daniella to take the boys out. I didn’t want them to get hurt. Quien sabe, maybe he would snatch them up, I mean the bird was growing bigger by the second. Besides, life must go on and the boys needed their bath so Daniella was assigned to “little brother” watch, while Jonathan, my quickly growing strong teenager and I helped dad with capturing this dangerous bird. 

Ben had looked everywhere in the room while Jonathan and I lingered in the doorway. Nada, no bird to be seen. Then, Ben had an idea. He switched off the lamps in the room, hijole it was dark. He saw something and I screamed, I think Jonathan did too and we huddled in the doorway where there was still some light. 

Then Ben said,

“Come in and close the door.” We trembled, I wanted to protest, and it looked like Jonathan was hoping I would. We stepped in and closed the door to the light and to Daniella and the boys down the short hallway. Ben pointed to the huge antique mirror with gold chipped crown molding, confirming his suspicion. Perched on top was the bird with bulging  glowing yellow eyes. 

We muffled our fear, El Cucuy was in those eyes. I thought of my little ones outside, what would happen to them? Ben switched the lights back on and said

“A bat” 

Bats were for the movies and scary cartoons, not the Manse. Jonathan and I were frozen. Y ahora? I thought we should go next door down and across the street to his brother’s house and escape.  Pero, Ben said he had another idea for getting rid of the bat. All we needed was the kitchen broom, the sheet on the bed and the empty trash can. One, two, three and the bat would be trapped. Here was the plan:

  1. Ben would swat the the bat off his perch with the broom
  2. Jonathan and I would throw the sheet over the bat as he swooshed off the mirror
  3. Then Ben would trap it with the small trash can

Bien facil verdad?  So his team was ready, shaking in our boots we held the sheet high above our heads. Ben held the broom in one hand and the trash can in the other. A la Una, a las dos y a las tres. Swat, swoosh, yelp! and thud. That’s how fast we captured the big bad bat!. 

Let me show you in slo-mo

  1. Ben reached up for the bat and gently swung, that antique mirror had to be protected too.
  2. When the bat swooshed off his perch and circled the ceiling Jonathan and I yelled and threw the sheet…over our heads.
  3. Ben managed to swat again and somehow he brought it low enough to cover it with the trash can. Acuerdense, me and Jonathan were under the sheet. We could only hear the scuffle between Ben and bat. When we pulled the sheet off the bat was trapped. Whew! That was easy.

With just a bit more maneuvering Ben slid a dustpan over the opening of the can and walked down stairs and outdoors to release the bat into the night. Por supuesto que that bat would come back, we only hoped he would wait til we were gone. 

As soon as that was done the house phone rang and his brother Sam heard all our commotion and was wondering what all the ruckus was about. We all have our version of the bat story. Even as I wrote it, I laughed at how terrified we were. I mean, I had heard about those vampire bats, thank God that that real live bat preferred to eat mosquitoes.

Going to the Top of the Mountain

One of the highlights of my year is going to our church’s bible conference. Asi es, we make that long 6 hour drive, ending with a winding mountain top, all for us to hear 17 seminars/sermons, aimed to keep us on the straight and narrow. Pero es más que eso

It is a mountaintop retreat for me. A week away from the hustle and bustle at home, a time for just Ben and I. I’m not that girly girl that likes to dress up, I don’t care for all the hard work of  primping, but I do like the end results when I stand in front of the mirror, que guapa! I drink up all the nuggets of truth and inspiration that fill my mind, heart and notebook when I sit and listen to each seminar. The Donut break and afternoon break gives me that wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and when I’m feeling bold and confident, I step out and make a new friend. Sabes que? Conference time makes my flaco such a social butterfly, this man of few words, goes around getting to know his brethren! It makes me kinda sorta jealous of him and for him. Then there’s the updates, I love them! The missionaries we send and support all around the world, come home and share their experiences. They pass the mantle to men of those nations; nationals, who carry on the vision. I’m not a world traveler, but hearing the various accents, seeing the cultural attire while listening to glimpses of all those supernatural things that God is doing around the world helps me see the incredible thing I’m a part of. 

My fellowship ( Asi es. Zepedas, maybe Mexicans across the board, tend to appropriate everything they are attached to. Something very personal happens and we must declare it with “my” well because, it’s mine) CFM Ministries; Christian Fellowship Ministries- a Pentecostal movement born during the Jesus People revival. One small struggling church in Prescott Az. grew to a network of thousands of churches worldwide with a mission to preach the gospel. Bible conferences bring our churches together for a time of refreshment and renewed vision. 

 The highlight of the conference at the end of the week is to hear the announcements of new churches going domestically and internationally. Ves, for me it is so very personal, because in 1983 a couple rose to the challenge and came to San Diego to start a church. Just the couple and their kids, we call it “pioneering”. I was ‘born again’ in 1984 after hearing the message of salvation and because they went there, into my city, I’ve had this anchor all of my adult life.

Almost 40 years later, besides my church, our fellowship is over 20 churches strong in San Diego. This January conference, 7 international works were announced and several domestic works around the U.S. Gloria a Dios! Me atrevo a decir, God is advancing his gospel message around the world. Announcements were made for Samoa, Sudan y por supuesto, I was excited to hear 2 announcements of churches into the heart of Mexico.

Y sabes otra cosa? Besides all the excitement of new churches and new christians, I have my own personal turning points. Milestones that happened while I absorbed the full conference experience. 

  • It was at one of my first conferences on a nice Arizona warm desert day that I broke up with my Flaco, because in this Jesus People culture, dating is intended to lead to Gods institution of marriage! Hijole! I felt that marriage wasn’t for me, at least not until I was very old, like 30. Pero, as soon as our relationship ended, I began to wonder if  marriage could be blessed? Indeed! I know now, after 33 years with my Benjamin, that in Christ, a marriage covenant could be prosperous, even when our traditional culture and color was so opposite. Gracias a Dios for my patient cold blooded Englishman from the East Coast, he learned how to roll with this feisty latina woman from the West Coast. Y yo? Well learned how to be still…. mas o menos 😏 
  • It was at a conference that Ben was approached about his little girl and this time he wouldn’t say “she’s too young”. In a twinkling of an eye she had entered that grown up stage of life. Dating, whirlwind and marriage. Is it ok if I tell you that nobody warned me about that part of parenting, you know when you must release your child. Hijole, it was hard, you lose a part of you for a season.
  • Pero! Then came the conference that another turning point came. El gran dia that I turned the corner and became an abuela. It was a bittersweet day, Maricella was supposed to wait until I got back from the conference. I would be ready to receive my reward. Pero, instead she arrived early we welcomed her into the world via facetime and she welcomed us home! Ahora, We, Apa and Ama have 8 little gems. I have forgotten the days I thought I lost my children, my hands are full again.
  • It was at a conference during the exciting time of announcements that we heard a very personal announcement. “Out of San Diego Ca. into Bonita Ca. (also a community of San Diego) Jon & Denise Greene.” My heart swelled with delight at the very idea that my hijo and his beautiful helpmeet would be pioneering a church. In my heart I’ve always held a special place for the pioneer pastor who willingly leaves behind his steady grounded life to go to regions beyond. Y para que? To preach the message of the gospel to individuals like me, some broken, some empty, trying to find their way in life. Y ahora, my son is out preaching and teaching. Mi hijo, el pastor. Hijole! Maybe he’s gonna get a “Rosie” in his church?
Pastor Greene and his proud Mexican-American Mama

Sometimes, especially in these 2 years with the Covid invasion, my faith has been challenged and I’ve had to stand when I’m too tired. It’s a  spiritual connection with a supernatural God who loves me, us, who graciously refills our vessel through his word. Por supuesto that this connection also happens at home alone during my devotions, or when I go to church. O ya sabes, God is with us always, pero, at conferences I am stirred when I see what God is doing all around the world for any willing and open heart. It’s catching a vision of hope for the lost, and for me. Lost men and women who are restored and go back into all the world to rescue a soul.  CFM Bible Conferences, quizas they sound dull or boring, but they are a lifeline to me. I love what God does through them.

A Resolution to Resolve

2022

Now that all the Christmas decorations are put away, estaba pensando…Yup, usually when I say “I’ve been thinking,” it’s because a change is needed or a change is wanted, or something has got to happen! Being the new year of course I feel the pressure of that clean slate, that “2022 organizer” Y pues, gracias a Dios that I’m in 2022, otra chansa! 

The word ‘Resolution’ has all kinds of formal definitions in the world of dictionaries, mira, Cambridge dictionary had one definition in these words “A promise to yourself to do or not to do something”  On January 1 I truly felt the motivation,saw the need, felt it in heart to get things resolved. I make a thoroughly long list of things that must change, things that must go and things that need revamping. Then, as if someone yanks my “New Years Resolution” list away (me)  it gets lost early in the year. Usually by February, I’m purposely forgetting it, filing it away or throwing it out. I continually fall off the race track, fiercely hanging on to somethings on that list. 

La verdad es que, they’re pretty much the same recycled goals. Ya saben, I gotta let Jesus shine in me, I gotta lose weight, I gotta get organized,I gotta finish that degree (heavy sigh and rolling eyes) y I gotta get my book published! 

This year, otra vez, I did re-resolve my new/old list of goals, hopefully this year my “accountability group” will help me stay on track. (That sounds so clinical huh?)  I guess the positive side is that I haven’t stopped trying verdad? Y! With gratitude lenses I see that many things have seen resolution through the decades of my life.

I enjoyed the way this blogger summed up the year and quotes for seizing opportunities:   

Notes to Self at the Start of 2022 — Mitch Teemley

You’re still alive–there’s a reason for that. Get to it! “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, oh, so much better all the time.” ~Paul McCartney (“It can’t get much worse.” ~John Lennon) “Thank u, next.” ~Ariana Grande “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb — that’s where all the fruit is.” ~Frank Scully […]

Notes to Self at the Start of 2022 — Mitch Teemley

Wrapping up Christmas

This past week has been like a whirlwind, like for many people out in the big wide world verdad? As I’ve finished those last minute errands in this Covid Era, I know, tagging it like this sounds muy exagerado, but it has been an extreme time. I sat in some parking lot traffic yesterday and it reminded me of the congestion and busyness of Christmases past, call me loca, but I was grateful for the feeling of “back to normal” as I impatiently waited for traffic to move along. The lines were just long, not very long and masked folks were all around, as I waited in line I thanked God for Christmas time.

We are  wrapping up our season with some fun jolly times. Last week on the 20th we commemorated our return to our annual tamalada by remembering my apa. For over 20 years my cunada and I have built a true friendship, pushing aside the lies and insecurities of “inlaw phobias” and God has given us a blessed friendship. We have established a very informal but set in stone tradition of working hard at Christmas making tamales, I was so glad for our day together with our girls. Tamales de puerco, de pollo, de res and my amas sweet tamales. Tamaladas are lots of work, hijole, I’ve always denied myself the opportunities to learn the secret of the masa but I had no choice this year, my hands went into the masa. Tamaladas are lots of talk, hot on the topic list was the fact that although covid separated us, it actually brought Sandra a new helper, mi hermano! Hector says it was a one time deal though. In the end when it’s all said and done we reap pots of tamales. Life circumstances, like “apa watch” hindered our tamale tradition and covid completely blocked it in 2020 but this year tamales prevailed and the time was extra special.

Last night we squeezed in our Scrooge Dinner Party with our dear friends, the Alsobrooks. Heavy sigh, once upon a time they were the ‘Octopuses’, but then Thomas learned how to say their name correctly. Our dinner party consists of three parts: dinner, a white elephant gift exchange and then regular gift exchange. This year was a tight squeeze, since aside from covid, regular nasty little viruses were jumping around making people sick and keeping them laid up in bed. Our family party was smaller since some were sick, but we prevailed and the show must go on, we chose to enjoy and appreciate our yearly tradition. Oh what a great time we had.

 Having girl friends that I can trust has been so comforting  through the years, pero imaginate when our families connect and there is true friendship across the board of parents and children, hermoso! Last night we decided to make breakfast for dinner, so that meant Ben’s popular sourdough pancakes. We impatiently waited for everyone to arrive so we could entrarle a la comida, digging into the food as if we were ravenous. Hay si, maybe not ravenous but hungry, borderline, ‘hangry’ the shopping and wrapping had us madd.

How do I describe our scrooge exchange? The rule is to spend as little as possible, Bah HumBug! Of course we all struggle to figure out what we could bring that’s clever and stealable. One person brought brake pads…used with a hidden gift card and another brought a used gift card😎 with a balance of $7.40 left on it. Ben chose a gift that had a puppy in it, hijole! Thankfully his barking and whining had an off button. Thomas stole a sausage that also had a water hose nozzle, ya se, and it got crazier, but it was lots of fun. We ended our night with cleanup but only after we had a wrapping paper wad fight, where in the world did all grown ups go?

Here I am today, Christmas Eve with wrapping left to do. Tonight we’ll go to Christmas Eve dinner with more friends and come home to get the last three items on our Christmas countdown: Ben will prepare the sourdough mix and bring in the wood for the fireplace tomorrow morning and we’ll all wait til just before midnight, to help Santa Clos bring all the gifts. Now that the kids are all grown up, we actually have to wait for them to get to our stockings and gifts…Asi es, as we get older we sleep less.

Merry Christmas to all, may you be blessed on Christmas day and on. God bless you Everyone!

Pause the Christmas Countdown

I know that Navidad is just around the corner but I couldn’t keep it to myself, de veras, I tried. I don’t usually post outside of my weekly schedule, it’s rare when I post in the middle of the week. Pero, it’s my apas first big celebration in heaven. One of the epistles of Peter says kinda like this, mas o menos “ Remember this, with the Lord a day is like 1000 years and a 1000 years are like a day….” So, I think essentially we don’t age… and I remember that my 96 year old apa didn’t want to get old, God heard him huh?

This post is my birthday shout out to my dad, acuerdense, I love a birthday party. Mi apa is no longer suffering from dementia and he can remember us all. 

Feliz Cumpleanos apa, disfrute su alivio. Saludos a mi ama y mis hermanas!

It’s Not Too Late to Send Out a Christmas Card 

Remember the days of snail mail? Like I’ve said before I love getting a letter in the mail, unless of course if it’s from the phone company or the utility company, sheesh and even those are rare nowadays. Pues, certainly at Christmas time business picks up for the post offices everywhere, verdad? Have you mailed your Christmas cards yet? Maybe you pressed the send button and got them out to all your fans? Esperate! Maybe you’re like me, and you’re waiting for your order to come in because you decided to jump on the “photo card” Christmas train. Dare I ask if you’ve even taken that special foto yet? Hijole, it can turn into a race against the Christmas countdown verdad? 

The Christmas Card tradition began for me after I got married. I think that embedded into the matrimony duties is duty #1000 “work on sending out a nice Christmas card each year.” I shopped carefully. The card had to be nice and sweet, but not mushy. Most important was getting a great deal with my budget. Es que, in those early years, when we exited military life, regular paychecks came to an end, and my flaco went from a sailor to a painter’s helper. Our pocket book was quite tight. Christmas wasn’t minimalized but our pocketbook was stretched for sure in the merriest season of the year. The nice card was personalized with an update on our year. Some of the Greene’s modestly send a “brag letter” where nice pictures with updates on all the childrens shine is displayed. I took my time filling our loved ones in on our happenings through our year, que social media ni que nada! Words can paint a good picture, hijole! My hands hurt after all that writing. The envelopes were sealed, stamped and sent, que facil verdad? Then came the era of photo cards, y ahora, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Mis amigas have shared some of their similar experiences with photo cards and although it’s a battle, it must be worth it, because we do it year after year. 

Photo by Monique Prado

How to survive the Christmas Card sleigh ride: 

  1. What will we wear? Colores navidenos? Would that be red, green and white? Or silver and blue? Gold and silver? Maybe it should be formal colors? Black and white? Will it be casual or dressed up? Must we all match? The Greenes, we never match and our “dressed up” is our Sunday best, no glitter or bling. 
  2. Who’s gonna be in the picture? Immediate family? When is it no longer immediate? Maybe just the abuelos and the grandkids? Que bonito verdad? Ben & Rosie and our growing beautiful brood. When that is settled, let’s set a date to take a picture. LOL right? The last few years have been just Ben, me and two youngest representing the bigger picture.
  3. If you get to take a family picture, wonderful! For us, the pictures I use are the planned and unplanned ones. Like when we’re at an event and we look like we’ve combed our hair, usually mi hijo Emery will say, let’s take a pic and use it for Christmas. After several Emery approved shots, where he is positioned correctly and looking smooth we save them for the end of the year. Creeme, it saves me a lot of trouble. Pero, if and when you gather the kids for a pic, then you will face the next hurdle. Keep the kids clean and make the kids smile. Denise, my nuera says that Rachel tends to always be moody, emotional, and they always get several pics with Rachel’s frown. This year, con mi nieto Jeremiah, he’s two and can be terrible, I have implemented a strong voice and said “Jeremiah! You need to give me a happy face right now”. And it works! He does it, his frown turns into a smile. That is a 2021 milestone.
  4. Y ahora, if you survived the picture, you need to order your Christmas card, if you’ve been diligent you won’t be in my place, waiting 6 days for my order to come in, hijole!
  5. I’m almost at this final step, and honestly it’s about my usual timing. Oh the fun of stuffing, licking and sealing the envelopes. Is a return address really that important at this point? My fingers get stiff from writing. Acuerdense, I’m an abuela now, even writing can be slower!

I have my highlight cards, like the year before our family grew, with inlaw children and grandchildren. It was hard for me to release my adult children to their future spouses. Change is always incredibly difficult for me, I am learning that in God’s hands changes and seasons are laced with grace, growth and love. We took a silly pic under our tree that year. Then, there was the Christmas card that declared our new status: ‘los abuelos’. Y mas reciente, are our Christmas cards that included my apa. I’m so very thankful for all those years. 

I love receiving all the beautiful Christmas cards and filling my christmas board with them. I do have a small album of Christmas cards of the years gone by. It is pretty amazing to see cards with my friends and their kids, chiquititos and then fast forward and have cards from those same kids all grown up. Yikes! Como pasan los años.  Christmas cards are a wonderful treasure to have. 

En Conclusion:

It’s not too late, 14 days til Christmas. Send a Christmas card with beautiful tidings or a Christmas photo with happy faces, like Jeremiah gives on demand and have a wonderful Christmas time.