Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am thankful for:

* the opportunity of embarking in this journey we call Life.
* my father, who open my mind up to the world and its beauty
* my mother who made incredible sacrificies for all of us
* my siblings, who taught me about unconditional love
* all the teachers I had throughout the years, who planted in me the desire to learn and keep on learning every day of my life.
* my aunt Michaela who showed me how to be a true Christian
* my grandfather "Abuelo", the head of our family, who taught me about hardwork, loyalty to our family.
* my grandmother "Abuela" who taught me how to cook and show my love for others in that way
* my cousins, uncles, aunts who, in spite of the distance that separate us, still show me their love and are proud of me.
* my church family, who has given me a chance to serve them and have blessed my life in so many ways.
* my husband, my companion, my best friend, because he always sees the best in me, and loves me in spite of my flaws.
* my daughter, the answer to my prayers, who has shown me how to appreciate life in a whole new way.
* to my sons, who chose me to guide them through this life
* to my God, for the blessings He bestows in me every day of my life. I hope I am able to recognize those blessings each day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Gift of Reading

I remember learning how to read. Back then and back in Panama, kindergarten was the time when kids got used to schedules, and discipline in schools. Most children did not go to daycare, and kindergarten was not mandatory. There was no pressure on being "ahead" and "prepared" for first grade, as there is here.

I learned how to read at home. My dad would take the time to teach me how to sound out the words. Once I was able to read, a new world appeared in front of me, and I was ready to explore it.

We had one tv at our house, and it was not for the children. My parents were very strict when it came to our tv time. The tv was off limits for us, and only 2 shows were watched at home: the news and Sesame Street.

So the majority of our time was spent playing outside and when the weather did not cooperate, we spent our time reading. My parents made sure we had plenty of material to read. Back then, salesman would come to our house, offering encyclopedias. My parents bought two sets, I can see them now. The biggest set was bound in blue, and it had at least 20 volumes. It covered every imaginable topic, from history to sports. Each volume was heavy and hard to handle for a small child but dad would help us carry it so we could enjoy reading it. The other set was red, the books were smaller, and as I recall, most of the volumes talked about the different animals in the animal kingdom.

In those books, the world was within reach. I read about world history, and learned about Greece and Rome, Plato, Aristotle, Michael Angelo, and Thomas Jefferson. I read about the US, the American Revolution, and the Civil War. I learned about the European Monarchies, and the great empires that dominated the world centuries ago. It was fascinating, even as a child, to read about this far away place I now call my home.

There is no need now for encyclopedia salesmans anymore. One can find out about anyone and anything through the internet. My daughter doesn't have to read throough countless volumes to learn about the world anymore. All she needs is a computer.

Still, I want her to experience the joy of reading. I want her to read about the world, and imagine the things that are beyond her reach. I want her to enjoy reading as much as I do. I want her to be able to compete in a technological world without losing that desire to seek knowledge. I don't want her to stop thirsting for knowledge simply because it's at her fingertips, with just the stroke of a key on the computer keyboard.

Much like my parents, I am setting the ground rules. There are books, and magazines, and newspapers for her to read. There is a computer too, but for now, I want her to learn about the world and its wonder the old fashioned way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Role Models

The campaigns are over and by morning, we will know who won the election. I'm sure many of us will be relieved, and glad to be able to watch TV again without having to see a political ad.

This has been a historical race, that's what all the TV stations and newspapers have been advertising for months. It has affected everyone in a different way, I'm sure.

In my case, it has made role models for my kids out of the candidates. Not because of their political agendas, or affiliations. Simply because of who they are.

There is a woman on the ticket. A working mother. She knows what it's like to compete with men, and having to prove herself over and over again. She knows everything she does will be scrutizined, simply because of her gender. But she is still on the ticket.
This is the first election that my daughter has been old enough to understand. She has watched Sarah Palin on TV, she understands that this woman is "applying" for the 2nd most important job in this country. She now knows that a woman can aspire to the highest offices, and be respected among her peers, the same way a man is. For that, I am grateful. My daughter has witnessed history in the making.

There is also a man on the ticket who put his life on the line for this country. A man who loved it enough to fight for its freedom. His heroic act defines my personal definition of patriotism. He reminds me of those patriots, back in Panama, who fought for their right to elect the leaders of the country. He is a role model to all of my kids, not just my boys. They should love this country, and defend their freedom, and respect those who fought for it like John McCain did.

Last but not least, there is a man of mixed heritage running for the highest office. Just like my children, his parents came from very different backgrounds and his perspective in life comes from his experiences as a child. Perhaps his life is richer and fuller because he had the chance to see the world in a different manner than his peers. My kids now see Obama compete and be respected in the same manner as a white man. They too can aspire to be presidents one day. For that I am thankful.

Regardless of who wins the election, tomorrow is a new day and this election will go down in history. I hope now that it is over, we can overlook our differences and work together to continue to push this country ahead, for ourselves and for our children.