Friday, October 23, 2009


It's funny how some smells can bring back a flood of memories.

Coffee and gardenias take me back to my childhood. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. I didn't know then how much I would cherish the memories I made there.

Every morning for more than 60 years, my Grandfather started his mornings the same way. He would grind the coffee beans he had harvested in his backyard, and make coffee. The smell of freshly brewed coffee takes me back to those beautiful mornings. Before he had any coffee, he would bring Abuela a cup of coffee to bed. Every morning for more than 60 years.

He would go on about his morning routine, feed the chickens, and start his day; while Abuela made breakfast. She would let me help her and made me feel so special. She put so much love into cooking, maybe that's why her food was always so good. That's where I get my love for cooking.

After breakfast, Abuela and I would go out and water her plants. She has a beautiful garden, even now. She would tell me all about all her plants, where she got them from, how long she's had them, when they bloom. I loved the smell of the gardenias and even now, they remind me of Abuela.

It's funny how as we get older, some memories come back more often. For me, the happy memories of my times in el Cope, with my grandparents, are one of my most treasured times.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I very often complain there aren't enough hours in the day to get things done. There are always loads of laundry left undone, shopping lists not quite complete, chores, chores and more chores that I can't never get to.

I used to think it was simply the way things were. After all, I work full time outside my home, I have three kids, and well, taking care of everyone and everything takes time. Now I think I'm just one of those people who actually enjoy the "busyness" of life. Apparently I actually "enjoy" running around like a nut, trying to figure out how to tend to everyone, and everything, and making sure everyone is taking care of.

My epiphany came shortly after I signed up to coach my daughter's soccer team. Yes, you read that right. Here I was, complaining that I have no time to get it all done, and still, I sign up for yet one more thing. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

Don't get me wrong. I don't regret volunteering to coach. Soccer is my favorite sport, my daughter loves to play, and well, I want to do my part so our league continues to grow and she has a chance to develop her skills.

I already juggle many balls in one day. My day starts early in the morning, when I start my "lunch assembly line" and get everyone's lunch boxes ready for the day. Then it's time to get clothes laid out for everyone, get everyone up, get breakfast on the table; and finally get ready for work. I spent the next 8 hrs working, and from time to time, thinking of what I can cook for dinner that night. As soon as I get home, it's time to get dinner going, to hear how everyone's day went (usually all of them speaking at once); check homework, etc, etc. You get the idea.

Did I mention I also teach Sunday school?

I know, it sounds like I'm complaining, doesn't it? In reality, I am happy having so many balls up in the air. I love all the roles I have on a daily basis. And even though things can get crazy (and believe me, they do); truth is, I want to be as involved as possible in my children's life.

I may not be home every day when they come home from school, but they are lucky enough to have their father there instead. And I'm lucky to have a husband who shares the load with me.

I hope one day they'll remember their soccer years, when mom was their coach and how much fun they had. How mom participated in all their church activities, and even helped out. How, even though mom worked in an office and not at home; they spent quality time with her when she was home.

So you see, it is a blessing to be able to do so much for my kids; not a burden. Even when I'm exhausted and wondering where I'll get the strength to get up the next morning; all it takes is one look into their eyes to see it is all worth it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


A new school year has begun, and many changes have come with it.

My daughter is now in second grade. It's hard to believe how much she has grown, how much she has learned, and how fast time has gone by. Not too long ago, she was just a toddler, and school seemed so far away. She has mature so much, she has a radiant personality, and is very secured in herself. I'm proud of her.

My boys are now starting school, in 3 yr old kindergarten. It wasn't that long ago I brought this tiny kids home, and now they are little men. They are out to discover the world, and conquer it. They are a team, definitely two peas in a pod, and I enjoy watching them interact with each other. They are each other's ying yang.

My niece Stephanie has graduated high school and it's getting ready to start her freshman year at MS State. I was there the day she was born, it's hard to believe she is now a young woman.

New beginnings are always hard because they mark the end of an era. But it is also nice to see how far I've grown as a person since the days I became an aunt, and later a mother.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Historic Photos of Mississippi- A book review

One would think there is not much to say about a book filled with pictures. At first glance, there are just pictures bound together, with captions that detail where and when the photos were taken.

But whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words was right. That's the case with this book "Historic Photos of Mississippi"

I am relatively new to the state and to its history, even though I've spent the last 18 years here. There is so much to this place, to its history, that I've yet to uncover, and for the first time I've gotten a glance of the way things used to be before I arrived here.

The book is filled with photographs and its divided in four sections: "The Civil War and Survival", "The Joy of the Golden Age", "Depression Years and Singing the Blues", "War in Europe and Struggles at Home". The captions for the photos are written by Anne B. McKee.

Each section tells part of the story of the Magnolia State in pictures. You will not find lengthy discussions about each pictures but in reality they are not needed. Each photo in this book speaks for itself.

In the Civil War section you will find pictures of the battlefields, of towns and homes destroyed during the war, pictures from the period following the war that show the growth in cities like Jackson and Meridian; you may even recognize some of these buildings as they still stand today.

The following section shows the Mississippi of the early 1900, when the state was prospering. You will find photos of historical buildings like the Old Capitol Museum, a class photo from Sykes Chapel School (an early African American school), of people at work, and steam wheelers in the Mississippi river.

The flood of 1927 in the Mississippi Delta, the times of the Great Depression, the Civil Right era are all documented in this book.

I wish the book had included pictures from the last 3 decades of the 20th century, as the last pictures included were from the dawn of the 1970s.

Still it is a good book. Perfect for someone who loves the state of Mississippi, and wants to reminiscence about the good ol' days.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Early Saturday morning

A few weeks ago, I decided I would volunteer for the Renaissance Half Marathon. I wasn't sure what job I wanted to do, but I figured I'd come and support my sister and her husband as they ran this race. I managed to recruit one of my sisters, my niece, her boyfriend, and a friend to come and be part of the water crew at Mile 8.

Saturday came very early for us, since we had to report to our stations by 5:15 and we live 1 hr away from the race. As I was getting ready that morning, I kept wondering if I had lost my mind. Why on earth would anyone get up so early to go and hand out water to people who are even crazier than me?

We arrived at our station in the Bridgewater subdivision. Wow. Those houses are enormous, big enough to fit the entire Duggar family! We picked up our jaws from the ground, and started to set up. Coffee hadn't started working yet, some people were trying to be the "boss" and well, no one was getting paid so we didn't exactly appreciate the attitude. Finally we started to see runners coming up.

Our station was Mile 8 of 13.1. The front of the pack fit the stereotypical picture of a runner: fit, faster than a speeding bullet, and "in the zone". Most didn't want any water, others wanted us to throw water at them to cool them off. They went by us rather quickly, we were all in awe to see them disappear as quickly as they approach our table, like a bunch of gazelles. Some of them you could hardly hear breathing.

Then the middle of the pack started to show up, the real people, people like you and me who enjoy running and don't care if they ever win a medal. They are just loving it.
Some of them thanked us for being there, for cheering them on, for getting up so early to help out. I saw several people I knew, some from work, others whom I had trained with for the Chicago marathon.

The back of the pack were mostly walkers, but boy, can they walk! They smiled, they were just happy to be there, and didn't seem bothered by the fact they still had 5 miles to go before they could claim their medals. They were happy to be doing it.

I have to say the volunteers at our station were awesome. We never discussed it but when the first runners showed up, we started to cheer for them, as they came up the hill to our water stop. And we didn't stop until the very last person passed our water stop. We cheered them on in unison, which was very cool, because up until that morning, most of us had never met.

As I was there, watching, serving, I realized why I got up so early that day: I have been in their shoes. I know how important it is to hear a stranger call your name, cheer you on, tell you they believe you can do it. Saturday, I was one of those strangers for a lot of people. By the time they came to our stop, they had gone 8 miles and still had 5 more to go. That's where their minds would start to take over their bodies, and they'll have to pull the strength out of somewhere to finish.

For some, this was their first 13.1 miles. They had never done it before, and probably weren't sure if they could finish it. I wanted to offer some support, to let them know that finishing 8 miles was a big accomplishment and they could complete the rest.

A lady told us we were the best water stop so far, because we were cheering everyone on. She thanked us for that. That felt pretty good, I have to admit.

When we finished, we went back to the finish line to find my sister and her husband. Along the way, we passed some of the runners in their last mile towards their goal. One of them said "Oh, there you are again" and smiled. We cheered them on as we passed them and told them the finish line was close.

It was a great experience. Having been in the shoes of a runner before, I know how good it feels to have complete strangers line up the streets and cheer you on as you battle to conquer your goal. You may think it's not important if you are there or not, but runners notice the expectators and the volunteers, and they are thankful for you.

So next time there is race in town, like the MS Blues Marathon, consider coming out and cheering. You may be surprised how good it feels to know you made someone's day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Discovering Navarre Beach

Our annual family vacation this year was to a destination that most people haven't really heard of: Navarre Beach, Florida.

The first time I heard of it was in 2004 in a Southern Living Magazine. It talked about how beautiful and quiet it was, and how appropriate it was for families with kids. I filed it somewhere in my brain for future use.

You see, back in 2004, I had an irrational fear of the ocean. I'm not sure when or how it started but the first time I went to the beach I realized I was terrified of it. The sound of the waves, the feel of the sand slipping away under my feet, I simply could not handle it.

It wasn't until last year that I decided to face my fear. My children are growing up, and they had never seen the ocean. I wanted them to see it for the first time during our vacation to my homeland, Panama.

It was there, in front of the Pacific Ocean, and facing 12 ft waves that I faced my fear and conquered it. I'm not even sure how it happened. I just stood there, took a deep breath, and allowed the sounds to enter my soul, and I kept telling myself everything was fine. Before I knew it, a sense of calm came over me and I was able to enjoy my time there.

So I began to plan our first official "beach vacation" earlier this year. My criteria for selecting a beach was simple: it had to be within a reasonable driving distance, the water had to be beautiful, and the lodging options affordable. I asked beach lovers about it, most of them recommended places like Destin, Panama City Beach (which was on top of my list simply because it reminds me of my beloved Panama), Gulf Shores.
While I was doing my search, I remembered that article in Southern Living, and started researching Navarre Beach. Before long we had picked it as our destination.

I started to look for places to stay that were affordable, and not on a high rise building. I have 2 children who believe they can fly, so I wanted to make sure they weren't going to pull a stunt while on vacation.

We were fortunate enough to come across this townhouse . The price was reasonable, the location was great, so we made the deal, put down a deposit and prepared for our vacation.

We arrived at Navarre Beach on May 30, in the late afternoon. It didn't take very long for us to realize we had picked the right place and the right house. The beach was gorgeous, the water had a blue-green hue to it, and the sand was so white. The kids were in awe, and so were we. The house was more than we had expected, had more amenities than we could have ever imagined, including bicycles for us to ride around the Santa Rosa Island, beach chairs, toys for the kids, and even a cart to help us carry our stuff to the beach. The place is beautifully decorated (no tacky stuff there), and so comfortable. We fell in love with this place. The best part (as if being on Navarre Beach wasn't enough), the master bedroom had an awesome view of the Gulf.

We spent a week doing absolutely nothing more than relaxing. The kids enjoyed it beyond belief and so did I. It was exactly the place I was searching for, there were mostly families at the beach, it wasn't crowded, and it was beautiful. We came back ready to plan our next trip to Navarre Beach.

I know most people go to some of the other more popular beaches where there is tons to do, and the crowds are big. But if you are looking for a place to relax, with an unbelievably beautiful beach, Navarre Beach may be for you. ;-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nine years

Today, my husband and I are celebrating nine years of marriage. Time has flown by, if it wasn't for the fact our kids are getting older, I wouldn't know it has been this long since we said I do.

We met at the least likely of places, at least I think so. I was working out and then he walked in. Our eyes met for a brief moment and that voice in my head simply said "this man is going to change your life".

And so he has, and only for the better.

I knew I was going to marry him a month after we started dating. He had asked if he could join me at church that morning, and as I was praying next to him, I just knew. A year and half later we were husband and wife.

The last nine years have brought lots of wonderful times, and its share of trying times.
We have brought into this world 3 amazing people who fill our days with laughter, joy, tantrums, and their share of messes.
We have faced our kids' illnesses, emergencies, and happy birthdays, and we have learned together how to be the best parents we can be.

He is my best friend. He knows me like no one does, and loves me in spite of my flaws. He knows when to give me room to unwind, when I need a hug, and when I just want to cuddle.

We are each other's ying yang, I suppose. I'm more reserved, more private, an introvert, and he has never met a stranger. We are different in a lot of ways, but we are one in the things that really matter. I am a better person because I've spent the last nine years of my life with him.

He makes me laugh like no one can, he makes me feel pretty even when I'm walking around in pajamas and my hair is a mess; he knows what makes me tick, what angers me, and what makes me happy. There is no one I rather spend my life with.

Thank you for being my best friend, my companion, my lover, the father of my children, my only one.

I love you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To my niece

1991. There are a lot of things I don't remember about that year. I barely remember the people who were in my classes in high school, or what fashion styles were "in". I don't even remember my birthday that year.

But there is day I have not forgotten, even after all these years: March 10, the day I became an aunt.

She came into the world on a beautiful spring day. It was a Sunday. As I heard the news of her arrival, I looked out the window and saw the bluest sky. I wanted to remember that day, so one day I could tell her what a beautiful day it was the day she was born.

She was a joy to be around from the start, and I was lucky enough to live with my sister during the first months of her life. I helped take care of her, and enjoyed every minute I spent with her.

The years have passed, and that sweet girl has now become a young woman. She is everything one could have dreamed, she is intelligent, beautiful, kind, humble, giving, loving; the list could go on.

I've had the privilege to watch her grow up and overcome obstacles along the way, and become the person she is today.

In a week, she will be graduating high school. It seems like only yesterday I saw her for the first time, and now she is getting ready to begin the next phase of her life. There are so many things I want to tell her but simply can't find the right words.

I want her to know how very proud I am of her, of the person she has become, and how much I admire her. There have been hurdles along her path that many people could have used as excuses. Instead, she has risen above them, set her goals high, and achieved them.

I want her to know how proud I was the night it was announced she had the highest GPA of her class, how every time I think of the little girl she was, and how far she has come, the tears fill up my eyes. Of how thankful I am to have her in my life, to have her setting a good example for my own children, and how big are the shoes she has left for them to fill.

I want to tell her how much I love her, but even that doesn't seem enough to express how I feel.

I want her to know how thankful I am for the bond we have; that she can always come to me no matter how much distance separate us, or how long it has been since we last talked.

I want to tell her the rest of her life is just around the corner. That the years she spends in college will help her become the adult she is destined to be.

I want her to know that there will be obstacles along the way, some will seem insurmountable, but most of them seldom are.

I want to remind her to believe in herself and in the power of her dreams. I want her to know the measure of success is not in material possessions, but rather in the happiness you feel from having lived your life to the fullest.

I want her to know every day will bring a lesson; and it's up to her to learn from it.

That life should be lived without regrets, that there is a lesson in every moment, and that she should cherish all the good ones because they are the ones that will carry you through the tough times.

I want to tell her how much I'm going to miss her, how incredibly proud I am of her, and how much she means to me.

Thank you Stephanie for the gift you are to me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The sound of music

I'm probably one of the few people who have never attempted to play an instrument. I would have loved to play piano, and I still think before I get older, I'd like to give it a try.

But for now, my daughter is the only musician in our house. She has been taking piano lessons since August of last year. She likes it, and she is good at it. Seh can memorize a piece rather quickly, which really amazes me. Sheet music look like a bunch of squiggly lines to me.

Sunday was her very 1st piano recital. She was nervous and excited, and at one point said she felt like "butterflies were coming out of their pupa inside her belly". I was surprised she actually knew what a pupa was. :)
She was the second one to play at recital, and didn't seem to be nervous at all as she sat on the grand piano on the stage. She began to play Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Elisabeth Gutierrez.

That's when I lost it and began to cry. Where did the time go? It was just yesterday I brought this tiny child home and became her mom. Now she sits in front of a grand piano, and makes music.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Folding Machine

I hate house chores. I really do. Growing up, my family had a maid until I turned 13. By then, my 2 oldest sisters were gone to college, and my parents decided they didn't need a maid any longer. So my sister Glenda and I became the maids. We did our own laundry (NO washing machine), and kept the house clean (no carpets, we had to sweep and mop).

So I guess that's why I hate doing chores. The one thing I can do without complaining is the dishes. Our dishwasher decided to retire a few months ago, and even though my husband wanted to find a replacement, I talked him out of it. Doing dishes actually relaxes me.

Laundry is my biggest enemy. There is a never ending mountain of dirty clothes to be washed, baskets of laundry to be folded. It is time consuming, and I rather do something else with my time. Even though my laundry experience has come a long way since my teenage years, I still dread doing it. I guess doing the laundry for 5 people doesn't make it any easier.

As I was folding clothes this afternoon, I was thanking whoever invented washing machines and dryers, when it occurred to me, no one has invented a folding machine. Now, I would be willing to pay anything to have a folding machine where I could just throw the clean clothes, and they'd come out neatly folded and just ready to be put into the drawers.

So to any inventors out there, please invent a folding machine. I'm sure there are thousands of us out there who would love to own one.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wacky happenings

It has been a month since I last posted on this blog. I guess you could say the "blogger block" was more than I could surpass.

I decided to change the layout and title of this blog so I can (hopefully) feel more inspired to blog daily.

You can file this under "strange", "eccentric", or just plain crazy. Take your pick.

Our offices moved to a new, much nicer building last year. A lot of us lost our hard wall offices and ended up in a "workstation", aka: cubicle. Rules were published as to how our workstations should look and what was acceptable to display and what wasn't. Common sense would tell most people that certain things (bikini calendars for example) are better kept at home.

A "new" person moved to our hall recently. She really isn't that new (she has been here for a year already) but we had not seen her in our area before. A few days after her move, one wall of her cubicle was covered with a type of material often used to cover casseroles that normally will be cooked in the oven. Do you get the hint? Aluminum foil.

I later heard through the grapevine the reason this person covered the wall is to prevent radiation from the laser printer on the other side from harming her unborn baby. I personally had never heard of laser printers giving off any type of radiation. I guess that explains why my children glow in the dark. HA!

Anyway, fast forward to a month later, when this person and I crossed paths in the hallway. I noticed her pants had a funny print on them. Not being a fan of prints, I took a closer look, only to realize the prints were stars, clouds, and cows. Yes, cows. These are pajama pants, my friends.

The pants have made an appearance for the past two weeks, just about every day. While I understand pregnancy can be a rather uncomfortable time in a woman's life, I was pregnant twice before, and never came to work in my pajamas. I may have worn flip flops when my feet were too swollen to fit into anything else, but never came to work in clothes I would wear to bed.

Why do I care, you ask? Because we have a dress code. Some of us dress more business like than others, depending on what we do. Sometimes I wear jeans if I'm going to do sampling, other times I wear skirts, heels. Very seldom do I wear suits, unless I have a meeting. I guess you could say we have a very relaxed dress code because we all have very different job functions.

But nowhere in the dress code does it say pajamas are acceptable for anyone, regardless of the job function. Unless yours is "sleeping on the job".

So that has been the highlight around here, everyone wondering how long it will before we get a memo reminding everyone what the appropriate office attire is. Of course, once the memo comes out, the only person who won't read it or abide by it will be the one who needs to do it the most.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I took my daughter to the library early Saturday morning. This was my second trip in a very long time. I almost hate to admit it had been years since I had stepped foot in our local library.

I have a million excuses, some reasonable ones like their hours and my work hours don't coincide, I like to keep some of the books I read; others are not so reasonable: I simply have not made the time.

My daughter loves the kid section so she quickly settled in her space at the library and suggested I find something for me "to read" if I felt so inclined.

As I was walking amidst the rows of books, I discovered why I love libraries and how much I had missed them. There is something magical about that place, so much knowledge contained within those pages. As I browsed through the books, I began to wonder the history of each volume found on the shelves. Was it gift? Who donated it? What were they like?

I managed to find a couple of books and a couple of CDs to bring home with me, as did my daughter. We are making plans on going back next Saturday to get more books, and so she can get her very own library card.

I hope her love for books will remain as she gets older. I wonder if she feels the magic of the library the moment we walk in. I hope that magic remains with her forever.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


It's funny how a simple word can be defined in so many different ways.

Out of curiosity, I went to Merriam Webster to see how it was defined. The first definition listed said " a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head".

In reality, there are so many definitions of family, each of us has a different one, taught to us by our parents, and grandparents. There are blended families, single parent families, multiracial families, the list goes on.

So what do you consider family? What's your definition?

In all honesty, I can say I hadn't thought about what family really meant to me until recently. And it wasn't until recently that I realized that it doesn't mean the same to everyone. I guess when it came to "family" I am still a child, I still believe that everyone has a family just like mine.

Even more surprising I have realized that even two people, who have shared the same parents and somewhat similar upbringing (one raised in one country, the other in a different one) can have two completely opposite ideas as to what family is, and what roles family plays in your life.

Family to me has always been sacred. These are the people who know me best, and who are the closest to my heart. They include my parents, my sisters, my cousins, my aunts, grandparents. The bonds we share cannot be shattered, they are the ones I go to when things are going great and when things fall apart.

Inside that family core, there is that bond of sisterhood I share with my sisters. These women are my best friends, the ones I can say anything to, and know they will love me in spite of my mistakes. When I needed someone to stand up for me, they have been there. When I needed someone to share my happy moments, they have been there. When things have gotten rough, they are ready to listen, and offer advice. When I am making a mistake, they are the first ones to point it out, even when they know I will get mad.

There is no other relationship like the one I share with them. There are no other people in this world who could understand what we've shared, the struggles we have seen, the triumphs we have achieved. These women, all in their own ways, have helped me become the person that I am.

Even when we allow weeks to go by without a phone call, even when we get wrapped up in our busy lives and we don't talk often enough, I always know they are just a phone call away. I never hesitate to call if I need them because I know they will always be there. They are part of that most intimate part of life I call "private".

Not everyone feels that way about their family, or their siblings. Funny how I'm just now realizing that.

I believe that my children will probably define family and brotherhood based on what we teach them. They will follow our example and our teachings. I just hope they can always feel they are important parts of each other's lives. I hope they always feel comfortable talking to each other, sharing their most intimate thoughts, without fear. I hope they know that when things get rough, they can count on one another. I hope they can be honest with each other in the good times and the bad.
I hope they remember to love each other unconditionally.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The call of the pavement

If you have known me for a while, you probably know I trained for a marathon a couple of years ago. I was not a runner, I just read an article in the newspaper and thought that was something I wanted to add to my list of accomplishments.

Training was rigorous, but fun. I made great friends, and learn a whole lot about myself and about how much I can achieve if I'm willing to push myself beyond my known limits.

I didn't get to finish my first marathon. I didn't quit, the marathon quit on me. It was extremely hot in Chicago and they had to cancel the race after one death and several wounded.

The months after the marathon were very disappointing. I kept trying to tell myself there was nothing I could have done, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking: what if my pace had been faster?, what if I had lined up towards the front of the pack, would I have been able to finish? Even though my family and friends kept telling me I had accomplished my goal because I had completed a 22 mile run, it just didn't feel the same.

The past two years, I've been trying to talk myself into getting back in the race. I've been trying to convince myself to lace up my running shoes, and go out and run. I just have not found that motivation inside of me that makes me want to run.

The last few weeks, I've started to feel that little flame inside of me. I've begun to remember what it felt like to run, to feel the rush of adrenaline, to just enjoy nature.

I can hear the pavement calling me. I am starting to feel that urge that only runners can understand, that need to get out and push yourself beyond the limit one more time. I've actually read my Runner's World magazine, rather than putting it aside because I felt it's meant for runners, and I'm just not one of them.

I can hear that calling. I am ready to lace up my shoes and just run. There will be another marathon, another chance to prove to myself that I have what it takes to finish 26.2 miles.

But right now, I just want to feel like a runner again.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What I hope to teach my kids

There are times when I wonder what my children will remember about me when I'm gone. Will they think I was fun? Will they remember our vacations, and the times we spent watching their favorite movies over and over again?

More importantly, what lessons will they have learned from me? What do I hope will be my legacy in their lives?

I hope to teach my kids to:

Respect life, all life, big and small, rich or poor, human and non-human. Every living thing deserves to be treated with respect.

Respect yourself. Your body is a temple, treat it as one. Respect your ideas, and the person you are and never sell yourself short.

Love life, laugh often, and learn at every opportunity.

No one can put you down unless you let them. Believe in the potential hidden inside of you.

Have faith in something bigger than you. Call him God, or whatever you like, but believe in something bigger than your imagination.

Believe in the power of your dreams. Never give up, no matter how unattainable they seem, never stop believing.

Stay close to your siblings. Even if they drive you crazy, they will defend you against anyone and will stand by you when things are not going well.

Never forget your ancestors and the sacrifices they made. You are able to dream bigger because of the foundation they laid for you. Honor them by going one step further than you think possible.

Travel as much as possible, and respect other cultures. You are not better, embrace the differences.

Check boxes in a form do not describe who you are. Race doesn't matter, neither does gender, religion, or money. Integrity is what counts.

Everyone has a gift. Find yours and share it with the world.

Keep an open mind. Even if you disagree with someone's religion, political views, or philosophy of life, show them respect. It's our differences that make this world interesting.

And when the times come to share your life with someone, and raise kids, make sure love is what guides everything you do.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's just hair

As you have probably guessed, today's blog is about hair, and also about lessons learned, and knowing what's truly important.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an appointment with my regular hairdresser to get a haircut. She wasn't there when I showed up, and I ended up making an appointment with a new hairdresser. I figured it would be ok, after all it's just hair and I didn't want anything out of the ordinary.

I arrived at the new place on time for my appointment, only to be met by a stare. I guess I wasn't what they were expecting? Whatever. Sat down and waited. Finally, after 20 minutes waiting, it was my turn. I showed the hairdresser the picture, she got ready to begin, and then it happened. She cut the first piece. As I felt the razor go through my hair, I knew this haircut would be a disaster.

She cut that first piece really short, shorter than I wanted it. There is no way to fix that mishap except to cut the rest of the hair the same length and let it all blend in. I walked out of there with the worst haircut of my life, and mad that I had to pay for it.

If you saw me, you'd probably say it looks fine. Except this is not what I wanted and paid for.

I was feeling pretty blue last night after I washed the bottle of hairspray off my head. I looked in the mirror and realized just how bad it really was, how much styling it would take to make the hair look ok (at least to my standards), and was about ready to ask my husband for the clippers so I could finish the job and join him in the world of baldness.

That's when the voice in my head whispered something to me: Think of the women who are battling cancer, who have lost their hair, who are wishing theirs were as long as yours is right now.

I felt pretty ashamed. There I was, dwelling on my stupid hair, worrying about what people are going to think of it, completely absorbed in my own pity party.

I said a prayer for all those women who are cancer survivors, who are currently fighting cancer, and those who lost their battles. Many of those women are family, friends, coworkers.

I decided to make a donation in the same amount I paid for this haircut to the American Cancer Society, in honor of all women who have lost their hair during their battle with cancer.

I am still mad at the hairdresser for messing it up and still expecting me to pay for it. But I'm no longer upset over the hair I lost. I am thankful because I'm healthy and before long, my hair will grow back and all this will be just a bad memory.

I'm also thankful for the lesson I learned: it's just hair.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Whoever came up with the saying "Sleep like a baby", obviously did not have twins.

All the things you've heard about twins are probably true. They are each other's best friends, they do everything together, miss one another when they are apart. And they are definitely like day and night, at least mine are.

They are fraternal twins, so of course they don't look alike; and from the day they were born they have been acting differently.

Cade is the oldest (by a whole minute) and was the bigger baby weighing 5 lb 1 oz at birth. Both he and his brother were the same length, but Braden was only 4.5 lbs at birth. The first few days in the NICU, Braden was always awake. He would look for me every time I spoke and was always moving, alert. Cade slept most of the time, he just couldn't be bothered to visit with his parents.

Braden came home first. He learned to eat first, and was sent home a few days before his big brother. Then Cade came and our life became a chaotic blessing. Diapers everywhere, bottles, and sleepless nights.

We figured once they started sleeping through the night, we would be able to catch up on our sleep. We are still wondering if these kids come with an OFF button.

Braden is a night owl. He stays awake for hours after we put him in bed, talking, singing, laughing. Once he decides that it's time for bed, he is out and doesn't wake up until next morning, usually after 9 AM.

Of course, his brother is the opposite. Cade goes to sleep right away. Then he proceeds to wake up several times during the night, calling my name. Many times all he wants is to know I'm there. We've tried everything, Benadryl makes one hyper, and it doesn't work for Cade. We tried no naps, we tried putting them to bed later.

So I finally decided three years without sleeping through the night is enough. I'm tired of competing with Pete the raccoon (who hangs out in my backyard). I'm tired and it's time these kids go to bed and stay in bed until the sun comes out the next morning.

I ordered some herbal remedy that suppose to help. I just hope it does, and doesn't have the opposite effect on them.

Then again, if it does make them hyper, I'll just take the herb and call it a night.

So next time someone says they slept like a baby, feel free to smack them. Apparently no one told my kids what "sleeping like a baby" meant.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Music, Life, Lent

This past weekend Candace participated in her first music festival, hosted by MC. It wasn't really a competition, the children (adults too!) had a chance to display their musical talents in front of judges and get scored on their performances.

We left the house early enough to pick up her grandmother and arrive at MC on time for her 11:30 appointment. Just as we walked into the building, she informed me "she wasn't so sure about that" anymore. By "that" she meant playing for a judge.

She was obviously nervous, she has been playing less than a year, and she had to play in front of a complete stranger. We told her to pretend this judge was her piano teacher and she was at practice. As we waited for her turn, other kids who take classes from the same teacher, showed up and tried to ease her nerves. Then it was her turn. She was not too thrilled that we couldn't be in the room with her, but we were right outside.

I have to admit I was as nervous as her until I heard the notes streaming through the door. She did a great job! I was so proud because I know how much heart she had put into getting this done. Yesterday she had her weekly lesson and the teacher gave her the score sheet with comments from the judge. The comments were more suggestions than criticism and they ended with "Great Job" and a Superior score, the highest you could get.

Now we are getting ready for recital. As we practice the pieces she'll play, her favorite audience (her brothers) will be listening and cheering her on. They probably feel (as I do) that she plays the music of angels.

This time of the year always brings back lots of childhood memories. Lent and Easter were very important parts of our lives.

Throughout my life, I have observed Lent every year, sometimes casually, other times with full reverance. This year is one of those times when I'm determined to do it the right way.

So, the first thing most people ask is "what are you giving up for lent?". It should be a sacrifice, so I chose coffee. Nourishments of the gods, and what keeps me going every single morning. But I depend on coffee to function, and that's never a good thing. I could easily get the same boost of energy from exercising in the morning. That's where the sacrifice will be found because I have a hard time rolling out of bed every morning.

I keep remembering something I read a few weeks back. If you are a Christian, then you believe your body is the place where the Holy Spirit dwells. I want my body to be in its best shape so it can properly host such important tenant.

So I'll go to Mass tonight and have ashes smeared on my forehead. Hopefully the journey won't end on Easter, and will continue throught the year.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Life Purpose

Getting older sometimes has its perks (you can buy beer) but it also has it downfalls (wrinkles, gray hairs). For some reason, being a year older and closer to the prime of my life has made me think about my life, career, and put things in perspective. Plus having setbacks at work has helped my epiphany too.

I love what I do. I've never doubted that I chose the right career path, being an engineer is something I love. I also know I chose the right field, protecting the environment is something of a calling, I guess you could say. I have poured my heart, soul, and knowledge into this field, into being the best engineer in my area, and have always felt I needed to do more so that my contribution be more valuable to my employer.

Then setbacks happen. You begin to see, that no matter how many cracks there are on the glass ceiling, the ceiling is not budging. You keep trying, you try yet again, and the disappointments keep coming.

I'm not a quitter. I set goals, follow through with them, no matter how difficult they are. I'm not bragging, it's just how my brain functions. It's a curse, I guess you could say because I'll get so wrapped up in finishing the goal, that sometimes I miss the whole picture.

Then it happened, another setback at work. I had poured my heart and soul into a project that I thought would be awesome, and it was turned down. Not even given a chance to discuss it, and present it, just simply turned down.
Rejection hurts specially when you have invested part of yourself into a project, when the project is more than just work, when it is something you truly believe would benefit all parties involved.
I was upset, until now.

Maybe I've been looking to apply my talents in the wrong places. Yes, I am a good engineer, and I am good at my job. But being an engineer is only job. It's not who I am. Perhaps all those other talents I have been blessed with were not meant to be shared in this setting.

I was blessed with the ability to conquer my hatred of math, and pursue a degree most people don't ever dream of attempting. I was blessed with the intelligence to see it through, and a job that lets me apply my knowledge and protect the environment.

But that's just part of me. I have so much more to offer and for the longest time I've been trying and trying to use my other talents at work. I have prayed, I have cried, I have fought, and the whole time I forgot that sometimes an answer to a prayer is simply no answer.

All of a sudden, the glass ceiling is not important anymore. I still love my job, my career, and I plan to continue in this path until I retire, God willing. But perhaps I am meant to share the rest of me in other venues where those other talents can be best utilized.

Who I am is bigger than the career I chose. I am a Sunday school teacher and have discovered how much I enjoy working with kids, and I can apply those talents in place where my rewards are smiles and the knowledge I have "planted the seeds" in them. I am mother, I am a wife, a sister, a friend, and I have the chance to share my talents in all those roles.

So now I embark into the journey to find those other places where I can help others and use my talents. It won't be at work, that I know now. I probably won't be paid for it either. But I guess that's where the difference lies between your job and your life purpose. Your life purpose fulfills you and completes the person you are and that is its own reward.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I had a dream last night, in Spanish. Why is that important? Well, most of the time, I dream in English.

The brain is a wonderful, complex machine. When I moved to the US, I knew enough English to get by. I had been taking classes in school since I was 5, and I could understand written English fairly well. The verbal part was a challenge, though. I had to think about what I wanted to say, translate it, then say it. Imagine trying to have a conversation with me back then. Plus, I could not understand what people said because of the southern accent.

As time went on, I started to " think" in English. I vividly remember the first time I had a dream in English, it was so exciting. It meant I was thinking in English. Since then, I mostly dream in English.

I guess is because it is the language I use most. Even though I speak Spanish, I use only English at work, and mostly English at home. Maybe my brain stays in "English" mode even when I'm sleep.

I've been reading a book I picked up at (love that place). It's one of the books listed in one of those "100 books lists" circulating in facebook. I didn't know it when I requested it, but I'm glad I did. The book (The Shadow of the Wind) is great, the style of the narrative reminds of Garcia Marquez' style (my favorite author). I have been reading this book and cannot put it down.

I read until I fell to sleep last night, and for the first time in years, I dreamt in Spanish. It's like coming home to me. I don't want to lose my native tongue, and I love reading books in Spanish. I've decided to pick up more books in my native tongue.

I speak and read in English most of the time. I want my dreams to be in Spanish.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


A long time ago, a dear friend gave me this book The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.

It's a book of poems, and I enjoyed it quite a bit when I read it. But that I'm older (and I'd like to think wiser), a lot of this book resonates true.

This year, we are celebrating 9 years of marriage. When we first got married, I guess we were the typical newlyweds, who spent every moment possible with each other. We still spend time together, we still enjoy each other immensily but we also enjoy our times alone. My husband enjoys fishing and riding his motorcycles, I enjoy a good book and lazy afternoons on the couch. I was talking to one of my sisters a few weeks back about our marriage, and she said "that sounds boring".

It couldn't be far from the truth. The other day, a single line came to mind: "Let there be space in your togetherness".

After so many years of marriage, we are comfortable with those spaces, and I believe it's what makes our marriage stronger.

Here is the section of the book on Marriage.
Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?"

And he answered saying:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.

Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I've neglected this blog for so long, I decided to blog twice today.

I was reading Mandy's blog and had the need to blog about something she mentioned. Thanks Mandy for the inspiration.

Everyone has heard by now about the woman who recently had octuplets. It has been in every newscast since the day she delivered them.

My first reaction was "wow, eight healthy kids, what a blessing". I knew fertility treatments had helped her, and well, regardless of my opinions about them, children are a blessing, regardless of how they came to be.

As the news media has covered this event, more information has come out. She already has 6 other children, all conceived the same way apparently. Not only that, she is unemployed and lives with her parents.

Excuse me a minute while I compose myself.

These are tough times for everyone, specially those of us raising a family. Everyone I know is careful watching every penny spent, making sure their kids have everything they need, saving as much as possible, making ends meet.

Then you hear about someone, who is supposely disabled, with a back injury nonetheless, birthing multiple children at once.
I can tell you from carrying twins, pregnancy can cause quite a number on a healthy back, and I'm talking about carrying just 2 babies. Imagine what eight might do to your back.

A few questions keep coming to mind, how could she afford fertility treatment if she doesn't have a job, and how is she going to pay for the hospital bill for herself and the kids who are still in intensive care?

I guess my answer comes from CBS who interviewed her. Apparently she hopes to make money from her story, as CBS reported

I guess Dave Ramsey has a point when he says people suffer from the "I want" syndrome. "I want a house I know I can't afford but if the bank gives me the money, I'll take it. I want, I want, I want".

So this woman wanted kids she couldn't afford to have, found a doctor who thought this could be a great experiment and would get him recognition in medical journals. Now there are 14 children who will be exploited by their own mother for money.

And yes, I know I'm a Christian and I should not judge others. But I'm also human and I'm outraged by this woman's behavior. So I'm ranting, and I will ask God to forgive me and to forgive her; and to watch over those kids.


It has been a while since I blogged. I get caught in all the hustle of life, always running from here to there, tending to everyone, and rarely taking time to relax and just think.

I came home around 7:30 Tuesday night. I seldom get home that late, so as I walked out of my car, I glanced overhead and saw the most beautiful sky. The stars were out in full glory, the air was cold, and it made them look even brighter.

I stood outside for a minute, so I could stare at them. I thought about the many nights I sat outside as a child, staring at them, daydreaming, chitchatting with my sister about what we wanted to be when we grew up, our dreams, our aspirations.

I stood there in awe, and was thankful for the gift of nature. I very seldom take the time to just say thanks for the air, the sun, the water, the stars. I go about my busy day and never spend a moment thinking about what a wonderful gift I've been given.

A few weeks back, I talked to the sunday school kids about prayer. Many of them shared with me what they pray about: their families, their friends, a sick relative. We talked about the different things we may do when we pray, how we praise God for his kindness, how sometimes we ask for something like health for a sick aunt, and how we also give thanks for the blessings we receive. One of them said he gives thanks for nature.

Today, I am thankful for nature.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Battle in my brain

I started my watercolor painting class Tuesday. Funny how something as simple as painting can cause quite a turmoil in this brain of mine.

You see, painting isn't something I would normally do. The last time I painted anything or even did a drawing I was in elementary school. That's how long it's been since I've used that part of my brain.

I figured this class would help me unlock my artistic talent. Everyone has it, right? (just nod and go along with me on this one).

Unlocking my inner Van Gogh turned out to be a lot harder than finding the solution to an engineering problem, or working a differential equations problem. And yes, differential equations is an actual class that yours truly took in college.

I arrived at Millsaps early so I could find the location and a parking space. I got out of the car and hurried into the building, carrying along the huge 18" by 24" pad, my purse, and the supplies. It was quite a comical sight. I managed to get into the building without knocking the wind out of a poor student and without too many people laughing at me.

The teacher is one of those people who inspires you to do your best. Very nice, and very encouraging, just what I needed. She set up a bunch of things on a table for us to replicate. Here is where the battle began.

I'm an engineer, and I analyze everything, including how to replicate a metal can and a rubber ball on my pad. I kept watching the people in the class happily drawing, while I struggled trying to figure out the right angle, making sure the distance between the objects was precise. You get the idea.

I was beginning to get frustrated when the teacher (who probably noticed my eraser had been put to good use in the last 5 minutes) said "we all see things differently, how boring would this world be if we all drew the same thing the exact same way".

That was my "aha!" moment, my epiphany. Unlike most of the class, painting isn't something I normally do. I haven't taken other classes, I didn't take art in college. The way I see a simple metal can is completely different from everyone else's, and that's perfectly fine.

I finally began to relax and started painting. I felt like a kid with a new box of crayons, ready to create my own masterpiece. I started to have fun.

I finished my painting last night, and as I looked at the finished product I realized it reflected who I am. Isn't that what art suppose to be? Shouldn't it reflect the way the artists saw the subject?

Anyone with any bit of artistic flare would probably see all the flaws in the picture. I see myself in those metals cans, and rubber balls. But I also saw something new, I dared myself to think outside the box, to mix colors that I would not normally put together and to even color "outside the lines". I dared myself to try something new and I stepped outside my comfort zone.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the classes, and see how my paintings progress as I become more comfortable with that other side of me. In the meantime, I will keep reminding myself it is okay "to color outside the lines. "

Monday, January 26, 2009

Random things about me

I've seen several of my friends doing this on Facebook. I'm still trying to figure Facebook out, so I'm going to blog about it instead.

25 Random things about me.

1. I have never broken a bone.
2. I began wearing glasses when I was in 6th grade.
3. I hate mushrooms. Same goes for peanut butter.
4. I was a cheerleader in HS.
5. I graduated 3rd in my senior class.
6. I've been to Niagara Falls during the winter. Amazing!
7. I've lived in 3 countries (so far!): Panama, Costa Rica, USA
8. I don't know how to swim.
9. I collect elephant figurines.
10. Growing up, I wanted to be either an astronaut or a lawyer.
11. I was a very good orator in elementary school. Won a lot of competitions.
12. I don't know how to swim
13. I was a RA at a freshman dorm at Ole Miss. I loved it.
14. First time I went to Washington DC, I drove. Longest trip ever.
15. I danced for several years with a group that did traditional Panamanian dances. I miss it so much, even now.
16. My first trip to Canada (Toronto), I was in a car accident, on New Year's Eve. Quite a memorable trip.
17. I've been in one beauty pagent, was 2nd runner up.
18. I've been camping only once, right after I got married.
19. I love to cook. I love trying out new recipes or inventing new ones.
20. I love to watch soccer matches.
21. I played softball and basketball in Jr. High
22. I don't know how to play any instruments. I hope to learn piano before I die.
23. My first trip abroad was in 6th grade. Our class went to San Jose, Costa Rica for a week.
24. I would like to travel to Europe for my 40th birthday.
25. If I could have a chat with one person today, it would be my cousin Jose who passed away 8 yrs ago. I miss him every day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mission Statement

Until last year, I had never heard of a personal mission statement. I knew organizations and companies had them, but it never occurred to me that people could have them to. It wasn't until I was attending the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" seminar that I heard about it.

Part of the seminar required that we start writing ours. There were a set of exercises that would get you into the right frame of mind, basically asking you how you would want others to remember you.

After the class, I finally sat down and start writing mine. I wanted it to be simple, easy to remember. Some people have long paragraphs, others have one word. It's personal, it should reflect what you want your life to be.

I never shared mine with anyone. Until now. The 35th anniversary of my birth seemed like the perfect time to remind myself of what I want my life to be.

My Personal Mission Statement

I will love with all my being

I will lead by example

I will live without regrets

I will learn at every opportunity

I will leave a legacy in the lives of my children

Some people don't really like to celebrate birthdays. I'm not one of those people. I am thankful for every moment of my life, even the tough ones. They taught me invaluable lessons that I can now pass on to my kids. I'm thankful for the rough spots because they made me value my blessings even more.

I don't ever want to take this life for granted, or the moments I get to share with those I love. I don't want to get caught in the superficial, worrying about what I don't have. I want to enjoy life as it is, with its ups and downs.

I hope that one day, when I'm no longer here, I will live on in the heart of my kids and in the lessons I taught them. Hopefully they will pass them on to their kids, just as my mom passed down those lessons my grandfather taught her.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


On my way to church this morning, I realized how my childhood has truly shaped my spiritual life.

I am "cradle Catholic", born into a very large Catholic family, raised in a country where the majority of the people were of the same faith. It would be easy to assume I know no other form of worship.

By the time I was born, my father no longer attended the Catholic church. He was searching, looking for the "something" he felt was missing from our faith. Even though he no longer considered himself to be Catholic, we were enrolled in Catholic school and participated in all the activities and took all the Sacraments of the Church.

Dad kept searching, and with him, we would attend other denominations. I was five when I realized my dad didn't worship like we did. It was my first year in Catholic school. At night and during the weekends, Dorothy would come to our house and talk to my parents about her faith. She was a Jehovah's witness. She looked like a teacher, with her hair on a bun, her skirt and white blouse, and always so well mannered. She told all about her beliefs, and we listened and respected her faith.

Dad didn't find what he was looking for there either. Then came the Mormons, one couple in particular has remained on my mind. One of them was from Guatemala, the other one was American. They knew we were Catholic, and they respected that. They told us about their church, and even taught us hymns, one in particular I can still sing: "Blessings, count your blessings and you will see, how many more blessings you are yet to receive".

There were other denominations: Adventists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Episcopalian, Lutheran... we probably covered most of the Christian denominations before Dad started to head down the Buddhist path where he is today.

I didn't realize until this morning, how lucky I was to have my childhood. I learned at a very early age about respecting other people's beliefs and ways of worship. I learned that although our services are different, we worship the same God, and we all want the same thing.

After I became an adult, it came time for me to also begin my search. I didn't want to worship like my mother and family did simply because that's what I was taught. I didn't want to follow my dad's path either. I had to find my own way. So my search began.

Mine brought me back to my beginning, it brought me to the faith of my grandmother, great grandmother, and my entire family. It is more than the faith of my ancestors, it is my faith now.

If I hadn't had a father who encouraged me to think outside my comfort zone, I probably wouldn't have been tolerant of others who didn't worship like me. I learn about tolerance and respect simply by allowing others to share their faith with me.

From time to time, someone will say something demeaning about Catholics in front of me without realizing I am "one of those people". Most of the time, my first reaction is to become defensive, but thankfully that passes very quickly. Most of the time, the person making the comment does not know anything about my faith. If only they would ask...

I look at my family now, and see the same opportunity for my kids to learn tolerance and respect towards others. My inlaws are Southern Baptists, my father is a Buddhist, we are Catholic. I hope one day they will realize how blessed they are to be surrounded and be a part of such a diverse family, just as I did this morning on my way to church.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just call me Bette

Deanna had this quiz in her blog, so I figured it was perfect for a Friday blog. Just call me Bette

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Bette!


You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.

  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.

  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.

  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.

  • * Give me space to be alone.

  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.

  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.

  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette

  • * being independent and self-reliant

  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on

  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest

  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life

  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me

  • * upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to

  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence

  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it

  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices

  • * putting too much pressure on myself

  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit

  • * are sometimes loners

  • * seize control so they won't be controlled

  • * figure out others' weaknesses

  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked

  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted

  • * are sometimes overprotective

  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back in First Grade

All of a sudden, I've found myself back in first grade. I'm not too happy about it either. Don't get me wrong, I want to help my daughter do her best in school and to have fun learning new things. But I need a manual just to get through every week of school.

Has school gotten harder as the years go by? Is it more demanding now that I'm a mom, or have I just forgotten what it was like?

Part of the curriculum for this year includes the accelerated reader program. Those of you with older kids probably already know about this. It is a noble program because it gets the children interested in reading, and it keeps them reading. What I don't like it's the point system and the competition factor.

The school has an "honor" award to reward those kids who have achieved the goal for the year. This year the goal is 20 pts, that's probably 40 books because each book is worth half a point.
The kids have to take a test on the books they read, and if they pass, the score counts toward the total points.

Sounds simple enough, right? What's wrong with wanting the kids to read and become interested in reading?

I wish the focus was more on reading than on getting points, or reading approved books. We have several good books that are not on "the list" that are probably going to be put aside until summer simply because we have to get through the AR books. Then there is the test part. Where is the fun of reading a book if you know there will be a test afterwards?

I hated history while in school because of all the reading. I didn't care to memorize dates, history was, well, history. Until I became older and started reading about it for fun. It became something I wanted to know about. I didn't have to remember dates, I could just enjoy the books now.

I don't want Candace to become so focused on reading to pass a test that she will miss out on the joy of reading. I watch her read books because she "has to" that may not interest her; only because they are "approved" on someone's list.

I've found myself creating spreadsheets and cataloging books according to their AR status, and picking out of the "good" ones for her to read. I read them myself so I can ask her questions and make sure she understood what she read, so she can take the test.

How do I balance all this out so she can read what she likes and still have time to read the required books? I'm not sure. For now, we are going along with the required books. Hopefully she will begin to enjoy reading the books, and forget about the points. I hope.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Helping the children

There have been a lot of commercials and even an hour long fundraising commercial about children in other countries. The poorest of the poor.

Last weekend, as I was tackling the mountain of clothes that needed to be folded, my daughter came in the room crying. At first, I thought maybe her brothers had decided to team up against her, and had hurt her. I asked what was wrong.

Still crying, she tells me she just saw a commercial on TV showing all these poor children all over the world, who have nothing to eat, some don't even have any parents. She said it was so sad it made her cry.

I held back the tears. She asked me to call the number on TV so we could send them some money to help these kids. I told her we would, but I wanted to make sure these were good people who truly help the kids, so I would do some research and together we would pick who to send the money to.

I was touched. She is only 7. I wonder how many adults watched the same show, and flip to another channel so they wouldn't have to see what being poor in another country looks like. I wonder how many felt nothing when they see these commercials.

There are tons of different groups who help many different groups of people, here and abroad. Whether you want to help with literacy, hunger relief, support research efforts, the list is endless. I personally support a few that are close to my heart, maybe because someone in my family suffers from a particular disorder, or because I have witnessed first hand the work that group does.

My daughter has not forgotten about the promise I made or the children she saw on TV. She asked again last night when we are going to pick a group to send our money too. I am happy to see she understands and appreciates the blessings God has bestowed upon our family. Perhaps it is more than just the commercial on TV.

Part of the reason I wanted her to go to Panama was that I wanted her to see how other people lived. How I onced lived. I wanted her to see first hand what it meant to be poor, to struggle, and still to wake up every morning, thankful to see another day.

We didn't have to travel far during our trip to Panama to see poverty. We didn't even have to look for it, as my own family is poor. You could call us the working poor, I guess. They may not have all the luxuries my daughter has, they have their basic needs and their love for life remains intact.

I am proud to see that even at her young age, she is able to appreciate how fortunate she is. Even more so, I'm proud that she wants to reach out to those children who are suffering and help them out.

I'm now tasked with finding the right group to sponsor. I have many different ideas, perhaps I should just pick a family from Panama and send them the money directly, perhaps I should contact a group in Panama who does this type of work. I'm weighing all the possibilities.

In the meantime, I am thankful that my daughter has reminded me how fortunate I am, and how it is now my responsibility to give back to those who need my help.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I've been hitting a "blogger block", so decided to google ideas to spice up my blog (you know it's bad when you get bored with your own blog!). I found a blog with many different topics. They seemed silly at first, then I thought, yeah, why not. I chose to write about my worst subject.

The minute I tell people I'm an engineer, they immediately blur out "wow, you must be very smart" or "you must really like math". Well, I'm not smarter than the average person, and my IQ would prove it.

So imagine their surprise when I tell them, my worst subject, the one I hated the most throughout my entire educational experience, was math.

I vividly remember one night in Elementary school. I think I was in second grade at the time, and we were learning long division. My sister Joyce had volunteered to help me (she is way smarter!), and show me an easy way to do it.
We sat at the dinner table, and she started to show me how to work the problem and gave me a couple of problems to solve. As I became more and more frustrated, I began to cry, and as I began to cry, I became angry with myself because I was crying. You get the idea. I was a sobbing mess. I could not understand how anyone could think learning long division would be beneficial to anyone. Had they ever heard of calculators? Joyce patiently kept waiting for me to stop sobbing, and finally I "got it".

After it was all over, I recalled making a promise to my mother, I was never going to study anything that required me to do math. I was going to choose a career as far away from math as possible.

Little did I know I would end up breaking that promise.

Perhaps I am a masochist, I don't really know. I liked school from the very first day my parents dropped me off in kindergarten class. I liked making good grades, other subjects came easy for me. I wasn't about to let math ruin my grades, so I made it a point to study harder for that subject than for any others. I wanted to maintain good grades, and by golly, math would not get the best of me.

So it began, my love/hate relationship with math.

My senior year in high school came and it was time to think about college, and possible majors. I really liked chemistry, more than any other subject, but I didn't want to work in a lab. As fate would have it, my teacher at the time took our class to a conference about women in science and engineering. That's where I had the most brilliant idea of my life: I would study chemical engineering. It involved chemistry (which I loved ) and math (which I loathed). Besides, the salaries were appealing, why not give it a shot?

So I embarked into a long journey with my worst enemy. We had our rough times, but I would not let "it" get the best of me, or get in the way of achieving my goal. I would not quit because of it. I have scar battles ( and several dead brain cells) but I won the war. I finished my degree in engineering.

In second thought, maybe I am a masochist. As if one degree in engineering wasn't enough, I went back for more. A master's in engineering. Maybe hate turned to love in the end?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

On my way

I'm a believer one must state their intentions out loud in order to make them real. So here is one on my list of intentions for this year,

I am on my way to a healthier me.

There, now it is real.

I have known (for a while now) that I have put on a few more pounds than I'd like to admit. I have been in denial, mostly because I figured as long as I fit in my clothes, I really don't care about weight all that much.

Then reality came calling. In a few more days, I will be turning 35. I'm no longer the college kid who survived engineering school on Milky Way bars and Coca Cola. I cannot longer eat the way I used to and be healthy.

That's not to say I'm not healthy. My cholesterol, blood sugar, and other things are within the "normal acceptable" range. But those are just numbers. I know I can do better when it comes to my nutrition.

So with the help of a group of coworkers, I am determined to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
This won't be easy. Giving up things that you really, really like; and adding things to your diet that you really, really could do without, is never easier.

One of the people in the group asked me why would I join this group of people, where the majority are trying to lose weight, since I have no weight to lose? In reality, I could afford to lose a few pounds. But it is not about the pounds for me.

I need more energy. As my children get older, my life gets more hectic and more demanding. I work outside the house fulltime and my "other job" begins when I walk in the door. I also need to know I'm setting a good example for my kids. They will do what I do, and not what I say.

So in order to achieve my goal to a healthier lifestyle, I decided to make myself a list of things I will start to do to get me on my way.

1) I will drink one glass of milk every day.
Seems simple enough but I do not like milk. I have had issues with lactose intolerance and since then, simply cannot bring myself to drink it. But I need the calcium, my bones need it, and well, it just has to be done.

2) I will eat more vegetables.
I am not a veggie eater. I will eat a green salad, I will try zuchinni, and even squash, but the rest, I rather not put on my plate. Give me a side of potatoes instead!

3) I will limit my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day.
This is a big one. I love my coffee, gotta have my coffee every morning. It's all fine unless you drink too much of it. With a family history of osteoporosis, I really need to limit mine, and get more calcium in my diet.

4) I will exercise at least 30 min 3 times a week
I trained for a marathon in 2007. I survived running 22 miles in the MS summer. I woke up at 3 AM so I could join my running buddies for our long runs at the Rez. So why is it so hard now to get up 30 minutes earlier and workout? Because I've become lazy. There is no excuse.

5) I will pack my lunch at least 4 times a week.
With Keifer's and Basil's a block from me, it is very easy to stop bringing lunch.

There are more, I'm sure I will think of more as I go along this journey. If I lose weight in the process, fine. If I don't, fine too. I just want to feel good when I get out of bed in the morning, energized, and ready to start my day.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy 2009!

It is a new year, but the old left a lot of lessons to be learned.

I got this from a friend, rather than email it to everyone I know, I'll just put it here.

1) What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
I started teaching Sunday school to a group of 3rd-4th graders. They are such amazing kids and they have helped me increase my faith.

2) Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any for last year. This year, the main resolution I have is to have fun, laugh often, and step outside my comfort zone.

3) Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Terri gave birth in August, then my friend Mari gave birth in time for Christmas. and Mandy, she had Ethan this year!

4) Did anyone close to you die?
Some of my husband's family died but we weren't very close to them.

5) What countries did you visit?

6) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
More alone time with my husband

7) What date(s) from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Our anniversary (May 20), kids' birthdays (May 1 and September 12).

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I visited my father after 10 years, and my kids had a chance to meet him.

9) What was your biggest failure?
No failures, a few disappointments

10) Did you suffer illness or injury?
Illness, some. No injuries.

11) What was the best thing you bought?
Dual screen DVD player for the car. It was a lifesaver during our trip to Panama.

12) Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My husband's, who made the decision to be a stay at home dad.

13) Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
One person comes to mind, but karma will catch up with her eventually.

14) Where did most of your money go?
To pay all debts (finally debt free!) and medical expenses from Cade's ER visits.

15) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Signing up for watercolor painting class (starting in 3 weeks!)

16) What song will always remind you of 2008?
Jesus Loves me, because it was the first one Candace learn to play in the piano.

17) Compared to this time last year, are you:- happier or sadder? happier.- thinner or fatter? fatter- richer or poorer? moneywise, the same, but richer in the things that truly count.

18) What do you wish you'd done more of?
Taken time to step outside my comfort zone.

19) What do you wish you'd done less of?
Get frustrated when things don't go the way I planned.

20) Did you fall in love in 2008?over and over again

21) What was your favorite TV program?
Brothers & Sisters.

22) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't hate anyone. I may dislike some people, but I don't hate anyone.

23) What was the best book you read?
Strange Sons by Portia Iversen. It's about her autistic son, her journey with him, another mother she meets with a child very similar to hers. Very powerful.

24) What was your greatest musical discovery?
High School Musical songs. ha.

25) What did you want and get?
a day of pampering

26) What did you want and not get?
the lottery

27) What was your favorite film of this year?
Sex and the City movie, because that's the only one I saw this year.

28) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I worked, turned 34

29) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Same as 2007, shorter hair, if it fits, I wear it.

30) What kept you sane?
my husband (while simultaneously driving me insane some days).

31) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Brad Pitt

32) What political issue stirred you the most?
The whole thing, people questioning the candidates ability only because of gender or race.

33) Who did you miss?
My family back home.

34) Who was the best new person you met?
My daughter's piano teacher. She is 94 years old, and still has her mind intact. She loves music and loves kids, and her passion keeps her going. She is such an example.

35) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008:
Take the time to laugh, forgive, and enjoy life.

36) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“Tell everybody I'm on my way, and loving every step I take...with the sun shining down, yes I'm on my way, I can't keep the smile off my face"