Friday, April 24, 2015

Why I blog

I'm not new to blogging.  I have been doing this (poorly at times) for a long time.  

Back in 2007 I decided that having 3 kids, including 9 months old twins, and a full time job wasn't enough of a challenge and decided I wanted to train for a marathon.  Why no one questioned my sanity at that time will remain an unsolved mystery.  That's when I started blogging.  It was a way to document the training and connect with the other people who were part of that training group.

I'm no Forrest Gump, so running because I felt like running wasn't enough; so I decided to raise money for CFC International.  If I was crazy enough to run 26.2 miles, someone worthy should benefit from my insanity.  Once I had a purpose, the miles didn't seem as daunting.  Want to see what I was thinking about back then? Here is where you'll find all about my Road to Chicago Marathon.

After that was over, I decided to continue blogging, and here we are.  I have documented so much about my life in this blog.  It is therapeutic to me to put my feelings into words, it's always been. 
What started as a way to document my marathon training has evolved into a way of sharing what life is like for a crazy Panamanian living in the South.  I blog about everything, family, school, books, you name it, if it interests me, I've probably written about it.

Here are some of my favorites (in particular order).  I like going back to read and see how much I have 'evolved' in some areas (not afraid of the ocean anymore!) and how I'm still the same in others.

1)  Don't know much about me? Here are some tidbits. Always evolving
2) Not sure where in the world is Panama? Allow me to show you
3) Why I love books
4) What would my life be like if I wasn't a mom?  I'll tell you
5) My mission statement-
6) 25 Random things about me
7)  Know someone expecting twins? Share my tutorial with them
8) Some of my unforgettable moments
9) More unforgettable moments 
10) Things I've discovered about homeschooling 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Just because... 14 questions

I've been looking for ideas on topics to blog about.  Truth be told, writing helps me deal with stress.  So I blog because it is cheaper than therapy.  Beer is cheaper too.  ha! 

Are you young at heart, or an old soul?
I'm an old soul.  My sisters will tell you I was the most grown up 5 year old in the world.  I've always been the responsible one.  That's not to say I'm don't know how to have fun.  But I'm most definitely an old soul.

What Christmas (or Hanukkah) present do you remember the most?
I remember several presents but one that I remember fondly was a green army Jeep.  I must have been 4 or so at the time, and I asked for a Tonka Truck.  Not a doll, not a doll house (I really didn't like dolls that much).  I asked for a Tonka Truck.  On Christmas morning I had a shiny Army green Tonka Jeep.  I loved it! I think it was the first lesson my mom taught me about being myself.  It was ok to be a girl that loved cars and didn't care for dolls.  I was perfectly ok.  That lesson has stayed with me forever.

If you could pick anywhere to live the rest of your life, where would it be?
If you know me well enough, this answer will not surprise you.  I would moved back to Panama.  I would buy a house in the mountains and live there, happily ever after.  There is no place like home.

 Where was your favorite place to go when you were a little kid?
 My grandparents' house.  That place held some many memories of wonderful summers spent with my cousins in the country.  I remember the smell of gardenias early in the morning, as I helped my Abuela water her garden.  The sound of the coffee grinder as Abuelo got the coffee ready in the morning.  Abuela letting me help with breakfast.  Helping Abuelo feed the chickens every morning.  Watching my grandparents dance under the light of the kerosene lamp, that memory will remain with me forever.  

If you go back to one point in time to give advice to yourself, when would you go and what would you say?
Just one point in time?  Umm, I would say 18.  I would tell myself "weigh all options. and do not be afraid".

When you were young, what would you dream you would be when you grew up?
At 7, I dreamed of being an astronaut.  At 10 I wanted to be a lawyer.  At 41, I'm still trying to figure out what to be when I grown up.  

What part of the past year sticks out in your mind?
Turning 40.  It marked the beginning of the rest of my life 

You win a scratch-off lottery game that gives you $2000 a week (after taxes) for the rest of your life. Do you keep your job?
I would have to do the math first to make sure, but at first thought, YES! I would find another job doing something I'd love even if it paid less than my current job.

Have you ever met someone through the internet, then met them in real life?
Yes!  These women have become some of my closest "imaginary" friends.  They share the good days and the bad ones too.  Life is better because I've met them.

What is your ethnic heritage?
The politically correct term is Hispanic.  I don't use that term.  I'm Latina, I'm Panamanian.  
As far as I know, there is Spanish and native Indian blood running through my veins.  I suspect there is Asian blood too, considering my children are often asked if they are Asian.   

 Are you hard-headed?
who, me?  Absolutely not.  ok, maybe a little.  Ok, I am.  Happy now?

 What gets you out of bed in the morning
 The dog.  He is ready to eat as soon as the alarm goes off.

 Do you want to live until you’re 100?
Yes. I want to see my kids get married and meet my grandkids   

 Give me the story of your life in six words.
Dreamer filled with passion and determination.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why I love a good book

I love books.  In my dreams, I have a library as big as my house, filled with books, with a huge fireplace and comfy chair right next to it.  And I spend endless hours there, immersed in the stories I find in the books.

Of course, reality is a different thing.  I still love books, and I love the library.  Last weekend, I ran to the library before it closed and decided to let a book find me.  That's usually how I find the hidden gems that I wouldn't otherwise know about.

I circled the For Sale table several times before I saw it.  It had that plastic wrapping that librarians put on books to preserve them.  The moment I read the title I knew this was going home with me.  The Family Under the Bridge .  I'm not sure I had ever heard of that book but I knew this book would find a new home with us.

In case you don't remember, I have chronicled our adventures in reading before.  Knowing my kids, I decided, when it came to this book, they would have to either read it, or listen to me read it.  I let you guess which one they chose.  

It wasn't without grumbling that they turned off the xBox and gathered on the bed for our reading time.  They tried to convince me they would read it by themselves (yeah, right!) but I said no.  I'm reading it to you, so listen up.

To say I love this book is an understatement.  It wasn't until I read it that I realized it has won a Newberry Award and it is well deserved.  The story is about a hobo (yes that's how he is referenced in the book), Armand, who finds a family of 3 kids and their mom living under the bridge that he calls home in Paris.  The kids steal his heart, and by the end of the book, he and this family become family.

So many lessons wrapped in one little book.  We looked up pictures of Notre Dame Cathedral and the gargoyles referenced in the book, we talked about the gypsies and learned more about their culture; and we talked about compassion.

This homeless man feels compassion towards these children who lost their father and their home.  He takes them in, and watches over them while their mother works.  He does his best to keep their family together, and in turn, becomes part of their family.  

The book is about family, but not only those related by blood, but also those who stand by you and protect you when the times get rough.  

When we finished the book last night, the boys said "wow, that was a really good book".  And one of them even said "I'm so glad you read that book.  I really liked it".  

That's all the reassurance I need to continue to read to them no matter how old they get.  They may grumble, they may complain.  But once the story grabs them, and envelops them, they will lose themselves in the story and wish it would never end. 

 That's why I love books.  How else could we travel to Paris at Christmas time, meet gypsies, and hang out with a hobo named Armand?  Books are magical places, I pray my kids will soon discover that for themselves.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today I am me...

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss.

I love Dr. Seuss.  He had a way to explain things, didn't he?  

I haven't gone on a trekk to see the Dalai Lama or the Pope or in some journey of self discovery.  As life has been unraveling, I've come to realize that I am me.  And Me is perfectly ok.

I'm a mother above all things.  I love my kids with all that I am and all I have and I hope one day they will remember the things I do with them with fondness.  I don't read parenting books, or blogs about parenting, or ask people how to handle a particular situation with my kids (unless it's people in my inner circle).  It's not that I think I'm smarter, or better than any other parent.  It's simply because I am unique as are my children as are all other parents in the world.  So what may work for someone else doesn't necessarily works for me.  I am who I am, and my kids are who they are so we will have to figure out our relationship as we go, without having other people's opinions influence it.

I'm also a working mother.  Before anyone gets their feathers ruffled, I'm not implying moms who stay home don't work.  I get up every morning, get dressed up, put on my stilettos and head to my office.  I spend most of my days surrounded by other professionals, discussing things that would kill most people with boredom.  And I often feel judged but the moms who chose to stay home with their kids, because I don't spend every waking hour with them.  I bring my kids to work with me from time to time.  They love telling people about my office, and how "cool" it is that I have this, or that in here.  I think they are getting a chance to see that women can have a career and still be simply moms at the end of the day.  One day my daughter will have to choose between staying home or having a career while simultaneously raising a family.  Regardless of her choice, I'll know I raised a woman capable of making the best choice for herself and her family. Do I want her to follow my footsteps?  No, because she is not me, her path will be her own.

I'm a homeschooling mother.  I don't fit the stereotypical idea most people have of a homeschooling mom.  I didn't chose this path for religious reasons, I chose this path because I believed it was the best choice for us.  I still do.  I homeschool off the beaten path, starting with my curriculum choices.  I decided when we started that trying to recreate school at home wasn't going to work for us.  I guess you can say we approach school our own way.  I allow my kids to learn from videos and computers, and while running outside, and from encyclopedias. I don't think learning is restricted to textbooks and quizzes, so I allow my kids to narrate back to me what they learned rather than having to write it.  Does that mean I think other families are wrong if they do use quizzes, and worksheets?  No.  You do what works for your family.  It's that simple.  Yet I see so much judgement between the homeschool community for those who do things "off the beaten path".

I volunteer my time.  I'm sure there are some who think I should be spending more time with the kids rather than spending time doing charity work.  But I believe in paying it forward.  Spending time with a child who may have no one to encourage them or to say a kind word to them makes me realize just how blessed I am to have such an incredible support system of family and friends.  I want my kids to grow up watching me pay it forward so one day they will do the same.  Let's keep the kindness alive.

I am opinionated, and stubborn, and determined.  I speak my mind, and yes, from time to time, I stick my foot in my mouth.  I love fiercely and I defend myself and my own the same way.  I don't conform to the norm, I don't want to be a cookie cutter version of someone else.  

I often tell the kids they don't have to do what others kids do just because it's the "thing to do".  Do what you feel it's right for you; not because Suzie Q. said it was what the cool kids are doing.  And who decides who the cool kids are anyway? There is so much peer pressure out there for our kids.  Starting with when girls are old enough to date and wear makeup, and get belly button rings, and the list goes on.  I want my kids to be ok being who they are, not who their friends think they should be. 

Always remember "there is no one alive who is youer than you". And that's good enough for me.