Abuela turns 90!

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So last month a milestone in my family was celebrated. My first grandmother turned 90. I say “first” because, at almost age 35, I still have with me 3 out of my 4 grandparents. Isn’t that a huge blessing??!! And not only are they still with me but they are with my kids and my kids are creating awesome memories with them. And they are active… boy are they active! My grandfather is the Mayor of Mainstreet USA in Walt Disney World’s the Magic Kingdom. (Yes, you read that correctly!). One of my grandmothers lives in South Carolina and comes to visit us often bringing the kids little treats every time she comes. And finally, there is my just turned 90-year-old grandmother who sits down for no one, dances when she feels like it and makes the best white rice this side of Miami (among other things). In honor of the big milestone, I’d like to dedicate this post to her and give you the top 5 reasons why she is the coolest Cuban grandmother around. (I say coolest “Cuban” because my other set of grandparents are American, born and bred and if I favor one set over the other I may get a shoe thrown at me!)

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1. She makes awesome meals. My grandmother learned how to cook in her 40s. Why? Because in Cuba, she was very well off and had people to do such things for her. Only when the Communist revolution struck and she, my grandfather, father, and uncles fled to the United States did they find themselves living in almost poverty. The family could have easily declared defeat but instead learned how to keep a home and that included learning how to cook decent Cuban food with what they could afford. And let me tell you… she rocked it. She makes some pretty amazing dishes from frijoles colorados, my favorite dinner, picadillo, to one of the best desserts, chantilli. But her white rice it what is amazing. So simple and yet no one can recreate it… and believe me we have tried!!! When my kids go to visit, which is a few times a week, they always ask for her white rice and eat it by the plate load.

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2. She shot pistols from a horse. How many people can say they did that or say they know someone who did? She was an accomplished horse rider in her day, having been born and raised on a farm. She was so skilled that she used to mount her horse, wearing her 6 shot revolver on her hip and go for a ride on all the acreage. She would hunt guinea fowl, doves, and other small game and take them back to the workers to cook on an open flame. It’s rare to hear stories like that today imagine in the 1930s! Every time I hear those stories I get very impressed all over again!

To finish reading click Her View From Home

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Can I Be An “Other?”

Recently, I started listening to the Catholic channel in my car. It’s been a very enjoyable experience listening to the Word daily and it does help me get a much needed positive attitude on those rougher days. A few days ago, a sermon I listened to really struck a chord. It caught my attention, not only because it discussed one of my favorite apostles/patron saints, Saint Judas Thaddeus, but because it asked a question that forced me to look deeper at myself.

My day usually feels like a video on constant replay: Wake up, kids, work, homework, activities, baths, dinner, bed. For the most part, it’s the same day in and day out. And I’m not complaining because I truly enjoy it but I’d be lying if there weren’t days when I asked myself if this is what life’s all about. There have been moments in my life where I’ve said “That’s it? That’s all God’s given me?” It doesn’t help when that little voice of jealousy comes into my head filling it with negative thoughts. It was on a day like that I heard this particular message.

It started out simple enough, by asking a question… “Are you willing to be others?” It caught my attention because, in today’s world, 99% of the population strives for fame, fortune and notoriety. And here we are being asked if we are willing to be the “others.” The ones who aren’t famous or have great monetary fortune and are totally fine with that. The people who are content with the blessings that they have been given. The people who live their lives, day in and day out, just trying to do the right thing without worry for praise or acknowledgement. They just do what they do. Now, I know that 99% of the population are not famous, aren’t millionaires, etc. The key here is the contentment of it. The idea that they are completely happy with what they have, with their lives, and don’t wish for anything other that what they’ve been blessed with. I admit, there are times I fail miserably in the contentment area and there are times I fall into the trap of I need more or I need praise for what I’ve done.

Then the radio host went on to ask how we as Christians live our lives. Do we waste it, live it, or invest it? Now the easy answer would be to live it, at least, that’s what I thought. I was wrong. Living life, though better than wasting it, isn’t investing it. And whenever we are doing something good, something truly good, like caring for our children, our spouses, our families, we are investing in our lives and in God. It may not seem like much because as mothers we do it daily without thought or consideration. It may have become routine or monotonous and the chances of us getting a “thank you” or even some form of acknowledgement is slim. Often times, our family doesn’t even realise all we do for them because it’s always done. But we are investing. We are investing in our children’s futures, in our families futures, etc. In those acts of caring for our spouse, caring for our children, we are putting our needs aside and investing in them. And in doing that, we are investing in God.

So how does this apply to Saint Judas Thaddeus? He was one of the original 12 followers of Jesus and many don’t know his name or they mistakenly associate him with Judas Iscariot the traitor. He has become an “other,” a background figure in Christianities history. And you know what? I think he’d be OK with that. Because he did what Jesus wanted him to do… he invested his life, without asking what was in it for him. He did it because it was the right thing to do. He even went on to make the ultimate investment, the sacrifice of his own life for the love of Jesus.

So even though I may still struggle with being an “other” in life, I take comfort in knowing that some of the greats in Christianity’s history are also “others.” We may not know their names but we know what they did and what they sacrificed and it’s because of those sacrifices that we have the faith we have today.

Sheep In The Midst Of Wolves

 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10:16 (New American Standard Bible)

Today I read a post on another blog site that I have contributed to in the past on talking to kids about sex.  I didn’t even click on the actual article, just on the comments below.  I can honestly say I was shocked and saddened at how mothers are treating each other.  When did we become a society that hurts each other or doesn’t allow each other to have our own personal beliefs?  Why does the way one mother choose to raise her child have to incur negative comments from others? I guess I should start from the beginning.

I usually surf the web in the mornings for anything interesting or newsworthy to write on, anything that strikes me as interesting when my personal life hasn’t produced anything exciting.  Today was one of those days.  Because the internet is so diverse and full of opinions, I try not to get too “political” or “religious” since I try to respect the beliefs and ideas of others and don’t like to impose mine on anyone.  However, today I feel different and it’s not even for the reason you might think.  The article was about talking to little kids on sex and how this particular person feels it’s ok to tell small children the “truth.” Though I particularly don’t agree because I believe children need to be innocent for as long as possible, I respect this particular mother’s decisions.  Then I read the comments.

Women, mothers, came out of everywhere giving their thoughts on how great an idea it was to tell small children about something that should only be happening between adults. (Again, turning a blind eye to other people’s life choices).  Then this particular person stated how happy she was to read this because she “hates” people who tell her child they were made by “god” and some “imaginary person in the sky.”  Another person had the “nerve” to say they did believe in God.  That’s when it started.

Now, I understand not everyone believes in God or has the faith that I do but here’s my issue… why put someone who does have faith down? Why hound them or say horrible things to them because of a belief? Why be mad, angry, or insulted at someone for saying that God put a baby in a mother’s stomach? If you don’t believe simply say “thank you” and move on with your day.  It’s that simple.  No rudeness, just politeness.  Maybe that person said that because they were unsure on how to answer the question.  Maybe they didn’t want to have a talk with a child that was not their place to have.  Whatever the reason, there’s no justification for being rude or obnoxious to another human being.

At the end of the day, I feel sorry for these people.  Not because they don’t share my faith, which has brought me so much joy, but because they feel so hollow inside that they have to bring another person down or they have to ridicule an entire faith to make themselves and their points valid.  We have become a society where everyone is offended and no one is happy.  Our children are not only listening to us when we speak but are mimicking our every move.  People are constantly complaining how this generation of children is rude, disrespectful, obnoxious etc.  but the ones to blame are ourselves.  It is up to us to teach this next generation tolerance, respect, gratitude, and decency.  But in order to teach it, we have to live it.  We can’t go on and on about tolerance and then put down and harass someone who doesn’t share our particular belief.  That makes us hypocrites.  If we want our children to be mindful of their manners, respectful of others and become good adults in the future, we need to become those things ourselves.  Our children will turn into whoever we mold them to be.

And believe it or not, the internet is forever.  What is posted there today, will be found tomorrow.  I pray for these people who are so empty, so angry, and so resentful.  And I pray for the next generation of children who are learning from them to be the same or worse.  Mostly, I pray for my own, innocent children who do believe…I mean KNOW  that God put them in my belly and gave me the gift of being their mother.  I pray that the day they come across one of these individuals that they will be given the wisdom to not only know how to respond to the criticism but to pray for them.  Because in tomorrow’s world, my children will be sheep sent out among wolves… Right?

 

The Aftermath Of Adoption

Adoption is never easy.  It’s not easy for the couple who makes the decision after trying to have a child naturally, it’s not easy for the child who is adopted, and it certainly isn’t easy for the parents who give up their baby to be raised by someone else.  There are so many stories out there from these perspectives, but what about after all this? What happens after the adopted child grows up and has a family of their own? When those children grow up and start their families?  I am the child of an adoptee and here’s my story.

Back when adoption was not as common as it is today, my grandparents adopted a little boy who was three years old followed by my mother at birth because they were unable to have biological children of their own.  I’m told my grandparents were very open with the fact that my mother and her brother were adopted and my grandmother always told her children that she was a mother through her heart.  My mother, who went on to marry my father and was able to have biological children gave birth to both my brother and myself.  Since my mother and grandparents share similar traits such as blond hair and light eyes, my brother and I grew up never even imagining my mother was adopted until one day the cat was let out of the bag.  When we asked about possibly finding our biological relatives my mother stated that she had no desire to seek them out and we respected that decision.  We were surprised to say the least, but moved on rather quickly and never gave it much thought.

Until I became pregnant with a child of my own.

As my husband and I were sitting in the doctor’s office in that initial visit filling out so many forms I swear I could have written a book, I came across the one that spoke of family history.  For the first time in my life, I felt a void over not knowing my biological predecessors.  There were so many questions I couldn’t answer; simple questions like History of Heart Disease, History of Mental Illness, History of Cancer, etc.   Now I’m not going to lie, I’d always felt a twinge of curiosity over who these people could be, but it was the kind of curiosity you see in the movies (i.e. insanely rich uncle dies without an heir and lawyer finds you and you inherit millions).  But I’d never felt a void until that day.  It was a sad yet odd feeling leaving everything blank and then explaining to my doctor why.

As we left the doctor’s office that day my head was flooded with questions.  Who will my baby look like? Will I unknowingly pass along a genetic issue to them? What if I have a medical predisposition and not know it?  The list could go on and on and the answer was always the same… I don’t know.  It didn’t help that my parents were steadfast in their decision to not seek out any information with me.  As my father put it;  Jaclyn, I never worried about any of that stuff and you guys turned out fine so you shouldn’t either.  But I did worry and to this day, 4 kids later, I still worry.  I worry that something might come up in the future that I can’t explain.  I worry that one day I or my children might see someone that looks eerily familiar to us, but we don’t know why.

Oftentimes, I wonder.  I wonder what led a woman to give up her baby because I couldn’t imagine giving up mine.  I wonder what she might be doing today… is she happily married with other kids or grandkids? Does my mom have biological siblings or other relatives? I wonder if she thinks about the day she delivered my mom…did she hold her and talk to her? Tell her she loved her? I wonder if she ever thinks about my mom, ever thinks about the woman my mother became and the family my mother has.  I wonder if she’s ever thought about finding my mom, finding me. Did my biological grandfather know my mom even existed? Was he supportive of the adoption process? Does he have another family of his own? Has he ever thought about my mom? I wonder if my mother’s personality comes from a particular person in that gene pool, if my personality comes from someone else.

Mostly, though, I’m grateful.  I’m grateful to the woman who sacrificed herself to have a child knowing she wasn’t going to see it grow.  I’m grateful to the woman who chose life.  I’m grateful to the woman who made what I imagine was the most selfless and gut wrenching choice to give up her baby to strangers knowing she would never see it again or know anything else about it.  I’m grateful she chose my grandparents to raise my mother.  I’m grateful she loved my mother enough to know she couldn’t be the parent she needed and found people that could be.  I’m grateful she gave my mom the best chance at life.

So though I may always have certain questions about my biology and hypothetical long lost relatives, there is one thing I know for certain… Biology doesn’t mean family and I am blessed with a great family.  To the woman who gave up my mother for adoption all those years ago, I’d like to say, thank you. You made a choice I’ve never had to make… and you did it with class.  Because of you, I exist, my children exist, and (hopefully) one day, my grandchildren will exist.  You may or may not know it but you gave us the greatest gift a person can give… you gave us a chance to live.