All I want for Christmas….my two front teeth

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Guess what I’m getting for Christmas.   My two front teeth!!! But they hurt like a dickens, mama says that I’ll be able to eat ANYTHING  after.  I’m so excited. ..I just can’t hide it!!!!

I’ve also learned to clap!!! Yay!!!just showing you how I do. 

Well today we are partaking in Christmas so I will talk to you later .

The Meaning of Life

It’s been one of those weeks, when you just don’t want to get up…..ha!  Actually for me it’s pretty much the opposite.  I am ALWAYS up.  I am pretty sure I have insomnia, I googled it and I’m almost positive that’s what ails me!!!  I just have so many things to think about, life is pretty overwhelming.  I often stay up late to contemplate  the meaning of life, process why I did the things I did that day, and most importantly, what was that mama gave me for dinner????  And what happened to Pete Pete the Parakeet?????

So this was MOVING WEEK!!!!  I helped out a TON.   I threw things in a box and took them right back out….mama was soooo pleased with me.   I also got pretty good at navigating my cardboard car….it’s a fun thing to stand up in!   Oh and packing paper, YUMMY…it’s delicious!!! I ate so much that I actually threw up L

Well better jet, mama needs my help unpacking.

P.S. Ms Dee this one is for you🙂

Thank You World Day 7

So my intention this month was to spend each day blogging a thank you to people who have affected my life that day…Unfortunately,  i was out of “network” for the first 3 days and deathly ill the last 4.  So i start today. 

DAY 1: Thank you to my dear cousin for opening up and letting me know what is going on.  Know that you have my support and love going forward.

DAY 2: Thank you to my friend Femy for arranging a fun lunch with high school friends while i was in town.  You always are the best type of friend to everyone

DAY 3: Thank you to my sister for a lovely dinner. We love seeing you as always and thanks for taking care of us.  We love you.

DAY 4: Thank you to mama for always going above and beyond every day.  You make me strive to be a better person.   Love you to death. Also thank you dear Jadon for keeping the house clean and straightened on ourweekend away.  You amaze me!

DAY 5: Thank you to my dear husband for taking care of me while I was ill.  You take such good care of me.  Love you.  Thank you boss lady (jefa…not heffa) for the tickets to a play for me and m stepson…we cherish your friendship.

DAY 6: Thank you to my coworkers for sending me home when i felt as though i was dying.  Therest was desperately needed.  

DAY 7: Thank you Jordy-pooh for your love, laughter and friendship.  You always make me smile….we are so proud of the woman you are!!!!

Que Viva el Valle

Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life.
– Octavio Paz

Over the past several weeks I have been reflecting about things that could change the cultural trajectory of the southwest. I grew up in a small town located in Southern Colorado; in fact, my hometown is located in a part of the US that was once Mexico called the San Luis Valley. The demographics continue to reflect its history as evidenced by a large percentage of Latinos, or as the large majority prefers to be called, Spanish. Our culture and language, for the most part, have survived the generations as we moved from Mexican to US Citizens.

My father started school in the early ‘60s. His story is like so many of Spanish-speakers’ stories in the southwest during that era. He primarily spoke Spanish and was consequently beaten by the nuns. In those days, the belief was that learning more than one language would confuse children. This shameful abuse of my people resulted in a neurosis about our language that could only be fixed by English Only. As a result, my brother, sister and I were never taught Spanish in order to avoid the distress that befell our parents.

In an effort to recapture that piece of culture I feel so isolated from, I since have learned to speak Spanish. I’m not completely fluent but pretty darn close. However, the fact remains that that the language of my people is slowly dying. This continues to haunt me. The Spanish spoken in that area is a rare mixture of 17th century Castilian Spanish, mixed with indigenous vocabulary, as well as new words that were invented to describe new technology, like troque for truck for example.

In fact, the Spanish of the Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico is a distinct dialect that cannot be located elsewhere. Thus it stands to reason that the culture is quite unique as well due to the Native, Mexican and American influence over several generations. There are things from culinary traditions to oral folk lore that are unique to that area. All these things will fade away if we don’t make an effort to hold on to these traditions.

Many relocated valleros have expressed their concern about the loss of culture we face. There have been studies that show the connection between culture and language. Furthermore, there is a distinct fear of losing culture along with the loss of language. This is where my urgency lies. I don’t want my children, my nieces and nephews, or any child feeling further isolation from who they are and where they belong. I believe in a world where all children have a strong sense of themselves, their families and their culture.

We need to start taking steps before our elders are gone, and we have nowhere to go.

A Million and One

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Our wedding came and went in a blink of an eye.  In spite of all the advice to “Enjoy the day.”; “It’ll be over before you know it”; and other variations of this, our day passed so quickly I hardly had time to sit and soak it all in.   I poured my heart and soul into EVERY detail of the wedding.  I spent countless hours poring over magazines, doing research and of course, “pinning” to my “We’re headed to the chapel” board.  My life leading up to the wedding consisted of gluing, pasting, taping, organizing, painting, drawing, typing, and designing.  I spent weekends and evenings, alone, with Simon, with family and friends, with my Bridal Party planning, re-planning and talking through every detail.  I joked I couldn’t wait to be human again, people seemingly preoccupied with the wedding as well.  I ate, drank, breathed, lived and dreamed the wedding for months. And it was over in a whirlwind of a day.

People often talk about postpartum syndrome; however, no one ever talks about post wedding syndrome.  I don’t mean to trivialize the reality of postpartum; however, there does seem to be a truth to the fact that every woman experiences some sadness at the conclusion of their wedding.  I can’t remember how many stories I heard about brides crying because they didn’t want to take off their dress, crying on the car-ride home, or crying once it was all over.  I really can empathize.

However, I’m looking forward to getting back to old routines, seeing old friends and learning about their lives, not needing to explain once again how the wedding planning is going.

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But I did want to reflect a second before I move forward.

I awoke the “morning of” in a slight panic at 4:00 a.m.  I sat in the silence of our hotel room and wrote in my journal.  I spent several hours in relative peace and reflection.  When my family woke up, the day started.  We grabbed brunch and then set off in a flurry of motion and activity.  Before I knew it we were ready to go, the men however, were running late.  They say you plan and God laughs.  God was laughing pretty mightily that day:

  •  Our chair and table rental place was an hour late.  This put all our decorating back an hour (hence part of the reason why the men were running late)
  •  My beautifully done headpiece broke.  I pulled it out of its box and a piece just fell off.  My sister-in-law went rushing around for glue.  All she was able to find was nail glue.  Amazingly, it worked, until we pulled up to the venue….then the piece fell off again.  Thankfully it was unnoticeable to everyone except me.
  •  I walked out before the wedding march even started.  I just wanted to start the ceremony already, that we didn’t really pay attention.  Halfway down the aisle, the music stopped to cue up the wedding march.  I stopped like a panicked deer; my friends said they could read the expressions flit across my face. “WTF?!?”, “Should I start back at the beginning?”,  and eventually “Ah, hell, who cares.  Just get to the front.”  The wedding march actually started when we reached the front.  I never heard it.
  •   When the Reverend started the ceremony; I gasped audibly, and found my new sister-in-law’s gaze.   The pastor stopped and asked if I was ok…I mouthed, “The rings are in the CAR.”  My wonderful new sister-in-law ran to go get them.  The show went on.

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Many, many more things went wrong that day, but the fact of the matter is none of that mattered.  All that mattered was the look on my husband’s face when I walked down the aisle, the beauty of the Pastor’s words that spoke directly to our hearts, our vows that were painstakingly written and designed especially by us, for us; the smiles, laughter and happy tears of my friends and family during the ceremony.  The day was beautiful despite the thousand and one things that went wrong, but no one noticed because a million and one things went right.

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Book Review: The Weird Sisters

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I recently finished reading “The Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown. I had it on one of my “books to read list” and purchased it during a Scholastic Warehouse Sale. It was highly recommended by my friend. The story follows three sisters who move home when their young adult lives are turned upside down. It essentially is a coming of age story for adults.

The family was imperfect. The story however, was perfect. Two lines in particular struck a cord deep within me. The sisters are daughters of a Shakespearean Zealot Professor, and such they were raised with a voracious passion for reading. One scene recounts a conversation one of the sister’s had with a boyfriend: “She remembered one of her boyfriends asking, offhandedly, how many books she read in a year. “A few hundred,” she said. “How do you have the time?” he asked, gobsmacked.
She narrowed her eyes and considered the array of potential answers in front of her. Because I don’t spend hours flipping through cable complaining there’s nothing on? Because my entire Sunday is not eaten up with pre-game, in-game, and post-game talking heads? Because I do not spend every night drinking overpriced beer and engaging in dick-swinging contests with the other financirati? Because when I am waiting in line, at the gym, on the train, eating lunch, I am not complaining about the wait/staring into space/admiring myself in reflective surfaces? I am reading!
“I don’t know,” she said, shrugging.” Ouch. Good point. Reading can solve my impatience. TV does nothing for me. Neither does Facebook. One to two books a month is not enough. Especially with everything I want to read and learn. Especially when I had recently had awe-inspired said the same thing about a friend.

The second line that had much impact on me was as follow: “There is much made in the psychological literature of the effects of divorce on children, particularly as it comes to their own marriages, lo those many years later. We have always wondered why there is not more research done on the children of happy marriages. Our parents’ love is not some grand passion, there are no swoons of lust, no ball gowns and tuxedos, but here is the truth: they have not spent a night apart since the day they married. How can we ever hope to find a love to live up to that?” A light bulb popped up after I read this. I was not a product of a loving marriage, however, I know several (and have dated several). There does sometimes seem to be a barrier for those people. I never did understand why…seems legit🙂

The story was a heartwarming page turner. I personally am not a Shakespeare aficionado, and there was hundreds of references and quotes, at times I wished I had paid more attention in 10th grade english. Nonetheless the book was a book I thoroughly enjoyed. “To their right praise and true perfection! ~William Shakespeare”*

*FOOTNOTE: Yes I did google that Shakespeare quote and I only hope it is a fitting quote to end this review🙂

Book Review: The Butterfly’s Daughter

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I recently finished reading “The Butterfly’s Daughter” by Mary Alice Monroe.   I was given it as a gift for my birthday because it’s one of those types of books that are a typical read for me.  The characters are people of color, in this case, a young Mexican-American woman, Luz, who has lost her ties with her culture and her grandmother who fears that she will never know herself, unless she knows where she comes from.

She embarks on an unforgettable journey to find her roots and define who she is and how her background plays into that role.  She meets a series of wonderfully strange women who help her along the path to find herself and her place in the world.

As the title suggests, monarch butterflies play a role in the story as well, acting much like a spiritual guide to Luz along the way.  Every time Luz feels a glimmer of doubt, the Monarchs give her some sign that this journey is indeed worthy. 

I loved the symbolism within this book and how it piqued my own renewed interest in Monarch butterflies.  When I was in the 4th grade, for Mr. Ruybal’s class, we raised our own Monarch butterflies in a fish tank.  As they emerged from their cocoon, we had butterfly releases and discussed the places they might see on their trip home. 

“The Butterfly’s Daughter” made me want to expand my bucket list.  I would love to take a trip to Michoacán to see the Monarchs come home.  It sounds like such a beautiful, ethereal surreal experience, which would really remind you of the beauty we have been given in this life.  Something about the sight of millions of butterflies that have made a trip over 2000 miles and continue to do so year after year is so awe-inspiring. 

The book also delves into some of the myths and legends around Monarchs.  One story that struck me to my very soul was that after the Holocaust in the Maidenek concentration camp, children left behind a message carved into the walls of the barracks, hundreds and hundreds of butterflies carved with fingernails and stones.  That is a story that just brings me to my knees.  Butterflies have obviously played an important role in history time and time again. 

I thoroughly enjoyed “The Butterfly’s Daughter” despite some occasional overused clichés.  Overall though it was a book I’d pick up again. 

Minor Details

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Ok, I admit it.  A few weeks ago, if you just happened to be in Greenwood Village, in just the right building, you might have overheard me exclaim; “Now I know why people elope!”  Planning a wedding, even something non-traditional and based on fun, like ours can be highly stressful.  

Pull it together with someone as high strung as I am, and it’s downright taxing.  Thank God for a great network of people who know great networks of people.  It’s keeping me on the right side of insanity!

My dear friend did an amazing job taking engagement photos, which doubled as save the dates for us.  She is a single mom of two young children who spent an evening after work, in 30 degree weather on her knees just to ensure she got the best shots.  We couldn’t have gotten a better photographer.  Not only did she spend an afternoon with us, but she also spent several hours creating the save the dates with me, pointing out areas where the text needed improvement and/or the picture needed to be readjusted.  She does absolutely fabulous work and I am so blessed to have her (and her talent) in my life. 

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I’m sure at some point in my blog, I talked about Simon’s and I lack of religious structure.  I like to think of us as believers but dabblers.  We both believe that there is a key to faith in many religions.  We needed to find someone who was faithful AND inclusive AND powerfully centered.  We had been referred to someone, via Facebook and met with him early January.  He is a pastor for a Unitarian Universalist Church here in Denver.  We actually had to Google what Unitarian churches believed and came upon this entry: Unitarian Universalism is a theologically diverse religion that encourages people to seek their own spiritual path.  Sounded like something that aligns with some of our beliefs.  The day we met with the pastor, walking into the church, I immediately noted the Gay Pride Flag hanging out front and made an immediate assumption that we made a good choice. 

As we met with Pastor Mike, it soon became clear that he was committed to helping us understand the depth of what we are about to do.  He spoke so profoundly about marriage and the ceremony that I was in tears, more than once.  He suggested we write our own vows, because who better to put words to the life we want to lead, than the peeople who will live it.  More than once he exclaimed, “This weddig is about you and your relationship.  Nothing is out of the question.  Nothing you proposewill intimidate me.”  We left confident in him as our spiritual guide as we embark on this wedding journey. 

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Later that day, I headed to get my dress fitted.  Not really knowing where to go, I looked online and found a place online that had 4.5 stars out of 5, so I headed to their shop not really knowing what to expect.  They were an absolutely, wonderful Turkish couple who were super accommodating and offered superb customer service.  They even suggested several nips and tucks that I wouldn’t have thought of but will no doubt make the dress even more spectacular.  My favorite was when she glanced at me and exclaimed, “Now the length is personal,” as she looked up with an inquisitive smile.  I cannot wait to get the dress back from them.

Last week, we planned on spending Saturday afternoon with the caterers at their home.  They had planned to cook a few of the items we had requested for our menu.  I expected small samples; we walked in to a full blown meal way beyond my expectations.  Within minutes of being in their home they treated us like family.  We spent some time getting to know each other; and discussing the beauty and stress that goes into wedding planning, before gorging ourselves in the amazing food.  We started with sparkling apple cider and ended in some divine tropical mixed drink.  I expected the tasting to last an hour, but almost two hours later we were hugging before we left, tummies and hearts full. As well as one more reminder that this wedding was ours to do in whatever way we felt reflected our relationship, our styles.

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I first realized that our wedding didn’t need to be a traditional ceremony with traditional activities, years ago, while talking to a friend who had a beautiful wedding that reflected who her and her husband were as a couple as well as individuals.   They became my inspiration for a wedding full of little quirks and fun, that really reflect our relationship.

We’ve been blessed with a group of people who understand that and want to help us achieve that, in any way possible. On top of all this I have a steady stream of amazing friends and family calling and checking in, asking to help in any way shape or form. I feel blessed.  Yes some people might run away and elope because planning is oh so daunting,  but then they’d miss the fun of building their own community. 
Peace and love.

 

Fighting for Air

I’ll never forget her amazing smile.  She was always smiling.  Always happy.  It was no wonder her 3-year old daughter had that same sun-shiny, bubbling personality. 

I was a social worker at for Clayton Early Learning.   She wasn’t on my caseload, but I was pulled in by her warm smile.  Her daughter was in a classroom I worked closely with, and it wasn’t long before we were exchanging warm greetings and animated conversations. 

Her daughter had inherited many things from her mother, unfortunately that included her severe asthma.  They both received regular treatment from National Jewish Health, one of the most renowned respiratory hospitals in the nation.  Thankfully, their current treatment seemed to be working.

There seems to be a brief lull in time where they either were off for the summer, or temporarily lost access to their Childcare Assistance Program funding.  When they returned,  mom was pregnant.   And glowing.   And even more happy, as though that was even possible.  

Life was going so well.  They were healthy, happy and eagerly awaiting a new addition.  Then in an instant everything was gone.  Mom had a medical emergency and coupled with the asthma, her body just couldn’t handle it.  

The head start community rallied around them to ensure a stable, safe place for the children and their grandmother.  We continued serving the family well into the baby’s 3rd year.  I worked with the grandmother off and on for three years, but I never forgot the mother. 

On February 24th, I will join with the Rocky Mountain American Lung Association, climbing the 52 flights of stairs of the Republic Plaza in Denver in order to raise money for those who are fighting to breathe.  I do this in memory of her, and for the hope that all children will be able to breathe easy. 

If you feel moved to donate please visit my donation page.

Grandma Lobato

232323232-fp53872-nu=3-82-7-2--83-2;737-2;74237ot1lsiI’d like to tell you all a beautiful story about an ordinary woman who lived in extraordinary life. It all begin on March 17th, 1929 when the oldest daughter of Sabino Salas and Fracesquita Martinez was born into this earthly life. She was accompanied on this journey by her brother Archie, her sisters Celia and Eliza, and an infant Juanita who was welcomed back into the arms of our Lord soon after birth, and most recently welcome to our mother, grandmother, and sister, Balbina home.

On January 5th 1946, Balbina was united in marriage to her tall, dark and handsome Alfonso Lobato.  They lived, loved and laughed and soon they were blessed with the births of their children Lawrence and the Frances, Connie, Patricia and finally, Sherry. Life is a weathered storm they navigated together, notably, after their loss of Connie and Patricia in infancy. However wealth is measured in far more ways than money, and they were rich in the love and support of their family to see them through. The waves of life hed not quite turned, and Grandma was left too soon alone, young and widowed with four children, who needed her even more desperately than before. It would have been so easy for a weaker woman to give up, to lose faith, to quit. Grandma wasn’t that woman. She fought and she struggled, she laughed and she cried, and ultimately she succeeded in raising her four beautiful children to be the four amazing adults she prided on claiming as her own.

Grandma was a woman of few words but innumerable laughs; a young soul with an old heart. She was a woman who touched our family so deeply and completely, that she will forever be ours. One day during a family get together, Grandma was asked what she would like to drink. She coyly smirked and replied, “A mi, me gusta esa soda, como se llama? Coors. Grandma was also a huge fan of sweets, especially M&Ms. This was quite apparent when visiting. Grandma would produce M&Ms from every nook and cranny.

Grandma had a beautiful spirit that allowed to live harmoniously with all of God’s creatures, Pat the parrot, Peter the owl, a baby raton found in the bosque and the family of water snakes that invaded her home ceremoniously every summer. The same beautiful spirit cultivated her own floral paradise in her yard, as well as, her window sill jungle. Sick and wounded plants inevitably found their way to the familys’ emergency room: Grandma’s kitchen. With a bit of her magic soil, a little water, and her tender greenthumb, they were nursed back to even better health than before.

Grandma was always way ahead of her time. You could always count on her to choose the latest trends, most recently her fashionable, iridescent, purple coat. She always ensured her grandchildren were dressed in style, with clothing she lovingly hand picked for birthdays and Christmases.

These are all random out of the ordinary things, that when strung together make each of our relationships with Grandma extraordinary. These are the type of things people do on a regular basis that you don’t realize change the world. But when you took your last breath, Grandma, and closed your eyes and begun your final journey home, you had changed the world in your own little way. You gave us each life, wisdom and love that we can carry with us for all eternity. Your great- granddaughter mimicked all of our thoughts when she saw you the final time and exclaimed, ” Mom, Grandma Habato is such a pretty angel.

Grandma because of you deep spirituality, and the faith you have instilled in your children and grandchildren, we know you are safe in the arms of our Lord. You are truly home at last

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