They’re Engaged!

“She makes me happy. When she’s with me, I’m always happy.”
– Carlos Gonzalez, our future son-in-law

ANV Ring

He popped the question in a lighthouse today. Completely surprised her and rocked her world to its core.

On Tuesday, he invited Ramon and me to dinner. Just us – she was teaching at Pope, and was unaware of our plans. After dinner and various nervous glances from both sides of the table, he asked for our blessing to marry Alexis.

We wholeheartedly gave it. We know he’ll make her happy, too.

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Thanksgiving Top 5 Lows

“Difficulty is inevitable. Drama is a choice.”
― Anita Renfroe

It is only fitting that I wrap up our Thanksgiving memories by commemorating the Top 5 Lows of the day.

  1. Halfway through roasting the turkey, we noticed the oven wasn’t working. As we frantically punched the buttons and repeatedly opened and closed the door (because this really helps), we realized we were screwed. After much head scratching and uncensored cursing, Chef Gabe suggested we crank it up to its highest setting – 600 degrees. Miraculously, the oven heat skyrocketed to approximately 200 degrees which is better than 0. So that, and some selective microwaving, gave us an edible bird by the time dinner rolled around at 7:30.
  2. Once we confidently averted the botulism crisis and were joyfully going about setting the table, we heard a loud crash in the kitchen. Lo and behold, our undermount 500 pound kitchen sink had unglued/detached/given up, and fallen to the bottom of the cabinet. I screamed asked the boys to find a fix for this dilemma and pronto. An hour later they returned with four car jacks from Walmart, and set about rigging elevating the sink to a semblance of its natural position under the counter. Chef Gabe was just bursting problem-solving skills.
  3. Still undeterred and ever hopeful for a pleasant Thanksgiving, I told Ramon to fire up the barbecue in order to warm up the side dishes since clearly the turkey was going to take the full expected 18 hours to cook. Seconds into the process, the gas ran out. Off goes Ramon to the store for another tank of gas.
  4. Upon arrival, my sister’s family joyfully started bringing in her delectable contributions, including baked goods (among them my most favorite Raspberry Almond Bars), roasted Brussels Sprouts and myriad libations which might lessen the pissiness heaviness in my heart. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law dropped the bottles in our driveway and this party was destined to be as dry as a Baptist church during Summer revival.
  5. And as we cleared the tables, stored the left-overs and loaded up the dishwasher, we beamed thankfully for another successful holiday – despite the odds. It wasn’t until I awoke Friday morning to empty the dishwasher, that I realized everything was still dirty. The damn thing was busted. Done. Finished.

I can’t wait for this year to be over.


Thanksgiving Top 10

“A single grateful thought toward heaven is the most perfect prayer.”
 -Gotthold Ephraim Lessing 

  1. God’s unending blessings in my life.
  2. My family – splendid children, husband, mother, in-laws, siblings and nieces and nephews.
  3. The Meal. Let’s be serious, this is the focus of the day. I cook for hours in an attempt to deliver the perfect feast each year. After weeks of analyzing new recipes, reconsidering the tried and true, I end up serving up too much of both.
  4. Running. I ran the Thanksgiving 5K this morning, not only to earn my turkey (ri-ight), but in gratitude for an activity that has enhanced and redefined my life.
  5. Alexis is back in Georgia!
  6. 20 years of employment at the Happiness Factory.
  7. Chef Velez off-duty for the best holiday of the year.
  8. Abundance.
  9. This great country.
  10. Spending a pre-holiday weekend in the capital with our DC based kids.

I Vote Because It’s My Duty and Privilege

“I believe with all my heart that America remains ‘the great idea’ that inspires the world. It is a privilege to be born here. It is an honor to become a citizen here. It is a gift to raise your family here, to vote here, and to live here.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger (for once I agree with him)

As a naturalized citizen who was welcomed into these amazing United States of America, I take quite seriously the privilege of putting in my two cents worth on who will be our next leader.

Although I was born in Cuba and my heritage is solidly engrained in my soul, the USA is the country that facilitated the dreams and achievements I nurtured for myself, my husband and my children. In this country, nothing is impossible with hard work and faith.

In this country, I found home.


All About The Medal

“Your feet must be hurting from kicking so much ass!”
– sign seen on Peachtree Street during race


I didn’t have one. I coveted and wished, but hadn’t committed to a race that rewarded me with one. Until yesterday. Thanks to my teammates, I finally got me some race bling at the 2012 Atlanta Marathon Relay. And it’s so fine.

I can also check off my wish to run a race with each of the kids this year. Done and done since together with Ramon, Alexis and Gabriel I completed the relay. We are team All About the Medal.


Another Prayer Answered

“Home is where the heart is.”

My first born has come home, and for that I am grateful. This is my idea of heaven – having all my kids on the East Coast and easily accessible.

However, I don’t minimize that she has made a huge sacrifice by moving home and leaving behind her beloved life in California. She will miss her Beechwood School and her students, her Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps, and her precious apartment in Sunnyvale.

But most of all, she will miss her dear friends who have been her family, her refuge and her strength for the past six years. And for all they have been and given to her – I will miss them and love them forever, too.


31 Years and Counting

“There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion,
or company than a good marriage.” – Martin Luther

Omni Resort, Hilton Head Island, SC July 2012

Today we celebrate our 31st Wedding Anniversary and all the blessings and the challenges that came along with it. Through the years we’ve had extreme happiness and immense opportunities for growth; in the end, we are all the better for it.

It is a privilege being married to such a good and kind man, and also the greatest father who ever lived.  And, I daresay, he’s pretty lucky too. Amen.