Friday, December 23, 2011

Gotta Love The Season

The last two months have been non stop go, go, go!  We have had so many medical appointments, a surgery, multiple emergency room visits.  Family staying with us for three weeks, babysitting, meetings.  Of course, homeschool doesn't get put on hold, at least not the basic classes.  Throw into the mix hosting Thanksgiving in our home, braving the Black Friday mob to show my aunt from Spain what it was all about, Christmas shopping and prepping for the inevitable yearly fall out with a certain, high strung family member.  Endless conversations with people that just don't get the reason for CHRISTmas, and insist on telling you in full detail about EVERY present they purchased or asked for, how MUCH they cost, how MANY there are.  Deep Sigh....

In all honesty, I have enjoyed this year immensely!  I was able to give my amazing husband a nice surprise party for his 50th birthday.  All the kids and grand kids were present, as well as a huge part of the family.  I was able to spend three whole weeks with my aunt, whom I hadn't seen in person in 17 years (although we Skype often).  My mom took a week vacation to spent it with us.  We sold our old van.  And we were able to purchase a newer vehicle for the same amount as what we sold the old one for, so no car note! YAY!!  Dave Ramsey would be very proud!!  I was present for the birth of my second niece by my little sister.  Aryanna Teresa.  I was able to spend two weeks with her and her big sister, Nashalie Cristina. 

We have had our ups and downs, but we have faced it all with the Lord by our side and He has carried us through.  As the birthday of our Saviour comes closer, all the stress and anxiety starts to melt away.  I think about all the positives in my life.  I have a great husband, children that rock, food on my table, a roof over my head, clothing on my back.  All my wonderful family, my amazing friends, the relationships that have blossomed and grown, all the blessings that He has bestowed upon us remind me of the real reason for Christmas.  Love.  God's love for us, that He gave us His Son, Jesus. 

I hope everyone of you has a wonderful Christmas, filled with lots of love and joy.  I pray that you all are showered with glorious blessings!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Aly's Inspirations

Sharing one on one time with each one of the children is a little difficult to do when you have a house full of little bodies. But as they are getting older, and their interest are changing, I am finding unique opportunities to do so.

Aly is my early bird. The girl is up before the sun. This morning, my alarm went off, I felt movement next to me, and worried that Manny was running late, sat straight up in bed. “Manny!” “Daddy’s gone to work, Mommy. It’s just me,” was the reply that I got. My sweet girl was curled around Daddy’s pillow, trying to go back to sleep. She said she didn’t want to wake us, but she was fully awake!

We got up and started to get ready for the day. Now the early mornings are my alone time. The only alone time I get all day. So, I begin my routine. I glance at Aly and she’s quietly following me from room to room. My first instinct is to set her on course for the day. But it dawns on me, this is my opportunity to have a moment alone with her. We head over to the classroom and start to chit chat. We go over the previous day’s activities. How much she enjoyed the sewing class from last night. How much she is loving her art classes. The funny things her niece and nephews were doing to make her laugh yesterday evening. She loved that her bestie came over after school. And as she’s speaking to me, I’m watching her and I’m thinking… “My goodness, this young lady is my little girl.”

      Aly at the Botanical Grandens in Largo, FL
She’s going on and on, animated and enthused. Her smile lights up the room. Her movements are losing some of the clumsy childhood manners and becoming a tad more refined. She throws her head back and tosses her hair out of her face, the action is so cliché, but the effect of her long, curly hair falling is just beautiful. I sit watching her, completely in love with my child. My mind, of course, is wandering now. And as I begin to focus on her words again, I realize she’s giving me that weird look that says mommy’s lost it. HA! If she only knew that I’m trying desperately not to start crying! She’d really be worried over my mental status then!

Now, it’s not like I haven’t sat and contemplated my children before. But life is hectic, one day blurs into the next. And no matter how many times I “analyze” the kids and think I have them down pat… they will always surprise me!! I KNOW they are human beings, I KNOW that they are unique individuals, I KNOW they are growing and changing. But every now and then, I stop and look again, like this morning. And I’m in awe all over again. I am so proud of the young ladies that they are becoming. They are forming their own opinions and set of beliefs. They are growing in their relationships with God. They are teaching me life lessons everyday.

      Becky at the Botanical Gardens in
                  Largo, FL

As we wake her sisters up, and start to meander through the day, I’m making a Mental Note to Me: Cherish every moment with my girls today, everyday. Observe them, and really SEE them. Their mannerisms, habits, the things that are making them tick. Enjoy the blessings that my God has given me through my children.

               Yudith at the Botanical Gardens in Largo, FL

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

                     Happy Birthday, Yudith!
My daughter, Yudith, is now a 14 year old! She has decided that she should be allowed to drink coffee. After all, all of her friends are doing it… duh, mom!!

Well, yesterday, on the morning of her birthday, she decided to “gift” herself a shot of Cuban Coffee. OMGravy!! To go from no coffee to a shot of CC! Don’t you know that my poor daughter was a hyper little monkey all day!

To top it off, we had to go drop my brother, Almando, to the train station. Forty Five minutes away. Mommy took the scenic route, which took us an hour and fifteen minutes. Her random bursts of conversation where more like little snippets. And LOUD! LOL!! Yudith was on overdrive! The TSA at the station was watching her, and brought the dogs over to sniff at her… “No, no, no officer! She’s not on drugs, just caffeine!!!”

We decided to go to IKEA after we left Almando at the station. Why did my daughter HAVE to see EVERY display? Why did she HAVE to sit in every chair? Why did she HAVE to cart Becky around on her back through the warehouse? YUP!! You got it!! Because at 3 o’clock, she was still on a CC High!!

We went to our oldest daughter, Fatima’s house. It was supposed to be a quick visit. Yes, yes, yes! She was running around like the smallest of children. Making jokes. Laughing at the smallest, most inconsequential of occurrences. Loud, random information spouting from nowhere.

Dinner time, Daddy comes home with his customary cake and flowers for the birthday girl (he’ll deny it, but he’s a hopeless romantic)! Yudith, Aly, Becky, one stow away granddaughter, Serena, and the dog, Buddy all go running to see who’s going to get the first kiss from Papi! Oooof course, Yudith, having some 93 octane still coursing her veins, is the first to make it to him! Practically vaulted over all the little humanoids, as she likes to call the younger children. We all have dinner, they all go play. Fatima, her hubby, Julio, and the two boys (Isaiah and Alex) come to collect Serena. We sing happy birthday, and cut the cake. Six kids sitting at the table eating cake. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Yudith was the loudest!

I hand Yudith a sliver of cake and she gets this hurt look on her face. Like she can’t understand WHY she gets a small piece of cake. Like she thinks me cruel to give her a small piece of her own birthday cake!!! Gee, let me think…could it be because it is 9 pm and you are STILL as hyper as you were at 7 am? Could it be because I can practically SEE the rapid pulse of you heart in your throat and I’m a little scared you’re going to have a heart attack?! LOL!

Moral of my story… Yudith is NEVER allowed to have coffee while living with us. She may have as much as she wants, the day AFTER she moves out of our house! I’ll brew her a pot myself!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Windows Open

I woke up this morning and decided to open the windows.  I live in the Tampa Bay Area in FL and it's a gorgeous 70 degrees.  Nice easy breeze. 

The girls were still asleep, they looked so peaceful that I let them sleep in.  As I roamed the house putting away all evidence of messy kids from yesterday, I looked up and spotted a neighbor staring in the general direction of my home.  I had an Aha Moment.  Gotta love those Aha Moments before coffee, I can claim them completely as mine, they are not caffeine induced spouting!

What would I have to show for myself if the windows to my heart were open for all to see?  Is there anything that I would be ashamed of letting others see?  Anything that would cause me to make me blush?

So there I am staring at my neighbor, clutching a baby doll to my chest with one hand and dangling a Disney Princess Cash Register out of the other hand, and praying...

Lord, you know my heart.  Show me, Father, how to make my heart as pure as Jesus' heart.  As innocent as my children's hearts, as unconditionally loving as Your heart.

So, now I have tears rolling down my cheeks, and yes, I did pop myself in the face with the cash register when I went to wipe the tears away.  But aside from the slight throb on my right cheek, I feel renewed and ready to start my day! 

Amazing how a simple act by a person that is not even aware of what they are doing, can make a monumental change in your life.  I do believe that my neighbor, Mr. Steve has earned a batch of homemade brownies today!!

My Sunshine...Rebeka's Story

I wrote this as a guest blogger for a friend's blog, Our Homeschool Ohana.  You can visit Doreen's blog here:  She is a wonderful source of support and inspiration to me!  I hope you enjoy her page!  She has encouraged me to create my own blog, and so I have ventured forth!  Please have patience with me and I navigate the world of blogging for the first time, I'll try not to goof up too badly! LOL!


When I was pregnant with my first child, my sisters (14 at the time) decided that the baby needed a nickname, since they couldn’t very well call the baby ‘it’, or the impersonal, ‘the baby’. So a new family tradition began. Baby Bump number one became Angel, Baby Bump number two became Princess, and Baby Bump number 3 became Sunshine.

Fast forward to the end of Sunshine’s pregnancy, June 24, 2004. Strapped to a table, curtain separating my head from the rest of my body, feeling scared and disjointed. Emergency C-section. The doctor brings out my baby, and a flurry of activity erupts. I look at Manny, and he’s beaming. I begin to relax. Then I hear the words…

“She has facial features of Down Syndrome. We’ll have to send her for testing.”

Again, I look to Manny for his reaction. I see confusion, fear. I start to panic. Then I’m too caught up in the increased activity. Why are they taking so long to bring me my baby? The nurses and a new doctor are all around my little one at the tiny table they laid her on. After a few minutes, the doctor tells me that her heart isn’t working correctly, they have to send her to NICU, she’s brought to me to give her a quick kiss as they whisk her out of the room.

My eyes are greedy to take her in the hot second that she’s there. She has her father’s skin tone, hair color and the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen on an infant. She’s beautiful! “I love you, God protect you, Rebeka.” I whisper as they take her away.

Rebeka is taken by helicopter to Miami Children’s Hospital. She is in NICU for 38 days. Flat lines three times. She has three holes in her heart. Develops asthma, severe acid reflux from the heart meds. My little girl has joined us on Earth equipped with a team of nine specialists! She comes home, only to go back a month and a half later for open heart surgery. And through it all, is the calm peace that she’s going to be ok.

Life takes on a slightly surreal feeling. We are now so accustomed to acronyms that we sound like we’re speaking a different language. We’re in a different specialist’s office four days of the week. I am lugging around an apnea monitor that is always connected to my ever sleeping, four pound ball of Sunshine. Heart meds around the clock.

Then one day, as I’m holding Rebeka, she looks at me and smiles. I’ve been waiting over six months for a smile from her. I burst into tears. I hold her to my chest and cry like I’m mourning. And I am. I am mourning the first six months of my child’s life. Between diagnosis, treatments, appointments, surgery and nights that I was too afraid to sleep, for the fear of finding Rebeka not breathing in the morning, I have never stopped to really think about the miracle in my arms. Doctors prognosis’ of what she’ll never be able to do, of preparing us “in case she doesn’t make it”, all the emergency room visits, all the hospitalizations. They have all robbed me.

When you are told your child has DS, that’s all you see. Then God touches your sight, you can look past the condition and see the child. And what I see inspires me to no end!

Rebeka brings a strength and courage with her. To see her tiny frame take it all, and still take a breath. Have her chest split open, and heal in three days, to watch her struggle to drink milk, and still get a whole bottle down. Everything I take for granted, my Becky has to fight to do. And she does it like a champ.

She is determined, never quits. She is unconditionally loving, always positive. Sweetness personified. Has instincts sharp as a razor, she can feel you out in a heartbeat. Her smile and her actions bring instant happiness. Courageous. Strong. Innocent. Pure.

There are things Rebeka might never do. I don’t worry about those things, let the doctors worry. I’m too busy praising God for the wonderful accomplishments she has had through Him so far! She inspires me to live fuller, love deeper, laugh more often. She has taught me to live each moment like it was our last one.

Seven years later, I sit and watch my Becky twirl and dance. I watch her interact with her siblings, with her friends. The joy on their faces and the love in their eyes. Her nickname, Sunshine, could not be more accurate. She brings Sunshine into everyone’s life that is in contact with her. She makes days brighter. And as October approaches, and the Down Syndrome Awareness sign goes up on my garage door, I think about the most important lesson she has taught me.


Accepting that things are not always the way we think they should be, but they are perfect in their own way.

Accepting that God has everything in His sights, all we have to do is sit and wait for Him to reveal His plan!

Accepting that every human being is deserving of the same respect and love.