“Only You Mom!”

“Only you Mom!” is what our daughter, Allison, said with a laugh when I called her while standing on a sidewalk in Little Havana.  You know, Little Havana that’s a part the beautiful city of Miami, Florida. I will get to the story in just a minute! Hang on …..(Little sidebar inserted here: We have found that having an empty nest means that Briant and I get to travel together..just the two of us as a couple!  Not as parents : ) We did’nt really have a “regular dating” experience because we were dated with 4 children in tow !!  Seriously, for real. I know it sounds really old-fashioned.  We had a relatively short engagement because we had to get married to have time together! Just kidding, not really.  No, It’s true, the children were mostly always with us. We did go on a honeymoon to Jamaica alone, and I felt like a virgin bride I was so nervous.  We do know that could not be true because I had given birth to two children in my earlier marriage!

OK, so here goes the story… back to Little Havana.  Hubby and I took a little vacation to South Beach Miami just after Easter this year.   Just the two of us and it was great!  We stayed in a little Art Deco style hotel right on the beach that was probably built during the 1940’s.  It was awesome, and the weather was perfect. One of the things we like to do when we visit a new city is to take “an organized tour”. HaHa.  That seems so much like old people!!  We are old people!!  We particularly enjoy the double decker bus types.  The “Hop-On” “Hop-Off” kind which I highly recommend !  You really learn so much more about where you’re visiting.  We had a really good day touring around Miami Beach enjoying the gorgeous views of the water, the fabulous homes of “the beautiful people”, and a delicious lunch somewhere along the way!  Our tour ended in Little Havana (the Cuban area of Miami) and Briant and I decided to check out some of the little cafes along the street.  As we were walking along the sidewalk we heard some really good live latin music coming from somewhere close…  I absolutely love to watch good dancers, so I was thrilled when I spied a couple salsa dancing inside of this really small bar where a band was playing.  I told hubby we needed to hurry over to where we could see the dancers, and we did!  As we were standing outside of this popular bar “Ball and Chain” (btw it is a famous place) watching the obviously professional dancers in traditional Cuban dance costume, we noticed a second couple in the back dancing at a “slower pace”.  They looked fairly young, and they were wearing regular street clothes. Well….they were not just dancing, they were “pecking”at each other every now and then AND hugging quite a bit.  I found the scene kind of amusing myself so I took out my iphone and started “videoing” the whole scene. The first couple dancing were just amazingly talented so I took quite a bit of footage of them, and then I moved to the “other two” …. After a couple of minutes with my iphone held high in the air, a rather official looking person with a HUGE camera on her shoulder stopped me. She walked over and said, “Excuse me, you are not allowed to take videos here.”  I said, “Oh, why not?” She answered me with, “Because we are filming a tourism video.”  This of course just made me want to video them even more for some reason : )  By personality I am quite curious….SOO, I moved to a different spot in the crowd where I continued to video the second couple in the back.  They were just funny to me for whatever reason ? I guess I just could not figure out what they were up to…dancing by these incredibly talented professionals, and doing more “smooching” than dancing…. in the middle of the afternoon!  I figured there must be a really good story here and I certainly did’nt want to miss out ; ) I kept on videoing until Briant was obviously ready to move on down the street. As we were about to cross the street in Little Havana,  I heard a woman saying, “You know that was Rachel from “The Bachelorette” filming for next season!” I stopped in my tracks!  Well, I don’t watch television much at all, so I had no idea who Rachel was!  I called one of our daughters, and she immediately knew Rachel was the “Bachelorette.” Allison  laughed and said, “Only you Mom!” She asked me to send her the video.  I was so excited when Allison confirmed that I did indeed have “unseen footage of Rachel from “The Bachelorette”! HA! I was excited to have “a story” so I posted it on YouTube that very day. This was Rachel’s “Hometown date” with Bryan!   As of yesterday, my two videos posted from that scene have over 40K views so far!  What a fun memory from one of our first vacations as “just us”.  I knew then we certainly did’nt have to have 4 kids in tow to have a great time in Miami Beach ; )

Stay tuned …

The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

Yep, that’s what Gladys Knight said.  And it’s true, this family is the best thing that ever happened to me for certain.   Briant and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last month which means the WilderNest is 17 as well!  How time has flown…I told someone the other day (I don’t remember who) that when you’re in the throes of raising children “the days go by slowly, but the years go by quickly.”  I remember those early years when  I was sooo busy, especially during the school years when all four kids had extracurricular activities.  I rolled around town in my minivan (later in my big SUV:) dropping off and picking up our kids until night many days. In addition, they visited their other parents regularly so the schedule was pretty tight around our home.  Believe it or not,  I loved every minute of our organized chaos..especially the carpool.  I’m sure our 4 will never forget the times when we were running late for school, and as Will recently said, “Time just seemed to stand still” for us.  And that was even if we stopped by the Burger King drive thru for breakfast !!  Of course time really did’nt stand still, but obviously those days were magical for our family… I treasure those magical moments, even that really bad day when we ran over our neighbor’s mailbox with our “then new” SUV…well, that’s definitely a story for another post : )

This summer has been good.  It has been a time of reflection for me, even though our schedule as a married couple has been extremely active.  My annoying chronic illness has reared it’s ugly head since about April which means a great deal of fatigue and tiredness.  Translation:  I have felt pretty rotten and had more down time than I would like.  My family has been amazing…I have felt the love and support from each of my loved ones even on my worst days.  We are closer than ever; and we still have so much fun when we get together…it seems like we never stop laughing.  Humor has always gotten our family through many times that really were not that funny!!  I believe every second of time invested in building “our nest” has paid us back with more love than I ever expected.  So really,  they are the best thing that ever happened to me.






Is love color blind?

If you’ve been reading my blog posts you have probably figured out that I am much more a “feeler”than a “thinker”by personality. I was born this way.  The person crying during a sad movie, that’s me.  The mom who cries when she spies a homeless person on the street in dirty clothes without shoes, that’s me too.  I feel things very deeply.  More deeply than I prefer many days. It’s really difficult for me to “FEEL”so much!  Seriously, sometimes I exhaust myself coping with my strong emotional reactions to ordinary life! At times, I become completely exasperated and irrational about the behavior of other people. When I truly believe in my heart that a person is being hurt, or if I think they are on a path to self-destruction I hurt for them.  My heart bleeds for the underdog. My husband is much more logical than I am in almost every way possible, and I am thankful. Two very emotional “feelers” would probably be a disaster case in our household, especially when we were blending our nest years ago. Although Briant is very logical, there are some issues he is very sensitive to and for those, our family is blessed.  When he has a concern about one of us…because he cares very deeply, this big strong man can become as sensitive and as emotional as can be.  Relationships are very important to both of us, and this difference in our natures is probably the fundamental reason behind the “success”of the WilderNest. Things like sad movies about wars, and commercials showing abandoned puppies don’t make my thoughtful husband cry.  He is amazingly rational and logical the majority of the time.  Often times he must talk me “down from my tree”when I am overly emoting, if that makes any sense. I give a great deal of credit to Briant and his logical nature in keeping our relationship balanced and stable.  This balance has created a peaceful atmosphere in our home (most of the time) where good communication happens. I believe good communication between every person in the WilderNest is fundamental to our love for each other, and our “stick to it ness” over the years. Even though the nest is basically empty these days. I blogged about compromises recently, and there have been many in our home…  Actually one of the compromises Briant and I made early in our marriage (besides where the dog would sleep) is that we would try to meet somewhere in the middle when making decisions or in dealing with problems, translation… meeting someplace between “basketcase “(me:) and “logicalthinker”(him:).  Usually we can do it, but not always.  So, you’re wondering what all of this has to do with love being colorblind.  I will have to admit one reason I chose that title was to get your attention so you would read my post. Seriously, I want to share the second kind of blending that’s been going on in our family most recently. It is very exciting and really cool in my opinion.  Two of our children married outside of our “cultural backgrounds” two years ago, so…. We are once again”blending”and it is awesome and amazing! We call this blending phase 2!  We have grown from blending children from our previous marriages, to blending “ children in law” from other cultures with our culture, and us with theirs.  It has been the biggest blessing so see three of our adult children find their mates! We are so pleased with their choices for marriage partners. Our biggest concern and our prayer was that they would marry Christians, and that they would continue our Christian heritage as they start their own families. We never discussed much about the “cultural heritage”of their mates at all.  In my opinion, being exposed to different “ways of life”is interesting. Getting to know Maria and Edward has broadened my world view. I enjoy studying geneaology, and I am over the moon with the idea of “mixing it up a bit” (if you know what I mean : ) Not all folks feel the same.  Admittedly, there have been some emotionally intense situations when I have reacted to comments from people expressing their opinions on race, immigration, mixed marriages, etc… the ethnic jokes are not so funny lately. (not that they ever were to me personally).  Once again, my sweet and logical hubby is usually able to help me see more objectively, and to not take offense when it’s just not necessary. I am overly sensitive at times, but my heart is in the right place. As a family we have truly relished in mixing our White Anglo-Saxon heritage with the Spanish-Mexican-American heritage of our lovely daughter in law, and our precious son in law.  We have been able to try new foods prepared by my daughter in law, Maria.  I’m talking about real “Mexican food”…not like the food you get at Taco Bell.  We have experienced the plight of the Latina woman who disapproves of “their men”marrying “white women”. Sorry, but it’s true. It happens.  Our extended family has also embraced and welcomed the new diversity. There is one very special person who has been supportive and unconditionally accepting of our 4 kids during our original blending, and now during blending phase 2!  Disclaimer: All of the extended family members have been wonderfully loving. Today, I am just focusing on one of you:)

 This incredibly accepting person is my Daddy.  He is not just my father, he is truly one of my closest friends and confidantes. I have watched him grow into this fabulous father and grandpa who completely accepts and enjoys ALL of the grandchildren, biological,married into, blended in phase 1, and blended in phase 2!   I point this out because he is a man who came from a very rural area in NC , and he was not raised with a very broad world view.  No offense, my grandparents were wonderful country folks and I loved them dearly.  He also grew up in a”white culture”.  It was the south during the 1950’s and 1960’s… the schools were not even integrated where he lived until 1965. There were no Mexican people working beside him on his grandpa’s farm each day during every summer. It has been heartwarming for me to watch him embrace all that he has learned from the “kids”especially the Spanish language. He actually knows only a few key words of Spanish: ). I think secretly… he wishes he wishes he was bi-lingual, but at 71 I doubt that’s going to happen! Personally, I enjoy the authentic Mexican food our daughter in law cooks more than I want to learn Spanish!  I was visiting Daddy recently at his little shop where we often sit and solve the world’s problems. I don’t remember what we were actually talking about on that particular day, but I do remember this much.  Daddy looked at me thoughtfully from his “perch”, and he said, “you know, those jokes they tell at the breakfast table where I eat…they just aren’t that funny anymore.” He was referring to a small diner where he’s been eating at the same table every morning with mostly the same folks for many years.  I thought for a few seconds about what he said.
I looked up at him, and I responded…”Well, Daddy it’s interesting how when people you love are the object of those jokes it’s just a different story, isn’t it?”