Category Archives: My Family

Emergency Contacts

Last week, my son went across the world to study and my husband had major surgery. These events happened within days of each other.

I wanted to just stay in bed. There was this general feeling of sadness…like something was off. I couldn’t get a handle on everything going on around me.

So I did something remarkably out of character.

When people called to check on me, I didn’t say I was fine. I actually said, “I’m sad.” These people didn’t dismiss the feeling, but they just listened. It felt good to be heard.

When people called and asked if I needed anything, I said, “Yes, would you mind driving Elena to the hospital?” and “Yes, could you please find me a counter-height chair?” Each request was granted without hesitation.

It has always been hard for me to ask for help because I didn’t want to be a burden.  But, the last couple of days, I called on a small team of people who have assembled around my life waiting to help out, and I found that they were happy to help me.

I have always been everyone’s Emergency Contact.  If someone’s kid needs to be picked up from school or something needs to be done on a work day, I am THE person to call.

This week, I found out that I had Emergency Contacts, too.  They can pretty much do anything…except read minds.

Do you struggle with reaching out to people for help?  Why is it so hard to ask?

Snow Day

The kids have a snow day today.

They got up late, brought their cereal downstairs, and began watching their new DVD of “Police Squad.”

As I listen to their raucous laughter, my kill-joy instincts kick in: Clean your rooms. Study for your mid-terms. Go out and shovel.

But this time I don’t start barking these orders. Instead, I make myself a cup of coffee and take in all the noise.

In two years, my son will be in college and the house will no longer have impromptu concerts or be this chaotic. As I schedule college visits and pay college test registration fees, I can feel my reign ending. Do I want to spend my last two years ruling like a tyrant?


But on this snow day, as I make my way to the basement to load another basket of laundry, I stop and laugh with them…who can resist Leslie Nielsen?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my readers!

It’s too late to write a post about how I struggled with minimalism and shopping for gifts. I wanted to write about my favorite ornaments and the stories that go along with them. And of course there’s a “year in review” draft sitting here, too.

But, as I wait for my coconut custard pie to come out of the oven, I know there is no time for any of that.

The new year always brings hope and excitement of what is still to come. Thanks for still hanging around.

Wishing you all a happy new year filled with blessings, peace, and joy!


20th Anniversary

Del and I are celebrating our 20th Anniversary this month.

Del and me on our wedding day 20 years ago (September 1994)
Del and me on our wedding day, 20 years ago (September 1994).

I met Del my first day of college. I had no idea that he would one day grow to be such a devoted, loving husband, father, and friend. Del has stayed by my side despite my narcissism, martyrdom, and everything in between. I am so grateful that he doesn’t give up on me.

We’ve learned to make time for each other in small ways — catching a quick lunch together as he works from home or binge-watching tv shows late at night.

Years #1, #2, #7, #11, and #13 were rough. I had to learn how to compromise and share my time. We had to grow up. Those years, I often asked (sometimes out loud) could I move back home with my parents or how much jail time would I serve. But as life moved forward, “for better or for worse” events made our marriage stronger.

Over the years, we have had to say goodbye to beloved family and friends who celebrated with us on our wedding day. Rest in peace Dad, Dallas, Grandma Nema, Uncle Marcial,  Aunt Doris, Mom Pardi, Auntie Nita, Miss Rubye, Mr. Johnny, Murray Kraft, and Sis. Goodwin.

Our family has grown with many beautiful additions: Emily, Brianna, Jackson, Claudia, Elena, Ana Victoria, Noah, Team Matos, Nic and Jenn from NJ, and ALL the newborns since 1994 who became part of our lives. We are so blessed to watch our nieces and nephews reach each milestone.

I am looking forward to celebrating many more years together. Our kids are becoming more independent and interesting (and slightly less annoying). There’s so much more for us to do as a family and as a couple.

So we’re off to Puerto Rico to celebrate! It’s our first trip alone in 17 years. I think we’re both surprised that I was able to leave the kids and the dog.

But 20 years is a HUGE deal.

Here we are on vacation in Cape Cod (July 2014)
Here we are on vacation in Cape Cod (July 2014).

Happy 20th Anniversary to Del and me 🙂

Chasing Dreams

Del, the kids, and I play “Apartment Dwellers” in a short film called, “Aemorraghe,” which is showing at Eternal Con‘s Film Festival at 3:40pm, this Saturday, June 14th.  How cool is that?

Patrick Devaney, the writer and director, is a friend from elementary school.  When he was 14, he read a mini-graphic novel by Caza that was published in Heavy Metal magazine.  Patrick spent the next 30 years writing, getting necessary permissions, and finally making “Aemorraghe,” the film of his dreams.

We were on the set for one day and it was an awesome experience to see all the different pieces of the movie –the set, the actors, the crew, the makeup process, the costumes, and the filming of the scenes.  The cast and crew were so friendly.  They even fed us lunch.

We watched the film for the first time at the Macabre Faire Film Festival in January.  It was amazing to see the whole story come together.  It was inspiring to see a friend succeed and achieve his dream.

Even though the post may seem like a shameless movie promotion, I do have a point to all this…

Jackson and Elena (my kids) are around the same age as Patrick was when he began dreaming of making this story into a movie.

By working really hard at something he loved, Patrick found a way to make it happen.  I’m sure there were bumps along the road and that he had other day jobs to support him while he was chasing this dream.  But it’s a great example to the kids (and me) that dreams can come true.

Aemorraghe is making its way to film festivals around the US and parts of Canada.  I hope you’ll be able to catch it.  Here’s Trailer 1 and Trailer 2.

This is the year to create, adjust, work hard and chase our dreams 🙂






My little girl — who (at 5’7″) is not so little anymore — has been so helpful to me these past two months that I wanted to give her a shoutout.

Elena had a rough start.  Her uncle nicknamed her “Terramoto” because whenever she left his house, it looked like an earthquake had struck.  Once, at a party, I found a woman prying a checkbook from Elena’s fingers, saying “you must NEVER go into a woman’s purse.”  In preschool, one mother referred to Elena as a “hot mess.”

Elena as Lava Girl in preschool.
Elena as Lava Girl in preschool.

There’s always a fine line of how wild to let her be.  But, thankfully, she really has turned things around.

She’s a good student, who plays soccer, basketball, and the upright bass.

Elena with her "High Honor Roll with Distinction" awards.
Elena with her “High Honor Roll with Distinction” awards.

Most importantly, Elena is my biggest blog supporter.

She is my copy editor.  She spots typos and gives me input on the rough patches–and by rough patches, I mean stuff she doesn’t want the world to know 🙂

She is my workout partner.  She always reminds me that we have to do our “30-Day Ab Challenge” sets.  She probably gets a kick out of watching her 45-year-old mom strain to do situps.   Day 1 provided an evening full of laughs.

She is my backup happy item for my #100happydays project on Instagram.  So far she’s in about 25% of the pictures.

She is my gardening assistant.  This past weekend, she worked all morning putting down mulch.  For now, she doesn’t seem to mind all the micromanaging I do.  But sometimes her smile is so wide, I wonder if she’s really cursing me out in her head.

Elena worked all morning and put down about 8 bags of mulch.
Elena worked all morning and put down about 8 bags of mulch.

Is it the calm before the storm?  I hear that teen girls can be rough.   Elena is 12 years old.

I’m going to enjoy all of this while it lasts. This one’s for you, Happy Peaches.

Elena and me ready for her grandfather's high school reunion ball. (May 2014)
Elena and me ready for her grandfather’s high school reunion ball. (May 2014)




I follow Brianna, my niece, on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.   I try not to hit “like” or comment on every post.  I don’t want to be unfriended, blocked, or unfollowed.  I just want to keep up with the latest trends in social media.

A few weeks ago, Brianna started tagging pictures with #100happydays.  So I googled it and it’s a photo challenge to take a daily picture of something that makes you happy.

This project is right up my alley–no heavy lifting, no throwing away sentimental items–I just have to take a happy photo once a day!  It’s not a bragging contest.  There are no prizes to win.

I’m on Day 10.  So far I’ve found out that Elena (pictured on Days 2, 4, 6) and Bojangles (Days 5 and 7) make me the happiest — or at least they are the most willing to pose for the pictures.

On Day 8, I had to decide which made me happier–dumping rotting vegetables in my new compost bin OR eating the last of the Easter candy.  The Easter candy won.

See the rest of my pictures on Instagram.

Do you have time to be happy for 100 days?  Who is up for  #100Happydays?



Death Anniversaries

Today is my dad’s ninth death anniversary.

When I was growing up, I remember my dad would say, “Today is the death anniversary of your Lolo (grandfather)…your Lola (grandmother)…your Tito (uncle)…” There seemed to be a death anniversary every other week.  Sometimes my dad would tell a funny story about the person.  Sometimes no story followed, just silence.

Was he thinking of where he was the exact moment he heard of the death?  Or perhaps the last conversation he had with that person?

On April 23, 2005, while vacationing in the Philippines, my dad had a heart attack, followed later by a stroke, and then he was gone.  I remember the phone call, the long flight back to the Philippines, the funeral, and the days that followed.   The details are still so vividly clear, perhaps because everything was so final.

I’d like to remember how his last hug felt — when he dropped us off at the Vegas airport, gave the kids a dollar each for ice cream, and told us to stay out of trouble.  I’d like to remember how his voice and laugh sounded the last time we spoke on the phone.  But those memories are harder to recall because I was in a rush to catch the flight and in a hurry to get off the phone.  I wish I had known.

Will this day always be an awful reminder of his death?  I don’t know. After nine years, he is still so sorely missed on his birthday, every holiday, family event, and milestone.

Today I will call my mom, text my brothers, and meet my sister for lunch.   I am blessed and so thankful that they are all still here with me.  My dad would be mad if he saw us all still moping around.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures we took together:

My dad and me at my wedding (1994).
My dad and me dancing at my wedding (1994).

According to Wikipedia, there are several cultures that observe death anniversaries.   I’d love to know how (or if) you acknowledge death anniversaries.