Category Archives: Family

Seven Things I Learned at the Belmont Stakes (In No Particular Order)

Belmont Stakes, June 10, 2017 - Race 11 - the big oneAlthough I grew up minutes away from the Belmont Racetrack, I’d never been inside until yesterday. I joined Oldest Niece, her friends and my daughter as we celebrated my niece’s birthday, at her request, at the Belmont Stakes horse race.

It was quite the education: Continue reading Seven Things I Learned at the Belmont Stakes (In No Particular Order)

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Bonding Over Thanksgiving Leftovers

cooked turkey on a platterI suspect every American knows that the best thing about Thanksgiving is the leftovers.

The sheer amount of food on the holiday can be overwhelming, especially if you are hosting and have to figure out where to put ALL THAT FOOD. Continue reading Bonding Over Thanksgiving Leftovers

Celebrating Life in the Sharing Economy

FH 5/14/15Last May I alluded to the new economy, one based on sharing rather than owning, on dealing with new ways of being employed.

And right about that time, I unexpectedly became a roommate. Continue reading Celebrating Life in the Sharing Economy

Party Decorating With Obstacles

When my sister-in-law decided that we would host my sister’s bridal shower and that I was in charge of decorations, I felt (1) giddily creative and (2) that our newest family member really knew me. All will be well, I thought.

Inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, I decided to start decorating plain glass vases as poufy brides. How hard can it be to glue tulle to glass, right?

It took weeks to assemble the supplies, mainly because I wanted something sparkly to use as a “bodice.” After finding nothing at the local sewing stores, I happened upon a gauzy scarf at the dollar store. Score! Or so I thought. Continue reading Party Decorating With Obstacles

October is Hispanic Heritage month, a bittersweet time for a second-generationer.

Prejudice enjoyed its heyday when my father was younger. Consequently, we were raised to hide our heritage, both in the world and at home. Oh yeah, we lived for the food and enjoyed the music at holidays and celebrations, but at all other times it was all about assimilation.

Continue reading The Lesson of Hispanic Heritage Month

Destined to be a Blogger

Today is my grandfather’s birthday, and he would have been amused at how I spent it.

I’ve been attending the Blogher conference; this year it’s right here in New York. There are speakers and breakout sessions, networking and parties. The days are long but interesting. It’s great seeing a multitude of women immersed in new media and self expression.

Grandpa had three sons. When his first grandchild turned out to be a girl, it didn’t occur to him to treat me as unintelligent. For a few of my early years I lived with my grandparents. Grandma taught me sewing and food prep and how to set a proper table. Grandpa let me watch the news with him and shared his political opinions with me. He was stern but believed in his grandkids. While some anti-education folks married into the family, he announced that I was going to college. I was still in elementary school. Was this an edict, prophecy or call to battle?

My grandfather left Ecuador as a teenager. Back then you could work hard to improve your economic status, and he did. He retired a tool and die maker, a skilled tradesman with a love of the English language. He died a few years ago just shy of his 103rd birthday. In his last year or so he started reverting to his language of origin, but always pronounced my name in English.

I remember him asking me about words: where did this word come from, why does that bank have its name? Two generations later, I’m using words with a platform and technology he could never have imagined.

Happy Birthday to a man whose thinking was a generation ahead of his time.

Happy Father’s Day (in abstentia)

“As I watch the seedling grow, I feel my heart start to overflow. Where do I find the words to say? How do I teach him? What do we play? Bit by bit, I realize, that’s when I need them, that’s when I need my father’s eyes.” (the great Eric Clapton)

Happy Father’s Day to all the good dads, to the women who are both mother and father to their kids, and to the selfless male role models. I didn’t get to see my dad today; we’ll celebrate the holiday at a later date.

When I was young it was common for relatives to just stop by each others’ homes unannounced, simply because it’s family. Many years ago I my toddler screamed and fought me as I tried to wash her hair. Just as I was at my wit’s end my father appeared. I answered the door with a wet, angry child under my arm. He told me to go take a walk. I returned home to a clean, happy girl and domestic bliss. It helped that for a little while I lived about a mile from my father and he was old-school about visiting. When I started my new life and gleefully decorated on the cheap, it was Dad’s career as a tool and die maker that made it possible for us (mostly him) to assemble Ikea furniture without losing our minds. He loves all of his kids equally yet uniquely because we are all such different people. And does he love being a grandpa!

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

 

It’s Gift And Tree Season

little pink tree 2014I kind of like buying Christmas gifts. It forces me to consider what the recipient, usually somebody I care about, would actually like. As I read the annual lists of suggestions and guides, though, I wonder, “Who buys this stuff?” Cutesy, impractical apparel, delicate looking toys, designer food. If I presented this to my family I would hear a rousing chorus of “What the hell is this?”

And rightly so. We are not that demographic who follow short-lived trends, at least those of us past high school age. We like real stuff: wine, cash, jewelry, my almost-annual gift to Dad of a new sweater.

Continue reading It’s Gift And Tree Season

Stuff Kids Taught Me

Fall Foliage, New York State, 2008Being a parent has, believe it or not, taught me to be as good to myself as I would be to a child.

Think in full sentences. You wouldn’t just say “milk” and expect your kid to know if you mean “Drink your milk” or Put the milk away” or “Don’t pass milk through your nose.  So why just think “milk” when you mean, “I have to buy milk?”

Speak kindly and/or politely.  Berating children is wrong for so many reasons. Don’t do it to yourself.

Try new things.  One minute baby is holding onto a table, then one foot in front of the other propels the kid forward, upright, seeing the world in a brand new way.  Baby falls down, gets back up and happily wobbles to the next piece of furniture. Not all change is as good as this. Sometimes it sucks but we need to at least be open to the possibility that it’s good.

Fight the fear.    Some kids are afraid of Halloween, Santa Claus or sand. Imagine all the fun they’d miss if they never got over those fears! I’m still skittish when driving on bridges, which is irrational since I live and work on separate islands. (Only one of New York City’s five boroughs is on the mainland, and I don’t live there.)

Shhhh. Listen. You could learn something. But don’t be too quiet or people will think either that  you’re stupid or left the room, metaphorically speaking.

Dance and Sing even if you think you’re not very good at it. Small kids rarely are but they don’t care, and neither should you, especially if you’re home!

Write Things Down.  I picture rows of students at their desks, diligently taking notes or completing assignments. The grown-up counterpart is listmaking. Grocery lists, to-do lists, holiday card lists, all serve to organize and prioritize our busy lives. This gives us time to…

Live in Wonder. Why should toddlers have all the fun? A great sunset, fall foliage, roaring waves, a gorgeous pair of shoes: these never fail to grab my attention. Now I know that I can just slow down and take it all in.