You Can’t Buy Everything

I pulled up to the house, the usually clank, clank as I rolled through the gate.


Turned the radio down. Grabbed the wrapper from my breakfast biscuits, half full can of day old La Croix, and gas station receipts, some hard dried up play doh, and stuffed it in a plastic Walgreens bag.

Car Key. Glasses. Purse. Garbage.


My husband opened the door as I stood there fumbling through my Mary Poppinesque bag for the keys.


I adjusted the strap of my blue messenger, switched the bag of garbage I had collected from my car to the other hand.


He smiled longingly at me as I caressed his neck with my free hand.


We kissed softly.

Keys and sunglasses collided with the school pictures of the kids as I tossed them on the table by the door.

Walked around the red scooter the kids left in the hallway.


A shoe box on the kitchen counter caught my eye, but I casually placed my bag down next to it and walked over to the sink to pour out the remaining La Croix before I tossed it.


”Is that for me?” I asked, tilting my head back, not sure if he was in the room yet, but looking for him in the reflection of the kitchen window.


I grabbed the box as he walked up to me.


They were white cycling shoes. Seven and a half.


I had gotten him a Peloton for Valentine’s Day, and had been thinking about trying it, but hadn’t gotten myself a pair of clip-ins yet.


”Happy Birthday,” he said warmly.


”I love them! Thank you” I kissed him and wrapped my arms around his waist, and rested my head on his chest.


”What do you get the girl that can buy herself anything,” he stated.


”Well, not anything,” I said rolling my eyes, smiling.


”I couldn’t buy you… Your love…Our Family… Thank you.”

And we held each other.

How to get away with Mur…MARRIAGE!

How to get away with Mur…RIAGE!

Ha! Marriage!
Yes, I almost said Murder; but both go hand in hand if you ask 40-50% of the population.

MARRIAGE: It’s supposed to be a “Merry-Age”? But for a lot of people it’s more like a slow torturous death.

The plus side is you can always just pull the plug and get a divorce, RIGHT?

NO!!! This totally annoys me.

If you inherently believe that you are gonna fail at something the whole while you are attempting it, don’t you think that negativity will filter through? At the first sign of trouble, you just throw in the towel and bail?

Gosh, we’d probably still be pushing boulders around and beating each other over the head with clubs if we gave up on everything so easily.

Yes, some issues arise because people get married for the wrong reasons, or without getting to know each other well enough, and so on. But for the purpose of this blog post, let’s assume both parties are in love and genuinely believe they WANT to spend the rest of their lives together.

I always hated the phrase “Marriage takes work.” If marriage takes work, then I guess parenting is unpaid overtime, with no breaks or benefits?

I only kid (if you are single and not a parent yet).

If you ARE married and/or also in the parenting phase of your life/relationship, have Faith; be Steadfast; YOU CAN DO THIS!

How? How can I get through another day, you ask? How can I be happy, make my partner happy, and be a good parent at the same time?

Well this post has all the answers you’ve been looking for, you just have to read the whooooole thing to find out.

Okay, I lied.

It’s not easy. It takes a lot of slapping yourself in the face, and saying “Snap out of it!” And “Stop whining like a lil B—-!”

Hi. My name is Carmen.

I’m 17 years into my relationship; almost 11 years into my marriage; and 8 1/2 years into the parenting phase.

And I’m very happy with my life, marriage and family up till now. Many will say I’m happy because I haven’t gotten to the bad part yet. Why do people always wanna have a worse story than you? Wether it’s relationship stories or the horrific labor stories women tell, we are always trying to one up with the bad vibes or bad news.

Well, thankfully, we passed the “7 year itch” without a hitch. We’ve got four kids, all natural labors, 3 with epidural. And although our oldest is only 8, she is frightfully maturing at the speed of light.

Unfortunately, there’s no epidural for marriage, but you shouldn’t need one.

Here are 10 other things you can do be happy in your marriage. I say other because there are so many factors that contribute to a happy marriage.

1: Play hide & seek.
Or, as I like to call it: randomly hide from your husband and scare the crap out of him.

WARNING: while this is EXTREMELY fun, and HILARIOUS, be warned that I cannot be responsible if you get punched or kicked in the face by your frightened significant other.

Whenever I hear him coming down the hall, I find a quiet place to hide and then wait… And wait… And wait. Sometimes for several minutes.

Sounds sinister, I know, but it makes for a great laugh for the both of us, after the initial scare that is. Thankfully he seems to forget to get me back.

2: Serenade each other randomly. 

You don’t need a fancy guitar or Mariachis. Just sing in the car or at home when “your song” comes on. Or text them randomly if you hear your song or any other romantic song on the radio. And don’t discriminate if it’s “Bump and Grind”; it’s the thought that counts.

3: Say I love you when you’re just going to another room.

Say I love you a lot! NO, it does not take the meaning away! Sometimes we don’t say it enough to avoid overuse.

Are you kidding me? Do you know how many times we use the word “the” or “and” everyday? Try taking that out of   rest of this blog post see how odd it would be.

Say “I love you” often as you can.

4: Make time to be Intimate.

This should be number 1, but the order doesn’t really matter.

This is especially true once you have kids, but even before. You get married, and have jobs and responsibilities, and before you know it you could be in a slump! Do not give in to the slump. As tacky or unexciting as it may sound, set aside time to be intimate. Literally, count the days and plan for it.

As boring as that may sound, it will still be fun and exciting once you get around to it! So book your calendars just as you would a mani, pedi, or gym-time.

5: Leave little love notes for each other. 

This one is more for the ladies.

Ladies, don’t read this and say, “my guy never does that.” You see THAT is YOUR biggest problem. Stop comparing your guy to someone else’s. AND stop expecting things from him just because you do them, or want him to do them. Men are totally different animals than us. They DO NOT think the way we do. So you have to learn to interpret and appreciate the little things they do for us.

Like what?

Well, how about when they fix something around the house; deal with your car problems; maybe they let you pick a movie. Okay, maybe it’s just a show between the commercials of the football game; okay, maybe you just hold the remote. FINE! Who am I kidding, we barely have remote rights.

Also, ladies, men are terrible guessers. Just tell them what you want and stop expecting them to “know” everything.

6: Compliment each other.

Naturally, as time passes and you start to settle into the relationship, you get so comfortable you forget how attractive you once found each other. You forget about the chase because you already caught each other, and even though you still have the hots for each other, you stop saying/showing it.

This sort of goes back to number 4/1, but also leads to #7.

7: Be confident.
Too often we don’t give ourselves enough worth. We get down on ourselves because we don’t like what we see in the mirror and we ASSume the other person is unhappy with us as well.

Well, NEWSFLASH, men are easier to please than you think. NO they are not blind; you ARE NOT Miranda Kerr or Sofia Vergara, and yes they find these women very attractive. BUT nevertheless, your spouse wants YOU! So ACT like you look like Miranda Kerr, just don’t talk like Sofia Vergara (that’s just annoying). Put on something sexy no matter what you look like, and your spouse will be happily surprised!

8: Never keep track of who owes who.

Marriage is a give and take (this also goes back to number 4/1).

It’s about compromising and sacrificing.

Sometimes you will feel like you are giving more than the other person. But you aren’t supposed to keep tabs. It’s not a math equation.

You don’t give in hopes of receiving, although the saying goes “you rub my back, I’ll rub yours.” And who doesn’t love a good back rub?

You have to love the person more than yourself. If you are both truly in love, then it all balances out.

Ask my husband and he’ll confirm, “Happy Wife; Happy Life!”

9: Don’t worry about other people’s relationships.

NOBODY is perfect. No matter how “happy” people seem.

You know what makes for a great marriage?

Discretion.
Keep your problems between the both of you. Work them out together, whenever possible just between you and your spouse. Because your unconditional love will forgive many things, but your friends, family and Facebook will not be as understanding or forgiving.

10: Articles about Marriage are like Fad diets.

Their advice WORKS! But the second you atop dieting, you gain all the weight/problems back.

You see marriage is for a lifetime. There is no quick fix, or one time remedy because life takes it’s own course. You have to face obstacles and challenges as they came. It’s impossible to plan for anything.

I hope this post is somewhat helpful. If I have to pick one out of the ten as thee most important, I would go with number 4! 😉

Like Nike says,“Just Do It!” LITERALLY!

Carpe What?

When I was 5 years old, I didn’t have many aspirations-aside from laying on my back on the living room floor, drinking a bottle of yoo-hoo chocolate milk, while watching the latest Woody Wood Pecker cartoon or Chilly Willy. Seriously, who didn’t love singing, “My name is Chilly Willy. I’m frozen through and through.”

Ah, Youth!

Those. Were. The. Days!

When my biggest concern was missing the clown at the end of the year party in kindergarten, because I had caught the chicken pox from my sister. Mrs. Rodriguez had been talking about the party for weeks. It was a big deal! ::rolls eyes and grumbles:: I can’t believe I missed it.

Can you imagine the impact those last two weeks of school would have had on my life?

**********

Moving on.

I had my first crush in 3rd grade. He was funny and cute… Dumb. As. Rocks, though. He brought his dad’s credit card to school one day. He was so cool! It said his name right there on the card.

He held it up to me gleaming. The plastic coating that made the card shiny, rather than just a dull matte blue, was slightly peeling off one corner. It was just a little bit, but naturally, I pulled on it and a huge piece flaked off. It’s like a scab, and who can resist picking a scab?!?
My eyes opened wide, as did his. His face turned a bright red, and his eyes welled up.

He ignored me for weeks! Okay, so it was just a few days, but it seemed like forever. Our desks were arranged in groups of six, and ours faced each other.

We didn’t have twitter or hashtags back then, but seriously #FirstWorldProblems.

One day, when we were on speaking terms again, he said, “Meet me at the big tree after school.”

Oh my God! He likes me! I thought giddily, but somehow contained my excitement and only let out a mild, “Sure.”

I hesitated on the sidewalk that day—to the left was the field with the big tree, to the right, the pick up line.

Decisions. Decisions.

I was 8.

I pulled nervously on the black straps of my backpack and waited at the pickup line.

It was the last week of school; my last week at that school.

He didn’t say anything about it the next day.

I imagined that he had waited by the tree, and watched me drive off in my uncle’s red Buick Regal.

**********

5th grade

Another crush…

He was older, and a writer…

Stephen King. LOL! I bet you thought this post was taking a dark and twisted turn. But no, I simply fell in love with his writing and with reading in general.

I started writing poems here and there. At school we learned about Haikus. HaiWho? HaiWhat?

First they were senseless,
But with time I did catch on;
I wrote more and more.

My best friend and I would write short stories, mostly murder mysteries. We haven’t published any just yet, but any day now we’re gonna dig through those boxes of journals and notes and yearbooks, and I bet we have some real gems in there!

I also loved Archie’s Digest. My mom would always pick one up for me in the checkout line at Publix.
I always thought my best friend and I were Betty and Veronica. Her name was Veronica, but I wasn’t blonde. Well, neither of us were. Ah the point is they were best friends, and I identified us with them. Das it!
**********
7th grade

This is beginning to read more like one of my journals, and boy did I have tons of them!

Thirteen, and I’ve decided I’m gonna be a lawyer. It’s more like I was pushed into it by my father. I prepared many opening statements, and filed countless motions before him. Unfortunately, I never won any cases. He was the opposing counsel AND the judge, kinda one sided there don’t you think?

So, what do a budding teenager and her old fashioned father argue about you might ask.

For starters, anything that involves being out of the house with other people, aside from school or work, regardless of the time of day. It was harsher than it sounds.

Whether it was just hanging out at my best friend’s house, going to a movie, or roller skating at Hot Wheels, the answer was an affirmative “No!”, and only sometimes a tortured “Yes”, thanks to my mom’s nagging. Oh, and God forbid I mention the beach, or come home from the “mall” with a tan.

I just wanted to hang out with my best friend, listen to Aerosmith, and talk nonsense (but very important, best friend nonsense) over a slice of Papa John’s and some Chips Ahoy cookies.

Imagine if we had done everything we had planned back then?

We might be running a clothing store called ClothesStop. Or was it ClothesTime? It definitely would’ve been a chain of stores by now. #Forever13

**********

9th grade
Life has gotten so much easier! #SaidNoTeenagerEVER

You turn 15 and your dad turns into an even bigger drag!

My inseparable best-friend and I are now separated by way of about 26 blocks between our high schools. Not very far on a map, or driving time, but apart nonetheless….creating a gap that opened ever so slightly each day, like bolts you turn to stretch a bone. A little pain each day, until suddenly you are taller, or in this case more distant.
**********

1997
I met a boy. Well, if you ask my father, he was a man.

He did have a lot of facial hair, and chest hair, and arm hair, and leg hair.

OKAY, he was all hair, and hair meant he was not a boy. O_o

Beware the hair, mommas and poppas!

OF COURSE, I thought he was “the one”.

Father hates him? CHECK!

PERFECT!

That wasn’t really why I thought he was the one. I was young, but I was in love.
And contrary to all of my fathers…”instructions” let’s call them, I was certain that he was right for me.

I was only 15, but I was right.

***********

2003

I hit the big 2-1! I could now drink “legally”! Woohoo!

My high school sweetheart proposed on my 21st birthday, April Fool’s Day. Thankfully, it was not a prank!

But I wasn’t shocked. I did not break down in tears. Somewhere, there is footage on an old video camera that captured the moment. WHERE IS IT? I don’t know, but the important thing is: I. did. not. cry.

Am I heartless or cold-hearted? Some might say yes.

But I wasn’t. I didn’t cry because I wasn’t shocked. I loved him, and I knew he loved me. I wanted to get married eventually, but we had what mattered the most already- love and each other. So I said yes, slipped the ring on my finger, and we went upon our merry way.

We are now 10 years into the marriage and ready for Divorce…

HAHA! Just kidding. We’ve got 4 amazing kids, and I couldn’t be happier. I do cry a lot more these days, though. Once you have kids your hormones and emotions just spiral out of control. Okay, that could just be me… Moms?
My best friend is still that.

Our friendship was like a butterfly that reincarnated back to a larvae, and metamorphosed again after college. (I totally had to look up that word… Metamorphosed, doesn’t really roll off the tongue.)  We both got pregnant with our first child around the same time, and now our little caterpillars are going to grow up together. #Cliches #Metaphors

**********

Life can be exciting, but unpredictable.

My life is not perfect. It’s great; not perfect. But I am happy, nevertheless.

Do I ever question life, the whos, whys and whens? Yes, I’m only human, of course I do.

But I never regret, and I never wish to go back or relive.

You have to live your life forgetting about the “What ifs?” and instead saying, “What NOW?”
CARPE DIEM!

And that DOES NOT mean act like an idiot; live today, who can speak for tomorrow.

For me It means live for today, because yesterday is gone; what have I learned from my choices and experiences, and what can I do with them now for a better tomorrow.

Seize Change!
And while there are things that I wish had not happened in my life, or perhaps, that had just happened differently, I am certainly glad I never went to the big tree that day.

Construction

This weekend we attended a destination wedding in Colombia.

******

We overcrowded a large chiva bus that drove us around town blasting music. There was dancing in the aisles, and much cheering each other on as we, unsanitarily, gulped whiskey from a bottle we passed around; several bottles, actually. We wore printed straw party hats and colorful thematic necklaces with traditional Colombian designs—elephant masks & bull heads.

20130527-235634.jpg

I watched a friend’s husband as he gazed at her from across the torn leather seats of the chiva bus. At some point during the excitement of cheering, dancing and exchanging saliva and liquor, they had been separated.

He searched for her through the people dancing and drinking in the aisle. She didn’t notice him staring so earnestly at her. He smiled. Maybe it was partly his loins that yearned for her. After all, the next night he would jokingly hump our table at the reception after a little borrachera from one too many drinks and cigars. But right now, it was his eyes that smiled, admiring her beauty as she laughed and clapped at those around her.

******

We held tight to the champagne bottle bubble favors the coordinator had handed us at the door of the church. We waited excitedly for the moment we could start blowing bubbles. Not so much because it meant our two friends were now united forever by GOD, but because blowing bubbles is fun, Damn it! A few of my friends, okay just one of them, innocently blew bubbles into the aisle before it was “time”. What a rebel! We laughed.

The clear christmas lights adorning the white rose and hydrangea arrangements along the aisle, shone hopefully through the tiny spheres that drifted above our heads.

We listened intently as the happy couple repeated their vows to each other sweetly. The groom stuttered nervously as he said,”Fi.. Fide.. Fi…Fi… Fidelidad.

I think we all wanted to shout the word as he stumbled through it. Fidelity is probably not the part of your vows you want to falter on, but it was innocent nerves.

His bride sailed through her vows seamlessly, but we aren’t gonna read into that. 😉

******

Later, I watched my newly wed friends on the dance floor. The bride smiled affectionately as she sang to her husband. All eyes were on them as they belted romantic lyrics to each other, spinning each other around, sometimes fast, sometimes slow; at arms length, then real close. They saw only each other.

They danced throughout the night; and always, love danced in their eyes.

******

Another friend, overjoyed for the happy couple, chose Patron for her celebratory toast(s). Her other half watched as she poured another glass on the rocks, then swayed her way to the dance floor where she and other friends danced energetically.

He reveled in how she enjoyed herself—dancing, laughing and taking pictures.

Did she have a bit too much tequila? Maybe.

But he never said a word; he never flinched; he never grimaced as she teeter tottered across the dance floor to use the bathroom. But, he was there to help walk her to their room, to take care of her in sickness, in hangover, and in health.

******

Me and my better half sat together most of the night. I’m not big on dancing in general; the fact that 95% of the music was salsa, merengue or other Latin beat, didn’t help.

A chicken with its head cut off has more rhythm than I do.

We shared a celebratory cigar on a balcony just outside of the reception hall. (I took 3 puffs. Spicy is all I have to say. Mouth on FIRE! Adventurous moment over.)

We were alone.

We chatted and gossiped. We laughed and flirted. Looked at each other, looked away. We held hands, we held each other. We kissed.

We didn’t stare off into the sunset. The view was mainly building sites that had just broken ground; other edifices, only 3 to 4 stories into the process; and some, just sites sectioned off for future use.

******

Love, like construction, changes and grows; just never stop building.

A Shooting Star

November 25, 2012

Last night I saw a shooting star.

Bright & hopeful, it ascended.

I followed its orange-gold trail as it
rocketed across the sky, and smiled in wonderment at this message from Above.

A few, too brief seconds.

I thought about my wish as my eyes descended upon the lake.

They followed the icicle lights along the fence, past the luminous Framboyan tree, until I was looking around the patio.

Music played.

My newly-wed sister, danced by the pool, carefree, with her equally jubilant husband.

Laughter resonated from the bar where friends exchanged, drinks, numbers and mustaches.

Cigar smoke billowed near my father’s table. Whiskey and tales of yore I can only aspire to.

Floating candles and rose petals highlighted the dessert table. Strawberries, brownies, rum cake – pure decadence.

One of the kids ran back into the house “before” I could spot them outside barefoot.

My husband walked towards me.
I hugged his arm and said,”I JUST saw a shooting star!” He smiled & kissed me.

In that moment, I realized my wish was already true.

Matthew 2:10
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.