30 Day Challenge- Day #4 & Day #5

Day 4-Your parents

parents 3 parents 4

I always get really excited when I get to tell a story about my wonderful parents! Although I didn’t realize it growing up, they have always been the epitome of fair and loving. Even now, when all of their children are grown, out of the house, and living their own lives, they still manage to take us away on family vacations, weekends getaways, and our favorite, Sunday Funday family dinners. They still treat us all the same and no one gets any special privileges.  It’s like Mami always says, “Todos en el piso, o todos en la cama!”  Everyone on the floor or everyone in the bed, and that’s how it’s always been.

My Mom – There really aren’t any words to describe the amazing woman that she truly is, mombut I will admit, that our relationship for most of my life has been quite strained.  There was even a point where we barely spoke to each other for the better part of 2 years.  We fought pretty often when I was a teenager, and when I left home at 18, I did it in a very sneaky way that caused an even bigger rift between us.  The phone calls were rare, I hardly showed up at home for family functions, and when I did, I rarely spoke to her.  As the years passed, I realized that all of the things she did, how strict she was, how she constantly challenged me, were only done to make me a better person.  It took me until I was 25 (and lots of therapy and my moms breast cancer diagnosis), to really understand that it was all done in my best interest.  We began to mend our relationship that year, and now, I can honestly sit here and say that my mother is one of my best friends.  She always gives the best advice, and recognizes the struggle.  She’s been through so much in her short almost 50 years of life, and her experience and advice have been invaluable, both to myself and Callie.  My mom is just awesome, and a party animal. She’s a “5K every morning at 5am” runner. She’s a “hot yoga” fanatic.  She loves her Ugg Riding Boots, and a glass of wine in her hand.  She is the life of the party, and gives the BEST hugs when your having the WORST day.  She’s the greatest cook on the planet, and the best grandmother any kid could have.  She’s a multi-tasker who loves BBQ’s and a perfectly manicured yard.  My mom, she’s amazing!

My Dad – I’m glad that I was never given the opportunity to chose my father, because I don’t think I would have made as marvelous of a decision as the Universe did.  My Papi, he dadchose me.  He was young (18) and he took me in as his own.  Barely out of high school, he was working 3 jobs to support my mom and her two children, two children that he could have very well had nothing to do with.  But he didn’t choose that path at all, he chose us, and for that I will be forever grateful.  Lots of my attributes, I inherited from my dad.  He has this incredible ability to see the positive and good in everyone and every situation.  He is one of the funniest people I have ever met, and we are usually greeted with some ridiculous joke when we get together.  We all have his sense of humor.  He has a thirst for knowledge that had us watching Discovery and History channels most of our lives, and reading encyclopedias for fun.  Thanks to my dad, we can watch an episode of Jeopardy and answer just about 3/4 of the questions correctly.  He’s a magnificent grandfather with a wealth of knowledge to offer all of his grandkids.  He’s an inventor and an artist.  The walls of our childhood bedroom were adorned with hand drawn pictures of Mickey Mouse, and Roger Rabbit.  He’s an athlete, who taught us to play a ton of different sports, and never let us quit, which led us all to being state record holders and all league/county/state athletes.  He’s rarely missed one of our games.  My dad is a Renaissance Man, who knows a lot about a lot and he’s managed to instill that in each one of his 5 children.

I’m lucky to have such incredible parents.  I’m glad that they took us on camping trips instead of holidays on some far off island.  I’m grateful for the 6+ hour car rides where they forced us to listen to New Age music from the 80’s.  I’m appreciative of the 1 Game Boy that they bought for 5 kids to share.  It didn’t make sense to me then, but now, as a parent, I get it!  I totally understand.  I hope to be with my kids, the way my parents were with me; Strict, kind, supportive, affectionate, challenging, consistent, and loving…always very loving…but also, ridiculous…just…ridiculous…

parentsxmas

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Day 5 – Your Siblings

I have been very blessed with having a crapload of siblings!  My parents started their family very young, and by the time my parents were 25, they had 5 kids under the age of 8.  We were in a cramped space, with not a lot of material things, so we were forced to play together.  My first best friends were my siblings.  My first fight – siblings!  My first crack at parenting – siblings.  I will admit, I was tough on them, my youngest brother getting it the worst.  I was left with them on my own lots of times, because my parents worked full time but also went together in the evening to work a part time job from 6-9pm cleaning a clinic on weeknights.  At 12 years old, I was responsible for my younger siblings getting their homework done, chores done, brushing their teeth, and getting to bed before my parents got home. It wasn’t easy, but the connection and the bond that it helped to create with my them is one that I cherish every day.  We talk on the phone often, and never hang up without saying “I love you”.  We vacation together, even without our parents, raise our kids together, and continue a lot of the things we did when we were younger, like encouraging each other to be better people.  We party together, we grieve together, we care for each other when we are sick, we make each other laugh with random meme’s in group text, and we always, always remember that “family first”.

Raquel – She is a year younger than I am, and growing up I wasn’t allowed to do anything without her tagging along.  “Ma, I wanna play outside!” “Take your sister!”  “Ma, I’m going to the movies!” “Not without your sister!”  “Mom, prom is in 3 weeks” “Do any of your friends need a date so your sister can go with you?!!”  Seriously!?!  Raquel asked me to be the officiant at her wedding this August.  She doesn’t have a wedding party, so she asked if I would do what a Maid of Honor usually does. I can’t wait!  My sister and I, we are close.  Although she is younger than I am, I have always admired her and wished I could be more like her.  She is a marathon runner, a lover of life, a world traveler, an amazing and trustworthy friend, a maker of time for all things family, and above anything else, she is infectious.  Her smile is contagious, her laughter is toxic and will have everyone doubled over in stitches within seconds, and her love, well that can be felt without her even saying it.  Raquel is one of a kind.

Leo – My brother Leo is from a relationship before my mom and dad met.  He came to the US when he was 8 years old, and quickly made his way into our hearts as a very important and loved member of our family.  Growing up, my Dad always had his pictures up in our house.  When Leo got to the states, he and I instantly formed a special bond.  We were big soccer kids, and practiced together until the sun set.  We were obsessed with playing video games.  We loved watching Yu-Gi-Oh and Sailor Moon.  He was my favorite playmate, and we spend lots of time, leaning over each others shoulders looking into the one Game Boy that we all shared.  Tetris masters?!  That’s us!  We don’t talk as often as we used to be, but every once in a while, outta the blue, I’ll receive or send an “I miss you” message, and it makes my week…every time!

Natasha – My baby sister.  We have always had a very co-dependent relationship.  Ever since Natasha was sleeping in her own bed, it has been a shared bed with me.  We slept in the same bed until pretty much the day I moved out, not because of any reason besides we wanted to. She was my “buddy” growing up, and it was my responsibility to take care of her when we were getting ready in the morning, or when we were on family outings. Nata and I were inseparable growing up.  She was my shadow, doing everything I did.  We slept holding hands, and I would give her licks from my ice cream.  I would take the lollipop out of my mouth and hand it to her without question.  I would even give her the rest of my sweet plantains when their weren’t anymore because I knew how much she loved them.  I would do her chores because I felt that she shouldn’t have to, and I would cry when my parents would yell at her and spank her.  Our relationship has evolved through the years, even switching roles sometimes.  But my little sister will always have a special place in my heart, and lots of times, when I look at her, I still see the chubby little brown skinned infant, crawling towards me under the flat sheet parachute, drolly smile and beautiful brown eyes.  I see it often in the faces of my 2 gorgeous nieces , and it takes me all the way back….

Pudge – My little brother, who actually ended up being the biggest one in our family.  My  handsome, brave, intelligent, hard working, gay little brother.  He and I have quite the history.  We didn’t get on very well growing up.  To me, he was an annoying, entitled, spoiled little brat, and to him, I was just a glorified babysitter.  He spent most of his time in front of the television watching his beloved Power Ranger in his tighty whiteys, leaving me cleaning up behind him and getting in trouble for not making sure that he had done his homework (although he had lied to me about not having any!) But that all changed when my brother turned 18.  He was nervous and scared about letting everyone know who he really was.  My brother came out to me, and thanked me for opening the door for him to be his true self.  Since then, my brother has been a staple in the gathering of my closest friends.  He has made a place for himself in my life, and lots of times when my friends and I plan a weekend trip away , my brother is one of the first ones on the email list.  He knows all things NYC, where the best Sunday unlimited brunches are, and most of my gay lingo comes from my flamboyant brother.  He gives me life in the worst way, and he is completely SICKENING!  My baby brother?! He’s pretty awesome…

Harry – I didn’t grow up with my brother Harry.  I didn’t even know he existed until I was 25 years old.  I missed out on his life, and he missed out on mine, but since we met, we have been trying our best to make up for lost time.  In the past few years, I have witnessed my brother and his girlfriend have 2 beautiful children, exchange wedding vows, go through hardships and also overcome them.  I have shared birthdays with the 4 of them, exchanged gifts, and just enjoyed each others time over a few brews, a BBQ grill, and a few beach chairs.  I have been so lucky to have my life enriched by this new relationship, and continue to enjoy every moment that I spend with the newest member of my immediate family.  Only time will tell how our relationship will continue to grow, and now that we get to raise children together, I look forward to those shared moment even more…

Along with my siblings come a whole slew of in-loves (in-laws for you out there that don’t really dig them as much as I do).  I call them my in-loves because really, that’s what they are!  All of my brothers and sisters in love, really help to round out our family and create the dynamic that makes it incredible to be a part of this family.  Hopefully, soon, we’ll have so many nieces and nephews that we won’t be able to count them on my two hands.  More wedding bells will be chiming this year.  More family vacations to document and laugh about later on.  More babies being born.  More inside jokes and happy hours.  More sleep overs at Wita and Wito’s.  More backyard fire pit follies, and more memories created to carry us for a while.  More love to go around…famwater

TOP ROW - (L TO R) RAQUEL, MYSELF, NATASHA BOTTOM ROW (L TO R) PUDGE, MAMI, YZZY, PAPI, AND LEO

TOP ROW – (L TO R) RAQUEL, MYSELF, NATASHA
BOTTOM ROW (L TO R) PUDGE, MAMI, YZZY, PAPI, AND LEO

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16 thoughts on “30 Day Challenge- Day #4 & Day #5

    • When we go on family vacations, we always end up adopting random people to do excursions with us. They end up next to us because of some random twist of fate, and want to hang out with us for the rest of the trip…it’s pretty bizarre! But they really are crazy and fun!

  1. What a lovely family! Your parents are super cute.

    I love hearing about all of the different configurations people’s families of origin have, and about all of the different personalities within them. Often when I describe my big blended family, people just look at me blankly like they’ll never be able to remember how we’re all related, or they actually say “wow, that sounds complicated”. But it’s actually simple – it’s not about the blood, it’s about the love. But you know that already obviously 🙂

  2. Woooooow!!! You and my wife have sooo much in common. You two would be besties if you met. Her dad took her and her siblings in as well when he was 17!!!! He’s practically raised her since she was a baby. Awww and your mom is beautiful 🙂 your family reminds me a lot like hers. Your so lucky 🙂

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