Thankful Thursdays

For skills discovered.

Cooking is not for everyone. It’s definitely not my cup of tea, that’s no secret, and my family can attest to it. Sadly, I didn’t inherit Mom’s love for cooking or her skill for creating her amazing meals. I really never had an interest for the craft, to be honest. For me it was more of a task, so I tended to look away whenever she tried to teach me. She cooked everything ojo and the most I managed to pick up were guesstimations here and there to put together a quick meal.

Knowing well I was culinarily challenged, she gave us a famous cookbook shortly after we got married, dedication page and all. But, no matter how inspiring Mom’s inscription, whenever I considered taking on one of the dishes in this book, I’d quickly reconsider after reading the recipe. It was just as comedian Rita Rudner would say: “I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself ‘well, that’s not going to happen.’”

What did happen was the lockdown and the boredom and the extra time, which forced the flow of some creative juices I didn’t know I had. All of a sudden, I found myself trying my hand at some of Mom’s pinches of this and dashes of that, and creating some inventos of my own. Que?, I actually can cook! That, by the way, has been confirmed by my closest critics, my husband and kids. This trio is raw honest when it comes to food taste, sin pena, so when they say, “Wow, this is pretty good,” trust me, it must be. They’ve stopped adding Sriracha sauce and Ketchup to most of the food so I’m feeling quite accomplished.

Before lockdown, how can I put this…we ate. During lockdown, it’s more like dine. “Ya era hora,” Mom must be saying from above. Thanks, Mom, for the cookbook, I love reading the inscription. I think I’ll start reading the rest of the pages.

For skills discovered, today and always, I am thankful. What skills have you discovered during your lockdown? And what are you thankful for today?

I dedicate this post to my husband who celebrates a birthday today. Happy birthday, babe 🎂🎉 thanks for never complaining about my cooking (or lack thereof). ❤️

Translation: 
To my dearest children, Connie and Jose:
There’s a very old saying that says: ‘Love enters through the kitchen.’ I know very well that your love is blessed by God and is true and beautiful. In this book there are many easy and tasty recipes, I hope to try some of them.
Save this as a reminder of someone who prays every day for your happiness.
Receive a thousand kisses and hugs
from your mommy
Olga

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“You never know what you can do until you try, and very few try unless they have to.” -C.S. Lewis

“The only reason I have a kitchen is because it came with the house.”

 

Thankful Thursdays

For America – for better or worse, in sickness and in health.

Let me ask you something personal: Do you think America is the greatest country in the world? I suppose one could easily argue that it is, and just as easily argue that it’s not. After all, we’re in the midst of some pretty difficult times right now. For me, it’s a yes. There’s no place I rather live in, even during imperfect times. Having lived under a communist regime and exiled to a socialist country before making it here, freedom and opportunity are high on my list. The freedom and opportunity to express this opinion, for instance, and for us to disagree.

I know that what I love and respect about this nation may be what you dislike and despise about it. But the fact that you and I are choosing to live in it – – happily or miserably – – irrespective of our reasons, and even when we reject some of its principles, says, to me, a lot about its greatness.

For your sake and mine, may God protect it, calm us the heck down, and keep it free. Porque de aquí, ¿Pa’dónde? That’s why for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for this country, I am thankful.

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy Fourth of July. 

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
-Ronald Reagan

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

 

Thankful Thursdays

For a chance like this one.

Go ahead, and take a seat on that bench. The bench is anywhere you’d like it to be. Next to you is anyone you choose to chat with for one hour. Who would that someone be? 

Although I would be tempted to choose God, I really don’t think I’m ready to hear His answers to my questions, or His reasons to my whys. That’s a conversation for a time when my soul will be capable of deeper understanding.

Although I would be tempted to choose my mother, I think she instilled in me enough of the best of her to guide me for the rest of my life. No questions would be asked, only thanks would be given.

And although I would be tempted to choose my father, I think I already know how that hour would go: lots of laughs and baseball talk over a game of dominos.

No, I would choose the one person I miss the most. The one I have an unfinished life with – – my sister. Her untimely death robbed me (yes, I’m being selfish), robbed me of … her shy smile, her obsessive neatness, her relentless thoughtfulness, our countless conversations throughout the day, her solid advice, her unfailing call always the first on my birthday, and of the way she loved my kids. What a chat this would be.

Thankfully, my faith is my ticket to this sit down. One day. This bench right here would be good.

For a chance like this, I’ll be eternally grateful.

So who would your someone be? And what are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

 

“There are stars whose light only reaches the Earth long
after they have fallen apart. There are people whose
remembrance gives light in this world, long after they
have passed away. This light shines in our darkest
nights on the road we must follow.”
-The Talmud

 

If I could talk to God, I’d have a million questions
If we could sit down face to face
I’d inquire how He likes to spend His days
And if He has any regrets about this world He made

Everywhere I look, children hungry, people hurting
Is it working? Does it really have to be this way?
I think He might say
“Hey, it’s really very simple, follow My example”
People, it’s not so hard living the right way
Learn to love each other, your sister and your brother

If I could talk to God, I wonder if that’s what he’d say
If I could talk to God, I’d look him in the eye and
Ask him about my destiny
Shouldn’t I spend my time on grander things
And does it even make a difference anyway
In a world full of confusion am I part of the solution?
And will it take a revolution for the world to change

I think He might say
“Children you’re not there for a long, long time”
Is it so hard to just play nice?
     -Alice Peacock

 

Thankful Thursdays

For colorful blooms.

I was taking them for granted, I guess. All the pretty flowers we plant every year. But this spring and summer they are not going unnoticed. On the contrary, the are being watered and cared for and admired more than ever. With the lockdown and home confinement, there’s been more time to “stop and smell the roses.”

And with it, a miraculous infusion of hope. After two minutes of news, I step out back and my gloom is brightened with the beauty of God’s nature. Better days will come, my friends. Have faith. Be hopeful. Let’s bloom where we are planted!

I dedicate today’s post to my husband, the man who nurtures our garden and trees and Lauren and Danny. Happy Father’s Day, babe!

 

For colorful and meaningful blooms, today and always, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“You’re only here for a short visit.
Don’t hurry. Don’t worry.
And be sure to smell the flowers
along the way.”
-W. Hagen

“The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family.” -R. Markham

Thankful Thursdays

For a different twist this week, I asked what our kids are thankful for. Because the world’s on fire and we need perspective and a dose of hope. Here it is:

“I am thankful to be part of a supportive family that I know will have my back in whatever I do or where ever I go.”
     -Taylor Quintero, 18

“I am thankful for all the opportunities I have been given – great family, great school and a great team.”
     -Bailey Quintero, 16

“I am thankful for my health, my family, my friends and for the world I live in! I am lucky enough to say this! I have the best support system in all of these and I couldn’t thank god at a time like this for having all of them in my life and keeping everyone in my life healthy!”
     -Andrea Garcia, 27

“I am thankful for being able to move to a new city and have the opportunity to begin my new journey as a resident!”
     -Elen Volovich, 25

“I am thankful that Juanky and I were able to purchase our first home together.”
     -Vicky Rodriguez, 27

“I am thankful for some very important people in my life that have turned my life into a blessing: my boyfriend Tyler Farnstrom, my two best friends Suyeny Diaz and Lauren Christine Perez, and my Ohana (everyone who is part of our DisneyCrew) . I cannot imagine my life without any of them!” 
     -Charlenne Blanco, 26

“I am most thankful for my family and for friends who have become family. My grandparents were always like second parents to my brother and me. My mom and dad and I have grown so close as I’ve gotten older. My cousins are like my brothers and sisters. We are a very tight knit family, and I love that even though some of us are miles away, we still try to see each other every year and stay connected. 
My friends are also so important to me. To me, my friends are the family that I’ve chosen for myself. They’re the people I know I can go to for anything. I’ve been so blessed to have made friends from around the world, and I love that we always find time to see each other as well. I know that I can always count on them, even if the miles separate us ♥️”
     -Kristin Worsham, 29

“I am thankful for the people who choose to be my “family”. For those who choose to stay by my side through the ups and downs, the ones who accept me and the ones who Love me. Those are the people who keep me centered. I thank God every day for them.”
     -Lauren Ashley Campana, 24

“I am thankful for not having to set an alarm. Throughout this quarantine period, I no longer have the obligation to wake up early to ensure that I am showered and ready for school or work since all of my responsibilities have gone “remote”. Forgoing my old morning routine has allowed my body to naturally wake up on its own at the same time in the morning before starting my work. *Throws on NASA hat* Who needs pants anyways, right?”
     -Daniel Christian Perez, 24

“I am thankful for the hardships we go through. Without them we wouldn’t grow, and without growth we wouldn’t feel purpose. Purpose is all God wants for us, and I’m grateful that He keeps me going.”
     -Lauren Christine Perez, 28

“With everything going on in the world today, we start to see the little things that we have taken for granted. Reflecting on the past few months I have realized how thankful I am to have my family and friends in my life. We sometimes take for granted the people that God has put in our path, but in this time it has really taught me to appreciate these people. During this time of self isolation, I have grown existing friendships and have spent time with family members that I don’t always spend enough time with. I am thankful for these people and the time I’ve been able to spend with them.”
     -Cristy Lopez, 29

“I am thankful that Papa Dios made the Earth.”
     -Anastasia Simon, 5

“I am thankful for my health and my support system.”
     -Miled Finianos, 24

“Health, friends and family, education.”
     -Anel Velasquez, 19

“Health.”
     -Alia Velasquez, 15

“Family, food, dog.”
     -Ania Velasquez, 11

“Family, roof over my head, education.”
     -Aila Velasquez, 11

“My dogs. They make me smile.”
     -Gabriela Casariego, 26

“I’m thankful for my mom & cousin. My Disney Crew friends and my Orlando Family friends. For music. I’m thankful to be working during this time. And lastly, thankful to have found faith again. ♥️”
     -Suyeny Diaz, 27

“I am thankful for a world full of diversity in all aspects! Without diversity, the world would be boring. Every single person has different knowledge, culture, upbringing, and morals.
I am also thankful for the ability to learn and be open to all knowledge. It’s important to learn/view things from a different perspective. Knowledge is an ever-growing powerful tool.”   
     -Kevin Maestre, 28

“Although the world’s been crazy these days, I’m thankful for the ability to adapt quickly. I’m grateful to have a job that still continues to develop me even while working remotely and hasn’t missed a beat through it all.”
     -Samantha Mannion, 28

“In my 27 rotations around the sun, I have had so many things happen in my life that I have to be grateful for. But what I have been extremely grateful for is the lessons I’ve learned, the experiences that I have gone through, the laughs, the memories, my family and friends and their families that have become family. Life has been a rollercoaster full of ups and downs, twist and turns but it has always been something to be grateful for.”
     -Gabriel Rodriguez, 27

“I’m thankful for having had the opportunity to leave Cuba, where the Castro Regime has oppressed generations of families, to grow up in a country whose cornerstones are based on freedom, and the ability to pull yourself up by your boot straps and achieve the American dream.”
     -Julio Enrique Rodriguez, 29

“I’m thankful for my beautiful mother who constantly loves and cares for those around her and in difficult times always does her best to provide the most she can.”
     -Ciara Torres, 17

“Thankful for my family’s love and support, for my health and the education that has been provided to me.”
     -Andres Casariego, 23

“In the midst of a global pandemic and movement, it may be difficult trying to maintain a positive outlook on life and remain thankful for. Not for me. As I take a minute to sit on my stoop, and reflect on all that has happened not only during the past couple of months, but this first half of 2020, I can’t help but take a deep breath, then smile. I am so thankful that my closest family and friends are safe and well. I am thankful that in the midst of unemployment and uncertainty, every bill has been paid and every meal has been provided. I am thankful for everyone who has decided to stay at home to protect not only themselves but to protect strangers in their community from this pandemic. I am thankful to everyone who has joined me in taking a stand for equality and for justice. Amidst all the adversity, there has been a unified mentality throughout the world that I am thankful for and proud to be a part of. There is a lot of unknowns moving forward, a lot of adjustments not only for our country but for us as individuals, however I can’t help but be thankful for it all. I can be thankful because I know that God is in control of it all. He is omnipresent. Most importantly, his timing is perfect and because I believe in that with my whole heart, I am thankful.” 
     -Alena Ramos, 27

It’s our responsibility to teach our children about thankfulness and to appreciate what they have; even the little things. We want them to have grateful hearts no matter the circumstances. I know some days those lessons come more easily than others. But judging from the submissions above, they have certainly mastered the concept. We, too, learn from them.

Thank you all so much for sharing and making today’s Thankful Thursday post so very special. I am thankful for YOU!

Taylor and Bailey, Andrea, Elen, Vicky & Juanky, Charlenne, Kristin (and Ellie), Lauren Ashley, Daniel Christian, and Lauren Christine(and Beni). 
Cristy, Anastasia, Miled, Anel, Alia, Ania, and Aila, Gabriela, Suyeny, Kevin & Lauren, Samantha, and Gabriel.


Julio Enrique, Ciara, Andres, Alena, and the Disney Crew.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
-A. Schwindt

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.”
-A. Tan

 

 

Thankful Thursdays

I’m at a loss for words this Thankful Thursday. Let me see how best to articulate why.

It is disheartening to see the greatest country in the world in chaos. Chaos of any sort, but especially this sort; man-made. While we saw the best of humanity at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic – – people helping people – – now we see the worst of humanity unfolding in the streets – – people hating people. Just a different kind of virus, I guess. Do you think God’s looking down and saying “Look at those fools!”? He would have good reason to.

The realist in me doubts that this will be the last time we see this. Surely, much change is needed. We must have faith that God will provide us with discernment in that regard. Our saving grace, if you believe, is that God is merciful. It is His mercy that allows us to experience love, compassion, forgiveness and peace. Even when we don’t deserve it. That’s the only way we rise above.

May God help us now to restore peace and guide us out of the current tumultuous time. Let’s pull on God’s mercy with all we’ve got and make things right. Before He comes back, really pissed.

This Thankful Thursday, I’m extremely grateful for God’s mercy. There, I found my words.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God.”
-Saint John Paul II

“Two things in life are infinite; the stupidity of man and the mercy of God.”
-G.I. Gurdjieff

”When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch.
That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”
-Fred Rogers

“Though justice be thy plea consider this, that in the course of justice none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy.”
-William Shakespeare

Thankful Thursdays

For the will and the way.

Our family’s big on birthday celebrations. Coronavirus was not going to stop this one. On the contrary, it actually gave us a new way to party – – The Drive-by Caravan.

The Coronavirus social distancing requisite brought about this latest way to celebrate, and yesterday we had a chance to see it in action when family and many of Lauren’s friends drove by our home in a caravan of honking, music-blasting, decorated cars to make her 28th birthday one she is not likely to forget. With other friends and family joining in via FaceTime, we were quite a crowd.

Thank you to all who took time and participated to make this surprise celebration extra special for Lauren. And to the Lord, who ignites the will and gives us the way.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

Lauren: May God bless you with many more wonderful birthdays. We love you. 

“Today you are You;
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive
Who is Youer than You.”
-Dr. Seuss

“God gave us the gift of life;
it is up to us to give ourselves
the gift of living well.”
-Voltaire

Thankful Thursdays

For what I’ll miss.

Looks like I’ll be returning to my office building soon. The last two months working from home have felt…well, uniquely strange. But also surprisingly painless and quite pleasant. Although I’m looking forward to returning to the office, there are things I will miss immensely once this lockdown is over. Three in particular:

    • Extra hours with Ray, Lauren, Danny and newest addition to the family, Beni. Seeing them around the house and being able to talk to them during the day has been priceless.

    • The soul-soothing and teleporting scents of “White Tea and Sage” and “Sequoia.” The first puts me right inside the lobbies of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels. The latter, in the midst of that woodsy national park. And I would have to add the smell of air-fried foods. Only because we’ve been consuming quite a bit of chicken nuggets and pizza rolls.

    • Lunch time. As enjoyable as our 49th floor office café view is, and the company I keep there, lunching with my gang out on our patio bistro these sunny, breezy days will be tough to match.

These have been blessings of a quarantine I never expected or wanted. And some of the things I will miss the most about working remotely.

What will you miss when you return to the workplace? And what are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.”
-A. Brandt

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.”
-Helen Keller

“Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what’s for lunch.”
-Orson Welles

[Note: In case you’re not Spanglish-speaking, “si Dios quiere” means God-willing. Mom finished most of her sentences with that phrase. I added it to my sendoff in her honor after her passing.]

Thankful Thursdays

That He broke the mold.

God created each of us unique. While we may have similarities, there are no two of us alike. And thank You Lord for that! No one wants another one of me out there. Our unique blueprint means you and I will have different likes and dislikes, opinions, and beliefs. Let me break it to you gently: The sooner we accept that, the faster we’ll feel at peace and be able to go about our business. Especially during these trying times when we’re all a little on edge.

I think we should focus on how to improve who God created us to be, instead of trying to change others, and be thankful that He broke the mold after He made each of us. After all, to each his own, no? Or as my mother was fond of saying, “Cada loco con su tema.”

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
-Jeremiah 1:5

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of
your mind.”
-Romans 12:2

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
-D. Nevill

Thankful Thursdays

For motherhood.

As we get ready to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, I think about mine. The powerhouse of a woman she was, and everything she taught me. Her example of strength and faith and unconditional love will live in me forever. I miss her dearly, and I thank God for the time I had with her.

Mostly, however, I think about my life as a mother. Through the trials, tribulations and triumphs of motherhood, I have experienced things and felt emotions on a level I cannot possibly explain to you. Except I can tell you that I would not trade any of it. I cannot envision, nor do I want to, life without Lauren and Danny.

For this blessing the Lord has bestowed upon me, today and always, I am thankful. I want to wish all the moms, grandmas, aunts, and godmothers a beautiful and blessed Mother’s Day.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.”
-R. Browning

”(24/7) once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.”
-J. Picoult

The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.
~ W. Brown

[Note: By the way, in case you’re not Spanglish-speaking, “si Dios quiere” means God-willing. Mom finished most of her sentences with that phrase. I added it to my sendoff in her honor after her passing].