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Celebrating Family

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This past weekend was bittersweet for me as I arrived in Texas for a family reunion with my dad’s side of the family, but then wound up having to say a final good-bye to my mom’s last living uncle who happened to live in the same town.

It was a blessing to see my uncle one last time. To give him a hug, smooth back his hair as he lay in his hospital bed, look in his gentle eyes and say a prayer with him.

It’s been a blessing catching up with cousins I haven’t seen in years. Talking about our kids and our lives. Sharing laughs about old times and making new memories.
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cousin love

This weekend has been a true picture of what family is all about. Helping each other through difficult times. Celebrating good times. Advice and guidance when faced with troubles. Support through good and bad. There have been ups and downs, squabbles and tears. But more importantly, there’s been love. Lots and lots of love.

So today, as I move from my aunt’s house to the RWA National Conference hotel, I leave with the certainty that I’m writing for the perfect genre. Romance novels are about love and healthy relationships conquering conflict and doubt and the ugliness of the world.

Our novels celebrate what we want for our kids: happiness, strength, peace and love. Lots and lots of love.
family love

hearts of  love
Today, I say: Go hug your kids, call your mom or dad or aunt or cousin, send a simple “I Love You” text to someone you haven’t in a while. Celebrate your family. Life is short. Your list of loved ones doesn’t have to be. :-)

RIP My beloved Tio Pablo, te quiero mucho!
Tio Pablo

Young at Heart

trampoline time

Having and raising kids can give you gray hair, make you gain weight, and lose a ton of sleep. On the flip side, having kids has also kept me young at heart—which, in my humble opinion, overshadows or outshines all the aforementioned negatives.

Even though my girls are in college and post-college adult life, I’m blessed with a 10-year old niece and a 12-year old nephew who spend the summer with my parents and me. This means my summer is filled with dolls, video games, Disney Channel, bike rides, kid movies at the theater and—for the first time in my life—a trampoline park.

If you follow me on Instagram or twitter you probably already saw the pics of my niece, nephew, close friend and me at a Skyzone trampoline park this past weekend. I’m a big Groupon and Living Social shopper and when I saw a deal for 90 minutes of trampoline time a couple of weeks ago, my first thought was, “Oh, my kids will love this!” Quickly followed by, “Wait, I’ll love this!” ☺

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Let me tell you, 90 minutes is a looooong time. Especially when you’re using muscles you normally don’t. And even more so when you forget your age ‘cuz you’re feeling like a kid again—bouncing off side walls, leap frogging across 8 trampolines, pushing yourself higher ‘cuz you think you can actually do a flip in the air. Talk about a new way to get some exercise!

We all jumped like silly fools. The kids played trampoline dodgeball. No, I didn’t go for that, I was too busy acting like Spiderman throwing myself against the trampoline wall trying to stick for a second or two before careening back toward the trampoline floor.

Needless to say, we were all hot, sweaty messes by the end of our allotted time. But we were hot, sweaty, giggly, happy messes. Fun was had by all!

For a brief time I forgot my real age and enjoyed being a kid again. All thanks to my desire to help my own kids have fun.

Of course, when I woke up the next morning with sore calves and an achy lower back, my age caught up with me. I moaned for a second, then laughed when I found out my nephew was sore, too. ☺

Another happy memory created together—stretching out our soreness from our time jumping through the air, laughing at our silliness.

So sure, I’ll take the occasional gray hair and sleepless night because I’m a worrier. But I’ll treasure the moments when my kids allow me to act their age rather than my own. ☺

What about you? Have you tried anything new lately that made you feel young again—wild and crazy and like you could take on the world? If not, I suggest you see if there’s a Skyzone or something similar near you!

young at heart

Sports—Camaraderie, Character Building and, oh yeah, Exercise

US-world-cup
If you’re a sports fan, subscribe to your local paper or regularly watch a morning news show like “Today” or “Mike & Mike”, there’s very little chance you haven’t heard that World Cup Soccer is in full swing. I fall into all three of those categories—especially the first one.

In my family, watching or playing sports is as natural as breathing. Yeah, it’s a way to get some exercise, but it’s also great for family bonding and teaching important life lessons.

My daughters have learned about pride in doing your best; humility when winning; perseverance when losing; leadership and teamwork for the whole rather than the individual.

Some of our best family memories have taken place on a court, a field, or in the stands together. Some of our most disappointing and some of our funniest moments have been the same.

Sure, participating in a sport is great for your body—strength, conditioning, and flexibility. But it’s also vital for character building. And it’s definitely a fabulous way to bring my family together.

Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood with our dog,

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training for a half marathon with my sister

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or two of my daughters

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participating in a Ladies Football Clinic with my mom

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or organizing a 3-mile family fun run and tennis tournament during a Christmas family reunion in Florida

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sports has always played an important unifying role in our lives.

Right now we’re in the throes of World Cup Fever, cheering for the USA!

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If you’re a soccer fan you probably already know this, if you’re not don’t be surprised when I tell you that thus far in the Cup as a USA fan we’ve experienced pride in our boys and our country, humility in finally beating Ghana, perseverance in losing the lead and ending our game with Portugal in a tie, and leadership and teamwork as we gear up to take on the powerful German team on Thursday.

These are all vital character traits we can all stand to improve. In my family, we simply like to dress up a little crazy now and then while we work our character together! ☺

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GO USA!

USMNT 1

Be Awesome!

Kid President Be Awesome

So it’s the second Tuesday of the month– a date I personally chose so I’d remember when I’m blogging and any followers would know when to find me here.

Enter LIFE– yes, at this moment it deserves all caps. I’ve been working on several huge projects for my day job, struggling through revisions for my agent, juggling RWA chapter president duties, enjoying a little part-time gig I love despite the added time crunch, dealing with family obligations and personal ups & downs…. boy, just re-reading my list made me have to stop and take a breath.

{{{{deep breath}}}}

Okay, so maybe I have an excuse for forgetting about my blog day. But I don’t have a good reason!

Yes, there’s a difference. I’ve said something like that to my girls in the past, so I should look in the mirror and say the same thing to myself.

I could beat myself up for forgetting. Let that old Catholic guilt I’m so good at flare up and leaving me feeling bad.

Or, I realized I could hop on the PBOK blog, wave hello to everyone and post one of my favorite YouTube videos to watch when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Have you seen the Kid President? Have you heard his “words of wisdom and advice” on how to live a good life? On how to be AWESOME? Let this little guy inspire you!!

I hope you’re having an AWESOME Tuesday!

If life is bogging you down, push the pause button on your day, spend a few minutes with the Kid President and the PBOK moms and know we’re rooting for you!!

Four-legged Family Members

addi and me minnie ears

I didn’t grow up with pets. We were a military family who moved a lot, so having pets wasn’t too conducive to our lifestyle.

Years later, when I started a family of my own, we eventually had three dogs—two that someone brought home (without giving me a heads up beforehand) and one that we got as a puppy. The first two unfortunately both died of natural causes after several years. Talk about traumatic experiences!

Not having grown up with pets I was nervous with our first two dogs—one a golden retriever and the other a black lab. They were fully-grown when they came to our house, so even though they were both really well behaved, I was still a bit skittish if they barked. If they had something in their mouth that they shouldn’t I was the last person willing to try to take it away.

But with our third dog, I’m completely different and I know exactly why.

Addi came to us as a puppy.

Addi puppy

I researched the right breeder, speaking with other owners who’d used the same person. We visited the breeder to meet the mom and dad dogs, and eventually we picked Addi out of the litter. In preparation for her arrival I read countless books about owning and training a puppy. I bought Cesar Milan DVDs, then watched and re-watched them.

The day we brought Addi home, when she whimpered in her kennel at bedtime, I took my pillow downstairs, opened the kennel door, put my pillow halfway inside and slept on the floor with Addi resting on my pillow near my head. I did this for a couple of days, then closed the kennel door and slept in front of it so she could still see me. Little by little I moved further and further away until I was back in my bed and she was sleeping comfortably in her kennel on her own.

It’s a similar technique I used when my oldest was two and feeling afraid of sleeping alone in her new bed. It worked then, and it worked 16 years later when I brought Addi home.

Now Addi’s about 20 times the size she was when she joined our family. She’s gone from a 10 pound puppy to a 70 pound dog.

addi with toy

Despite her size, I still think of her as one of my “babies”—if she’s got something dangerous in her mouth, you can bet I’m sticking my fingers inside to get it out. If she needs some attention, I’m on the floor with her and she’s “sitting” on my lap.

When my youngest daughter went off to college last year and I sat in my room teary, Addi came in to comfort me. It’s like she knew I needed a “hug.”

So, while maybe I’m not an “animal lover” yet because it just wasn’t part of my lifestyle for so many years, I can honestly say I now understand how and why people treat their pets like they’re family members. Addi is that to me. She was one of my babies. I’ve “raised” her.

I jokingly say she’s the child that doesn’t talk back to me and who is always eager for my hugs and attention. No moody adolescent years with this one! ☺

How about you guys? Does your family have a pet—a four-legged family member? We always share stories about our kids, how about stories about the pets that help make up our family? ☺

addi at beach

2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist
#LatinxRom author

Represented by Rebecca Strauss DeFiore & Company

rebecca@defliterary.com

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