Family, Parenting, Travel

Vacation Without the Distraction of Social Media

Panoramic view of Denver Skyline
Denver -Panoramic of Skyline, Photo by Casey Reynolds


Sometimes, we have to take a break from blogging and social media. This is one of those times.

I’m visiting my twenty-somethings kids in Denver. Really visiting and being present with them when they are with me. So I’ve haven’t posted photos on Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere.

For social media upload it takes me a couple of minutes (seconds for my kids) to edit and upload the pics. That’s per post.

Not posting photos is difficult because everything is in bloom here and I found some inspiring exhibits at the Denver Art Museum: Women of Abstract Expressionism and Why We Dance: American Indian Art in Motion. I’ll share them another time.

My kids love to take photos and use Snapchat, so they apply endless filters and special effects on the pics.

Snapchat Image by Chris Pirillo,
Snapchat Image by Chris Pirillo,

This enhances some photos, but the ones of me end up being morphed into a chipmunk or face exchanged or with hearts on my eyes. Not funny. And don’t get me started on the geo-filters. Makes me miss vacations with the kids before they had cell phones.

Have a great weekend. Replenish and revive.

See you in a week.


Family, Parenting

How I Found Happy Family Memories in a Token

French solider mask, cinco de mayo parade
A Real Cinco de Mayo Parade, photo by Kym Janisch, creative commons


I was going to write about the commercialization of Cinco de Mayo and how much I disliked the marketing of a cultural holiday that symbolizes the hope and pride of a people. About how much I hate to see “Drinko De Mayo,” and “Nacho Ordinary Cinco,” slogans. The distaste for ads featuring tacos and sombreros.

The post for this week was preempted by memories that had me travel many years back. So I changed my mind. But, if you’d like to read about what Cinco de Mayo really means and the French invasion of Mexico, I have an old post here. There are several posts about Cinco de Mayo. I like the one given by the History Channel.

The idea of a Cinco de Mayo post came to an end when I cleaned out my desk drawer hunting for an emery board. Underneath ink pens, rubber bands, post-its and an old address book, I found some foreign money. Coins representing four countries and two Chuck E. Cheese tokens. So make that five countries. Thus began my time travel.

Chuck E. Cheese token, circa 1993. “Smile America Say”


The faded image on the fake bronze coin showed a big nosed rat in bowtie and bowler hat, circa 1993. Why the weird phrase  “Smile America Say,” is engraved on it is a mystery to me. The other token had a different saying, but I lost that one between last night and this morning.

The rat took me back to the colorful sights and chaotic sounds of our local Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, “Where a Kid Can Be A Kid.”

All three of my children celebrated birthdays at the place among shrieking delighted kids and parents who moaned at the noise level and overpriced bland cheese pizzas.

Chuck E. Cheese parties for the kids in our extended family was a rite of passage, for the children, moms, and dads. We entered the fun zone as proud parents holding onto the small hands of excited birthday boys or girls and left as frazzled shell-shocked adults, sometimes forgetting one of the kids until halfway down the freeway, (she knows who she is).

Kids ran to dive into the orange, yellow and green balls, disappear into fluorescent plastic tunnels, while parents covered their eyes and ears from the blinking lights, electronic noises, and shrieks. Some of which probably came from the parents who’d been in the place for half an hour.

Try keeping track of your kid in the crowd of pint-sized children all waving arms, jumping, twirling, or cowering in a corner. (Wait, the cowering would be at the parent table).

All that excitement doubled when the red curtain rose and the mechanical singing chicken, mustachioed chef, and the blue guy who appeared. The smarmy dancing and squawking of the robotic characters, behind the arm-waving teenage CEC workers, delighted the under six-year-old set whose parents tried to look semi-excited but came off as confused, scared or both.

confused parents
Confused or Scared? creative commons photo

When the bottom heavy rat strode into the melee of children I thought he looked like a thug rat in a knockoff Mickey Mouse film. But the kids, especially my toddler daughter hugged the seven-foot gangster rat like he was her cuddly stuffed lamb. Her eyes and body danced to the songs of the chickens, while one son veered away from Mr. Chuck E. Cheese and the noise, concentrating on a birthday cake and waving balloons. The older son ran circles around the rat and scampered back to the game zone, clutching trailing strips of orange tickets.

Ah yes, the memories. Happy and frightening at the same time. All those germ infested rainbow balls, tickets and tokens, bland pizzas and a giant rat returned to me via a grubby Chuck E. Cheese token.

Maybe I should have stuck with a Cinco de Mayo post.

Family, Parenting

My Son’s Gift On His Birthday

toddler with pinata
Piñata, photo by Marina Montoya,


Birds chirped, the fountain dripped and a gardener’s blower punctuated my thoughts.The morning began with wistful moments.

Today is my son’s birthday. A rush of memories swept across my mind’s eye. A baby with his first piñata, a toddler with a potty chair, a new backpack for Kindergarten…

Could it be 30 years? When did he turn 25, 20, or 10 years old?

Did I really go from anxious mother in my ninth month of pregnancy through childhood, up and over the teen years to my son’s adulthood? So soon?

I remember hoarding baby books in preparation for his birth. Post-it notes and highlighter pen colored pages of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

I worked in Whitter, CA commuting from Burbank on treacherous Los Angeles freeways. When I was in my third month my car was rear-ended on Highway 134. An ambulance came when I said I was pregnant.

In my fourth month, I began spotting. My secretary, a mom, took care of me. I was scared to death I might lose a child who I was just beginning to feel deep inside.

I remember the high school track where my husband took me to get exercise, mainly because he gained as much weight as I had by my sixth month.

Once, I saw myself in a full-length mirror during my eight month. In profile. I wore my favorite pink sweatsuit, which was white on the chest and stomach area. “I look like a fat pink kangaroo,” I cried.

We told bits and pieces of these stories to my son on his birthday never leaving out the hospital run. My husband’s old silver Camaro roared down Highway 134 with me clutching the bucket seats, in fear of the excessive speed and the pain of the cramps. Turned out the cramps were Braxton Hicks. He drove slower the next time we went to the hospital, both of us thinking of another false alarm. It wasn’t.

I told my son about the 21 hours of labor and my move from the cool mama birthing room to a cold steel gurney for an emergency C-Section. “All those breathing classes,” my husband said.

Baby, photo by Howard Ignatius,
Baby. Photo by Howard Ignatius,

His dad told him the ‘hospital story,’ when I wouldn’t leave him after they released me but not him because of jaundice.

“They sent in nurses, a social worker, the doctor, and finally a priest.”

“I wouldn’t budge,” I’d say.

The hospital staff gave in to me saying I’d be responsible for bringing him in three times a day for his Bilirubin counts. We did. The stubbornness of new mothers.

I remember the touch of my son’s silky baby fingers on my face; a blink of recognition from his eyes when he turned to my voice. First words, first everything.

Parents. We remember a toddler’s triumphs on the potty or their discovery of new things. And everything was new.

We remember the stick figure drawings they first gave to us, turkey hands at Thanksgiving, and homemade Christmas decorations from school.

We recall the angst, pimples, broken hearts and we felt life right alongside them. Sometimes.

And then, somehow, when you’re not ready, the years roll by with so many firsts, challenges, and heartaches.

We know we can’t protect our children from everything life will bring, but we pray or hope or nag them thinking we can. We hope they’ll turn to us when life gets hard and they need a listening ear.

The pages of their book, your book too, keep turning.

Sometime today, I will shed a tear (I already am, of course) remembering the gift my son gave me on his birthday.

Family, New Year intentions, Parenting

How Moving Made Me A Better Person

Capitol Hill neighborhood street, Denver
Capitol Hill-Denver 2016


This may be the year of no resolutions. Not because I don’t believe in them but I haven’t had the occasion to do so. Moving from the outskirts of Denver to downtown took up most of my time and all of my energy.

New Year’s Day began with my arrival to Denver to help my kids move into their new place, a smaller condo in a historic 1929 building which is much closer to their jobs.

On moving day, while I’m at the title company signing documents for the new place, my daughter calls me:

“One of the moving guys reeks of weed, I can’t even understand what he’s saying…”

After I finished laughing, because I thought she was joking, I told her to call the manager of the company and not to let them inside.

My son reminded me to be patient. No doubt he saw the steam accumulating above my head. The virtue of patience is a resolution I’ve had for a few years, and I’m better but can still practice it much more often.

God, the Universe, and Karma gave me an opportunity to see if I’d remember my resolution.

We headed back to the old condo, a ride punctuated with my daughter’s texts that her call to the moving company resulted in being hung up on, transferred, voice mailed, and finally the manager called her back. His response: the guy wasn’t high, he said he took too much cold medication. (I don’t think so).

When I got back, I took a deep breath and made the best of a potentially bad situation. I received a call that the manager was coming over. When he got to the condo, I explained how he could see how a mother would worry when receiving a call like my daughter’s and she was home alone. Sure, he said, he’s a parent too.

Long story short, the boss made things right, brought along another worker, stayed to supervise the move and gave me a 10% discount.

Later that day, my son caught the flu and between his bouts in the bathroom and sleeping, he got his bedroom semi-together. We really needed his help with moving things and reaching high areas since he’s over six feet tall, but we had to do without.

I went into full Mom mode, making soup, a pitcher of manzanilla (chamomile) tea, and babying him for two days.

So I’m the one unpacking and it’s the pits. If I could have gotten away with it, I would have dumped 25 coffee cups and cat figurines my daughter has collected from the segunda (second-hand store). This would have left her with 20 cups, more than anyone needs.


A benefit of moving to a smaller place with closets half the size of the last ones is one can see all the needless ‘stuff’ to donate or throw. There are bags of stuff.

I took a walk around the neighborhood, to find the post office and markets. I was pleased to find a bookstore. The chalkboard was full of great book quotes:

book quotes, bookstore window
Capitol Hill bookstore with cool window dressing.

The kids like their new place in this old brick building, but it’s hard adjusting to radiator heat that’s mounted in the ceiling. Nothing like central heat.

One cat, Heidi, likes jumping up to the windows and watching people walk by. The other one, Kiki, is still hiding somewhere.

So today, I’m going to rest, like Heidi, and maybe explore my intentions for the new year later.

Maine Coon mix cat, sleeping cat
Heidi loves her