Life After College

Happy birthday, Grandpa. 🎂

Happy birthday, Grandpa.

I missed you a little extra today.

I miss you every day. I think about you a lot on my commutes to and from work. Because the sun is eternally in my eyes for the first 15 minutes of my drive (and depending on how late I come home, the last 15, too). It reminds of the times I used to run to play in your garden with the sun in my eyes.

And you were there. In your hat. Weeding and spreading the compost and pruning and trimming. And sharing the fresh fruits and veggies with me and whoever else was around. I still smell tomatoes at the store because they remind me of you. I hope your garden in Heaven is as fruitful.

We miss you. You’d be really proud. Ali graduated. She looked like a grown-up, but she’s still the goofy girl you love.

And Joe John’s good. He just got cleared to play football again. Apparently, his knee is totally healed up and he’s better than ever. And he just got confirmed, which is crazy because I feel like I just blinked and he turned into a man.

Julibug is good, too. Her head still hurts, but I think it’ll go away soon now that school is over.

And I’m good. Working. Trying to make everyone proud. The usual.

Keep watching over us, okay? Because we need it, probably more than we know.

I love you.

Happy birthday.


My mom’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about eight or nine years ago. On August 4, 2016, he passed away in the nursing home peacefully. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of children and grandchildren, and through us, he will live on. He instilled the values of hard work and persistence in all of us and he will be greatly missed. So while we mourn his passing, we rejoice in the fact that he has found peace and know he will watch over all of us, however far we may go.

Life After College

The Ones Who Love Us…

The ones who love us never really leave us; you can always find them in here.

-J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This week, the world lost a great man. A strong man. A man who valued hard work and instilled it in his kids and grandkids. And he is finally, finally at peace.

Today, in the most Alvarez-style I’ve ever seen, we had a party. And if anyone tries to tell me he wasn’t with us today, I’d explain how wrong that sentiment is.

He was there, with his wife, looking at the legacy they built, from the ground up when they moved to the United States from Colombia.

He was there, in his son who was grilling and wearing a hat and out of the corners of all our eyes looked just like him.

He was there in his grandsons who are the spitting image of him at their age.

He was there in his granddaughters who were content to sit and enjoy the outside.

He was there in his great-granddaughters who love to garden and spent the day in the pool.

He was there in every laugh at every joke and in the music we played a little too loud and in the smiles we shared.

He was there in the sun and the breeze and the silver lining in the clouds.

He was in our hearts and all around us. He always will be.

And he was proud.

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My mom’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about eight or nine years ago. On August 4, he passed away in the nursing home peacefully. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of children and grandchildren, and through us, he will live on. He instilled the values of hard work and persistence in all of us and he will be greatly missed. So while we mourn his passing, we rejoice in the fact that he has found peace and know he will watch over all of us, however far we may go.

REMEMBER THE TIME BLOG HOP

Halloween (Because that’s original, I know)

This week on the Remember the Time Blog Hop, we’re talking about all things halloween.

So, I’m sure we all remember the group of people I said my family and I did everything with, yes? (If the answer is no, go educate yourself.) Now, we’re all caught up? Good.

Besides having parties (which when I was little, happened all the time) we used to go all out decorating (and by “we” I mean my dad because Mom asked him to and let’s be real, little four year old hands aren’t all that helpful and get distracted when bugs go by) for all of the major holidays, Halloween included. In addition, we always got dressed up really cute like. Mom used to make our costumes. One year, I think we were all pumpkins (I don’t think I was really happy about that one, but maybe I was; who knows?)  Another year, Ali and I were mermaids (because, hello, Disney phase; to be clear, I have yet to outgrow that phase). And one year I was an angel.

I was super excited about that one. All nine kids were going Trick-or-Treating with our moms while our dads stayed at my house and passed out candy (Mom always let us have extra candy when we had friends over; 10ish-year-old Gabi very much enjoyed that). I was gonna be in a super cute white dress and I had feathery white wings, which I’m sure shed all over the house. And a headband halo. Oh yeah. I was excited.

And then horror struck. (And I’m sure now we’re all thinking I spilled red grape juice on my white dress; well you’d be wrong, I hate grape juice, and also, by some miracle of God himself, I managed to not spill anything on my dress.) Texas weather.

For all of us who do not live in Texas, let me use a picture to explain:

You think I’m kidding. You would be wrong.

The weather was fine all week, probably hot actually, but you never know. And it came to Halloween and it was cold. Frigid, actually (and by “frigid,” I mean probably in the 50’s somewhere). So cold, in fact that I needed to wear some clothes under my costume (because you can’t wear a jacket on Halloween, duh). So, Mom and I spent a while digging around in my closet, and couldn’t find anything white for me to wear under my dress (which makes prefect sense if you know me; I’m a stain magnet; I should be in a Tide commercial…or Shout). So, finally we pulled out a gray turtle neck. And black sweat pants, neither of which I think I liked. And even more than that, I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to wear all white. What angel is flying around with black seats? None of them.

Even after the weather fiasco, it was a good night. And on the upside, I was a warm angel as opposed to an angel ice cube.

And after we went Trick-or-Treating, I got to trade my candies with the boys, so I ended up with lotsa chocolate and not a lot of other things (because I was a picky kid when it came to candy, which is strange, I know).

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Daily Prompt

Family Dinners

Today’s Daily Prompt is to write about something you miss from home.

At home, family is supposed to come first. That should be a given. A home is made by the people who are in the house and all that jazz (I really do believe that, by the way.)

In my house, when I was growing up, we did family dinners every night. Real family dinners. Not take out in front of the TV. Not fast food in a restaurant. Not freezer dinners. Real food, cooked by my parents all sitting around a table, talking. (I mean, we sometimes did TV dinners and we sometimes went out, but that was always a treat: birthday, good grades, a new movie that we all wanted to see, that sorta thing.) Even when Dad couldn’t be home because he had training (he’s a firefighter, it’s kinda a big deal), Mom and the kids ate together. And let’s be real. I don’t actually remember all the conversations we had at dinner. But I know we had dinner, that’s the important thing. And honestly, some of my best family memories were from dinners (or immediately following dinner. Joe John has Colurciello Dance Parties, some of the funniest things I have ever seen.)

Even when we got older and more involved in school and whatever else, dinner was an important function in our household. And let me just commend my parents: that was a challenge; kudos to you guys. Because in my family, I can’t really remember a time when we weren’t going in four directions, every night. But for about an hour a night every night, we stopped what we were a family and nothing else.

Also, phones were never allowed at the table (not that we had phones at a very young age…). At dinner there were no electronics at the table. Period (except some people think they are above this rule now cough cough). Even when we go out to dinner, if we take a picture and post it to Facebook, you put your phone away when you’re doing. There is no texting. For the most part, we don’t even really take calls during dinner.

To this day, I really hate eating alone. Like, when I was up at school, I was here by myself for about a week and a half and I think there was constant movies going because I couldn’t eat without people talking. And my roommate and I sit down, pretty much every night to eat together. And, let me be honest, lately, it’s been in front of the TV. But we’re eating together.

And that’s what I miss. Because dinners were important. And I intend to make them important in my household.

REMEMBER THE TIME BLOG HOP

Karaoke

This week we were given the opportunity to choose what we want to write about in our Remember the Time Blog Hop.

Lately, Roseanna and I have been really jammin’ 90’s boy bands (N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, mostly). And I mean jammin’. Like serenading each other in the kitchen/living room while we’re cooking. Or when we’re trying very hard to be productive. This is a fact that I’m sure our neighbors know and really appreciate (that last part is mostly sarcastic, to be clear).

Anyway, there are a few songs that inspire very specific memories. One that consistently brings memories to mind is I Want It That Way (go on, watch the video; you know you want to).

For my…seventh birthday, I think, someone got me a karaoke set. And let me be clear, that thing was so cool. You plugged in a bunch of wires and BAM! words and music on a screen. It really was super cool. (And I was a master with that TV; now with all that technology, I can barely work a remote; not really, only sometimes. TVs are hard.)

Now, my parents used to throw these parties. And they were the best. There were sometimes other families but the standard people who were there were the Heaters and the Floreses (which may or may not be the proper way to make that be plural; whatever). The Heaters had two girls, Sarah (who would have been about 10) and Julia (who would have been about 4ish). The Floreses had two boys, RJ (who would have been about 8) and Cris (he was about…5 or 6, something like that) and Veronica (she was about 4ish also). And then, there was my siblings and myself. All six of our parents were also pretty close. They would sit and chit-chat, about “boring adult stuff,” you know, and we would play in the pool or play board games or watch movies or dance or spin or whatever until late and pass out in pile on the living room floor (it was magical: we would wake up in the morning in our own beds without any extra guests in the house).

Now, the “big kids,” that is Sarah, RJ, Ali, and me, hung out a lot. Like, we kinda did everything together. I distinctly remember going back-to-school shopping (and getting in trouble) with these kids. There are a lot of stories surrounding this group.

Anyway. Back to my karaoke story.

This particular night we decided to play with my karaoke machine. (Now, lemme explain something, I do not like hearing my voice recorded. And that’s how this mike sounded.) We were all really excited. It had some really cool songs (I think Yellow Submarine was on there and to this day that is the only Beatles song I know, along with a bunch of others, including I Want It That Way). But not one of us was really brave enough to stand up and sing into the mike in front of everyone else and that became evident very quickly, as you can imagine.

So we decided to play a “game show” with the mike instead.

First (and only question I remember really): Sarah asked Joe John who he would like to marry: Julia or Veronica. His answer: “I think I want to marry Juju.” They were all about 4. We were cracking up. And of course 7 year old Gabi was very excited to see the look on Daddy’s face when we told him his son’s plan (especially since Dad always told us we could date when we were married; he got that from The Proud Family, a great show from my childhood). All of us ran out to the patio to tell him and all of the adults just laughed.

Joe John has not lived that down.

I’m also not quite sure what our obsession with marriage was, but that was a thing that was always on our young minds. When we played Life, we sang Here Comes the Bride to whomever was getting married. Every time. It never failed. Loud and off key, it was there.

Anyway, that is how a karaoke night turned into a game show about marriage.

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REMEMBER THE TIME BLOG HOP

Broken Chairs

This week’s challenge is about food and/or eating.

For anyone who knows me, you know how not graceful I am. For those of you who don’t, not even the loosest definition could apply to me. I walk into walls. I trip on the furniture. I slip and fall. I find bruises on my legs from origins unknown. All of this to say, I learned how to fall so it hurts the least. But, alas, learning how to fall does not keep you from breaking a chair and falling.

Now, let me set the scene.

It was Thanksgiving. It was my family (of 5, in addition to me), plus my uncle (yes, I am well aware he is also family; just not immediate family, so chill out). And we did the standard “What are you thankful for?” thing at the beginning of dinner.

Now, I’m not big on turkey (I used to be, but now I’m not; not really sure how or when or why, but it did). So I fill up on mashed potatoes and stuffing and broccoli souffle and green bean casserole and GRAVY. I love gravy. I sometimes get a craving for it like, “Here let me just eat a vat of gravy with a spoon.” (I know you think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not. It’s my favorite part of the meal.) And at Thanksgiving, there is ample food to go with the gravy. So I usually get seconds just to drown them in gravy. Because it’s delicious.

Now, I also have to explain some slightly personal things. I’m small. I’m 5′ 5″ and about 100 pounds soaking wet. And I have been since the summer after 7th grade. And I can usually eat. Pretty well.

Anyway. We’re sitting at dinner and I finished my first plate and I decided I wanted more gravy. And also more things so I had a reason to get more gravy. So I got up and got myself a full dish (again, I know. It’s cool). And I set my dish on the table and sat down and all of a sudden, I was on the floor. The table was barely at eye level. And my chair was in pieces below me.

Yup, Gabi just broke a chair.

Now these chairs were a little old, but not especially old, to the point of falling apart. I was so confused. And I did what I always do when I’m confused (or embarrassed or nervous or flustered): I laughed. Hysterically. Not like a normal person laughs. Like a crazy person.  For a good 5 ish minutes.

Now, that is the story about me breaking the chair at Thanksgiving.

And I’m pretty sure I did it a few months later.

To this day, I haven’t the slightest idea how that happened.

REMEMBER THE TIME BLOG HOP

Roadtrip to Florida!

In an attempt to meet my goal I plan to participate in a thing called a Blog Event. The first one I’m gonna try is called remember the Time Blog Hop. The premise is that once a week, they will post a topic and we will have time to write a post and then share it. This particular event is a memory inspired event, that is to say, we have to share something about the topic they choose from our memories. We’re gonna see how this first one goes and I might get into more as time goes on.

When we were younger, my uncle and my aunt and their three boys lived in Florida. So a few times while they lived there, we took a road trip to visit them. From Texas. Which, for all of you who don’t know, is a very long drive. Not unbearably long, but long. On this particular trip, we were driving, not to Miami, but to Orlando. Because that’s where Disney World is.

For anyone who has not taken a long road trip, and by that I mean 20+ hours, there isn’t much to do. I mean, it’s fun for the first hour or so because you’ve got all your new fancy road trip toys (which in my case were puzzle books and real books mostly). And this was before the time of twelve year olds having phones, so there was no such thing as Facebooking on the trip and Wifi this and Internet that. I had an iPod. That was my electronic device.  Which is fine. I quite enjoyed listening to my iPod (I’m pretty sure my parents thought I was growing a pair of earbuds out of my ears.) Anyway, at about hour six, I decided it was time for a nap with some music because road trip naps are magical; you fall asleep in one place and you wake up in a different state (except if you’re driving through Texas because, let’s be real, Texas lasts forever). . So I laid down across the seat and had my iPod next to me.

I distinctly remember I had just been asleep for maybe ten or twenty minutes  and my little sister, who was maybe 6 or 7 at the time decides she was gonna turn my music up really loud. And Apple did a splendid job with their sound stuff. Those iPods could get pretty loud. So she turned it up all the way. While I was napping. And I screamed. What else was I supposed to do? Thank her for waking me? Uh, no thanks. Well, when I screamed, Mom thought something was wrong (which there was. I was very concerned about being a little old lady at 30 who couldn’t hear). And then she yelled at me. After that, I decided to keep a lock on my iPod, which I’m sure I promptly forgot the code to a few months later and had to hook it up to the computer to undo.

That was the most eventful part of the trip, as much of the rest of the day was passed in a sulky silence. And of course, the following day we arrived in Orlando and we were with family and all was forgiven…but not forgotten. 😉