A Not So Uplyfting Start to our Family Vacation

The other day I told you that we were traveling to Colombia to make Juan’s birthday wish come true. What I didn’t say was that during the first hour– during the first 10 minutes of our trip– Juan’s nightmare also came true.

There are many things I love about my husband, but his anxiety about travel is not one of them. This is surprising because for a man who stresses about travel, we have certainly taken several trips.  To be fair, he doesn’t stress about travel in general, but what gives him the greatest amount of anxiety is everything that happens before we actually get on the plane. How should we get there? What should we pack? Where shall we stay? And most of all,  “How far ahead of our flight should we arrive at the airport?” (Four hours, thank you very much.)

This trip was no different. Even though we had worked out a lot of the logistics that come with booking travel for six people to a foreign country, we did not do any advance planning to arrange transportation to the airport. With Father’s Day as our departure day, we couldn’t ask any family or friends to drive us. The shuttles were very expensive and public transportation just seemed too complicated for six people and as many suitcases. Earlier this week I happened to take a Lyft and as I chatted with the driver, I learned that Lyft could take us all to the airport far cheaper than a regular airport shuttle. It sounded like the perfect solution, except that you can’t book a ride on Lyft in advance. For those of you who have not used Lyft, or Uber, it basically allows you to use an app on your smart phone to order a driver to come pick you up.  The fares are reasonable and the drivers are usually prompt and friendly.  There are different levels of service and since there were six of us, plus luggage in our group, I knew we needed a Lyft Plus. As Juan and I crunched the numbers we decided it made the most sense to order a Lyft Plus to get to the airport. I repeatedly assured Juan what the Lyft driver told me, “Lyft drivers are widely available anytime.”

In order to make our 1:45 p.m. departure, Juan wanted us out the door at 9:00 a.m. (I wasn’t kidding when I said he wanted to be there four hours before.) A little later than planned, I opened my Lyft app at 9:15 to arrange pick up at our house. My heart started pounding a little faster when I read, “No Lyfts available.” I refreshed the screen. Still none available. Worse yet, the message now indicated, “Prime Time,” which meant I had to pay 50% more! I broke the news to Juan and watched his face turn red and a vein in his forehead begin to throb and turn purple. Frantically, he picked up his phone and began calling an airport shuttle. He repeated the message on the phone, “No shuttles available in your area.”  I watched his face now became the color of the throbbing forehead vein. It was too late to schedule a shuttle! I began doing the math in my head. If we drove ourselves and paid for parking that would be $13 per day.  With tax that would be over $300! Luckily, Olivia, a Lyft and Uber expert, like most kids here age, suggested we order two Lyfts, estimating it would cost us the same as Lyft Plus. That seemed to calm my husband down and stop his cardiac arrest, especially when I told him that the Lyft could get to us in 5 minutes.

True enough, five minutes later our first Lyft arrived, a car without any trunk space! I watched from inside the house as Juan’s agitation grew until the driver told him that he would cancel our order without charging us, and order us another Lyft with trunk space. Two minutes later the second Lyft arrived–a Honda Civic. Juan and the driver crammed  four suitcases into the trunk and Juan left with two of the kids. Meanwhile, I waited with Olivia and Nico for our replacement Lyft. Less than five minutes later our Lyft arrived, a beautiful 7 passenger minivan! The kids and I put in our two suitcases and stretched out in comfort. Meanwhile, we sent Juan a text to tell him we were on our way and would meet him at the airport. He asked if we had leg room. Olivia and I debated if we should tell him the truth, and decided to let him know that had he just taken a breath and waited five minutes we could have been driving together in a comfortable minivan. The response he texted me looked a lot like Juan’s face did earlier:

The only thing this emoji is missing is a throbbing purple vein.

The only thing this emoji is missing is a throbbing purple vein.

Now we are here in Medellin and things are going well, for now.  The kids are generally getting along.  Juan looks a lot happier.

He’s smiling now.

Tomorrow we are venturing out in the city.  We have decided we are going to use Uber.


It’s Monday, the 18th day of NaNloPoMo, and I am feeling a bit uninspired.  I looked at today’s writing prompt to get me going.  The prompt is to blog about a post you didn’t publish. I have a couple of those, but not many. Actually, I have many more unwritten posts that I probably won’t be able to publish, for the same reasons I haven’t written them.  The subject is too raw, and the stories are personal not just to me, but to others in my family.

I looked through my blog posts marked “private” and I found this one. When I wrote it my heart ached for my step-daughter.  I felt so helpless, like most parents feel when they see their child sick or sad. At the time, I wrote the post for myself and yet I knew that I would not be able to hit “publish” because like my other unwritten, unpublished blog posts, the subject matter was still too fresh.

Now, after reading this post, I feel enough time has passed that I can finally hit “publish.”


As parents, we’ve experienced many “firsts.” We had a first in our house last night. Our first daughter, with her first love, experienced her first broken heart. As parents, it was one of those times watching your child hurt and realizing you can do little about it, except offer some comforting words and the comforting food of a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake.We’ve all been there.  But, somehow seeing your child go through it makes it so much more painful. As we talked about her heartbreak, I found myself amazed at her level of maturity, insight and sensitivity.  The tears rolled down her face and she sobbed, feeling bad for being the one to break the news and knowing that in doing so, she may have broken a heart and ended a friendship.I have been on both ends of the spectrum, and in my opinion it is worse to be the one hearing the message, than the one delivering the message.  Maybe that’s because when I was the messenger I wasn’t as attached to the person, or maybe I just wasn’t as sensitive as our 14 year old daughter. I was also amazed, stunned actually, that we were talking about it. She doesn’t share her feelings easily, so perhaps it’s a testament to the amount of pain she felt that she was able to share it with her dad and I. Or maybe she just has a more open relationship about these things than I ever did with my parents. It could also be when I was a teen, I under-estimated my parents and didn’t think they would understand.

As much as it hurt to see her suffer, I also felt gratitude. I felt grateful that we have such an insightful, loving daughter.  Grateful that I felt close to her in sharing such heartache. Grateful that she confided in me, her mom and her dad. Most of all I felt grateful in knowing that this too shall pass and as beautiful and wonderful as she is, she will experience love again. This is one thing I know to be true. I am grateful to her for reminding me of that too.


Date Night

I don’t have time for a long post tonight because Juan and I are having a date night. Today just happens to be one of those times what the planets align and we don’t have any kids at home. My teens are with their other parents and Diego is at his first official slumber party. This means Juan and I get the night off!

You know what that means don’t you? Yes that’s right. Dinner and a movie. We get to go home to an empty house. I’m looking forward to a nice evening and a good night’s sleep. See you tomorrow.

Happy Friday!


Throwback Thursday

There’s a trend among social media users to post past photos  on Thursdays and tag it as Throwback Thursday, TBT or #TBT. I enjoy seeing some of my friends’ past pictures of them sporting big hair, bright makeup and leg warmers, and I am slightly amused by my own teens’ sense of nostalgia when they post photos from last school year and tag it as a throwback. When I think of TBT I am reminded of pictures of my kids when they were young and cute, or photos of me when I was younger and looked it.  Something like this:

Our first family photo, June 2001.

Our first family photo, June 2001.

This photo is in my office. Juan framed it for me and gave it to me as an anniversary gift.  The picture was taken in June, 2001. Olivia was 5, Erica was just 3,  Nico was still 2 1/2. Diego was just a glimmer in our eye. Actually, no. He wasn’t even a thought.  It was actually the first time Juan and I went out as a couple with our kids.  We had already known each other for several months and as single parents with kids of similar ages, we spent time together with our kids, taking them on outings.  But this date was different.

One week earlier, our friendship turned romantic.  All of a sudden I saw Juan in a different light and I realized I wanted us to be more than friends. He was more than willing. We spent nearly every day we could together until the weekend this photo was taken when our kids came back to us from their other parents.  That weekend in June we were invited to the birthday party of a co-worker’s daughter. The party was in the San Fernando Valley, on a sweltering day.  But, it was a perfect excuse to spend another day together with our kids, and a perfect opportunity to come out to our colleagues about our budding romance. Our friends were happy for us. I think our children were oblivious. They were getting their fill of birthday cake and ice cream. When the party ended, we did not want our day together to end.

Juan and I decided we wanted to do something else with the kids.  We wanted to escape the oppressive heat of the San Fernando Valley and decided to head south.  We drove to Anaheim to see if we could buy cheap tickets to a Los Angeles Angeles game.  After over an hour drive we were turned away because the game was sold out. Our kids were deteriorating. They were tired, hungry, sweaty and cranky. So was I.

But,  Juan sprang into action and suggested we head to Downtown Disney. The idea of anything Disney brought the kids to life. By the time we got to Downtown Disney it was dark and the temperature dropped.  Of course, no one had jackets, but we managed to scrounge through our cars and find some mismatched clothing. In this picture I am wearing Juan’s rain jacket Nico is wearing a too-small sweatshirt, and Olivia is wearing a pink velour long-sleeved shirt over yellow shorts. Erica and Juan are cold.  But we look happy. Because we were.

I remember laughing and having a good time watching the kids play in front of this fountain.  Juan began taking pictures of the kids. At that moment I remember feeling the possibility of something magical happening between us, and something special happening between the kids.  We must have projected those feelings because all of a sudden a stranger approached Juan and asked if we wanted him to take a picture of our family.  Juan looked at me as if to say, “What do you think?” I smiled at Juan, and without letting the stranger know that we weren’t really a family, (yet) we  both said “yes!”

That’s what I call Throwback Thursday.

 Do you like to post photos for Throwback Thursday?


Tres Generaciones

In memory of my grandmother and in honor of my mother on this Mothers’ Day, I am re-posting this. I miss my grandmother everyday, especially today. I am mindful everyday, especially today, of how thankful I am for my mother for all her love, guidance and support throughout my life. Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers and  to all who act in mothering, nurturing ways.

My mother, my grandmother and I.

My mother, my grandmother and I.

This is a picture of my grandmother, my mother and I. My grandmother is 97 years-old and as you can tell from the spark in her eye, she is a firecracker. Lately, she is causing us some worry because she insists on living on her own.  She is independent, stubborn, resourceful and very loving. She has created many happy memories for me and her other 9 grandchildren. I think a lot of what my mother learned about being a mother, she learned from my grandmother.

This is my mother before she married my dad. My mom is the one who looks like she is 12 years-old and too young to be in Vegas with her girlfriends. She has always looked younger than her years.  When I was growing up I don’t think my mom ever weighed more than 110 pounds soaking wet.

In her late 20’s my mom met and married my dad. They started their family right away, with 3 kids  born 17 months apart. I don’t know how she did it. She says there was a time when my older brother, my younger sister and I were in diapers at the same time!  Eight years after my sister was born my dad said he wanted another boy. My mother agreed and 9 months later my younger brother was born. I don’t know how she did that! (Well, I do know how they did that, I just don’t like to think about it.)

When I was growing up my mother was in constant motion. Like many women of her day, she was a stay-at-home mom.  She made it look effortless. On our birthdays she organized parties for us and would invite the entire neighborhood.

We didn’t have bounce houses, clowns or magicians. We had my mom who would organize the games.

She was a soccer mom before there were soccer moms.

My mother didn’t just support my brother’s in their sports, she also supported me and my acting ambitions.  Here she is at one of my play productions, standing by while I sign autographs.

My mom wore many hats, including a barber hat.

Here she is in her laundress hat.

She rarely complained about her many household tasks, except when it came to do laundry. I didn’t understand why she disliked doing laundry for a family of 6. Now that I have my own family and my own endless pile of laundry, I understand.  But, at least I have a clothes dryer. Our family didn’t buy a clothes dryer until I was almost 13 years-old!

Something else happened when I was around 13 years-old, I suddenly knew everything there was to know about life.  Even though I still didn’t know how to do my own laundry, cook my own meals, or even pack my own school lunch, I knew more than anyone in my family, including my mother. Especially my mother. I would never stay home and raise children. I would work in show business, I would become a writer, or maybe even a lawyer. Thanks in part to my mom’s love and support,  I have had a turn doing all those things.  But wouldn’t you know it? I have also become a mom. Like my mom, I have two boys and two girls. Life has played a joke on me.  But my mom isn’t laughing. She is still here, supporting me, loving me and taking care of our family.  It’s something she learned from my grandmother, and something I hope I have learned from both of them. So, to my grandmother, and my mother…thank you and Happy Mother’s Day!