Kiss Me, I’m (10%) Irish!

For my 40th, hubby bought me something I have been wanting since the first time I watched an episode of Who Do You Think You Are: a DNA testing kit from Ancestry DNA.

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I am of Cuban descent. Because it is very unlikely that the Cuban government has any of my family’s records, and my grandparents have long since passed, I have always been curious to learn more about my roots. I knew that my dad’s paternal side was from Spain, and there had been rumors that one of my mom’s grandparents was of Lebanese descent, but other than that, I had no clue who my ancestors are…

…that is, until this week! Yesterday morning I finally received my DNA results:

dna2 Here’s the complete breakdown:

76% European
–53% Iberian Peninsula
–10% Ireland
–4% European Jewish
–3% Italy/Greece
–2% Scandinavia/NW Russia
–1% Europe West
–<1% Great Britain

15% Middle East

6% Africa
–4% North Africa
–2% Benin/Togo
–<1% Ivory Coast/Ghana

 2% Native American

 <1% Asia South

 

I love knowing that I am a mix of so many ethnicities!

IrishMy biggest shock was finding out that I am 10% Irish. After so many years of singing along at the pub, and feeling such a connection to characters such as Ellis Lacey from the film Brooklyn, I finally understand why I love the Irish so much, we are kin!  Now I want to adopt a little redhead and name her Saoirse (pronounced Sersha, except my Cubanos would most likely call her Soraisa.)

I was also stoked to learn that I am 2% Native American! Now I need to learn if I am Ciboney, the Guanahatabey or Taíno.

My biggest DNA makeup comes from the Iberian Peninsula (my Spaniard roots), the Middle East and Africa. I even learned that I am 4% European Jewish. I love every single part of my DNA!

Have you had your DNA tested? If so, I would love to know who your ancestors are. If you haven’t yet taken the leap, Ancestry DNA sent me this link to share with my friends, and it will save you $10 off the regular price of a DNA testing kit. That’s even less than what hubby paid!

(Full disclosure: for every kit my friends order using this link, Ancestry DNA will send me a $10 gift card to Amazon which will promptly use to download Irish drinking songs!)

Calamity and a Few Kind Words

A bit of calamity is common in my life. It’s a daily occurrence for me to bruise my hip bumping into the corner of the bed or bang my knee on a coffee table.  My poor fingers have it the worst.  I’ve sewn through one, completely closed a car door on another.

I was having a typical nutty day. I’d just sliced the top of my index finger when I got it caught in a junk drawer, my dogs wouldn’t stop barking at some workmen next door, and I had spent the last 20 minutes spraying Formula 409 on, and trying to sweep out, the hugest and oldest palmetto bug (Florida cockroach) I’d ever seen–which I’d found in said junk drawer–while shrieking like a banshee with each sweep of the broom.

I finally got the demon beast out of my house and realized that I had to leave right at that moment to pick up my kids from school.  I’d accomplished NOTHING that I’d set out to do that morning. My plans were thrwarted early on when Hubs left me a letter to send certified mail, a check to deposit, and a reminder that we were all out of something (string cheese? milk? OJ?) so I had to stop at the grocery store, too.

I was frustrated and in pain when I pulled up to my son’s school. The whole way there I was cursing (cussin’) under my breath about how I should just STOP: stop writing, stop creating, stop running my business. STOP.  What was the point, anyway? (boo-hoo, woe is me–I know.)  I had 5 minutes until the bell rang and I opened my email ready to clean out a day’s worth of SPAM, when I saw this in my inbox:

To: aquaseventy6
From: christiejean17

Hey Yvette! I don’t know if you really remember me. But I used to blog over at  Ma Nouvelle Mode for awhile. I dropped out of that blog because my son Bennet was born with a severe heart defect. He had 2 open heart surgeries, one diaphragm surgery and 3 stomach surgeries all before the age of 5 months old. He was 100% gtube fed (through a tube directly to his stomach) for 18 months.

I have been wanting to reach out to you because you have no idea how much your wet bags saved my life during those early months of Bennet’s life. We had to keep syringes for meds and feeds and all sorts of strange things with us at all times. Sometimes these items became pretty messy – I won’t go into detail 🙂 Anyways, i carried two of your chevron wet bags with me at all times! I just wanted you to know how God used your products to bless me during a really really difficult time. 

I just started my own blog called A Beautiful Window 🙂 I would love to keep in touch. God bless- Christie

kidsAn overwhelming feeling came over me. I was touched beyond words–both happy and proud that something I made with my own two hands helped a person across the country during a difficult time, and selfish and petty for being upset that I couldn’t get to my “business to do list” because I had to tackle my “family to do list”.  A list that including picking up my healthy children from school and running errands for the love of my life. What a jerk I am.

Thank you Christie for your email.  Thank you for reminding that sometimes our plans change, priorities shift, and that all it takes is a few kind words to put things back into place.

cropped-abeautifulwindowheader_tag61To learn more about Christie, Bennet and their family visit A Beautiful Window.

5 Goals for 2015

Like every year around this time, I find myself sneaking back here, to my tried and true blog, apologizing for the weeks months I’ve been away, and promising to do better.  So here goes: I promise to do better. I promise I will try to do better, anyway.

It’s also around this time of year that I sit down and take inventory of the last 12 months.  In 2013, my goal was to give more of my time and talent (because my treasure was quite limited) by becoming more involved in charity work and volunteering.

By early 2014, it was clear that I needed some of that time back to focus on my family and on better developing my talents– which would hopefully create a little more treasure to pitch in at home. This inspired me to come up with 28 Ways to {better} LOVE Myself.  I am happy to say that I’ve kept up with MOST of the promises I made to myself, and 2014 was one of my happiest and most peaceful years yet.

So what goals have I set for 2015?

1. First and foremost, I will continue to refer to my 28 Ways to {better} LOVE Myself, because we all need to securely fasten our oxygen masks before helping those around us.

2. I will remember to count my blessings more regularly.  It’s easy to get so overwhelmed by life’s occurrences that we forget to be grateful for all of the wonderful things that we do have.

3. I will set small personal and attainable goals (take the kids’ clothes to the consignment shop, finally learn how to use my embroidery machine, clean out the cabinet under my sink, organize my desk) which will make my life easier and give me a sense of tangible accomplishment.

4. I will be less angry at my 5:30 a.m. alarm. There is nothing that I can do about the time my kids start school, so getting worked up every single morning is pointless and unhealthy.  I will try to find the silver lining in my early morning wake-up call, even if it’s still too dark outside to see the clouds…

5. I will go on regular dates with my husband.  My kids are 12 and 14 and no longer consider sitting at grandma’s house watching a VHS copy of Blue’s Clues repeatedly a successful Friday night. This, and the fact that I really do dig hanging out with them, has caused a major dip in date nights. I realized last night when Hubby suggested revisiting our honeymoon destination (Sandals resort) and my initial response was “no, because the kids can’t come”, that maybe he was trying to tell me something…and maybe I should listen.  We truly love you, kids, but Mom and Dad need some alone time.  Want me to go into detail?…yeah, I didn’t think so. You can unplug your ears now.

What goals have you set for the new year?  Tell me in the comments!

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Back to School: An Epic Tale of Boxes, Bronchitis, Downward Dog and Lockdowns

Today marks the end of the second week of school.  It has been, inarguably, the longest two weeks I’ve had in recent recollection. Even more so considering how quickly summer vacation flew by.

I wasn’t ready for summer to end, but decided to be positive and jumped right out of bed when my alarm went off in the middle of the night bright and early (at 5:30 a.m.) on the first day of school. Other than having to sign approximately 3,236 papers for school and visit Target a whopping 6 times for school supplies, the first few days were pretty great and I was able to get everyone, including myself, in bed by 9 p.m.

First day of school

 Then the weekend arrived.

My mother-in-law sold her house in less than a week on the market, and the time to pack and move had arrived.  Hubby, the kids, and I went over to help.  My job was to go through all of the photos she and her parents had collected over the last 65 years, combine them and store them in plastic tubs.  Actually my job was to pack said photos, but since the majority of them were strewn through dusty, silverfish infested boxes, falling out of photo albums whose sticky pages had long since lost their stickiness, or tucked away in the drug store envelopes they originally came in, I figured this would be a much better option.

Here is one of the old pictures I found at MIL’s.
Here are Hubs and I when we were around 19 circa 1995.

Since MIL hasn’t found a permanent place, Hubs and I offered to store her furniture and boxes  in our garage, which meant a major, two-day long garage rearrangement.

A good part of my garage was filled by donations for the charity yard sale I will soon be working, so those items had to be hauled to a different storage location. Hubby and I moved things right and left until we finally had the garage looking like I’d wanted it to look since we moved in 15 months ago.  It was a nice 30 seconds until the box truck with MIL’s items arrived.  Thankfully, we played a lot of Tetris when we were kids and we able to fit it all in nicely.

The next day, my daughter called me from school complaining of a cough and sore throat. The pediatrician diagnosed her with sinusitis and bronchitis.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  I had to go back and forth to the pharmacy three times until they figured out that the cough medicine wasn’t covered by our insurance and the doctor recommended an OTC instead.

Phew…I’m tired just thinking about it…

Last night my buddy Marcy invited me to yoga to try and relieve some of the stress of the last two weeks. This was a great idea since I had been wanting to try yoga for years to relieve my chronic back pain.  It really was a great idea, except that 15 minutes into it I realized this was more Cirque du Soleil in an oven than the chanting, relaxing and stretching I had pictured in my head.  About 40 minutes in I refused to do anymore downward dogs.

OK, I didn’t actually refuse. It was more like my brain was spinning in my head, and my ears were ringing, and my boob sweat was rolling up into my eyes, and I didn’t know what the heck any of the poses were, and I was getting nauseous from looking around to see if I was doing any of it correctly, and I was pretty sure they would have to call 9-1-1 if bent over again.  Thankfully, the last 10 minutes rocked.

I have not given up on yoga…I just think I will start with the senior citizens class and work my way up to the class set in the Sahara Desert.

So, this morning I woke up, still a little light-headed, but my body felt pretty amazing. Both kids were able to go back to school, and I planned on painting a table my MIL had given me to use in my studio while I listened to my new audiobook.  I ran out of the Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint I had been using, and as I went to wash my hands and run to the stockist, the house phone started ringing off the hook.  No one ever calls me on my land line, so when I looked at the caller ID I saw it was my son’s high school.

All I remember the recorded message say was “suspicious student”, “in custody” “lockdown”, “law enforcement”, and “safety sweep of the school.” I quickly texted my son, got online and saw the newspaper article that stated that my daughter’s middle school (right next door from my son’s) and a nearby elementary school were also on lockdown due to a student who was wearing a trench coat and claimed to have guns.  I texted my kids, and my son replied that he was in lockdown in his 4th period class but was OK.  My daughter didn’t reply right away, but by then the reports stated that her school’s lockdown had been lifted and that the students were in no danger.

I decided to drive to my son’s school myself, and when I arrived, the street was filled with concerned parents, cars parked on the side of the road and police cars blocking the school’s entrance.

My son’s principal has a twitter account, and he updated it often. I was able to keep in touch with my son via text while I waited for news.  Three hours after the initial lockdown, after crouching against a wall the entire time, skipping lunch hour, and with only one supervised bathroom break, the lockdown was lifted.  Parents like me flooded the front office to take our tired and hungry kids home. Actually, we went to McDonald’s. A situation like this deserves salty fries and a Coke.

Safe and sound.

Later on, we learned that there was no evidence of any weapons at the school, but it has raised a huge concern. How safe are our kids?  How can schools prevent weapons from entering the building?  What if another kid wants this kind of attention? Should the teachers have water and food supplies in their classrooms?

It’s all a little much for me to think about this evening.  Tonight I will just think of how thankful I am that my kids are safe and sound.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you!  My readers always brighten my day!

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Maybe the Best May

The month of May has gone by in the blink of an eye!  I can’t believe there are only 5 more days until summer vacation!  I have had an amazing month!

My family took me to the beach for Mother’s Day. I was able to chaperone my daughter’s 5th grade dance, her band field trip and her field trip to Busch Gardens. My husband chaperoned my son’s 8th grade trip to Universal Studios and we spent the rest of that weekend in Orlando lounging poolside and visiting the Magic Kingdom. This past weekend we went back to the beach for our 16 year wedding anniversary where we swam, avoided stingrays, soaked in the beautiful weather, and even caught a 15-inning Tampa Bay Rays game! (Full disclosure: we left after the 10th inning.)

Here are some pics of our beautiful month so far:

This summer is going to be bitter-sweet for me.  Both of my kids will be entering new schools in the fall.  My son is starting high school and my daughter starts middle school.  I officially no longer have babies. Our schedule next year is going to be insane, with my son’s first bell ringing around 7:10 a.m., and my daughter not starting until 8:20–even though the schools are right next door to each other and 8 miles away from my house.  (Seriously, what kind of masochistic school board do we have out here?!)

My goal is to spend as much time with my kids and have as much fun as humanly possible in the 75 measly days we are given between school years.  I will be starting a #100happydays project on instagram that will spill into the beginning of the new school year, highlighting at least one happy moment in each day.  I hope this inspires you to do the same.

I will also have a lot more free time this summer…more on that after this weekend…

Finally, I will be giving myself a pass (or as my friend Autumn calls it, a Summer Card) when my lofty goals do not go as planned.  La Casa de AquaSeventy6 will be a “guilt-free zone” this summer, or as guilt-free as a Catholic Cuban-American mom can be.

I want to be chill, like this guy, the most interesting kangaroo in the world:

How has your May been? What are your big summer plans? Meet any interesting marsupials lately? Tell me in the comments!

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Mother’s Day

There’s nothing I love more than being a mom.  With all of its ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade in one moment of the last 14.5 years of my life.

I realize I’ve had it much easier than some other mothers.  My kids are healthy and happy.  Our family is intact, never having dealt with grave illness or divorce. My kids love me, and tell me so.  I adore them and never go more than a few hours (minutes) without reminding them of it.

At 14, my son still hugs me. At 11, my daughter still snuggles with me.  They don’t talk back (often), or curse (that I know of), and have NEVER, EVER said “I hate you!” (to my face).

Am I a perfect mom?  No way!  Just last night I flipped out because someone drank my last can of Coke (I realize how insane this is) and made one teenage boy feel REALLY bad about it.  UGH!  I suck. (So, maybe I would trade in just that one moment.) But, for the most part, I consider myself a good mom, and I would wager my kids think so, too.

This Mother’s Day, I don’t want a present or fancy dinner.  All I want is to thank God for giving me the gift of my children and the opportunity to be their mother.  If I could ask for one Mother’s Day gift, it would be to grow old enough to watch my children have their own children and love them as I much as they have been loved.

Happy Mother’s Day, friends!  Hug your kiddos tight! xoxo

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A Great and Beautiful Loss

On March 27, 2014 at 11:34 a.m. I witnessed my husband’s grandmother take her last breath.

Mima, as she would be known to family and friends alike, had been declining in health for the last year or two. At 93 years of age, she took pride in being the family’s matriarch. A mother of 3 daughters and 1 son, she helped raise her 8 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. She lived long enough to meet her 16th great-grandchild, born just 6 weeks ago.

I met Mima shortly after I started dating my husband, and for the last 22 years, I grew to love her as much as I had my own grandparents.

Me and Mima in 2006

I will always remember Mima’s love for The Family Fued and Wheel of Fortune (which she called “la ruedita”) and the gummy Spongebob “Crabby Patties” you could find at Halloween.  I will never forget how she loved to snuggle with my dogs, how she would all but run around the house in her walker, how she preferred hard bread to soft, used the same tupperware drinking cup everyday, how she talked in her sleep, and sat on two stacked throw pillows on the couch to watch her shows.

Hubby and Mima in 2005

On March 27, shortly after posting my last blog, hubby texted me that Mima had only minutes left. Hospice had been at her home for a couple of days, and she had shown little response in the last 24 hours.  I rushed out, praying I would arrive in time. When I arrived, Mima was lying in bed surrounded by her daughters, grandsons and granddaughter.  I sat next to her bed on the floor, and just minutes later we watched her take her last breath.  Hubby’s cousin, a firefighter/EMT, immediately checked her pulse and it was gone.

She passed peacefully at home surrounded by her loved ones.

My daughter and Mima in 2005

On Saturday afternoon, we all gathered together for her funeral.  She looked beautiful–and young.  Our children, Mima’s great-grandchildren, wept, kissed her, and rubbed her hands.  They told her how much they loved her and were going to miss her. They also laughed together, as kids do, and ate cookies in the lounge area. These beautiful beings, who would not be here if it weren’t for Mima, are a reminder of her importance to this family.

The kids with Mima and Pipo in 2006

The funeral home was filled with dozens of beautiful arrangements from family and friends. The priest gave a lovely service and sang a beautiful hymn which brought many to tears.  On Sunday, we had a small graveside service and paid our final respects. The grandsons acted as pallbearers. The great-grandchildren sat in the chairs under the tent and each of us tossed a flower into her grave. We stayed together until the casket was lowered, the hole was filled, and the sod replanted.

My son and Mima in 2007

In the end, everything was as beautiful as anyone could have ever hoped for, from her peaceful passing, to the services celebrating her life.

I can’t thank enough every person who was there for us, and especially there for my mother-in-law and her sisters this week. Thank you for the food, washing dishes, bringing old photos and sending flowers and cards. Thank you mostly for your presence.

Thank you also to my friends who texted and messaged me, and especially for our friends who came by to pay their respects. It means so much to know you care.

Mima, siempre estarás en nuestros corazones. Te quiere mucho tu nieta, Yvette.

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