And just like that…2022 is gone

I found this year to be one with quite a few changes in the way I am living, the way things are done and the new “normals” in our everyday life.

First, I have visited a Veterinarian’s office quite more often than any doctor or dentist. Now that the kids are teens, they don’t get as sick as when they were young – little sponges that brought home all kinds of nasty bugs from school . As for myself, I have been fortunate to enjoy pretty good health overall. As of today, I have never contracted COVID-19, or any of its variants.

Our 5 year old Yorkee-Poodle though, seems to be going in and out of different health issues, from stomach problems to skin conditions. Every time I take her to the Vet, and we have to wait to be seen, she gets impatient and antsy and she always reminds me of those endless hours at the Pediatrician with the kids during their toddler years: a total nightmare… bring Cheerios to get them distracted, , bring toys, don’t forget the diapers and a sippy cup, like a day trip carrying so much junk, just to see the doctor for 10 minutes. I sure don’t miss those years! Expensive Vet visits and all, she is still the reason I walk daily and the one that puts many smiles on my face every single day. Every walk we take, I enjoy, I see different things, hear different birds calling, and every single sunset on our evening walks is different to the next. They still make me want to take a picture…like this one:

Afternoon walk with Cinder

But with every age come different concerns, so now my concerns are…Are they driving safe? Are their friends a good influence? Have I taught them well to make healthy choices when they eat? When will this “hating salad” stage end? How much longer do I have, to enjoy them here at home before the leave and start their new life as young adults? Have I planted enough good seeds in their hearts and minds to be good people, good citizens? good friends?

Often lately I feel like I am approaching the ending part of a milestone in my life. That point where my job as a parent ends; it is not that I will stop being a mom once they leave the home, but my job as a “teacher”, as an important influence in them, as a decision maker in some aspects of their life, will end.

This has meant that I have been frequently finding myself questioning and analyzing the past 17 years of my life, ever since this amazing parenting adventure began. I have to admit I have made several (big) mistakes as a mom, I have learned several lessons, some of them taught to me by my own children as they grew up. Those lessons, along with a lot of advice from my parents and the unconditional support from my husband, make me feel today like I have honestly done as best as I could. I have very few regrets (as a mom), but then again, who doesn’t.

Another change is my Telecommuting. I now work only once a week on site, and from home the other 4 days. I am grateful that I am one of those people that have been able to work this way. I feel for those which telecommuting is not an option; all those working in the Hospitality industry for example, hotel clerks, housekeeping staff, cleaning crews. Or basic services like trash collection, supermarket staff, Auto Maintenance, restaurant cooks, not to mention the millions of people in the Transportation and Cargo industries that make ensure that our zillion Amazon purchases get to our doorsteps in a day or two. A lot of these workers probably wish they could stay in the comfort of their home and make a buck, and can’t.

2022 is also the first year in which my son found a job (at Papa John’s Pizza). Making minimum wage and working hard doing anything assigned to him, from folding boxes, to slapping dough, answering calls or cleaning the ovens- work has surely taught him the value of money. He now has a totally different perspective about spending and saving. He frequently translates prices into the number of hours it would take him pay for this or that. Soon he will start as a full time Community College Student so it will be interesting to see how he balances time making pizzas and studying for his exams. I never ever had to work as a student, so I already feel overwhelmed for him, but I trust his capabilities as he is a very determined kid who will not loose focus on a goal once he has it. So much, that he was able to skip the whole Senior year of HS through the CHSP Exam (because High School was a “waste of time”).

Another life changing event: my daughter now drives as well. This is the first school year in which she drives herself to school, and despite the HUGE relief it is to not make the twice-daily 25 min trips down the hill anymore, I cried a little bit that August morning when I saw her drive off at 7 40 am precisely. It was a heavy marker of independence, and since she is the youngest of my 2 kids, it felt like even heavier in my heart. She has a whole system of alarms now as part of her morning routine: one to get up, another one to REALLY get up, another one to start breakfast and the last one to remind herself that if she is not out the door that minute, she will be stuck in traffic. She is extremely organized with school activities, reminders, waivers for day trips, homework, extra academic activities, jeez. It is exhausting sometimes just to watch her unpack and pack her backpack. And to top off her days, she got into serious reading. Over 50 books just in 2022. I absolutely LOVE that, since reading is the one habit that my mother always tried to instill in us. Books, museums, concerts, theatre and travelling. I still get up early, make her breakfast and pack her a lunch, then collect hugs and kisses before she goes to school and say a little prayer so that she doesn’t cross her path with a jerk on the freeway and comes back home safely.

As I look back through all my 2022 photos, I almost relived some of it’s highlights: A visit from my sister and a trip to LA together where she pampered me and treated me to some exquisite restaurants and most importantly, gave me all true quality time and attention to do what sisters do: laugh, reminisce , shop, eat, drink, and then shop some more. We visited The Broad Museum, experienced the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit and window-shopped in Rodeo Drive, where to my surprise, a lot of the stores are closed now, probably courtesy of COVID-19.

In April 2022, my daughter joined me for an excellent dose of good live 80’s music: Journey and Toto in concert. It was incredibly fun, plus I loved being there with her for her first ever live concert. Now she believes me when I say that listening to a song in the car or a speaker will never be the same as going to a concert. My brother and his wife joined us for that one as well. To my surprise, my daughter had been practicing the lyrics to most of the Set list, so she was next to me singing form the top of her lungs to the beat of Roxana and Africa when Toto opened the concert and she got as hysterical as me when Journey sang Don’t stop believing, Faithfully, Send her my Love and Girl Can’t Help it among other favorites.

In the summer she turned 16, so we had a party for her, the first one where boys where invited. That was a change too…It was all good fun, lots of music and dancing and terrible singing, as any Sweet 16 party should be. We served a Taco Bar, the kids loved it and my husband was the official played Barman making the kids all kinds of colorful fun Cocktails.

As part of the celebration, I took her to New York City, her first time too. I enjoyed watching her take it all in- the tall skyscrapers with their top-floor decks, the many parks from cute little ones to the grand Central Park; the randomness of people and things happening on the streets all at once. The tremendous amount of shop lines streets and boutiques, the delicious overpriced restaurants and most of all , the talent on the Broadway musicals we saw: Hadestown, Chicago and Wicked. We had such a good time and I hope she also got more comfortable moving around in crowded busy streets: when to play it safe and when to her out of her shell to get things done and help when needed.

I also made a trip to Joshua Tree National Park with my friends from my hometown, whom I have know for 35 years now. We rented a 5 bedroom house and spend 3 full days together. There was plenty of hiking, eating, drinking and lots and lots of laughing.

A much needed vacation to remember how important friends and what am important part of my life they have been all these years.

In the fall, after MANY years of having this destination on my list, I was finally able to visit the East Coast during the Fall Foliage. My husband and I flew out to Boston. We spent a couple of days there in very wintery wet weather, but loving it just the same, since California doesn’t seem to grant us that. We took a historical Walking Tour (Freedom Trail) where my children’s History lessons from Middle School came alive in images, words and beautiful buildings that have surely seen so much since the colonization until today. This is not my native country so I didn’t know most of the information we heard, but the similarities to Mexican History – its colonization and horrible abuses to our native population by the Spaniards, was almost like listening to parallel stories.

We rented a car and drove along the coast driving through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. I was not expecting such abundant beauty. Foliage so bright and thick, never ending. I couldn’t stop taking photos. Those little coastal towns reminded me of the many Hallmark movies I have seen where there’s always a small town so quaint and friendly you just want to jump in there and believe it is real. We visited several bars and Delis where you could tell people knew each other. I even purchased some postcards to mail back home for the kids ( I am old school in a way). I walked in the tiny US Post Office in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and the Postal worker asked the customer in front of me “How is your Dad today? Doing better?”

Like I said, like a Hallmark movie scene. I don’t believe I have ever made a trip with a looser agenda, empty days with absolutely nothing planned but driving, exploring, taking photos and walking on the small streets of these towns.

It felt liberating, no plans, often times not even dinner reservations. A 9 day vacation that was truly that: a vacation. I have imprinted in my brain those bright yellow oranges and reds that I will never see in California. I even brought home some leaves with me for a Collage that reminds me of that beautiful coastal land.

This year also, I joined a local Book Club. I was lagging in my reading habit thanks to Netflix and Prime Video, so I decided to put more commitment to it. I has been very interesting and educational to read books I probably never would have picked and more importantly, to hear other people’s opinion and interpretation of the same book I read. I have learned by listening to each member of the group of people just as much as I learned from the actual books. I wish I had done this years ago, but better late then never!

As we take turns seeing my side of the family every other year for the Holidays, this year wasn’t one to see them, and because of COVID, we have spend the last 3 Christmases here at home, just the 4 of us. While it is nice not to travel during such a hectic time of year, this year I really felt like I missed a family gathering, a larger cheerful group. Being part of it and feeling the love and happiness that these events make me feel. So I am looking forward to a larger Family Christmas in 2023.

Yesterday, Jan 1st, as I started taking down all the Christmas decorations, one by one, every tree ornament, every candle I thought about 2022.

The year ended well: we are all healthy, we have jobs, and we live in a country where so much is taken for granted and yet millions fight for these things every day: freedom, education, or as simple as clean water at the turn of the faucet or electricity at the flip of a switch. Listening to the news about the continuing war on Ukraine and how the people are enduring a tough winter with no heating due to the bombing of the Russians, makes me think of these simple things every day. So yes, the year ended well, very well, was my conclusion as I put away the last of the Christmas Ribbons.

I am hoping 2023 will be a year of enjoying the children as much as they let me, of resting more and reading more and blogging more- and enjoying my husband’s Christmas present:50 First Dates throughout the year- pottery, chocolate tours, movie nights, candlelight dinners, auto shows and even volunteering in some local charity or non profit group.

Happy 2023 everyone.

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