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love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

This is my love letter to my 11-year-old daughter. It’s hard to believe that the last time I brought a child into the world was 11 years ago today. I didn’t know then that would be the last time. I thought I had more time.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was bigger this time than the first time. I could barely see my toes. But we were so excited to take our little family of 3 to 4. I was nervous. I couldn’t sleep the night before the induction because I knew, just like the first time, this baby was going to change everything.

I won’t lie, we had quite the eventful labor and delivery. I knew it wasn’t going to be like the first birth when about 3 hours into the induction, we realized that our video camera wasn’t working. All of this preparation and the camera didn’t work. The Big Guy called his brother who lived a couple hours away and my brother-in-law, who was in doing his residency at the time, somehow cleared his entire day and drove us his camera to use. I will never forget that.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Daughter on her 7th Birthday

I’ll also never forget that he drove all that way, gave us the camera, wished us luck and drove right back to where he came from. He had no interest in accidentally being present when delivery rolled around. I remember it was funny to me because…he’s a doctor. But I will never forget the huge gesture he did without hesitation he brought us a camera to record our daughter’s birth. He was like a very humble superhero.

I remember laying there in my hospital bed while the Big Guy walked his brother out, about 7 hours into the induction and a broken waters later, looking at my cell phone and seeing a picture of my firstborn and second-guessing the entire thing. What was I thinking? How could I ever love another child as much as I did my first daughter? Was that even possible? I cried. No, I sobbed because all I could think, with my second baby stuck inside me and my first baby at home completely confused at 2-years-old as to where I’d gone off to with my big belly, was that one or both of them were going to feel like they got less love than the other. The thought of it broke my heart.

love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

Eventually, after hours of trying different positions, a nurse had to lay on top of me to help push my Gabs out. I was in labor for what seemed like forever; scared to fail both of my children, certain I was not going to be able to do it and afraid that, unlike the Grinch, my heart wouldn’t grow two sizes. But it did.

From the moment I saw all that black curly hair in the mirror as I was pushing our Gabs into the world, I knew it was going to be alright. Apparently, I am a Grinch at heart. They laid her on my chest, after removing the cord from her neck and her purple body, and I was reminded in that moment how lucky I was to be a mother and what a privilege it was to bring her into this world.

love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

I was reminded again how thin the veil between life and death truly is and I gave myself over to an overwhelming, all-encompassing, everything is going to be alright kind of love, much like I did the first time. In these moments, I’ve been proven that miracles exist and in these miracles, in my baby’s eyes, I see God in his purest form.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Tween

Of course, the next day my firstborn daughter came to meet Gabs at the hospital and was so confused and overwhelmed by everything that I checked myself out of the hospital AMA before 24 hours because even though I was basking in the glow of my newborn baby, I knew my 2-year-old still needed me too. This heart doubling in size thing was still new to me and I had to figure out how to live in my new reality of 4. But it was good and Gabs completed us.

love letter, 11th birthday, love letter to my daughter

This is my love letter to my daughter on her 11th birthday


You are like sunshine on the water. Beautiful, special and breathtaking but a moving target. Just when I think I have you figured out, you grow and move and everything shifts and I have to work to learn to understand you again, from another vantage point.

You were born an old soul. In many ways, you are more mature than your big sister but in many ways, you are still just a little kid. The way you play, laugh and the pattern of your freckles spread out across your cheeks, as your glassy blue eyes smile out at me from beneath a cascade of honey-kissed summer hair, always disheveled, reminds me that you are still a little girl in many ways.

Yet at other times, the words you speak, the soulfulness in your eyes, the crack in your voice when something makes you sad reminds me that soon you will be a woman. You are straddling between the two worlds right now; one foot firmly planted in childhood while the other is stepping into womanhood.

I feel you pulling away, little by little, like the pull of the tide on the waves. I feel myself letting go, gently, like the wisps of a dandelion being blown into the summer sun full of hope and wishes. This is the hard part.

All I want to do is hold on tighter. Reign you in and pull you back close to me but I can’t. I have to let you go so that you know that I trust you. I have to give you freedom so that you can grow and find your way back to me.

Just know that I will always love you, no matter what you do or where you go. I will always be there to pick you up when you need me to. I will not judge you. I will not abandon you. I will not belittle and berate you. I will respect you. You can talk to me about anything and I will listen.

When I look at you, I will probably always, at first glance, see that newborn baby girl with the black, curly hair and the chubby little cheeks. I’ll remember the way you smelled of Johnson’s and Johnson’s baby soap and your baby breath of green apples. But know that I see you, the young woman that you are trying to become. I see the butterfly but I’ll never forget the chrysalis you once were.

Love you forever to the moon and back,


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disney magic kingdom, disney tickets, Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Disney world tickets

You’ve decided to take your family on the ultimate family vacation to Walt Disney World and your first stop with those Walt Disney World Tickets is going to be the Magic Kingdom. Of course, it is! I have been to Walt Disney World many times and I have to say when I think of the happiest place on earth, my brain immediately goes to the Magic Kingdom. It is the epitome of the spirit of Disney World.

READ ALSO: 25 Top Secret Tips to Rock Your Walt Disney World Family Vacation

If you only had Disney World Tickets for one day at Disney World with kids ( or without) hands down, your first stop to get the full Disney experience is the Magic Kingdom. Honestly, there is so much to do and see that we usually get multi-day park-hopper Disney tickets and plan multiple days just to experience all the magic that the Magic Kingdom has to offer.

If you have never been to Walt Disney World let me give you a brief rundown of the setup.  There are 4 parks that make up the magic that is Disney World; The Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom. Each park focuses on a different side of Disney.

READ ALSO: 10 Tips for Maximizing Your Walt Disney World Vacation for Free

The Animal Kingdom is about the animals big and small, real and imagined. It is a zoological park like you’ve never experienced before. This is where you will find the wonder that is Pandora- the land of AvatarEpcot brings the world to you. Experience the ultimate celebration of food, art and entertainment from around the world. Hollywood Studios allows you to take center stage int he worlds of Disney movies, television, music and theater. This will be home to Toy Story Land opening June 30, 2018! I can’t wait!

disney magic kingdom, disney tickets, Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Disney world tickets

Last but not least, the park that makes me feel like an excited 4-year-old experiencing it for the first time (every single time), the Magic Kingdom. It truly is magical and is the place where you can explore lands of endless enchantment and your fantasy becomes reality. I love all the parks but the Magic Kingdom has a special place in my heart.

READ ALSO: The Happiest Place on Earth is Disney’s Magic Kingdom 

disney magic kingdom, disney tickets, Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Disney world tickets

5 Tips to Use Disney World Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

  1. disney magic kingdom, disney tickets, Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Disney world tickets


  1. Get to the staging area for the Happily Ever After fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom at least 1.5 hours before the show begins to get a good spot. You must see this firework show to believe it. If you can, fast pass it and then you don’t have to get there so early because your spot in the staging area will be waiting for you.
  2. Ride the Astro Orbitor at night. Honestly, I have been to Walt Disney World at least 20 times before I realized that      Astro Orbitor was even a ride. I thought it was décor. Then I rode it at night, with my daughter, and I can honestly say, it was magical and I will never forget the experience. We had a 360-degree view that can’t be seen from anywhere else in the park. Also, for a good time, ride Splash Mountian at night.
  3. Be sure to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I recommend getting fast-passes but if you can’t, get there early, so the times are shorter. In fact, I recommend taking advantage of early magic hours to beat the crowds or booking breakfast at the Magic Kingdom before the park opens so that you can get a ride without having to wait in line for a couple hours.
  4. If you are looking for good places to eat, and there are a lot, for a quick bite when we’re in a hurry, we love Casey’s Corner Hot Dog Joint. For a sit-down lunch that has great food at a great price and the gray stuff too, we love Be Our Guest Restaurant. And if you are there and you want to eat a large dinner that is sure to satisfy any craving, Liberty Tree Tavern is perfection. Your belly and your heart will be full when you leave.
  5.  Take a Walt Disney World Tour to really feel like a VIP insider. The Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom is affordable and gives you a glimpse of the tunnels and workspaces under the park that only Cast Members get to see. A VIP behind the scenes tour allows you to experience the parks in an exclusive way so you can see how the magic is made. You’ll feel like a celebrity.

disney magic kingdom, disney tickets, Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Disney world tickets

If you want to go beyond the magic of your Walt Disney World tickets and be 100% immersed in Disney World magic in the most luxurious way, I recommend checking out the Disney Dream cruise.

disney magic kingdom, disney tickets, Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Disney world tickets

What is your tip to use your Walt Disney World tickets to experience the Magic Kingdom like an insider?

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Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

Last week at this time, I was debarking from a Disney cruise with my family. We were living the dream, the Disney Dream that is, thanks to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Life was magical. Today, not so much. My husband and I both have the flu. Now, I get why they kept handing me sanitized wipes for my hands.

Let me tell you about cruising because a Disney cruise was my first ever cruise. I think the Disney Dream may have ruined me for all other cruises. I’ve always wanted to try a Disney cruise. I love being on the sea, I love traveling with my family and I love, love, love Disney so what was there not to like? But, I had no idea what to expect. I think cruising is one of those things you really need to experience for yourself, like childbirth and marriage, no one can explain in words how it actually feels but I will try.

Cruising on the Disney Dream was like no other vacation we’ve ever had. I used to think to vacation in the great outdoors was the best a family vacation could get but I see now that a Disney cruise gives you the best of both worlds.  It was luxury beyond anything I could have imagined. I get why they call it the Disney dream.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

For someone like me, who is always connected, the Disney Dream allowed me to live one of my biggest dreams…being present and in the moment. Yes, I had WiFi and was still connected but not in the same way as I am in my day to day life. I was semi-connected but I was 100% plugged in and present for my life and my family. I was given the gift of time to breathe and exhale and to look around and see all the beauty and wonder that was right in front of me. I think that is a gift that all of us deserve and can use in today’s world of fast-paced living.

I woke up to sunrises on the horizon of the ocean and went to bed with the sounds of the ocean waves lulling me to sleep. It was definitely magical but of course, it was a Disney cruise so I would expect nothing less.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

Everything You Need to Know About the Disney Dream Cruise

  1. Excellent service from the cast members from everyone on board, everyone was so kind and generous with their time and efforts just as we’ve all come to expect from all Disney employees.
  2. Amazing food, high-quality meals and options galore. You will eat like a King/Queen while onboard a Disney cruise ship.

Disney Cruise,beauty and the beast, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

3. Amazing Broadway shows like Beauty and the Beast. It was beyond amazing and as a theater freak, I’m telling you, that it is a must see.

4. More food. There was so much good food, I wished a had more days but I’m not sure my jeans would have survived the trip.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

5. Lots of onboard activities for adults too, so there is no chance of getting bored; beer tasting, mixology course, tequila tasting, BINGO, fitness center, several pools, Aqua Duck, Nightclubs and lounges, Senses Spa and Salon and movie theaters.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC, aqua duck

6. Relaxation beyond anything you could have ever imagined. There are separate adult only areas and a Spa onboard but beyond that, they’ve even thought of ways to keep the kids occupied so that you can relax.

7. Kids clubs with different age-appropriate activities for kids of all ages. They are full of activities like putt-putt golf, basketball, foosball, dodgeball, crafts, movies and video games to name a few. My girls were at Edge (for kids ages 11-14) and it was amazing because they were in a safe and secure environment being supervised by trained cast members. They got some freedom and it gave us some time alone. It was a nice perk, I hadn’t expected.


8. Thoughtfulness, it is apparent in everything from the towel characters they leave on your bed with the chocolates at turndown service to the royal proclamation of your family upon your arrival. The cast members notice the little things and remember your preferences. It really makes for a special trip.

9. Free 24-hour room service, including Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and pizza.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

10. Cleanliness. Our staterooms were spotless and so was everything else on the ship. In fact, they even handed us sanitized wipes before entering all restaurants to help stop the spread of germs.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

11. Unlimited ice cream. This was my daughters’ favorite thing ever. All the soft serve your heart can desire.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

12. Time alone on a private island. Our Disney cruise culminated with us spending our final day on Disney’s Castaway Cay; Disney’s very own private island, perfectly manicured and peaceful right in the middle of the Bahamas. If you’ve never been on a private island, and who of us have been, you are really missing out. It’s having the best of all worlds with just a fraction of the population. We tubed, we rode in a paddle boat, we swam with the fishes, biked and hiked and that was just tip of the iceberg as to what is available. There is parasailing, chartered fishing and so much more but I will save that for another post.

13. You will never forget it and you will be changed for the better once you take a Disney Cruise. The Disney Dream allowed me to slow down enough in my life to set reset and shuffle my priorities. Being with my family on the cruise made me realize how lucky I am and how important and fleeting these next few years are with my family. I want to make the most of every single second. The Disney Dream gave me fresh perspective by letting all the noise of our day-to-day fall away and focus on what’s really important; the people.

Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

14. Last but not least, the first 24 hours you might experience a sensation of feeling a little unsteady on your legs while the boat is moving. No worries, you just haven’t found your “sea legs” yet. Make sure to take your dramamine before you start to move and you will be fine in no time.

But the Disney Dream is only one ship in a fleet and only one adventure you can take. New itineraries for May through September are available and you can book your very own Disney Cruise starting March 8 at 8 a.m. EST!

Check out the new destinations and set your sights on a high seas vacation brimming with excitement and allure—and be among the first to experience special sailings in Europe, Alaska, the Caribbean or The Bahamas.

This is everything you need to know about the Disney Dream Cruise but if you have any other questions, please leave below and I will answer.

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tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

Today is November 24th and for the first time, in a long time, I don’t feel lost. For me, it’s an annual day of retrospection; of looking back at what could have been, what might have been and, honestly, what should have been. While many of you are coming out of your tryptophan coma this morning or maybe sleeping off the remnants of yesterday’s all night Black Friday power shopping, I’ll be marking time but I won’t be sad. Not today.

Today, I pause to remember. In the past that could have meant many different things. Some years, it involved pills or booze to numb the pain and a day in bed. Some years, it meant Netflix and sobbing or a welcomed distraction. Some years, I hardly remember at all. Some years, it felt like the anniversary of the end of the world. But none of it ever seemed real because, though my heart shattered from the pain of the reality my mind was never quite able to digest the loss of what my eyes never got to see, what my arms never got to hold and what my lips never got to kiss.

I never got to touch his cheek. Kiss his warm gooey forehead. I never got to smell his head or feel his heartbeat beating next to mine. I never got to feel him wiggle in my arms. I never even got to see his eyes fixed upon me suspended beyond all space and time like only a newborn child can do to his mother. I got nothing. I was cheated in the worst possible way.

I felt failure. I felt like I had a very vivid bad dream. The worst dream ever. The dream in which every possibility of happiness was on the horizon and just as quickly snatched away. I felt empty and sad and mad and angry. I wanted to punch the world and sob and be held and left alone, all at the same time. But I never had closure. I know now that I never will. There is no closure for this situation. It’s an open-ended question of what might have been.

Worse, I had nothing. In many ways, it feels like he only existed to me, like some cruel imaginary friend, a figment of my imagination conjured up just to break me down. It felt like to everyone else…everyone…he was nothing more than a glob of cells and he was gone before most knew he even existed. No harm, no foul. But there was. I was harmed. I was egregiously fouled. He was real, as real as my other 2 children are to me.

You know how I spent that first November 24, 2012? It was Thanksgiving, I hosted 40 people. It had been 6 months since my miscarriage. I had to go on living. But on that day, my heart was raw. I was vulnerable and my sanity was being held together by a stick of bubble gum and a tic tac. It wasn’t going to hold.

I just kept telling myself, you just have to make it through dinner. Then it happened. My 1-year-old nephew was running around my house when my someone (I’m not naming names because it was a total accidental foot in mouth moment) looked directly at me (on November 24, 2012), and said, “Don’t you miss the sound of little feet running around your house?” I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t speak, for if I did, all the tears that I’d been holding back for the past 6 months every time someone said something stupid, or I ran into a pregnant friend, or baby Center send me an alert would surely come pouring out and drown me dead right there on the spot.

I knew I needed something, more than fragility as a souvenir of my third child. I needed a way to move through this grief without losing my mind. I decided that I a permanent mark on my body that reflected the permanent mark on my soul. I didn’t want closure. I wanted something more but, at the time, I wasn’t even sure what that was.

After 5 years, I knew what I wanted and I knew I had to have it before November 24th (what should have been a birthday). I was compulsive in my pursuit. My brother, Jose Cruz, an established tattoo artist obliged my desperately grasping heart last Friday. I needed this like I need air to survive.

tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

What was this life-altering body modification? It is a story, wrapped in a metaphor and held by my heart. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Explanation; the big bird is the Big Guy, the next bird is me, the third bird is our Gabs and the fourth bird on the branch of our family tree is our oldest, Bella. We are all looking in the direction of the tiny baby bird, that we never got to hold, as he flies away.

tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

I wanted it all done in black silhouettes because sometimes our family feels like a shadow of its former self. We are not broken, but we are not whole without our baby bird. We remember. I remember every single day.

The baby bird is flying up towards a small heart within a heart. This is in reference to a line from my favorite E.E. Cummings poem I carry your heart with me; I carry it in my heart. It’s on my left arm so that they are always close to my heart.

tattoo, memorial tattoo, inked, Crimson Knight Tattoo, Jose Cruz, miscarriage, loss tattoo

[i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart]


i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Maybe you think this makes me sad. It doesn’t. In fact, it makes me immensely happy. I think it’s because for the first time ever, I can look down and see my entire family; all three of my children; my three little birds.

Maybe this makes me sound crazy? I honestly, don’t even care because it makes me feel whole again.

Through this tattoo, the baby who never lived outside of me lives on forever on my wrist surrounded by the family who loves and misses him. He was here. He is here, in my heart, forever and for always. I told my story without saying a word and maybe no one understands it but me, but that’s more than enough. The baby I lost was not a secret. I want the world to know he was here.

More importantly, I finally have something tangible, proof that I am the mother of three and not just two; even if it is only a tattoo of a portrait of silhouette birds.

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Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

Ever wonder why an immigrant, illegal or otherwise, really comes to the United States willing to risk his life? Maybe that question is too big, maybe we narrow it down, ever wonder why my dad came to the United States? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not to take anything from you.It’s more about admiration of the freedoms we have and the will to succeed; to achieve the American dream. The freedom to work hard and get ahead in life.

Then ask yourself, if you were desperate, and your child’s life depended on you doing something dangerous, would you do it? What if it were illegal? What if you needed to fast track things in order to save a life? Would you do it? I think we all know the answer is yes. we’d do anything for our children.

I’ve heard a lot of discussions online about immigrants and why many Americans don’t want immigrants here in the United States. People are talking about immigrants like they are not humans but has anyone ever just asked a real, live immigrant,

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

Hey, immigrant why are you here?

If you are not an immigrant, or the son or daughter of an immigrant, or the friend or loved one of an immigrant, maybe you just don’t know and I’m sure it is different for every single person. But I’m happy to share with you my immigrant story. How this freckled Mexican was born on the right side of the wall.

I’ve been quick to judge all of you. I was only seeing things from my perspective, the daughter of an immigrant; a first generation Mexican-American. I never even considered that there are actually people who don’t even personally know any Mexicans. They know of us, apparently our reputation precedes us, but they don’t “know us”; know us.

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

They’ve not grown up with us; eaten dinner at our home, been welcomed by my interracial couple parents and been kissed on the cheek and treated like family. They’ve not had the pleasure of hearing my dad, in his thick Spanish accent, look them in the eye, give them a firm hand shake ( even the most down trodden of our neighbors) and say, “Good to see you, buddy!” Never seen the way family is more than the people you share a last name with; never been willing to risk everything for those people.

They’ve never heard my dad sing Happy Birthday, Las Mananitas and You are my sunshine to my daughters every birthday or seen him grab them and start dancing with them whenever he hears music. They’ve never seen his giant smile and the way he says, “Sonofagun” any time his grandchildren do almost anything because he is so in awe of them.

They don’t know that my dad used to bring homeless people home for dinner that he’d see on his walk home from mass. My mom wasn’t too keen on this practice but that’s the type of guy he is. When he wants to, he’ll give you the jacket off his back if you need it more than he does. He’s the man who wore sunglasses when he walked me down the aisle so no one would see him cry, when he gave me away.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that my dad is not perfect. He’s made mistakes but he’s also never been a drug dealer, a rapist or a murderer.

He simply falls into the immigrant category because he was born someplace else.

immigrant, hero

He’s the kind of man who has played the guitar in the church choir since I was a kid. He’s the guy who stopped drinking and now, devotes most of his retirement to not only staying sober but keeping others sober. But he is Mexican. He’s lived in the United States longer than he ever lived there. This is his home but Mexico is where he was born. Mexico is where part of my roots begin.

When all of the political mudslinging started during the campaign, I felt personally attacked because my dad is an immigrant and even though he is not perfect, he has always been a contributing member of society and he raised us to work hard, trust in God and respect our government.

Just because someone is an immigrant, doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

It just means they weren’t born here. They chose to come here. They choose America.

He’s a good man; a good Christian man who reads the bible daily, who has been married to the same woman for 44 years, who has raised 6 children and paid taxes to a country that he loves. The kind of man who plays in the sprinkler with his grandchildren. The kind of man who doesn’t want fame and fortune, he only wanted to be able to give his unborn children a better life than he had; maybe a house without dirt floors, maybe a life where the struggle wasn’t so real.

When people bad mouth immigrants, I take it personally. I feel like the country and the government that my dad loves so much, that we’ve been raised to believe is the best in the world, hated him simply for the color of his skin and by association me, my brothers and sisters and our children; the most precious thing in our lives; family.

The will to succeed is always welcome here.

Those were the words at the end of the Lumber 84, full 6-minute commercial, the one thought to be too controversial for a commercial during the Super Bowl. Those words spoke to me because I was raised by an immigrant who taught me to believe in myself and to know that where there is a will, there is always a way. My father is legal, but is that really relevant to the man he is?

That is all that my immigrant father wanted. The chance to be a member of our society; a chance to give his children a better life. He doesn’t hate Americans. He loves everything about this country. So what are we all so afraid of?

There’s been some confusion about the true meaning behind this commercial. I saw it as a beautiful thing but it seems I didn’t realize that a mother and daughter making their way to a better life is only beautiful if you come through the door. If you can’t find the door, I guess you’re just supposed to give up and live the life you’re doomed to live and I guess, according to Lumber 84, we’re all supposed to be okay with that.

Tomorrow, Desierto is released on DVD, I highly recommend that you watch it then maybe you’ll see why immigrants are more afraid of you than you should be afraid of them.

What’s the difference between the European immigrants that founded this country hundreds of years ago and the Mexican and Muslim immigrants who are trying to make a better life for their children now, besides the color of their skin? Then again, I guess it’s always been hard for immigrants.

What is the difference between an immigrant and you or I, besides a piece of paper?

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Gabi, birthday, ballet, recital, turning 7, birthday, love letter, love letter to my 7-year-old, love letter to my child

Today, I wrote a love letter to my daughter on her 7th birthday. My Gabi, my last baby turns 7-years-old. She is sort of amazing. I look at her and I can’t believe how much she has changed in 7 short years. She is nowhere near the chubby, 8 pounds 6 ounces, full head of black curly hair baby that I delivered who looked up with those giant big blue eyes and melted my heart. She stopped me in my tracks. That baby girl took my breath away and stole my heart forever. My love for my girls is immeasurable. Every year I try to quantify it for them in some way in a post, a love letter to my child, but it always falls short because how can you express the true meaning of to the moon and back plus infinity with all that I am or will ever be? It’s the kind of all-consuming love that hurts.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Five year-old

Today, the tall, waif-thin little girl with scraped knees and long flowing strawberry blonde hair with those same big blue eyes that make my heart happy is constantly changing. The freckles that kiss the tops of her cheeks beg me to kiss them and commit them to memory because at this moment, I know, she is changing, evolving, every single second. I breathe in deep and I inhale this moment, this child that she is right this minute. This same child who runs hot and cold at all times, the one who is so passionate about her convictions that sometimes she gets in her own way. How I adore her verve for life.

This is my love letter for your 7th year.


You came into my world and have been my happiness ever since. Your smiles soothe me, your tears tear me down and your sadness destroys me. Your laughter is contagious and infectious and can heal the world. On this 7th anniversary of the day you were born, my beautiful, amazing girl, I wish you a lifetime of the same wholehearted, all in love that you give to others.


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You are moody and broody and artistic and funny and vibrant and in total living Technicolor. You are a rainbow and a unicorn and all that the world has to offer that is good. You are shy and that scares me because the thought of you feeling unsure breaks my heart because I can’t fix this for you. But I am here, for today and for always, to hold your hand, to wipe away the tears and yes, to kick anyone’s ass my mama bear heart needs to. You drive me crazy with your independence when it’s in direct opposition to my plan but, inside, I am so proud of you for standing your ground.

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I love that you stick up for what you believe in and for the underdog. I love your stubbornness and your follow through. I love that your heart compels you to get involved when you see a homeless person, sick person or a sad child. I love you for being exactly who you are and I would never change a thing about that. You are the perfect you in every way.


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I celebrate you and all that you have become today and I celebrate the day that I met one of the most amazing people that I’ve ever known. I wish you a lifetime of love and acceptance of yourself, I want you to see and love yourself the way I see you; perfect, just the way you are.


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Happiest 7th Birthday, my sweet baby girl, with the giant heart. Mommy loves you to the moon and back plus infinity and beyond. Oops, gotta go kiss someone, it’s her birth minute.


When was the last time you wrote a real, handwritten love letter?

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