Monday, November 19, 2012

Comedy in a Casserole....

Flashback to Thanksgiving, 1993....Jamie and I had been husband and wife for just a few months and we were going to our first married Thanksgiving at his sister's house. His sister asked me to bring a dish to share with everyone and I was so excited to be contributing to the Thanksgiving meal. I was a little nervous because it was our first holiday as a married couple with his family. I decided to bring the staple dish that I had grown up bean casserole with french onions on top. You all know it, you all love it, you've all had it...right?

We got to his sister's house and I proudly walked in with my green bean casserole. I set it on the table, took off the foil, and waited for everyone to dig in. After we said a prayer everyone started to dish up all their food from the table...everything but my casserole that is. So I thought, hmm, why is nobody eating my green bean casserole? This is a favorite at my house, what's up? I was starting to get a little hurt as they walked right by my beans. Whatever...I proudly filled my plate and ate those beans up! However, I was literally the only one! Apparently black people don't like green bean casserole. Who knew!?! Clearly, I didn't.

The hilarious thing is, after that holiday meal, I was given the task of bringing the rolls and soda going forward. Yes, you heard me...rolls and soda....pretty impossible to screw up right? My green bean casserole has been the holiday funny ever since. At first it really did hurt my feelings, but now I can actually look back and laugh. Good thing I have a sense of humor! This was one more thing to adjust to in a mixed race marriage, getting used to each other's traditions, big and small. As time went on I graduated to making complete meals for Jamie's, minus the green bean casserole!

The hilarity continued this year when my sister-in-law Niki called to let me know that the green bean casserole commercials had started and she couldn't wait to make it. I laughed! It truly is the running joke even after all these years. By the way, a little aside, Niki is white. The silliness ensued while later talking to my mom on the phone. She said, while giggling, "Be sure to tell Jamie that Aunt Sal is cooking green bean casserole." Then minutes after that phone call, Jamie's longtime friend Calvin, otherwise known as "Tee," called to wish us an early happy Thanksgiving. Jamie and Tee were comparing menus and Tee listed green bean casserole as one of the dishes he and his wife were making for dinner. Jamie quickly said, "Oh hell no," and just started laughing! He then proceeded to share the casserole story with Tee. Another little funny, Tee just so happens to be black and his wife is white. Do you see a pattern here? I have yet to talk to an all black family that serves the infamous casserole.

The green bean casserole jokes have become another fun tradition that we all share as we continue to embrace the differences between our two very opposite families. Each year we literally have comedy in a casserole! It's the perfect analogy for us. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The World's Hero....

Today I have a very important guest post from my friends at 
the Over My Shoulder Foundation... 

What if we lived in a world where our education was a mentor-centric venture and all the nations in the world held mentorology as the highest value for both men AND women equally? Would you want to live in that kind of world? Education is precious so we need to fight for it just like Malala Yousafzai did, and is doing, in Pakistan. That is the foundational belief guiding this story by one of our favorite guest writers, Sarah Gross. Sarah has written for us before as she pursued her undergraduate degree at UC Davis. She has delighted us all with in-depth inquiries into mentoring issues. For example: Lady Gaga and the anti-bullying crusades of 2012how Lenny Kravitz addresses race issues and Bob Marley’s mentoring legacy. Now in pursuit of a combined teaching credential/ Master’s of Education program, Sarah is teaching at a middle school & high school while taking classes. Somehow she still finds time to write for Over My Shoulder Foundation. We sure are grateful!

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director

On Being a Teacher...
This morning, I woke up early and drove to the middle school where I am an English teacher to 7th graders. As I greet them every day, I see different personalities, ethnicities, and genders. Each student comes into the classroom with their own unique story, their own values, and their own personal background. These students are individuals who enrich the classroom environment. It is an adventure to teach them all, and I learn from my students as much as they learn from me.
When I think about my life at this point, I see myself maintaining a daily routine where my identity as “teacher” is synonymous with providing quality education to all who enter the classroom. This lifestyle—teaching all adolescents within a classroom, no matter their gender or background—is somewhat taken for granted in the United States. Teachers are common threads in the tapestry of American society.
I do not take my profession for granted, but it is an easy thing to do when I have lived in a country where access to education is a guarantee. There was no question that I would go to school and receive at least a high school education. There is similarly no question of an education for my 7th grade students. They are already taking field trips to Universities, and the curriculum is designed to lead these students on the path to college. With these guarantees in place, where students are set up for future success, it is easy to forget that not all countries share the view that its citizens should have access to education. Yet, one incident is enough to remind us of how precious education really is; of how important teachers are; and of how important individual students are in their role as shapers of the future.
Then Realizing that My Educational Worldview was Incomplete…
That one incident came just a week ago. A young girl—teen activist Malala Yousafzai—was shot in Pakistan by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education. Despite living under a highly patriarchal regime, where education to females is viewed as a threat, Malala has fought for the education of girls like herself. She has maintained a blog and has starred in a documentary to bring awareness to the issue. Her efforts even won her the National Youth Peace Prize.

Malala Yousafzai – a Women’s Education Activist
Recognizing Malala’s Heroism
While campaigning, she received threats from the Taliban, who wished to silence her radical ideas. A powerful soul like Malala’s, however, cannot be silenced. Though living under the shadow of these threats, Malala did not allow this darkness to blunt the shining light of justice she carried through the Swat Valley. Her resilience casts her in the role of a martyr, sacrificing herself for neighbors. The outpouring of emotion and the unifying effect brought on by the shooting, however, lifts Malala into a position even more powerful than that of a martyr. The news reports of the incident, widely circulated and showing communities joined together in prayer, are evidence that Malala is no ordinary victim to Taliban threats. Rather, her actions and what she stands for bring certain gravity to the situation that has resonated across the nations. Malala is not just a martyr: she is symbol of hope and peace for a broken community. Most importantly for young girls, she is someone to look up to. She is a role model. She is a mentor.
Honoring Malala with Our Ongoing Commitment to Mentorology
Malala’s courageous efforts reveal the level of injustice she has lived with. When comparing her life to the life of a girl growing up in the United States, I cannot help but notice the painful disparity.
We can take this incident of darkness as a sign of hopelessness. We can feel despair for Malala and the girls in her country, and grateful that we live in a better place.
I choose to do neither. I choose to honor Malala, to honor her courage and resilience, and to mark this incident as the dawning of a new era of hope for girls across the globe who deserve an education. Malala is truly a mentor for all of us. As a teacher, I am reaffirmed in my belief that I can make a positive difference in the lives of my students, because they all—boy and girl—are receiving the same education. I can advocate for the students here in the United States, and spread the word about the importance of education. On a subtler level, I can work to be a role model to my students, just as some of my grade-school teachers are still role models to me.
Though what happened to Malala is a tragedy, it is something we, as country, can learn from. A Newsweek author opines, “Who will speak for [Malala] now?” In answer to this, I say that “we” as a collective nation can speak for her. We can embrace this young girl, this mentor, and take up her cause for girls’ education. We should all have the right to an education, and the right to be heard.
Let us, then, listen to Malala and share her words, those spoken and unspoken. Let us celebrate her as the shining light of justice in a dark world, and let us learn from her as she mentors us all. 
-Sarah Gross
When we turn a blind eye, everyone hurts. 
When we open our eyes, everyone heals. 
There are no strangers, we're all in this together!
~ Amy Wise

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Creating Change....Together!

Women Behind the Wall

Last month I spoke at a fundraiser in Los Angeles for the Action Committee for Women in Prison. The event was a life changer for me. 

My passion is to help others find their joy even when it seems there is none to be found. Going forward I will be working with a whole new group of women...women who are behind the bars or just getting free of the bars. It's all about helping others help themselves. THEN, they can help someone else do the same! We have to create change, together!   

After the fundraiser I was asked to be a guest on Women Behind the Wall by 4 Justice Now Radio, hosted by Gloria Goodwin-Killian and MaryEllen Digiacomo. On their show we talked about my 5 year battle with the "justice" system, making it through hard times, racism, my interracial marriage, starting over, creating new dreams, second chances, finding joy and so much more! 

Listen in by clicking on the link below to hear all the topics and to see how you can help. Thank you!  

"Yesterday's choices are today's lessons and tomorrow's growth" 
~Amy Wise

Friday, September 28, 2012

Life, in a Nutshell, on the Radio...


Recently, I was the guest on "Find Your Sprinkles Radio." If you missed the radio show live, you can still listen in online. We talked about choices, interracial marriage, racism, strength, love, believing in ourselves, starting over, following dreams, creating new dreams, giving to others and so much more! Click on the link below to hear everything! Craig Lazarchik and Chris Mott are the hosts of this inspirational show. We had a great time!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy 19th Anniversary!!!!

Then....August 21st, 1993


Who knew on a fateful day 20 years ago while driving up the 805 freeway in San Diego, my life would change forever?! That was the day I met my husband and our future was set in motion. The story still amazes me.

Flash forward to today...August 21st, 2012...our 19th wedding anniversary! It's hard to believe that so much time has gone by. We have been through trials, tribulations and triumphs! Neither one of us would have ever imagined that we would be where we are today. We are friends, shoulders, lovers, parents, partners, soul-mates and so much more. There are days when we laugh, there are days when we cry and there are days when we drive each other crazy, but there is never, ever a day that goes by that we don't love each other completely. We don't take each other for granted and we realize how lucky and blessed we are to be together. 

Time has changed circumstances, but time has not changed us. We are more in love today than the day we got married. There is a deepness to that love that only time, heartache, life, happiness and challenges can bring. It's the getting through and making it out of the dark times that has truly allowed us to embrace the bright times with joy. 

I love my husband not just with all my heart, but deep to my soul. We fit so perfectly while also being totally different. It's a wonderful combination that works for us. We are two best friends from opposite worlds that continue to meet in the middle to build our beautiful life.

So today, on our 19th anniversary, I want to say thank you for the most amazing, life altering, fabulous, 19 years! Fate brought us together, love made us grow, strength and respect made us last.

I love you always and forever Jamie J.


Happy, happy anniversary! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Out of the Box Christian

My Peaceful Space

Religion, it’s a recurring theme in my life. Just the other day I was in Starbucks, anxiously awaiting my Caramel Frappaccino (my other religion), when a very attractive black man in a suit came up to me and said, “Do you practice?” I wasn't sure what he was referring to, and at first I thought he was asking if I was a practicing attorney because this particular Starbucks is on the bottom floor of a law firm. He clearly saw the puzzled look on my face and pointed to my bracelet, and said, “Is that just an accessory or do you practice?” Ohhhh! I finally got it. My bracelet had Buddhas all over it and he wanted to know if I was a practicing Buddhist. I thought about it for a second and wondered if I should give this complete stranger my true beliefs on religion, or the quick and easy answer, which would have been, “I’m a Christian.” The easy answer, however, just does not cover the full story of how I feel about religion. I’m a Christian, but there is so much more to it than that. I decided to be open and give him the more. I said, “No I’m not a Buddhist, but I’m a very out of the box Christian, open to all religions. I practice bits and pieces of many religions, including  practicing some Buddhism, because in the end don’t we all want the same thing from whatever religion it is that we practice?” He literally looked at me, smiled, took my hand in both of his hands, and said, “Thank you, that’s exactly how I feel and I’m so very happy to meet you!” In that moment, two strangers understood that if we all open our minds and hearts to each other, the world would be a much more peaceful place. It was a pretty cool moment.

A few days after that, my sister and I were talking and she told me how she loved the fact that my friends were from so many different backgrounds, ages and religions. She is so right! My friends are a we are the world gumbo. I have friends that are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Atheist, Goddess, Universe, and I’m sure I’m missing something else, but you get the idea. I love them all. I respect them all. I’m thankful they are all in my life. Period.

As a child I was raised as a Lutheran -- I even taught Sunday school -- but as I got older I held on to some beliefs and let go of others, while opening my mind to so many more. Being in an interracial marriage automatically frees your mind. How could it not? We are living a life that is not the norm, but it’s a life filled with love, so why would a religion that is not my norm be any different?

Religion to me is now all about faith, peace, love, kindness, caring and giving. I pray to Jesus. I meditate to Buddha. I talk to God. I look to the Universe. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned! So when someone asks me what my religion is, I have to ask, “Do you really want to know?” If the answer is yes….well then….”I’m an out of the box Christian and so much more!

(Originally posted April, 2011)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Perfect "Match".......

Yolanda and Me
Me and Jamie

After over 20 years of being together I take it for granted that we are...well...just us. I tend to forget that society sees us with different eyes than we do. Lately I have been reminded of this on numerous occasions. The first time was at a car show a few months back. Jamie and I went to the show with his dear friend Yolanda. Jamie and Yolanda have known each other since middle school and he has been a big brother to her all of her life.

Per the usual, while we were at the show we ran into various people we knew. Yolanda ran into some old friends as well. What we didn't know was, one of those old friend's ran back to Yolanda's soon to be ex-husband and told him she was with another man. You get the idea already, right? Now at this point in time Yolanda and her husband had been split up and had filed for divorce months before, so regardless of the true facts, it didn't really matter who she was with. What did matter was, this friend told her soon to be ex that Yolanda was at the car show with some big dude. Funny huh!? Mind you, he saw the 3 of us together and all 3 of us talked, but he still assumed that Yolanda and Jamie were together because they matched. I'm still giggling today as I write this.

I'm not done, it gets even better. After the friend told the ex, the ex went to their pastor and told him! Yep. Amazing! THEN the pastor had a conversation with Yolanda and asked her if she was at a car show with another man. Are you laughing yet? So Yolanda said, "Yes I was, AND I was also with his WIFE! Here, would you like to see a picture of them? That's his WIFE and they are a MARRIED COUPLE! He is like my brother." She said the pastor just stood there quietly shaking his head.

Isn't it hilarious that this old friend automatically assumed because Yolanda and Jamie match on the outside that they must have been together? When will people remember the definition of ass-u-me?

Just a few short weeks later, Yolanda, Jamie and I went out to dinner. Nothing out of the ordinary happened until about a week after that, when my daughter and I went out to the same restaurant. Jamie was out of town visiting his sister who was ill. We happened to have the same waitress from the week before. She said, "I remember you. You were here with your friend and her husband but you were sitting next to him." I smiled nicely and said, "Um, he is my husband and this is our daughter," pointing at Tatiana who was across the table from me. Her eyes got wide and she said, "Oh sorry." We all laughed and I said, "It's okay, but that's why I was sitting next to him." As she walked off I looked at Tatiana and said, "REALLY?! Why is it so hard for everyone to believe that he is MY husband. I don't get it."

I take it all in stride at this point because it doesn't change our love for each other, but sometimes it does get old having to constantly explain us.

We have been together for over 2 decades and one thing is for sure.... 
We don't have to match on the outside because our hearts are a perfect match on the inside! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

My favorite picture of dad and hubby
Two men from different worlds. 
Two men that respect each other.
Two men that love each other. 

Two men that would do anything for family.
Two men that give unconditional love.
Two men that are amazing Dads.

Two men that have been there through everything. 
Two men that helped make me who I am today.
 Two men that I love with all my heart and soul. 

Two opposite men. 
Two hearts of gold.
One complete love.

Happy Fathers Day!!
I love you both!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hate Mail.....

It's been a while since I have written about any recent racial issues our family has experienced. However, sadly, it's not for lack of them happening in our lives, it's simply because I have been crazy, busy. I actually have a list I could write about. As each year passes I assume we are going to have fewer and fewer racist problems arise. That is my hope, but not the reality...yet.

A couple of weeks ago we had a very disheartening letter arrive in the mail. It was addressed to our daughter and shocked us all. She so happened to check the mail that day and was excited to receive something addressed to her. That excitement quickly turned to disbelief after she opened the letter and saw what was inside. We were with 2 of her friends and she looked at them with wide eyes and handed the letter to me and said, "Mama, what is this?" I read it and thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was far from being funny and was actually filled with hate. We couldn't understand why someone would send such a cruel letter to our house and to her. The hand written return address was from Las Vegas, NV and the postal stamp where the letter was mailed was from Santa Ana, CA. Someone was trying to be tricky but clearly they weren't very bright. After I read it, I handed it to her friends and they read it and said, "Who takes the time to send something like this and who still cares about what color people are?" None of us could wrap our brains around what would possess someone to send a hateful letter to our home.

After the initial shock wore off, the worry started to set in, at least for me. The fact that someone had our address and child's name totally freaked me out. My other concern was how this would affect her. I told her not to let it get her down and that the person that wrote the letter obviously doesn't know her at all because she is achieving all of her goals and then some! She said she knew that but still didn't get why someone would send something so mean.

We went on with our day and the letter hung over our heads like a small dark cloud. At the end of the day when we all got home, I shared it with her daddy. His response was, "I'm surprised it took so long for something like this to show up after all the interracial stories that have been written about our family." To him it's just the reality of our world, and to me it's so sad and has to end!

After the conversation with my husband I shared the letter on Facebook. Everyone was shocked! A police officer friend messaged me and told me to call the local police because the letter is considered hate mail. So I did. The officer came out and said that it could have been from a stranger because of all the articles about our family or it could have been from a bully that was jealous or had issues with our daughter. Either way, hate is hate. He told us to save the letter and to call them if we receive anything else. We are all hoping this was a one time incident.

The irony is, when anything racial happens in our lives it has the EXACT opposite affect that the racist wants it to have. After 20 years of dealing with things like this, our family just gets stronger and stronger. That same night, Tatiana was going to spend the night at her cousin's house and as she walked out the door she sarcastically said, "Okay, I'm leaving now and I'm going out to achieve nothing in life!" We all just laughed! I was so happy to see she was taking it all in stride and was totally confident in herself and all that she is achieving. Smiles all around!

In the end I feel sorry for someone who has so much hate inside they feel the need to send it through the mail in an anonymous letter. The energy it took to write the letter, think about the fake address and send it, all based on hate....what a horrible way to live. I don't wish that on anyone.

We are now MORE determined than ever to live in love and to continue to follow our dreams! I forgive the hate and I hope the letter writer is able to let it go and find love and happiness in their life...sooner than later. That is my dream for them.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day.....Gigi and Terry =)

Today's post is dedicated to two very different women. Gigi, Jamie's mom who is watching from above, and Terry, my mom who lives in Oregon. Two women from totally opposite backgrounds who are and were amazing moms. Both women lived completely different lives, just like so many others, but no matter where you're from or how you were raised, there is nothing like a mother's love! Happy Mother's Day to our moms and to all the moms out are incredible! =) Enjoy YOUR day, because you deserve a great one!  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Believe in Yourself ~ Inspire Others ~ Spread Joy!

After a LOT of hard work, my quote book, Believe in Yourself, Inspire Others, Spread Joy!, is now published!

What began as a personal journey during a very dark time, ended up becoming so much more. I originally came up with each quote as a cathartic way to help me deal with all that I was going through. As I shared my words of motivation through Facebook and my blog, readers began to let me know how much the quotes were also helping them deal with their difficult times. It was amazing to see that the words were not only helping me, but others as well. Heartwarming. That is how my book was born.

Each page tells a story with a beautiful picture and a quote straight from my heart. All the quotes are based on my personal experiences or my family's experiences. Everyone will relate in one way or another. The words are truly like a friend that is reaching out just when you need them the most.

I'm beyond grateful at the response the book has been receiving. I'm so excited to share that it has been in the Top 100 "Hot New Releases, Motivational Books" on Amazon since its release! I'm thrilled and so thankful! After everything we have gone through over the last five years, it's surreal to have so much joy and amazingness happening. I can't stop smiling!

My hope is, that if you get my book, you use it to help you find your joy, follow your heart and live your dreams!

"Circumstances might take you down, but they can never prevent you from getting back up!" ~ Amy Wise

Click here to purchase:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

DWB...Driving While Black......

Jamie's "baby," the El Co
DWB....."driving while black." Sounds crazy doesn't it? I thought so too when I first heard the expression. However, when Jamie and I started dating 20 years ago he shared stories with me about always getting pulled over for nothing. I said, "Why would you get pulled over for nothing?" "Because I am a black man," was his answer to me. I said, "Ya right!" We have all heard the stories, but I thought he was exaggerating.

Well, within a very short time I had my first DWB experience with him. We went through an intersection and all of the sudden police lights turned on behind us. Jamie said, "Here we go again." I looked at him and said, "Why are they pulling us over?" He said, "Hello, black man driving." I gave the police the benefit of the doubt and thought they made a mistake. They came over to the car and said, "You ran a red light." Jamie said, "No I didn't, the light just turned yellow when we were in the intersection." The cop proceeded to say, "No, you ran a red light." Then I looked at him and said, "No we didn't, it was yellow after we got in the intersection!" I was not happy at this point and Jamie of course was not surprised. This went back and forth for a bit until he finally let us go with a verbal warning. Jamie said if I wasn't in the car it would have gone very differently. That was my first experience with DWB and there unfortunately have been many since then.

One incident happened just blocks from our house. Jamie was coming home after a co-workers get together. Ironically, he jokingly told his co-workers he should get home before dark otherwise the black man in the El Camino will get pulled over. No joke...he said that! Well, what do you know, on his way home he got pulled over! Seriously! Of course he knew he hadn't done anything but he pulled over and waited, while laughing inside.

The cop got out of the car and asked Jamie where he was going like he didn't belong in the neighborhood. He said, "This is my neighborhood, I have lived here for years! Where do you live?" Then Jamie asked him why he had been pulled over and the cop told him he didn't have a front license plate. Jamie laughed and said, "Yes I do, go look!" Then the cop proceeded to ask him in a sarcastic manner to turn off his car because he said he didn't want Jamie to run him over! Jamie said, "Oh, if I was gonna run you over you would have been run over already, but if it makes you feel better I will turn the car off." Not something you would normally say to a cop, but as you can tell he was quite irritated at this point. Deservedly so! The cop went to the front of the car, and oh my gosh, it's a miracle.....there was a license plate! Wow! He came back to the car window and Jamie said, "Are we done?" The cop said, "Oh sorry man I thought you didn't have a plate." Jamie said, "No you're not, you pulled me over because I'm a black man, in an El Camino, in a nice neighborhood." The cop said, "No man it's not like that." Jamie..."Whatever, are we done?" Off the cop went and Jamie came home with yet another DWB story!!!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interracial Marriage on the Rise.....

A report just came out from the PEW Research Center on interracial marriage. Much of the media is reporting on the study. Our family was part of the story in USA Today and the L.A. Times.

After being together for 20 years and married for 19, we don't think of each other as an interracial couple...we are a couple.

In the end, we are not made up of colors, we are just us.♥  I'm thankful and honored that our family is part of the story bringing about awareness and change. It is imperative to open minds so one day this will no longer need to be a story.

Check out some of the articles about the rise of IR marriage with our family featured:

USA Today~
Our family picture representing the USA Today article about the PEW report. (2/16/2012)

L.A. Times~
Article in L.A. Times about the PEW report with a brief interview from me. (2/16/2012)

USA Today~
Our family featured in USA Today article about the rise of interracial marriage. (11/8/2011)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

To the love of my life~

My soulmate
My rock
My shoulder
My lover
My best friend.

Thank you
for your caring
for your craziness
and for your love.

My heart is warm
My life is full
Because of you.

Happy Valentine's Day Jamie J!
Always and forever,

Click here to read our interview about our "love style" on Style Goes Strong. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Unlikely Pair and the Ruby Ring...

15 years ago Jamie and I made a decision that would change our lives forever. We moved from the city of San Diego to the burbs of San Diego. It was time for us to go from home-renters to homeowners. We did our research, looked for nice neighborhoods, with good schools and lots of parks and outdoor areas. We found a brand new community in the Southbay and decided to check it out. Once we rounded the corner into this beautiful new neighborhood, I immediately felt this was going to be our home. Jamie however wasn't so sure. After looking at many houses on various streets we came across the house. The minute we walked through the front door I just knew this was the house where Tatiana would grow up. We looked from room to room and then went to the backyard to check out the possibilities of what was then a blank slate.

Suddenly a head popped up over the fence and said, "Are you two buying this house?" I swear it was a scene out of the old TV show, Home Improvement. It was as if Mr. Wilson lived next door! Shortly thereafter we found out it wasn't Mr. Wilson after all, it was Mr. Jim. Mr. Jim and his wife Miss Corinne (as we affectionately call them) would soon become our new neighbors because we ended up buying the house! It was 1997 and Tatiana was 2 years old. 

Mr. Jim and Jamie became fast friends. At the time Jim was in his 70's and Jamie was in his 30's. They were quite the pair. They gave each other grief like father and son and very quickly considered each other just that. It was an unlikely pairing of two of the most opposite people on the planet...but it worked. Kind of like us!

One of the things the two of them always joked about was Jim's ruby ring. Jamie always called it his pimp ring! Jim always said he was going to give it to Jamie when he died. It was in jest but it always freaked me out when they talked about it. I could go on and on about the bantering back and forth that Mr. Jim and Jamie did over the years. It was a strange love but it was theirs.

Sadly, we lost Mr. Jim quite a few years ago and that was truly one of the saddest days we can remember. We were all devastated but Jamie was heartbroken. It was as if he had lost his own dad.

Jim's relatives flew in from New Orleans for the memorial service and as we were all sitting in Miss Corinne's dining room she came downstairs with a box. She handed it to Jamie and told him that Jim thought of him as a son and always wanted him to have his ring. There was not a dry eye in the house. Jamie now wears Mr. Jim's ring every single day. If it's not on his finger because of work, it's around his neck on a chain...always close to his heart.

Little did we know, 15 long years ago, that not only would we raise Tatiana in our wonderful home, but we would also have a built in California family right next door. Mr. Jim is now our angel in heaven and Miss Corinne is our angel on earth, otherwise known as our Cali Mom. How lucky are we?!

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK....Thank You.....

How do you say thank you to someone who...... 

~Stood up
~Spoke out
~Paved the way 
~Made change 
~And gave his life 

It feels impossible.  But today that's what I want to say.  Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for making today better than yesterday.  Now it's our turn.  Happy birthday.....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pirate Play.....

 Us in Sunriver, OR
Tatiana and Me....Christmas in Sunriver, OR
Happy New Year everyone! As you can see I took a little break from writing over the holidays. The fam and I took a vacation and spent some much needed time away in Sunriver, Oregon with 27 of my relatives. Every 4 years we ALL meet in Sunriver for a fun filled Christmas celebration. Our group included, my parents, aunts, uncles, brother, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, children, girlfriends and boyfriends! We had 4 lovely cabins on the same street which enabled us to go back and forth for meals, movies, games and fun! My parents cabin even had a Christmas tree, so of course we had Christmas dinner there for the full holiday effect.

I have been going to Sunriver with my family since I was in 4th grade. Without doing the math, let's just say that's a VERY long time! I love that I'm now sharing a piece of my childhood with Jamie and Tatiana. Besides going every 4 years with everyone for Christmas, we try and go off and on with my parents and siblings in the Summer or Fall just for fun.

This particular visit had an unusual twist to the activities. When I say unusual, that is truly an understatement. My Uncle Joey, who I just love, brought his girlfriend with him this year. The 2 of them make a perfect couple as they are both a bit eccentric. I LOVE that about them because I can totally relate! They met in the theater in their small town in Washington. Joey was performing and Carol was part of the "crew." Being the creative people that they are you never know what you are going to get. that! This time what we got was...drum roll please....a Pirate Play! Yes, that's right....a Pirate Play.

Carol wrote a play 5 years ago and thought it would be fun if the family could actually act it out together with costumes and all! She brought 2 suitcases full of amazing costumes and accessories, along with scripts for everyone. She went around to each of us and asked who wanted to participate in the play and who wanted to be audience members. I had EVERY intention of being an audience member until she looked at me and said, "I'm counting on you to participate." Well, for some reason I just couldn't say no! I think it was the look in her eyes. =) Jamie, on the other hand, had no problem saying no! He thought it was HILARIOUS that we were actually doing a pirate play! Um, his exact words..."white people" followed by lots of laughter! Bella the Fortune Teller in the Pirate Play
Uncle Joey and Girlfriend Carol  
Needless to say we ALL got a kick out of the play and had a blast doing it. The audience members couldn't believe what they were seeing, and all of us will probably talk about this particular Christmas festivity for years to come! Jamie is still cracking up to this day.

Jamie as an audience member. Me as a play participant.
Next year we are spending the holidays with Jamie's family and I can guarantee there will not be any Pirate Plays! Hmmm....maybe I should suggest it? ;)