Happy Mother’s Day! A tribute to my mom

Mom and I…Happy Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day and I hope you’re having a sweet day with your mom. I honor my mom everyday –especially when I am sick and want her soup, I call her and of course she makes it for me…(yes, even at this age), but today is Mother’s Day and I am very much so looking forward to sharing this day with my mom and my sisters (both moms too)! However way you’re celebrating, I hope your day is just perfect! I wanted to take a few minutes to share a little bit about my mom. I know you think your mom is the best, and I am sure she is. I’m certain my mom’s the best mom for me and for this, I am truly grateful.

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Family Photo: Mom, Dad and my siblings in North Carolina (1979). I was in her belly at this time.

Farmer’s daughter, sister, cousin, niece, aunt, wife, daughter-in-law, mom, refugee, immigrant, widow, seamstress, student, entrepreneur, grandmother, she’s been many things, but of all things, she’s the one I get to call my mom. Consistent, kind, fierce, reliable, strong, resilient, dedicated, self-less, she’s all of these things and she’s taught me this through the example she leads. I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t share that she’s also damn crazy!

“Teacher, if Sammy no listen to you, you hit her!!!” Every year she’d always say this to my grade school teachers at each and every parent conference. Yes, every conference. Even my teachers would make fun of me. Yes, really! It was embarrassing and she didn’t care. I told her that if she kept saying that, someone would end up calling Child Protective Services…again, she didn’t care. I later asked why she’d do that and it made sense. She explained that she wanted me to know who is in charge when she was not around. A bit extreme, but I get it. She’s a strong personality and I’ve come to embrace this about her.

1985 – Mom, my siblings and I at Almansor Park. We couldn’t get the tripod to work, so my brother had to take the photo. Mom wanted us to have a family photo.

When I am tested and have a bad day and pushed beyond my limits, I often think about my mom and I quickly get over it. By the time my mom was my current age of thirty-five, she’d left her home country, had five kids, and was a young widow. She never remarried and as a matter of fact, my paternal grandparents lived with us and she took care of them until the day they died. It wasn’t so much that it was her filial duties to “obey her father at birth, husband at marriage, and in-laws when a widow,” rather she wanted to ensure that her kids would be raised in a consistent, stable and safe upbringing; and we definitely had all of this. Though we didn’t have many fancy toys or clothes, we did have consistency and plenty of love to go around.

Mom’s proudest title is Grandma. She’s got 7 grandchildren. Here she is with five of them.
Just the girls. We love mom.

To make ends meet, she would sing us to sleep with her sewing machine. That machine was on 12-14 hours a day. She was a seamstress and later an entrepreneur, only to lose her business to the LA Riots. A true Opportunist and survivor, she was resourceful and the common theme of her journey is that she’s relentless, keeps going and just does. And as she keeps going, she goes with all heart. Her English is limited, but she’s got a few phrases down. These are her most common: “Hello,” “Please,” “Eat,” “Thank You,” and “I am Sorry” –I’ve seen first hand how these phrases go a long way. She’s always instilled the importance of acknowledging others, showing manners, expressing gratitude, and being accountable and saying sorry when you’re wrong. I am forever grateful for all that she’s taught me and for how she continues to teach me.

My mom, she’s the best mom for me and for this, I am truly grateful.

Thank you Mom!



Happy Birthday and Happiest Always Antonio Lopez

Today is a very special day, it’s my darlin’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Tony! I am going to take a few minutes to share with you a little bit about this guy. He’s a whole lot of awesome and manages to make my world more fun. You may already know, Tony’s my fiancé. He loves numbers and is good with them. He’s a kind, dark, handsome, pragmatic, guarded when you first meet him, simple (and sometimes complicated), fashionable, a responsible hedonist who will always choose the scenic route…and this big teddy bear of a gym rat appeared in my life about seven years ago.

Though not a Jr., he’s the son to Antonio Lopez and an inspiring, strong willed, Rosie. The only boy, he has three dynamic sisters. They’ve always adored their only brother. How lucky right? To have such a close family! They’re from Guadalajara which explains their zest for life, partying, value of family and appreciation for damn good Mariachi! Tony became a dad at a young age, and he’s an amazing one to his daughter. Throughout our relationship, I get to see him evolve as a father and I get to learn about myself too.

All of our nieces and nephews think Tio Chachi is a crazy uncle who loves fast cars and they love it when he lifts them up and slams them into the pool. The younger ones (and some of the naive ones) think that he’s a ninja. Sometimes, I think he is a ninja too. His resilience is like no other and I have seen him tested and dig deep in his career and how he redefines his definition of success and chases it.

I admire envy his ability to fall into deep, REM sleep in a matter of seconds (usually when I bore him with my stories), yet he manages to have this ability to stay wide awake and can watch endless episodes of House of Cards, Billions, and Banshee. A true guy’s guy, he loves raging with his friends. Going to ball games, listening to thumping music (Diplo, Tiesto, Steve Aoki…) sipping a glass of Macallan…these are a few of his favorite pastimes.

Tony’s a true kid at heart and sometimes the serious jokester in him overshadows the gentle heart he has. I will never forget the times I was sick and he was there…right by my side in the hospital. –We aren’t perfect, and it’s these moments that remind me of how and why we are in each other’s lives.

Thank you, Tony! Your celebration for life, appreciation for fun, and your power of focus continues to inspire me daily. I wish for you a very Happy Birthday and a Happy Always, always!




Meet The Morts

“Sammy, The Morts are here for you,” said one of the hostesses. They were customers who became my regulars and are now dear friends of mine. Our friendship started many moons ago (16+ years ago) when I waited tables in college. How does a waitress become life-time friends with customers who just want pizza and beer? The Morts weren’t like most other patrons. I’d end up going on outings with them and we’ve been in touch over the years.

Meet the Mortimers (this is how I remember them when we first met)
A recent holiday dinner with Keith & Dana (from regulars to friends)

Waiting tables, I’d get to to see all types of families, and there was something so special about this one. Meet the Morts. They’re one of the most open, honest, tell-it-like-it-is, all heart, damn funny families I have ever met.  At the time, Samantha was eight, Ryan was about fourteen and their parents Dana and Keith were very involved in their lives. They were consistent parents. They’d laugh and carry open, honest conversations with their kids; and I think that’s what really set them apart. It never felt that information was being filtered and their children were encouraged to follow their hearts. They knew their shortcomings and would joke about them openly, and most of all, there was a mutual understanding and unconditional love and support. Judgement was not ever around.

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Samantha & Ryan then..(now grown up and no braces)

Samantha (now a teacher) and Ryan (a savvy Marketing Director) continue to be fine adults and they make me proud. A true testament to Dana and Keith’s parenting. Funny thing! WE are all engaged (no, not to each other) but at the same time! Last night, Samantha and Ryan shared something that I had never known! Their dad, Keith, has been writing and playing music pretty much his whole life!  They posted his music and I was so touched and inspired. For as long as I have known Keith, he’s never talked about this gift of his. Ever!!! But, that’s Keith for you. Look up humility and you’re sure to find his name. I have always known him for his other gift to the world, his ability to connect with the kids he coaches and this was definitely a surprise. This inspired me and got me thinking.

Not everyone can write and sing music but what’s your gift to the world? Is there a gift that you have? Have you tended to it or neglected it? Is your gift to the world something as simple as smiling or listening well? Can it be your ability to cook or bring people together?  Organizational skills? A business concept? Poetry? If you know what it is, I hope you tend to it and make time for it. If you don’t know what it is, I hope that you start or continue to chase your curiosities. Thank you, Keith for inspiring us to never forget to tend to our talents. We owe it to ourselves and to the universe.  May you enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I hope that you find time tend to yourself.

Oh, and I thought I’d share his track with you guys…enjoy!

Do you have any Kind Words?

Kind words. That’s what got me feeling Fabulous this Friday! Who would have ever thought that kind words of gratitude from a stranger would make my day?


When I started to blog, I didn’t have many intentions. I wanted to create a platform to share things that speak to me. Pretty simple. I also wanted to do things organically and just go with it. It’s been about five months since my first blog, and it’s been interesting to see the things that continue to unfold in this new found joy.

In the process, I have become a contributor craft blogger for one my favorite companies, Create for Less. Here, I get to share some DIYs on crafts. Last night, I came across a comment in response to a DIY post on Heart Lollipop Valentines Flowers. It read:

“I am 78yrs young and have made many various crafts for my 5 children, grandchildren and friends. When I saw these cute Valentine Heart & Lollipop Valentines, I knew I had to try to make some for my friends, grown children, grandchildren and Great grandchildren. They will just love them. Thank you for sharing.”


Mrs.Barbara Hanobik of Brook Park Ohio.

Maybe it’s because of what life has thrown my way these past few weeks, whatever the reason…these kind words of gratitude are timely and so appreciated. They give me that extra umph! to keep on going. To know that my shared work manages to inspire at least one other person to create something for their loved ones; and in the process receive joy in the creating and crafting process. These words are validating to me because I have always believed that crafting and creating is truly heart work in every sense.

What’s got you feeling fabulous this Friday? Have you kind words ever made your day?

Kind words. Do you have them? I’d encourage you to share them. They may just make someone’s day better, and even the world just a tad better. At least that’s what I know to be true for me on the receiving end.

It’s Valentine’s Day weekend. May this be the start of a fabulous weekend for you.

A Special Teacher – Do you have one?

“Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” ~Andy Rooney

Do you have a teacher who continues to impact you and teach you though you’re no longer in their classroom?

I lucked out and had many great teachers, one in particular, Mr. Siegel. He was my third, fourth AND fifth grade teacher. Some of the best years of my life were spent in his classroom.

I think that Mr. Siegel understood that his position allowed us to be kids and really understood that those are tender, impressionable years. Years that can never be recreated. His oldest daughter was the same age as me (and the rest of our classmates) and he just understood us. His classroom was fun! In the afternoon, we would sit on the carpet and he’d take out this wooden guitar and boy…we’d sing our hearts out. Creativity was always encouraged.

Mr. Siegel and his daughters, Heather and Nicole. And the BIG wooden guitar that brought so much joy!

He’d explain that “fractions and decimals only get more complicated and harder.” He was right. Kindness and acceptance were the common denominators of his classroom; and is likely the reason why it was also the birth place of a handful of lifelong friendships that are still with me today.

I learned the importance of owning up to my choices and why apologizing is important when I hurt someone. When I was sick with pneumonia, he and his wife, visited me at hospital with a Spirograph set and a card made by the entire classroom. It was a bright yellow card made of construction paper and had flowers on the front. I will never ever forget that. That card told me that I was cared for and thought of by my entire class. The nurse kept it by my bedside and it kept my spirits up. Today, I still hold these life lessons close to my heart.

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Mr. Siegel and his wife, Alice, and I at my mom’s birthday dinner. Both such great people and great friends of mine.

Today is his birthday, Happy Birthday Mr. Siegel! Thank you for celebrating the way that you have and for all that you are to the world.

Also, Thank You to all the special teachers out there. May you keep doing what you’re doing because what you are doing will impact someone for the rest of their lives. This I know for sure.

How understanding the 5 Love Languages has helped me

Quality time is both of our primary love languages ~Los Angeles Dodger’s game

The 5 Love Languages has helped me better understand myself and my relationship with my loved ones. Have you ever found yourself giving love, for example doing something for your loved one, and they didn’t receive your love the way that you’d hope? Frustrating, right? The reason can simply be based on the fact that you gave in a way that does not speak to the recipient’s primary love language. When we speak different languages, it’s easier to disconnect. Yes, it’s Wedding Planning Wednesday and almost Valentine’s Day, but really, love is an everyday subject matter.

Love is so elusive, yet we tend to search for a universal way of experiencing love. For as long as I can remember, I’d wonder how do “normal” spouses and partners show love? My dad passed a few months after I was born, so while I grew up in a loving home, I didn’t grow up seeing two adults experiencing love. Wondering…I’d day dream.

Does the mom do all the cooking and serve dinner to show her love? Does the dad give love by gifting toys to his children? Does the mom receive love through his affectionate kiss and touch? Do the kids receive love because their parents provide them with praise? The 5 Love Languages outlines five ways to express and experience love: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch (intimacy). Chapman explains that we have a primary and secondary love language, and we typically give love in the way that we prefer to receive it. It’s important to observe the way we express love to others, analyze what they complain about, and what they request from the loved ones the most.

Simple, quality time is the best! Halloween with my favorite Piñata

Fortunately, both Tony and I share the same primary love language, quality time. While sharing a common love language makes it easier for us,  we quickly realized that we both value doing different things with our time. It was important for us to list out the common things that we can experience together. On the same note, because Tony’s secondary language is words of affirmation, this also happens to be the last item on my list and is the least important. Thus, it’s especially important that I work on giving or speaking to that part of him. Understanding this has allowed the both of us to be better for each other.

Having this understanding also helps in other relationships. Though my mom does not verbalize, “I love you,” it doesn’t mean she loves me any less. Her language is acts of service, which is why when she says, “Sammy, EAT!!!” Though I am stuffed, I still accompany her in her meal and accept her love.

I’m interested in knowing how you give and receive love. You can take the quiz here. I hope that you’re also able to take away from this as much as I have.



How to make your own Magical Memory Book

What do you do with your holiday cards? Do you keep them up all year? Throw them away? I absolutely love them and it’s one of my most favorite things about Christmas time. By the time I grab them from the mail box, they’re already opened before I get to the door. Photo cards tell a story of how my friend’s have grown, starting a new chapter, are experiencing divorce, and even how they may have lost a loved one.

Enjoy your cards before you take them down & start making your Magical Memory Book

I put them on the fridge, on my desk and hang them by the mantle. Seriously, I really wish I can keep them up all year long, but Tony would flip. So by mid January I take them down and put them in my Magical Memory Book. This book is in my box of “What?!?! The house is burning? GRAB my Survival Box.” For today’s Make Something Monday, I want to share with you how to make your very own Magical Memory Book. This book is never complete and you keep adding to it, but you whenever you feel like picking it up and going through it, it will magically make your day better.

What you choose to put in your book is up to you, I recommend anything that speaks to your heart. My Magical Memory Books are filled with the following selected content:

  • Annual Christmas photo cards
  • cards from family and friends (I only keep the ones that speak to me)
  • special notes that matter to me
  • Birth Announcements
  • Wedding Announcements/ Invitations
  • Funeral programs of someone dear to me
  • Letters from my nieces and nephews
  • A personalized menu that a restaurant designed for me

Here’s what you need:

Here’s what I do:

  1. Gather your photo cards or your selected content
  2. I allocate a range of alphabets per sheet protector (example: A-D, E-G, etc.)
  3. Based on the last name of the family, I add it to corresponding sheet protector
  4. I clip this year’s card to previous cards from that family and put it back into the sheet  protector

Voila! It’s THAT simple! If you would like, you can have different books/ binders that fit to different themes (holiday cards, birthday cards, special notes, etc) and label them. I keep them all in one book/ binder and divide them by tabs.

I hope you get much joy in putting together your Magical Memory Book.