Celebrating Ranch Mom Week: The Importance of Bonus Mothers

9 Jul


Today would have been Mama’s 74th birthday.  We were so blessed to have her with us for 73 years and she taught us everything about how to be a family.  We were able to know ALL of our Grijalva cousins and we spent time with ALL of our aunts and uncles on Mama’s side.  The Ranch, ni se diga.  We grew up with a mother in every house at the Ranch.  People always marvel about the family, so huge yet so tight-knit.  The picture above is my favorite of “Las Jefas del Rancho” all of our Ranch Moms in a rare photo.


Mama and all of our bonus mothers took care of showing us the importance of being there for each other…at the Ranch our Mama Lupita (pictured above)  had names for all of kids, we were named by groups with the nane of the oldest child LOL  My sisters and I were known as ‘Las Carmelillas‘, my brothers “Los Mikitos“, my Herrera cousins, “Los Wilios”, and “Los CoquiViras” were our next-door Torres boys, I’m sure that there were more too that my cousins will remind me of.  We have been blessed to have been raised as this huge bunch of siblings at the Ranch — and, as big as the family is, we always know which cousins are missing at the Ranch parties LOL.


Especially with Mama’s passing, our bonus mothers have taken on so much more importance for us.  Our Ita (pictured above), our Tia Chayo (pictured below)  and the Ranch Moms have provided us with that sense of security that everything will be alright, that there are still jefas watching out for us, that we are not alone in this world.  I think that we all treasure these ladies so much more!  We celebrate Ita in November, Tia Chayo in December, and Tia Becky in June.  But the first week of July has always been unique as July 7, 8, and 9th belong to Tia Lili, Tia Elvira and Mama respectively.  Back in the day, Tio Mundo used to take them all out for lunch or dinner and we all would attend one bbq or cake cutting for one or the other every year. One year, we did “Las Mananitas” birthday serenades for each one EARLY in the morning, one day after the other.

My favorite days were always when I would see each of my Ranch moms in one day, usually as I was leaving or coming into the Ranch:  Tia Lili either in her yard or at her chair inside – do we always wave or what? LOL, Tia Becky hanging clothes or coming in from one of her social engagements, Tia Elvi watering the plants, Mama at home.   It would be a GREAT day as I would get a ‘God Bless You’ from Mama, ‘Que Dios te Acompane‘ or ‘Te Vas Con Cuidado‘ from my bonus moms.  Even though Mama is no longer with us, I still need that connection and thank God, I still have mothers!


Take a minute today to treasure and reach out to your mother and also to the bonus mothers in your life:  aunts, grandmothers, godmothers, cousins, fam friends, friends…the emotional support love, affection, and balance they provide are priceless and never-ending.

Below please find tributes for Ranch Mom Week from my FB page:


JULY 7th:  Fabulous 5 Birthday: We are so blessed to celebrate LIDIA HERNANDEZ, our beloved Tia Lili! Feliz Cumpleanos Tia! No doubt, the #1 funniest person on our Ranch! One of our Fab5 which include Dad, Tia Becky, Tio Freddy, and Tio MundoRIP, Mama to Carmen, Mary, Lupe, Pete, JoeRIP, and FreddyRIP, Abuelita, Tia, Hermana, Prima, Ranch Mom. Tia Lili helps us take care of Dad, makes the best homemade tortillas ever, and has been there for us Torres5 always and especially during these past few months. Que la pases bien hoy Tia Lili! We love you! We took this pic of Tia Lili this past weekend and, in true Tia Lili style, her hand is up and she’s turning away from the camera! That is, unless she’s doing a selfie ‘para el book face’ with Christy! LOL

tia elvira

JULY 8TH:  Day 2 of Ranch Mom Birthday Week! Today we are blessed to celebrate ELVIRA TORRES, our Tia Elvira! Mama to Kack and Joey and loving Gma to her ‘boys’! Tia Elvira has been our next door neighbor our entire lives, she has the most awesome yard of the Ranch, our littles call it the ‘park’, no one can make arroz rice like she can, she definitely tells it like it is too! It’s great to have a Ranch Mom right next door and she so loved Mama. She was in great spirits this morning when I took her some flowers and I love to see Tia Elvi like this. She was on the way to lunch with her Coqui and espero pases bien tu dia! We love you! Love this pic of Tia Elvira taken a couple of months ago…


MAMA’s Tribute:  JULY 9th I celebrate Mama’s first birthday in heaven. I remember last year about this time, I came to the Ranch as it was my “day” with my folks, I never really left after that – I just knew that I needed to be around for my mom and she’d always tell me, “you don’t have to be here all of the time”. Many days, I was like her sparring partner and would tease her that I was helping her keep her mind sharp. Mama was always happiest in her house and I find so much comfort hanging out here too and love it that I can put on some of her clothes when I feel sad. Y’all know that life with my Dad is fun and he does make me shake my head sometimes LOL. Missing her has become a part of my life and keeping up with her traditions allows me to continue to get to know this woman who was able to always love and keep going in faith no matter what. Super blessed to have had Mama in my life while she was here with us and super blessed to be able to celebrate her always…Mama, hope it’s as beautiful there as you told Christy it was. Happy Birthday Sra.! Love love love you. Finally found a pic of her in red/white/blue and the other is one of the last pics we took of her!

Profesor Musico: Tribute to Daddy on Father’s Day

20 Jun


I love to read, I love to write, I love honoring my familia. I was able to do all three this week.

One of my very favorite authors is Victor Villaseñor. I have thoroughly enjoyed his books like “Rain of Gold”, “Burro Genius” and “Thirteen Senses”, among others. His books are culturally rich, hilarious, sad, poignant, and he interweaves familia through this stories. I related so much to some of the characters and stories in his books.

So when I read that Mr. Villaseñor was giving his Facebook FamFriends the opportunity to ‘honor los gran hombres de nuestro presente y el pasado on ‪#‎consejosdemipadre‘.  I jumped at the chance to submit an entry.  I was crazy-excited for this man to read anything that I wrote and hoped my entry would be chosen.  The entry with the most ‘likes’ receives an autographed copy of one of Mr. Villaseñor’s books.

I had gotten so busy with my day that I forgot to check until a few minutes ago. I’m very excited to present my tribute to my Dad Mike Torres. It’s well past 1am and – you know us Torres, we are still up at this hour.  I ran to read it to my Dad, who LOVED it by the way.

Tributes are best when done “en vida. Below is what appeared on Mr. Villaseñor social media pages…my entry…enjoy and Feliz Día del Padre!

Victor Villaseñor
June 18 at 8:46am

From Carmen Torres to her father Mike Torres.

Dad n Boys Classic

“My father has always shown us, by example, how to embrace the beauty of our Mexican culture. Mike Torres is a musician, a professor of Spanish and Music, and a hilarious folklorist.

A founder of the Mike Torres Band, he taught my siblings how to play in the band by saying, ‘síganme/just follow me’ and now we have generations of accomplished musicians in our family. “Maestro Torres” also teaches a Friday Night Guitar class in our living room for young students, some of which include his great-grandchildren. It’s awesome to see these kids having fun learning Mexican music and, at this writing, are working on “Las Mañanitas” and “La Bamba”.

A true folklorist, once when I was venting about having to discipline my crew, he told me to act like a boss and to be like Pancho Villa, who hated anyone else to give his soldiers orders, “solo YO para reganar a mis muchachitos’. A very funny way to tell me ‘no te dejes mija‘. Very blessed to have MIKE TORRES con vida y con salud, he will be 80 on July 27.”

You have until Sunday 6/21/2015 to ‘like’ my entry on Victor Villaseñor’s FB and social media pages :)  Love that folks love my Dad’s tribute…

Victor Villasenor’s photo.
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Inner Chingona Says Walk Don’t Run…Yet

12 Jun



After Mama passed away, my first doctor’s visit was sobering to say the least. My health was in shambles. Not enough sleep, eating all of the wrong stuff at the wrong times, stress, stress and more stress.

I had a follow-up check up yesterday and was very happy (as was my doctor) that my health had improved by leaps and bounds. I leave the doctor’s office feeling like I was all that and decided to go for my walk for the day. I’ve been trying to walk four days a week and I’ve been pretty good at keeping it going for a few weeks.

I always walk and watch the folks who are also walking/running. I always thought to myself, “I’ll never be able to run this park, never.” Well ON THIS DAY, I decided to try to run. Here I go, all motivated, and, after a few steps,  I thought my legs were going to start on fire!  I barely made it running one block.

So I decided that I would run-walk. I walked more than I ran but it really felt like I had accomplished something huge — a goal that I did not look for, that I did not know that I wanted to try. It felt like I was getting to my goal of losing weight and reducing my ‘lonja’ a lot faster if I were to run vs. walk. I felt, dare I say it, invigorated. Just the thought that I actually got out of my comfort zone to run opened my mind 300%!

I’ll be doing the run-walk for a while and hopefully, I will get used to the burning legs, doing that huffing and puffing thing all out of breath, and sweating sweating sweating.  Also looking forward to taking this ‘lonja’ out once and for all.

My sense of ‘aventada-ness’ had been gone for such a long time, it is great to see it coming back in a lot of areas in my life.


Five Months Feel Like Yesterday: The Healing Power of Familia

13 Apr

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFamilia makes everything easier. Over the weekend, we celebrated Mama’s life and I remember feeling happy…happy because we were with our family from both sides. The pic below really shows how we enjoy being with our Ranch and Grijalva family.


When we were all together, after we prayed, Daddy got up to speak and he talked about how he was getting through the loss of Mama…he said that for every sad thought he had, that he was learning how to remember something he was thankful for: like being able to get up and walk, that he could still drive, for his sons and daughters. While we were growing up, my father could always be counted on to joke and clown around so we rarely got to see the thoughtful side of him. It was pretty cool that he got up and said this in front of everyone.

The rest of the afternoon we didn’t see much of the kids – they were having a blast running and playing at the Ranch, we bbq’d, caught up on all things familia and had fun hanging out.


I read somewhere that, one of the ways to get thru grief is to spend time with people who love you and vice versa. We are always able to be our true selves at the Ranch and with our family.   Who taught us this?  Mama.   We are blessed.


Notes to Mama

25 Mar


I went to visit Mama the other day … half of the time I spent crying to her, telling her that I didn’t care about getting by, moving on without her, putting on that brave face, I wanted my mother BACK.   I was having such a hard time getting thru my many projects, I kept getting ‘stuck’.  So I told her what was up with me, as I did most of the days of my life.  I stayed there talking to her and crying for a few minutes with no one around…which was cool but had someone come around, my tears would have still flowed freely down my face.

Before I left, I felt like I had to write her a little note.  I told her how much I missed her and loved her and I thanked her for letting me cry to her.   Sure enough, I got on with my day and it was like ‘boom!’,  the energy around me had changed and I was working it again como si nada.  Turns out Mama was working it for me after all.

We are all still grieving and, some days, it’s so hard to believe that Mama is no longer with us.      I then think about how much she wanted to see Jesus and be in Heaven.   I then calm down and think that things are as they should be…maybe not as I want them 100%…but I feel her beside me thank God …like the day we were talking in the living room and the lights came on by themselves! LOL Love her, miss her.

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In Search of Peace or a Safe Place, Whichever Comes First.

25 Mar


While walking at the beach, I came across a little crab and, when I got really close to it, the crab retreated into its shell.  The crab goes straight off of instinct, if something doesn’t feel safe, he doesn’t go there.  My family has always told me that I have a sixth sense, that I can sense when something doesn’t feel right, I’ve been this way since I was a little girl.  Some days, I would love to be able to hide out in my personal shell as that crab does…to be able to just BE, to be myself, to dream, to plan, to cry, to work things out for myself, to THINK

It is so important to have that kind of place to recharge, reflect and vent…what does my personal shell look like?

Lots of green around me, breezy, with my huge comfortable green reading chair near a window, and within arm’s length there would be  a combination of books, music, a journal and my laptop.   I like to just stare out of the window for a long time, trying to decompress as I watch others live their lives.   When I’m in this mode, I usually pick a few songs and play them over and over, usually something to match the mood that I’m in or to match the mood that I WANT to be in.

Only after I decompress will I get this nagging feeling to deal with my problem at hand, why do I want to hide? what happened in my life that day to make me feel this or that way? who needs to be in or out of my thoughts?   This is usually when I pick up one of my journals and start writing and writing and writing.  Some days, I can get out my issues in one page or less and other times, it’s 20 or 30 pages.  In either case, by the time I finish writing, I’m usually exhausted and my hand usually hurts :)    It is very powerful when the ‘moment of truth’ hits as I am writing — sometimes I start crying right then or I say something like ‘yup’ as I write!    Only after I see it written in black and white can I start to find a temporary solution to whatever is making me crazy at that moment.

Behind the wheel of my Jeep does wonders for me too.   If that steering wheel could talk…I’ve practiced many a speech, request, pitch, conversation while driving — not to mention screaming at the top of my lungs in anger/frustration/fear;  cried my eyes out, watched the sun and the moon come up and go down.  I’m convinced that I have saved myself and my reputation by going off by myself instead of going off on someone else.   As I usually have a commute, my badass moods are usually over by the time I reach my destination.

It’s important that everyone find their own safe haven, to be able to gather yourself and your thoughts while you figure out what your next move will be.   For many months,  I needed to step back and escape for a minute but I wouldn’t do it…it didn’t feel that I deserved yet it I guess.  Once I started listening to my Inner Chingona, I started to make the time to work thru my big chunk of issues.  Taking care of yourself is very powerful and it’s one of the first steps to getting your life back and getting to the peace and happiness that you seek.

Which brings me to the final thought for tonight by John Maxwell…”…if you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you GAVE IT AWAY.  You cannot always control what happens to you, but you can control what happens IN you.”    Once I stopped the blame game and giving in to the drama of others, Inner Chingona came back to ‘high five’ me and to get me to listen to myself, take care of myself, and more important, take responsibility for myself.

My soundtrack as I wrote tonight?  Carly Simon’s Greatest Hits over and over and over and over.

Haven’t Got Time for The Pain


That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be




Inner Chingona and Sailing

24 Mar


Milestone Day: 16 Belonged to Me Today

16 Mar



Love Milestone Days:  My journey to passing the State Exam begins again!   Part 1 to the State Interpreter Exam is 0ver and done now I move on to Part 2.  The studying paid off.  I totally felt my mom’s presence during the Exam, especially during the grammar part as no one had English grammar down like Margaret.

Love that 95 score and all of the support and love is great too!  Total motivation for me to get back into study-mode to pass Part 2 of the State Interpreter Exam!  I must close this circle eso si!

16 Weeks: Inner Chingona and Embracing Change

16 Mar

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16 weeks since Mama left us. A little less than 16 weeks before she told us of the plan that she had with God to do things “their” way.  It probably took me more than 16 days to accept this and Mama was with us a little less than 16 weeks after that…she was preparing us for now.  I miss her so much. I first met my mother face-to-face on July 16th so 16 has always been a lucky number for me.  I’ll strive to remember the importance of embracing change each month instead of fighting it.

What have I learned on this 16th day of this month?

1. Survival: If I can survive the loss of my mother, then I can survive anything. I’ve had some crazy things thrown at me lately, people have tried to bring me down and destroy my spirit again. When your mother is no longer here, your life changes dramatically, gone is the patience for, as Mama used to say, idiocies.   Negative people and situations are just that … and these people and situations will not bring my mother back, so ‘ para que darles importancia’?  No need for me to get all caught up into senseless drama.


2. Faith: I know that God exists. My mother went without food or water for weeks and I am amazed that, in the end, she looked beautiful, not emaciated or withered away. I am convinced that she was in God’s hands especially then.  God was with me when Mama has some really bad moments and I was able to think clearly and move forward thru my fear and tears.  I feel really bad that I was the one who totally tried to force food, water, and medicine into her body. I now know that I was only trying to stop the inevitable and that “their plan” was the right plan.


3. Priorities: My list of “important” things and goals is completely different. When I think back to just a few years ago when I would move around, move away, and distract myself with my career and lots of unhealthy choices — anything to steer clear of dealing with my personal life or familia, I struggled to forgive myself for staying away. I used to think that if I put family first, that I would not be able to have both, that I would never be able to have my personal goals and identity. How wrong I have been. I cannot believe how much I have able to accomplish in ALL AREAS OF MY LIFE once I embraced 100% my place within my family and my personal obligation to myself. The most recent accomplishment has been in working thru my financial mess of a life. I was pleasantly shocked at my progress as I’ve been able to bring down a good chunk of my personal debt, still help my familia and still take care of myself. The blessings started to come and my life became so much more peaceful when my family became #1.

4. Patience. Just work it, a little at a time, and I will eventually achieve my goals. Mama taught me to “Let Go and Let God” and, after having her in my life, I saw first-hand, that this worked every time.


5. Laughter Goes A Long Way. My mom used to have these really infectious laugh attacks so, even on bad days, she was still able to find the humor in life too. I used to love it whenever she would LAUGH at something I said or did. More than that, I LOVED knowing that she was having a happy or fun moment. My dad has always had a great sense of humor and always has us smiling with the things that he comes out with and we do a lot of laughing.  In his hilarious way, he takes good care of us.

Right before I was going to publish this post, sis LG sends me a text telling me that the number 16 was very significant in the Bible…being that she’s Mama’s Mini-Me, I smiled as it was so something that Margaret would have brought to my attention!


My Bolsa — a Teething Ring?

14 Mar


I’ve always loved purses and have a bunch of them.  We are also blessed with new babies in the fam whom are teething I think.  What does my ‘bolsa’ have to do with our bebitas you ask?


black purse

I was at one of my houses and I saw our lil Bebita O, the cutest tiniest thing.  She seems too little to be teething but I noticed she was trying to bite her hand.  She wasn’t hungry because we had just fed her.  Her big black eyes saw my purse and it looked like she was trying to grab it – but she’s so little, she didn’t really know how.  So I put the handle of the purse near her hands and she was trying to bite it.    So this Nina Carmen lets her BITE the handle and bite she did for quite a while.  When I would try to take it out of her mouth, she’d give me this look that said “what’s up?”.   Her little tears after I gave her back to her Mama made me want to leave the purse there so that she could keep biting LOL.

Our babies are the joy of our familia and we are going to have a very fun year with our 3 (and # 4 on the way) bebitos!


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