I’ve recently been thinking back on the old days of my childhood when my sister and I, and even my parents were little. I remember a lot that happened and realize I spent a lot of time thinking about the bad, that I didn’t share enough of the good. So, I decided to take the time to write something that reminds me of these good days and moments that I cherish and will never forget. Like when we bought our first house on the one acre of land that was neighbored by a gas station with a mini mart on the corner, and rather convenient. Motta’s Mini Mart, owned by the Motta family. Til this day when I go back, I stop and say hello and they are always so sweet and happy to see me. They were really nice and anytime we saved enough money or went digging in our water jug for coins, we’d run over and buy a bunch of candy that spanned between 1 cent and about 15. We were literally kids in a candy store, wide, dow eyed and all.
The house was a disaster moving in. The doors were all falling off the hinges, if they even existed. Their was graffiti in and around the house, as well as broken windows, terribly peeling paint, plumbing and roofing that needed to be redone, etc, and the outside was over grown.
I remember the grass and weeds were actually taller than me, so my sister and I really enjoyed playing hide and seek for the first couple days while they fixed some of the house until they finally mowed it down. It was a real “fixer upper,” but my dad was amazing at that kind of thing and together with the help of the rest of the family, especially my mother and grandfather, they rebuilt it, like new. It was the most beautiful house on the block. Probably the biggest one, too. Although, it was not a huge house by any means compared to ones I’ve seen.
Our family had always been about community, so at the back of the property my parents and grandparents together installed my grandparents house there. The yard was now sandwiched between the two houses, but with plenty of room to roam about. It was awesome and we loved it. In the middle, was our life-like play house, painted to match our house in front and it was built under what we called the treasure tree – since it was massive and literally adorned with crystals. Who knows how long they had been there but there were so many that when we would dig in the yard under it, we would inevitably uncover more, and looking up you could always see some dangling some where. It all seemed very magical to us.
I was so blessed to have my grandparents living right there so close to us. I had my own room there as well. Technically, I guess it was my sister’s too, but I used it the most. It was complete with a bed, and toys and a dresser and more often then not, I would beg to spend the night there. My Nana would wake me up each morning while singing “You are my Sunshine,” as she gently pulled back the curtains and opened the blinds only slightly to let a little light in. Outside, you could hear the song of some pretty awesome sounding birds, and I would just lay there until breakfast was prepared and Tata would come and get me.
We used to watch a bunch of Country Western’s with my grandparents, and other Holiday themed ones, as well as random old musicals, and of course, I Love Lucy, and other old time shows. But the ones I remember looking forward to on Saturday nights were Walker Texas Ranger, and Dr. Queen Medicine Woman. We also used to love our Spanish Novelas, my favorites were Mi Pequena Traviesa and Preciosa. But when I was at home, we would watch El Chao del ocho with my Mama, which brings me back very good memories, and various movies that my sister and I would take forever to agree on.
The neighbor boys used to have chickens and roosters and every morning like clockwork, those damn birds would wake us up at the crack of dawn, and if they were on the wrong side of the fence, ours, I’d unleash my dog, the only dog I’ve ever loved, Tiny, to scare them off. My Nana helped me name Tiny, who got his name because he was a weiner dog, although he was the strongest one of the whole liter, and there wasn’t an inch of him that wasn’t pure muscle. He could tow both my sister and I in our Red Flier wagon, the same wagon that we used as a go-cart to push each other in, using the handle as a steering device. Those neighbor boys would sometimes come on our property and go snooping around in our stuff – needless to say it was boys against girls, since the neighbors on our other side Julia and Jessica would hang out with us a lot and so we made booby traps for them -some pretty gnarly ones that included sute from our chimney, amongst other things, I should not mention. When we were playing in our playhouse, which was close to the fence that attached to their yard, sometimes they would throw pomegranates from the tree that was half on their side, and over hanging half way on ours, at us which we would eventually pick up, turn around and eat, when we didn’t throw them back. We had a lot of fun there.
My sister and I, and sometimes our neighbor best friends would hold competitions with each other for who could eat the most sour warheads without making a face, and when my dad came home with a pogo stick for us we added- who could jump the most jumps in one ride, it saws always a competition with us, and we had tons of fun. We even competed to see who could build the best forts out of the wooden piled planks from my dad’s work stuff.
On Saturday’s after church we would go walking the dirt roads that laid between the orchards across the road from our house in the country. Sometimes we would play tag and hide in the orchard trees with our parents. Behind these orchards, there were what we called the three crosses because there were literally three slightly bigger than life sized or what I would call realistic crucifixes on a man-made hill there, and close to this area is where my family would sometimes take carrots as a Sabbath afternoon activity to feed the horses, who had become our friends. There were always beautiful Sunflowers along the way that I would admire and on the rare occasion that one wasn’t covered in ants, I would cut one down and take it home with me. These are treasured moments for me and as I’d lay my head on the pillow at night I could hear the train sound in the distance before I drifted off to sleep.
When mom remarried we moved away from the valley in California and moved to Kansas, our new home came with 45 beautiful acres of land. We had a pond that would freeze over in the winter and a raft with a push stick that we would play on after winter was over til it was too cold to again.
Closer to the house where many birds, squirrels, and other wildlife. During the winter, we would even encounter a few visits from deer (mom and dad fed deer out of their hands once or twice), it was really amazing. On this property there was also a loft-like tree house with a tall ladder to get to the top, my dad put a bird feeder somewhere close to that, it was pretty neat to see. There were a bunch of red cardinals there and they looked really neat in the winter against the snow. We had a looooooong paved driveway~ perfect for riding our bikes which we did pretty often there. There was also a lot of grass that needed to be mowed, and luckily we had one of those huge ride on mowers which ended up being my sisters job, and she seemed not to mind.
Down the road some and across the bridge there was a Super Target, just close enough, but far enough to get your heart rate going. It was a good distance that we did that often when we needed to get out of the house. It was at this Target, that I purchased my own first CD’s which at the time happened to be Blink 182, Frank Sinatra, Dixie Chicks, and Faith Hill! What a combination, and I still love them all!! 😀
I also enjoyed going to what we called “The Rolly Polly Restaurant” (I believe it was called “The Orient” with my family in Kansas, because we joked that every one that walked in had to be rolled out, the food was so good – my dad and mom knew the owner well and he always came by to say hi because this was our Sabbath afternoon tradition. Sometimes we would also go to Cici’s pizza which was technically a buffet and they even had dessert pizza’s and it was really good, too.
Living in Kansas was when I decided that Fall was my favorite time of the year. All of the different colored leaves falling to the ground were such a beautiful sight next to the bright green grass, and my eyes just felt sharper with all the wide open spaces. It made me feel more alive and the climate was nice and breezy and would blow the leaves around, sometimes they looked like they were dancing and the sunsets were very calming and pretty. The Fall Season was also a wonderful signal that I appreciated because it showed that the unbearably hot and humid summer was over. We loved our home and we loved the friends we made while we were there as well as the road trips our parents would take us on. Winter was pretty awesome, too. It was so cold that the tree’s looked like they were decorated for Christmas because they were frozen over with ice and the winter’s sun would make them sparkle beautifully under the light. It was always fun to play in the snow and sometimes I would run across an acre of snow in shorts and no jacket to school because I loved how it felt once I arrived there and I felt warm, but my skin was cool. I didn’t always do that, nor did I get to do that when ever there were snow days, which I was equally excited about! 😉
Fourth of July we would always spend back with my dad and s-mom who had moved to Oklahoma to make it easier for us to get together, and that was a holiday that was always a blast~ with ATV’s and awesome fireworks/crackers, food and boating! My dad liked to fish, so he usually was doing that as well. He loved making it a big thing for us girls, but my favorite part about the whole thing was when he and his friends would get the band together all hooked up to amps and we would do karaoke, country style. I must admit, it all sounded pretty great!
Moving to Hawaii was an extremely different sort of an adventure. We were very excited. We’d never been there even to vacation, much less to move but we couldn’t wait! When we arrived it was exactly as we expected. The beaches were true beauty and every day on the day to school we drove across the Pali, I admired the luscious landscape and the way the sun cascaded in and around the mountain peaks. Hawaii in the morning, is my favorite thing about the island because I really appreciate a good sunrise and back then, listening to Paul Harvey’s new’s segment always entertained me, “good day!” The ocean, is another favorite though, any time of the day, really. Here, Winter was my favorite Season because of the beauty of the ocean since the waves would be at their largest swell at this time and they were gorgeous when they crashed against the coral at Shark’s Cove. The only thing that took some adjusting to was that I had never in my life lived in such close parameters to another house before and so that took some getting used to but I suppose it was a trade off for being so close to the country, and so close to the city, as well as to the beach. An island provides easy access to everything that way, I guess.
Walking with my mom and sister is unquestionably one of my favorite past times because we’ve literally done it our whole life. It was a time when we could all be ourselves and just talk and laugh and be carefree all together. This girl time, something I lived for and miss dearly now that my mom has moved away. But before she did, we were dancing zumba, because she’s an instructor and that was such a good outlet for us as well. Fun, simple, carefree! 🙂
For Christmas for as long as I can remember until recently we would usually go to Mexico every year to every other year to with mom to visit our family and THAT was always my favorite trip to make because my sister and I were both so close to our family there. I have always been very proud of my Mexican heritage, so going to Mexico always felt like the right place to be and I really love the culture, the music, the food, the family and the dancing!
I remember when I was little wanting to be a mermaid… ok, well, not just when I was little, so the move to Hawaii was amazing. Yet being very country and always being around horses but not having had any besides Cowboy Camp, I also wanted to be a cowgirl! So, I fit right in in Kansas. This country heart of mine is really enjoying these memories that I had so long ago forgotten about. Memories are what we are all made up of, right? 🙂
That said, I want to give my kids HAPPY memories like the ones I had with my family and start new traditions all of our own! 🙂 I wonder what kind of island-country traditions I can start for them.
Where are you from and what are some of your favorite past times and childhood memories and traditions?? 🙂