In 2009 I wrote a Father’s Day blog post honoring all the dad’s in my life – my father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, including my mom’s father Apolinar Rodriguez Rozan. Little did I know that the blog post would spark a cross-Atlantic family reunion between my mom, uncle and their long-lost sister, Fanny.

familiaRodriguezRozan
PICTURED (My cousin Beatriz, my mom Bettina, my aunt Fanny and my uncle Jose)

For years I had heard about my grandfather’s first daughter, a child he had from a relationship when he was young man in his native Spain (Pravia, Asturias, España). My mom had always yearned to connect with this mysterious sister but little was know about her.

Then one day the power of the internet helped our family connect the hidden dots…

In August of 2012 I got a message from a woman named Beatriz saying that we might share a grandfather, Apolinar Rodriguez Rozan. She had googled his name hoping to find out more information about her family tree and  up came my blog post. She promptly emailed me and explained her story, assuming I had never heard about her or her family. I was elated and quickly responded and told my mother who was overcome with joy. A relationship was developed and a life long family mystery was solved.

This week Beatriz and her mother Fanny Cuervo traveled from Spain to Miami, Florida, USA to meet their American family. For the first time in Fanny’s long life she hugged her younger brother and sister and finally learned more about a father she never met.

One simple blog post has connected my family and helped heal some open wounds. Though my aunt will never get to know her father (he died over 20 years ago) she has created a relationship with her brother, sister, nieces and nephew all who love her and are excited to know her and her family.

Tune in and watch Tavis Smiley’s Latino Nation.

Latino Nation

I was honored to be asked to be part of the discussion and add my voice to the two part panel. Learn more from going directly to TheLatinoNation.Com. The event is being broadcasted on PBS.

Here is more information on the event:

America’s 50-million-strong Latino community flexed its historic political muscle in the 2012 elections, evidencing the community’s growing influence. Now, as the immigration debate unfolds in Washington, Tavis moderates a national conversation on the challenges and opportunities facing this diverse group.

Hosted in partnership with the William C. Velásquez Institute, “Latino Nation: Beyond The Numbers” panelists examine a full range of Latino social, political, economic and cultural influence on American life, from the economy to politics, healthcare to education, immigration to foreign policy, as well as solutions for economic growth in this vital community.

Guests include:

Antonio González, president of the William C. Velásquez Institute; Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-IL; Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF;Stephanie Sanchez, student trustee board member of Chicago State University;Bettina Inclán, Republican political strategist; and others. [Click here to see list of guests.]

Greetings from Chicago State University where I, along with some of the nation’s top Hispanic leaders, are participating in Tavis Smiley’s “The Latino Nation.”  Hosted in partnership with the William C. Velásquez Institute, “Latino Nation: Beyond The Numbers” panelists will look at a full range of Latino influence on American life, from the economy to politics, healthcare to education, immigration to foreign policy, as well as solutions for economic growth in this vital community.

I am honored to be part of this great event. Thank you to Tavis Smiley (and his staff), Antonio Gonzalez of the William C. Velásquez Institute and my friend Hector Barreto.  Learn more http://thelatinonation.com/

TheLatinoNationPanel

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This was my first Thanksgiving outside of Miami and away from my very loud and lively Latin family. But, that didn’t stop me from bringing a little Miami to my California Thanksgiving. My mother came to visit for the long holiday weekend, and as usual, brought enough Latin spice and pizzazz that I could recreate South Beach in my living room.

The exciting (and nerve wrecking) part of this Thanksgiving, was that I had to make all the food (with a little help from mom). It was quite adventure. One that I documented, at least for its comedic factor. Here are some photos from the international gastronomical odyssey.

As I wrote in Part One, this Thanksgiving meal featured standard American favorites and  with homage to our Cuban-Mexican-Spanish-Italian-Irish heritages.

The making if the Italian meat stuffing, a tradition in my boyfriends family, was in itself an adventure. The hand-held meat grinder I bought to grind up all the meat didn’t work. It literally dissembled in my hands. So, I used some technology, my electronic food processor. This made grinding the ham, salami, pepperoni, eggs, cheese and crackers a breeze.
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After tweaking the recipe and cooking for several hours I made a crispy authentic Italian stuffing. Pictures were sent to his family in Boston and met with approval. I was proud of my culinary achievement.

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Next up, the pavo…. bring on the guajalote.

I started working on the turkey on Wednesday night placing it in a very Cuban marinade which I bought at the local Mexican grocery store. See Part One. This was my first turkey and with help from mom, it came out great!!

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Thanks for all the birthday wishes, calls and notes. I’m truly blessed!  A special thank you to my family and to my boyfriend, Jarrod, who made today extra special.

In addition to my birthday gift (a spa day!!), a lovely card (that made me happy cry) and surprising me with an ice cream cake (my favorite), he woke me up with the Mexican Birthday song, “Las Mañanitas.”…. Later in the day he surprised me with these, two dozen roses!  I’m a very lucky girl!

Now, I’m off to the mall to get me some birthday treats before our night out on the town!

I fell in love with photography as a kid, watching my father take pictures with his pintex camera. Trying to capture a memory with one still image is an art I’ve enjoyed to pursue. During the last two years I’ve been fortunate to travel the country, visiting over 30 states and taking countless adventures with an amazing partner. As I look back at these capsuled memories, I want to celebrate my favorite photographic “subject,” my boyfriend Jarrod Agen. Today is his birthday.

We’ve experience countless journeys, incredible adventures, and even some “hopeless quests” and yet, have always enjoyed the ride. We met while working in politics, a lifestyle that can, and will, take over your life. Still, with two feet firmly placed on the ground, we’ve learned to appreciate each an every free moment. In the words of Ferris Bueller : “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (Jarrod is a big movie buff!) Happy Birthday Jarrod! Thank you TQM!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our adventures…

New York’s Brooklyn Bridge (above)

Yosemite National Park, California (above)

Zion National Park, UT (above)