09/25/16

Mi Vida Latina. #TXLatinoBlog

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I must have been about 7 years old at the time this picture was taken. I remember my mom brushing my hair and picking out my clothes. I was always up for a photo shoot. Smile!

When I look in the mirror today, I see who I am, what I have become and who I still want to be.

 

My parents met in middle school. They eventually married and just had me. Happily ever after is not what happened. They divorced by the time I was about 6 or 7.

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A testament to the love they had for me and the eventual mutual respect they had for each other in parenting me is the smile you see on my face.

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My parents were both born in Texas. I am 2nd generation Mexican American on my Father’s side and 3rd on my Mother’s. I naturally picked up the Spanish language, Gracias a Dios! My parents never really taught it to me but it was the language spoken on both sides of my Familia. It was how I could communicate with my Abuelita. It was la musica my Grandfather sang.

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My Mom and her parents Cristina and Domingo Garcia.

My Cultura was playing all around me and I was never the wiser!

 

The soundtrack of my youth is Mariachis, Musica Chicana and my Abuelo (Apa) playing his guitar as he sang Spanish songs.

Pets were chickens, ducks and my horse Big Red. My dad bought me one because he said I asked for one, lol. The chicken’s and duck’s were gifted to me every Easter (by me Dad) and I am forever grateful that my grandfather (Apa) had plenty of land to care for my pets.

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Me and my horse Big Red.

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My Sweet Sixteen.

La comida was so traditional that my expectations are high. I was raised on homemade tortillas, and frijoles from the jarro. Nopalitos, carne asada, chorizo, sopas, arroz con pollo were food for my soul. The salsa was always made from the cilantro, tomate, cebolla y chili piquin picked straight from my Abuelita’s backyard. Amor was comida and it showed.

Medicine was El curandero (the medicine man) for any ailment that the “Sangre de Chango” otherwise known as monkey blood (not really monkey blood) couldn’t cure. Aloe Vera was the plant kept in the front yard for burns and scrapes. If you still weren’t cured no worries because you probably had “ojo” (the evil eye) and having your Abuela rub an egg over your body as she prayed in Spanish somehow did the trick! The egg is then cracked and placed into a glass of water with a broken stick to make a cross on top of the egg. After a certain period of time the egg starts to separate and the more it does the worse the “ojo”.  I only wish my Abuelas were around to cure me without having to head to the local pharmacy.

The Amor is what cured us all.

 

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Mis Abuelas Cristina y Manuela.

My parents loved me unconditionally and gave me the best of themselves. We were rich in culture and that was my happy. We weren’t rich but I always had what I needed and the most important thing for me was that they were always present in my life and I knew I was loved. It showed in their actions as it does to this day.

I am a lucky girl! I looked in the mirror as a child with no clue of who I was other than happy.

 

I look at myself in the mirror now (still happy) and see the past, the present and the future. My past was an abundance of Cultura, Tradiciones y Amor. The present is the family I have raised and the future is full of promise.

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Mi Familia.

I grew up!

 

I am a daughter who became a woman, who became a Mom, who became a grandmother!

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A dance recital with my granddaughter.

My family is my backbone and the love and traditions I was raised on is what I hope my girls have had a taste of. I still can’t cook a tortilla but I know what restaurant makes a good one. I don’t usually play Spanish music on the radio but they know the sounds of a good Mariachi. I do make a mean Fidello, family approved!

I have lived a lifetime and my dreams have now taken me Outside and into Nature. I became an ambassador for Latino Outdoors a year ago. An organization engaging, empowering and inspiring communities to share and identify Cultura and the outdoors.

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Me and my Paleta.

I can’t be anyone other than me and I carry this in my heart. I am a proud Latina born and raised!

 

National Hispanic Heritage Month is honored September 15th to October 15th. It is a month to pay tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation.

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This post is a part of the #TXLatinoBlog Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop. Visit the bloggers listed below as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month together/juntos! Follow the hashtag #TXLatinoBlog on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.

Que Means What – Being Latina Enough – Wednesday, 9/14

MexiMoments – Importance of Learning the Language as a Child – Thursday, 9/15

The Social Butterfly Gal – Mentoring Young Latinas – Friday, 9/16

Juan of Words – Mexican-American Culture – Monday, 9/19

Sweet Life– Food Recipes – Tuesday, 9/20

The Optimistic Heathen – Sharing Our Heritage with the Kids – Wednesday, 9/21

Modern Tejana – How to Live Your Latinidad in Mixed-Race Families – Thursday, 9/22

The Esposa Experience – Navigating the Pressures of Traditional Esposa Expectations – Friday, 9/23

The Nueva Latina – Mexican Independence Day in Guadalajara – Saturday, 9/24

FitFunAnd.com – Self-Reflection and Latino Outdoors – Sunday, 9/25

VodkaGirlATX – Latin-Inspired Cocktails – Monday, 9/26

Momma of Dos – How Mexican I grew up! – Tuesday, 9/27

Family Love in My City – Immigration – Wednesday, 9/28

Creative Meli – Basic and Healthy Latin Cooking – Thursday, 9/29

Mejorando Mi Hogar – Being Latino or Hispanic – Friday, 9/30

Power to Prevail – Body Shame in Latino Culture – Monday, 10/3

Teatrolatinegro – Latin@ Theatre Show in Houston – Tuesday, 10/4

Candypo – Being a Latino Military Spouse – Wednesday, 10/5

Coppelia Marie – Am I a Bad Latina Mom? – Thursday, 10/6

The Restaurant Fanatic – Cocina Latina – Friday, 10/7

Haute in Texas – Mothering Latinas When You’re Not a Latina – Monday, 10/10

07/4/16

La Onda Chicana Concert 40th year Anniversary

In celebration of the 40th year anniversary of the concert La Onda Chicana, Efrain Gutierrez is making it available for free screening for the month of July. This concert was filmed in Port Lavaca ,TX on July 4th 1976 U.S. bicentennial.

Bands performing were Little Joe Y La Familia, Snowball and Company w/Laura Canales, Los Chachos and Johnny Elizondo y La Fabrica.

Efrain Gutierrez is the First Chicano Filmmaker and most recently his unique and personal window into motion history has now become a permanent part of history at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Preservation and Foundation Programs.

Thank you Efrain (Dad) for allowing us to take a trip back in time to La Onda Chicana. Password is 3gfilms.us.

FitfunandHappy 4th of July!

12/20/15

The Birthday Girl … ME! #FelizCumpleaños

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One, two, three, four, five …  (fast forward) 2015 : )). Keep calm, it’s the birthday girl!

I keep telling myself that I am only as young as my heart tells me and that special number appears to have fixated itself in the 20’s. I will never let a silly number dictate what I can or cannot do. I do what makes my soul happy and this year in particular I wished for a horse ride.

 

When I was a little girl my dad bought me a horse. I asked him years later, WHY? My dad had the perfect answer…because you wanted one : )).  photo 1 (35)

I ended up falling off my horse one time and never rode her again. Her name was Big Red and my granddad ended up taking care of her. I felt that it was time to conquer my fear and giddy up!

December 3rd every year was a big deal. The coolest cakes, themes, presents and the most important, familia. The day of my birth reminds me of birthdays past and the love that was put into them. Every year now is a day to live just a little extra. I am happy to be alive and yes I am reminded that time goes by so quickly. I don’t want to live fearful, I want to live fearlessly : ). 

 

I decided to try Hollow Tree Ranch  in New Braunfels, Tx. Their motto is “Horses training riders”. Jeff Oliver is the founder and owner of Hollow Tree Ranch. I spoke with Jeff when making my reservation and he was so sweet and easy to work with. He answered all of my questions and when we arrived took care of more concerns from my group. I feed off positive energy and that is all I ever felt from the moment I called. My daughter hadn’t gone on a horse ride in years and mentioned that she was a little scared. His response, “what in particular scared you so I can make it better for you”? The one hour ride was just enough to get our giddy on but left us wanting more.

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Was it what I hoped for…YES! Will I be back…YES! Next up, the Moonlight ride and I can hardly wait : ).

The day was not just for me but for me to share this special adventure with the people I love. Life is better with family and friends. Thank you Jeff for being a part in making this memory memorable for all of us. Words cannot describe the what the ride meant to us individually. Empowered we became as we conquered our fears.

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We left the ranch on such a high and discovering that right down the rode was Dry Comal Creek Winery was an even bigger surprise, could my birthday get any better?

This would be my daughter and her best friends first wine tasting and who better to share this with than with her MOM. The girls had a blast and we were even treated to a special tour of the place.

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The sangria was delicious and the wine tasting was a huge success for the girls.

 

 

 

My beautiful evening ended with a family dinner at The Little Red Barn, my granddaughters favorite steak house. I believe it’s because the waitresses dress up in cowboy hats and boots. My Madelyn loves a great themed anything and I adore this. Do more than just exist, when you can and while you can!!

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For more information here are the links on Hollow Tree Ranch & Dry Comal Creek Winery. The trip took less than an hour from San Antonio and we all know any hill country road will lead to an awesome adventure.

CHEERS to finding the Giddy up in your step : ). Grab your boots and just go!!

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Fitfunand … Happy Birthday to me!!

 

08/14/15

Stay Wild …. Go Camping!!

Screenshot_2015-08-11-23-18-32_wm-1I have always had a connection with the outdoors. One can never have too much happiness and mine is found in the beauty of the WILDerness.

 

I partnered with REI recently for their #LETSCAMP & #HAZLOEPIC Summer Campaign. I was so excited to be a part of all the “coolness” that is REI and as a partner REI sent me an REI InCamp 4 Tent, a super light  Backpack and a really neat Campfire Rocker

 

It was going to be our granddaughter’s first camping adventure and in order to make it a memorable one for her we only had one place in mind….CONCAN,TX. It was the place the honey and I had taken our girls most summers growing up and it holds many special memories for us as a family. Madelyn has often heard us talk about camping and now that she was older the time was right. I am not sure who was most excited : ). 20150712_124056-1

 

I was so thrilled to be a part of making her experience a fun one and may it only be the beginning to many more with her.

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The hardest part was picking a weekend we would all be available since the girls are older now.  It had been some time since we had all gone camping together and we were all most excited for Madelyn. I had hopes that she would enjoy it as much as my girls did.

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Just like old times …. but with one more!! Friday couldn’t come soon enough. The honey and I went up a day early to set up the campsite. The girls arrived the following day and we headed straight for the river located just a few feet from our campsite at Mager’s River Campphoto 2 (21)

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Swimming and hiking are a perfect way to stay fit while having fun. The temperature soared and so did our appetites so after much swimming and exploring we decided to have Dad do what he does best….barbecue!!! Dinner was served and we headed back to the river once more (because we could) before settling in for the night : ). We had promised Madelyn a special treat once it got darkshe guessed it…S’mores : ).IMG_2638

 

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We had one more task to complete before calling it a night…..spooky stories, with a PG rating for our little 4 yr old.  Madelyn decided she would go first and we would all take turns holding her Hello Kitty lantern. The title of her story she told us was “The Midnight Creeper” LOL! We knew at that moment that Madelyn was officially a Camper Girl and I beamed with pride as she headed into the tent for the night.  The next day as were slowly getting ready to leave Madelyn said “I wish I could live here forever”,  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

I sat back and took it all in. I had shared my LOVE of camping with the girls and to know that they were happy and almost childlike again in that environment was a beautiful thing. The stars did shine brighter in the Texas Hill Country!

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Camping Do’s & Don’ts

  • Do call ahead to make reservations, especially if the place your going to is a popular one.
  • Do ask questions and let them know how “seasoned” you are …. or not! Most places are helpful in finding the campsite that is right for you.
  • Do your research ahead of time on what amenities and facilities the parks offer.
  • Do check the weather for the time you will be camping so that you will not be stuck in a crazy weather storm (unless you like living on the edge).
  • Do allow yourself to connect with the outdoors and always be courteous of your fellow campers.
  • Don’t LITTER!
  • Don’t go unprepared. Food,water,shelter and a great attitude.

REI PRODUCT REVIEWS

I was very impressed with the tent and how quickly it set up & the instructions are on the bag. Super light and very roomy.

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The campfire rocker instantly became Madelyn’s and she claimed it the moment we took it out of the box. It was love at first sight and it even made it to the river.

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My favorite turned out to be the backpack. It was extremely comfortable and light, perfect for the day and girly enough for me!IMG_2453 (2)

My REI journey has been AMAZING!! I have met people that I know will be in my outdoor future for a lifetime. I will be announcing an exciting opportunity that has come my way very soon  so stay tuned : )).

Fitfunand ….. the outdoors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

07/29/15

I Haven’t Been Everywhere, But It’s On My List! + #LetsCamp Giveaway #FitFunandCamp

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Krause Springs (Spicewood,TX)

I love the outdoors and I took this past week off to visit some Texas Parks & Watering Holes that I had yet to explore. My goal was to just have some fun. I chose different adventures for my family and friends. It was impossible to gather my family (last minute) all at the same time but splitting them up gave me more quality time with them. Texas is home to many beautiful parks/rivers/lakes and breathtaking scenery.

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Landa Park (New Braunfels,TX)

You have to take time to make your soul happy and for me that means spending time outdoors with the people that mean the most to me, my family and friends. This week I did just that. I am more than willing to share my love of the outdoors and to encourage these experiences. Think OUTSIDE the box!

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Hamilton Pool Preserve (Dripping Springs,TX)

I have recently partnered with Recreational Equipment Inc. REI The Nation’s Leading Outdoor Retailer to help make their #LETSCAMP campaign EPIC! Last week I was able to do a tour at my local REI store and it left me wanting to take my outdoor adventures to the next level. Caleb was my guide and his enthusiasm for the outdoors was evident in his excitement to explain all of the necessary camping gear and he even fitted me with a Backpacking Pack. PhotoGrid_1437696267594 (1)

I was so impressed with what REI stood for and represented.  To inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. My favorite surprise was learning that they have outdoor classes for pretty much anything you can imagine to help make your camping/hiking/biking/and even running experience a fabulous one. They even have a bike shop in the store ….. SERIOUS! The only thing missing was a bakery : )).

DREAM IT!

LEARN IT!

DO IT!

Let REI help you with instruction,enthusiasm,transportation and gear, it’s that simple! Did I mention that REI will invest almost $8 million in non-profits and new projects to create access to inspirational outdoor places. How can you not want to be a part of the REI family? I was under no obligation to become an REI member and for a one-time fee of $20.00 I receive a lifetime of benefits. A start to a beautiful relationship. 

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  • Members Only Coupons and Discounts
  • 10% Annual Member Dividend
  • Special pricing On REI Trips & Classes
  • Access to REI’s Famous Garage Sales (40-80% off scratch and dent items)
  • Bike & Ski Discounts
  • Access To The REI MasterCard
  • $20.00 Lifetime Membership With No Annual Fee     

 

The first camping trip that I recall was in my very early twenties. I had a friend introduce me to Garner State Park and the rest was history. The family and I went any chance we got. A weekend trip or just for the day. We kept it simple. A tent, air mattresses, ice chest, food, drinks, chairs and some basic necessities. Garner has different sites and we always chose the ones with electricity and water. The bathroom and shower are within walking distance and the river is just a few feet away. During the day we swam,tubed and hiked and at night was our time to just feel connected. Sitting around a campfire with our girls as we laughed and told silly stories while we charred the marshmallows…  : )). The sound of the Frio River lulled us to sleep. This has been my type of camping experiences. Family,fun and the OUTDOORS, simple right? 

Do you have any favorite camping stories?

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LET’S CAMP GIVEAWAY! (In Partnership with REI #sponsored)

Thanks to our friends at REI, fellow San Antonio blogger, Melanie from Que Means What and I are happy to host a giveaway for a 4-Person REI Tent from each of us! Enter below and then head over to QueMeansWhat.com to double your chances of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FITUNAND … WANDERLUST!

 

 

07/11/15

Memorias Y Cultura

I’ve heard my dad (Efrain Gutierrez) often talk about his years growing up as a migrant worker. So when he told me he was invited by The Northwest Michigan Migrant Resource Council to participate in the parade held on Saturday July 11, 2015, I was elated for him. I headed over to his place a few days later so I could learn more about his years as a migrant.

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Efrain Gutierrez is a 1966 graduate from Edgewood High School in San Antonio, Texas. He has an A.A. degree in Multimedia from Northwest Vista College in San Antonio,Tx and a B.A. in History from Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Gutierrez is also recognized by academia as the first Chicano (Mexican/American) to independently produce a movie “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive/Por Favor No Me Entierren Vivo!” released in 1976. Gutierrez’s low budget feature  film “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive !/ Por favor, no me entierren vivo!” revenues topped “All the President’s men” and “Jaws” in several Texas theaters. He also wrote/produced/directed two other films “Amor Chicano Es Para Siempre/Chicano Love is Forever” released in 1977 and “Run Tecato Run” released in 1979.  Each year UCLA selects 15 movies per year, out of over one million films available. UCLA has honored Gutierrez by selecting these three films for restoration and preservation at the UCLA Film and Television Archives, making Gutierrez the first Chicano/Latino/Hispanic/ to have his films archived at UCLA.  UCLA Chicano Film, Television, and Digital Media Studies Research Center professor Chon Noeiga compares Gutierrez to Oscar Micheaux, an African American film pioneer.  Oscar Micheaux, who directed “race movies” for black audience from the 1920 through 1940s. Rooted in Chicano teatro, Gutierrez films dramatize the moral dilemmas and socioeconomic hardship facing the Chicano working-class community, in his honor Noriega has nominated Gutierrez’s three films to the National Library of Congress. 

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Leelanau County League of Women’s Voters  invited Efrain to screen his films for the migrant community in Traverse City, MI on Sunday July 12th and before that he will be in Grand Rapids,MI for a radio interview and a platica (conversation) at the Grand Rapids Hispanic Center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Efrain was a migrant worker from San Antonio,Texas who traveled “Al Norte” (North) every summer with his family and from 1955-1961 they picked cherries in Traverse City, MI. Michigan holds many special memories for my dad and he has not visited the city since. He had screening’s for his 1st movie “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!” in 1976 in Saginaw and Detroit, MI and even took my mom and I to visit my mother’s family in Adrian, MI when I was about 4.

His memories from the ages of 2-15 years involve many a caravan trips. The family and many cousins would head “al norte” sometime in April and wouldn’t return home till December. This was the life of a migrant worker.

Tomatoes was the main crop where the bulk of the money was made. The family stayed at two different tomato farms for many years in Auburn and Woodburn, IN. They would hoe and plant the seeds in April for about 4 weeks then head to Traverse, MI where the scenery was beautiful and the weather was cooler. They went as migrants to pick cherries and Efrain recalls being the happiest there. He recalls that while they worked, the older men talked about the Revolution, Mexico and fresh lemonade while his older brothers went through adolescence. The women would take their children if any and have them under the trees while they worked/sang and talked about life and family.  Efrain had 5 brothers and 1 sister and he was the 2nd youngest. They stayed in Traverse about 4-6 weeks and afterwards they would head back to Indiana to harvest the tomatoes they had planted.

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The list is long……tomatoes,cherries,potatoes,pickles,melons,corn and the last was always the cotton, where the weather was cold and the work was hard. It was December when the family would make it back into San Antonio.

I asked my dad, what about school and he said “we went from January-April”.  The teachers were not fond of the migrant kids because they were always so far behind. They would literally split them up in two sections A & B. The migrant kids were B. My dad was always embarrassed by the divide and boasted that it only used to take him about 2 weeks to catch up and be transferred to the A side. This was life for him until he was about 15 years old and it was only then that he was able to go to school for a full year.

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I only wish I could post every memory and write every adventure. I told him that should be for his book. I walk away from our time together being reminded that his family meant everything to him. They bundled up in the car together to only be bundled up again in small quarters to live in and and the end of the journey they would bundle together one last time for their journey home. Together they traveled, together they worked, together they played and together they loved….Familia !

My dad’s memories are beautiful ones. He always had someone to play with in the nearby rivers and lakes and knew that his older brothers and dad were there to protect him. His mom always had food on the table even if at times it was small. Life was hard but simple. He remembers the Era was as colorful as it was vibrant. and the music was beautiful. I can only imagine what he will find when he returns to taste the cherries he once picked and ate as a child. He has often wondered what it would be like to return to the place that held beautiful memories for him and a place where his family was one.

Efrain the migrant worker.

Efrain the First Chicano Filmmaker.

Efrain my DAD !!!!!

Fitfunand………..CULTURA !

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07/5/15

Fitfun and Garner State Park.

The outdoors is a huge part of my happiness and when you combine that with a quick road trip how can the day be any better?

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Road trips with my dad were my first memories. We would usually head to California and Las Vegas every summer. I remember rolling down the windows and feeling the wind in my hair while the music played on.

 

 

 

My love for the outdoors came when I was about 18 and a friend of mine took me to Garner State Park. The beauty of the park left me speechless and I knew instantly that I would be returning. The frio river  is cold no matter what time of the year you go and the water is so clear you can see the beauty of the rocks at your feet.

Years later after having my 2 daughters I knew the time had come to start making my own memories with my family. So we bought some tents and loaded up our truck with love and the much needed necessities, food & bathing suits  )). We were young parents and financially the struggle of buying a home and raising our girls did not allow us too much for faraway vacations. That never seemed to bother us too much because we were happy at Garner State Park.

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Garner State Park with my girls.

We were a family there with no distractions (cell phones). My favorite type of campsite with the girls was the area with electricity and water with the restrooms a few feet away. One with nature without roughing it too much, for the girls sake … lol.

The moment the tents went up we hit the river which was just a few feet away. The girls explored and swam till they were tired and then we lit up the pit for dinner and started making a fire to roast some marshmallows. The simplicity of the outdoors. Fire,food,water and the most important factor …. FAMILIA!

 

It became our yearly (sometimes twice) family vacay. The older the girls got the more we explored the park and the surrounding watering holes. The park offers paddle boating, plenty of scenic trails and they even have miniature golf at the park. My favorite thing to do is to go tubing down the Frio. The ride can last anywhere from 1-4 hours (yes…4) depending on the river flow.

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Tube floating tips:

  • sunblock
  • sunglasses & hat
  • old sneakers or water shoes
  • secured cooler on it’s own float
  • a waterproof phone (for pics only)
  • an adventurous spirit

 

The memories we made with the girls will forever be etched in my soul and may they remember them as clearly as I remember my early road trips with my family. We recently took our granddaughter for her first time and she loved it.

 

I learned that you don’t have to travel far to be happy. Happiness is with family or friends enjoying the ride of LIFE.

FITFUNAND …… Garner State Park.

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#gonetubing

 

 

 

 

09/17/14

Hispanic Heritage Month (Mi Cultura) part 1.

La Familia Gutierrez de Silao Guanajuato, Mexico L-R Dionicia (daughter),Tranquilina (Wife), Mauricio (Dad) and Efren Abran (my grandfather)

Hispanic Heritage month is a celebration of Latin American culture, history and contribution. I am 2nd generation Mexican American on my Father’s side and 3rd on my Mother’s. My Mexican roots run deep and my culture runs through my heart and soul.

I was able to spend some time with my Dad talking about the story of my Great Grandfather Mauricio Gutierrez who was born in Silao Guanajuato, Mexico. The Mexican Civil War started in 1910 and lasted until about 1920. Mauricio was a Notary in his city and by 1915 the city of Silao had very few young men, women and grain due to the ongoing Civil War. The story my grandfathers told was that Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary Generals, known also as ” Pancho Villa “, had stopped by the city of Silao around 1915. “Pancho Villa”  rounded up more men, women and grain. Mauricio felt the need to stand up to the General and told him that by taking what little they had left they would slowly die. “Pancho Villa” looked at him then looked around at what was left and decided to leave the city of Silao alone. Mauricio decided then that the future of his family was not in Mexico.

Between 1900 and 1930 Mexican Immigration into the United States rose dramatically. Mauricio, his wife Tranquilina and daughter Dionicia each signed a registrar and paid $1.00 to become citizens of the United States.  My grandfather, Mauricio’s son, Efren Abran Gutierrez was just 10 years old at the time and was put on a boat to cross the Rio Grande where his parents picked him up on U.S soil.  Efren Abran Gutierrez never became a legal citizen so he had to register every year to stay in the country. The family settled by Kyle,TX and became labor workers for the Germans. In 1939 Efren married my grandmother Manuela and together they moved to San Antonio and became the parents to 6 boys and one girl.

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My Abuelita Manuela Gutierrez.

My Abuelita was born in New Braunfels,TX in 1916 and worked at an early age farming and managing a mule team. Her strength and zest for life is what I remember the most. My grandfather died when I was very young but my Abuelita Manuela I was fortunate to have in my life till my late twenties. Manuela is the reason I speak Spanish and her home was full of culture and love. Her walls filled with images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and her candles varied from Saint to Saint, depending on the need of prayer. The front lawn was not grass but cilantro (the herb) and her back yard was lined with small tomatoes, fig trees and the popular and super caliente chili pequin. I will never forget the never ending rose bushes that always seemed to be in bloom. Her gorgeous silver hair was kept that way because she used the rose petals to rinse her hair….if only she had the web to spread the knowledge. To the left side of her front doorway there was an aloe vera plant which seemed to cure just about anything. Her cocina (the kitchen) was where the magic really happened. She loved cooking and you could definitely taste it in her food. I fell in love with the aromas and her famous homemade tortillas still make my mouth water.

Manuela passed away in 1997 mowing her own lawn. She is one of my heroes and I am proud to have her blood running through my veins. My grandparents only had about a 2nd grade education but worked hard to ensure that their children had more than they had. They kept the core of who they were and where they came from by sharing stories of the past so that our culture and history would not be forgotten.

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The Familia Gutierrez and Gregg Barrios (S.A. playwright,poet & critic) Cine Las Americas International Film Festival 2014

My father Efrain Gutierrez went on to become a Chicano Film Pioneer. He is known as the first Chicano filmmaker documenting the struggles he felt needed to be addressed during that time. Chicano meant, newly or recently arrived and it seemed that there was a respect when you addressed yourself as Chicano. He wasn’t Mexican but Chicano and that just felt right. He went on to become a part of the Chicano Movement. He encapsulated an era still dealing with the struggles of our people in his films. In doing so he also preserved the beauty of who we are from our culture,fashion,food and beautiful music. His movie soundtracks are filled with musica by Esteban Jordan, Little Joe y la Familia and Henry Balderrama y la Patria just to name a few.

Please, Don’t Bury Me Alive! Por favor, no me entierren vivo! 1976

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Chicano Love is Forever/Amor chicano es para siempre 1977

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Run, Tecato, Run 1979

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My father’s films have been restored courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. His legacy will never be forgotten. My dad now runs an Art studio in San Antonio,TX with the help of his beautiful wife Irma and my younger brother Efrain Abran.

I was unwillingly cast in my dad’s films as a child but forever grateful for it. I knew my Dad was special and it was a struggle for him to make those films. The struggle was hard but his passion was endless.

Embrace your heritage and may we all continue to never forget the past but let it be our guiding light as we strive for even bigger and better for the future of us as a human race.

As my Abuelita would always say “Dios de bendiga” God bless you!

 

FITFUNAND….Hispanic Heritage Month!

 

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