Hi Mom.

For those of you loyal readers, by know you've figured out that almost every Mother's Day, we (the children of MBFCF) have proudly hijacked our mom's blog with some adorable photos and commentary about how much we love and adore our mom.

The first year, we wrote THIS.

The following, THIS

You get the idea.

This year, we decided we were tired of writing about it… but that’s not important right now.

(Happy Mother’s Day. We love you!)

There is so much more we have to say... but maybe we'll save that for next year. 




Hospitality 101

Yesterday (Mother's Day) morning, I came downstairs and found this:


I'm glad they opted for the sit-down-in-the-dining-room breakfast because I'm so not the breakfast-in-bed type. Happily, my children learned this about me many, many Mother's Days ago. Don't get me wrong, I love breakfast. It's The Most Important Meal of the Day and all that. But in bed? Not so much. 

So my family made a Mother's Day Breakfast/Brunch for me yesterday. What I loved most (besides that they got up early and decorated and made that cool sign and set the table and that there were fresh flowers) was that when I saw all that they had done, I realized that they had learned it from me


I'm the one who has always insisted we use real plates and real napkins. That there be fresh flowers and serving dishes. That everyone has a place and that there be plenty of food.


I learned all of this, of course, from my own mother. And from the other amazing women in my family who are so skilled at the Art of Hospitality. Truthfully, I think hospitality is part of our Cuban DNA. Which is why it makes me so happy that my family stepped up in this way.


(The "hanging in space" letters, however, are mine. I used them to decorate back in December, see this post: Finding Joy. It was made with my Silhouette Machine, which was hijacked by Lucy to make this particular sign, but that's not important right now.)

I'm the one who usually does all these things. The Best Mother's Day Gift for me was that they had done it just like I would have. In this case, imitation truly was the best form of flattery.


There was the Cuban coffee, perfectly brewed and served by Amy. (Here's her video: How to Make Cuban Coffee With Killer Espuma. You're Welcome.)


Lucy made The Monkey Bread, which was, as always, a big hit. Here's the recipe: About the Monkey Bread or Rule Breaking 101.


Which left me free to enjoy all their efforts and bask in their love and feeling like maybe this motherhood thing was something I'd done pretty well.

And the Cuban Hospitality? Well, I am understanding that, like most life lessons, is something more caught than taught.


Good job, people. I think my job here is done.

Also, I love you, too.

The Things He's Taught Me

It's my husband, Eric's birthday today.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but he's one of those people who is a natural-born teacher. He's a Search Marketing Guy in his real life, but I can confidently say that teaching is his real gift. (NOTE: Search Marketing is geek-speak for the guy who gets you on the first page of Google. Eric taught me that. See what I mean?)

Technically, he's also taught me a lot about search marketing stuff, too, but that's not important right now.

Eric at Google

1. He taught me how to fight. 

I'm pretty much of the your-nose-is-too-big school of marital sparring. I never knew how to fight to get to the issue. Eric has taught me that the issue is never the issue. Okay, so it makes me a bit crazed when I want to argue about the correct way to squeeze a toothpaste tube, and he kindly points out that perhaps it's the unheaval I'm currently experiencing that is causing me to fixate on the damn toothpaste. I may or may not have conceded his point and maybe cried about the actual issue. Point: Eric.

2. He taught me that 'Acts of Service' is a legitimate love language.

It's not my primary love language, but it's the way he expresses his love to me at times. He cleans things and clears things and paints things and makes sure my car has gas, but what he's really saying is "I love you." Much like sweet Wesley in The Princess Bride saying "As you wish" to Buttercup. I know that I am loved because my husband knows how to demonstrate that love. Amen. 

3. He taught me to risk. 

I tend to be the one to stuff my emotion and want to "handle" whatever challenge is headed my way without asking for help. It feels too risky for me to invite someone into my discomfort and insecurity. It turns out he finds me much more attractive when I risk including him in my fearful emotions. I see him risking continually as he forges ahead through his days and in his career. He's a risk-taker. Many times he's afraid, but he just takes the fear with him. I appreciate that.

4. He taught me how to cry.

I would pretty much rather give birth to a porcupine on fire than cry in front of another human. Eric is very much an empath and is astute when it comes to catching the signals that I need a good cry to clear out my emotions. "Just let it go," he says. Not that simple for me, A World Class Stuffer. Still, I appreciate that he's not afraid of my tears. The reason he's so good at this is that he is very much in touch with his own emotions. 

5. He taught me about partnership.

We are a great team. We are consistent co-parents. We are wonderful co-workers. We fill in each other's areas of weakness.  It's nice to have someone on my team who's got my back. We share the load of running the household and we're mostly always on the same page. We're definitely "in this together." 

6. He taught me how to celebrate.

Which is what we're doing today. On this day, Eric Darby is celebrating his birthday. We are celebrating the gift that he is to all of us.  The kids and I will bring the presents and cake. Eric will be the one to say, "Let's get this party started!" (He's also taught me how to appreciate 80's music, but that's a story for another day...)

Thank you, Honey. You've taught us all so much. As we celebrate your birthday, we're grateful that you so easily function in your Teaching Gift. We remain your very satisfied and faithful students.


Happy Birthday! 

Celebrating the Centenarian

I hope you're not yet tired of hearing about how my mom celebrated her 100th birthday because I have so much more to share. But of course, reaching 100 is kind of a big deal, isn't it?

100 candles.j[pg

My sisters and I had spent weeks preparing for the event and keeping our fingers crossed that the weather would hold up. (It's been getting stupid-cold in the afternoons lately.) The weather was Southern California at its most gorgeous. (Thank you, God.)

Luza thought it would be a mellow afternoon gathering with just the local family, but friends and family traveled for the party. This was the look on her face time and time again as each new person walked in and surprised her.

Lua surprise face

Can I just tell you that it's kind of a sketchy thing surprising a 100 year old, but I know my mom is healthy and strong and she was just delighted to see so many people that she wasn't expecting. In they came, one after the other, wishing her a Happy Birthday. I'm so grateful that she is so beautifully in her right mind (most of the time). It was glorious watching her greet each guest with recognition. What a gift.

Party people

One of the highlights of the day was the 100 piñata. It was bigger than life as a 100 year piñata should be. No, we didn't fill it and break it. We just moved it around and appreciated the awesome.

Luza 100 pinata


My siblings

Left to right, back row: Helen (71), Rudy (68), Ofelia (73), Marta (58). Front row: Miriam (64), Luza (100), Alina (60). That's a lot of collective years, people.

We had, as promised Italian food for lunch. Lasagna, Mac & Cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, but then we also had plantains. (Damn Cubans!)

Desserts were many and varied, with two cakes and lots of cupcakes. Also, we opted out of trying to light 100 candles. (Call me lazy.)

Cake table

Luza cake

For the decorations, I hung some banners. You may recall I really got into hanging words at Christmas time? I made two banners. The first said, Happy 100 Luza! I didn't want it to just say Happy Birthday, because, well, you can say that to anyone at any birthday party, but that's not important right now.


The other was made from photos of my mom through the years. I was quite pleased with the results.

Luza banner

My niece very cleverly created these cool jam labels. Talk about awesome party favors. They were quite the hit.

Luza jam

The day ended as we sang "Japi Bersdei" and she blew out her candles and we toasted her good health and long life.


So sweet and oh, so satisfying. Happy Birthday, Luza! Y muchos mas...

Everything is Awesome - The LEGO® Movie

A few months ago when we first became aware that Warner Bros was going to be releasing The Lego® Movie, we sat up and took notice.

My husband, Eric, who is now 48 played with LEGO® bricks as a kid. As a matter of fact, he would tell you that they were his very favorite toy. He would spend hours, he says, lost in the world of bricks and his imagination.

Well, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Jonathan quickly, happily, and easily became addicted to the bricks. See here and here.

Last week we were delighted to have been invited to a preview of The LEGO® Movie.
The story is about an ordinary LEGO® minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary Master Builder, and is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO® tyrant from gluing the universe together.

Lego Movie 2

We were captivated from the start. The story, the characters, the execution - all brilliant. I don’t say that lightly. Chris Pratt is the voice of Emmet, the average, rule-following everyman.

Elizabeth Banks is Wyldstyle "Are you a DJ?," the daring and independent female lead who believes Emmet is the "Special." Her real name, by the way, is Lucy. (Yay!)

Lego Lucy

Will Ferrell starts as the voice of President Business, an uptight CEO who has a hard time balancing World Domination with micro-managing his own life (see what I mean? Already the premise is hilarious.), while Liam Neeson voices the president' powerful henchman, known as Bad Cop/Good Cop. (<--You can totally predict how this is going to happen, right Lego® Lovers?) Nick Offerman lends his voice to a craggy, swaggering pirate obsessed with revenge. And Alison Brie plays a sweet, lovable member of this unlikely dream team with a powerful secret. (What's there not to love already?)

Our favorite was Will Arnett as Batman. He delivered Batman’s lines in that choppy, deep, let’s-mock-all-the-Batman-movies-you've-ever-seen voice. Every time he spoke, we held our sides from laughing so hard.

All that to say this: The LEGO® Movie is a must see.

On the day we saw it, the theater was filled with mostly families with young children. Jon and his best friend, Nathan - the two lone 18 year olds - were the oldest. Their take was that the little kids will find it funny, but the adults will totally appreciate the sublime humor.

There are lots of fantastic voice cameos, like Channing Tatum as Superman, Jonah Hill as the Green Lantern, and Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman. You really need to be paying attention to catch some of the nuances of the jokes.

This film was very obviously made by people who love LEGO® as much as we do. There was old-school Spaceman Benny (voiced by Charlie Day), with the space ship that so easily fell apart. Eric totally identified with that. It was clear that the film makers were all true LEGO fans. You could feel the love in every frame.

Eric and Emmett

There was a nod to all the varied and extensive collectors sets. Hello, Shaquille O’Neil and the 2003 LA Lakers! Do you remember that? My guys did.

I loved that they even made a point to highlight the odds and ends that randomly find their way into the LEGO bin. I won’t spoil that, but be on the look out for the "Relics." The best homage to childhood ever.

The bottom line is that we laughed. Long and hard and out loud throughout the entire film. The first thing we said as we left the theater was “We need to see that AGAIN."

The film has very broad family appeal, not just because it has a PG rating. My family appreciated that they didn’t didn’t dumb anything down for a particular age group and totally respected how beloved the bricks are to so many generations of Would-be Master Builders. It could have easily devolved into a long commercial for the popular toy brand, but much to their credit, instead the story had us laughing out loud and rooting for the unlikely hero. The film is a total win.

The only character missing was this Coffee-drinking, Red-lipstick wearing, Curly-haired, Cuban LEGO Mama. See what I did there? (I totally crack myself up.)

Marta as lego

Make your own LEGO® Sigfig here.

Also, as soon as we got home we downloaded the very catchy theme song by Tegan and Sara. I'm convinced that after you see this movie, you too will agree that “Everything is Awesome.”

With Emmet

Well played, Warner Bros. and LEGO®. Very well-played.

In theaters everywhere on February 7th, 2014.

Guayaberas and Cubanity

{Disclosure: I received the shirts as described below in order to review them. I did not otherwise receive any compensation for writing this post.}

A "guayabera," for the uninformed, is a beautiful linen shirt with two stripes of tiny pin-tucks and four large pockets. It has decorative buttons and a straight bottom as it was designed to be worn untucked. It is the iconic dress item for men in many Latin American countries. I've heard it called a "Mexican wedding shirt," however, historical evidence suggests that the guayabera shirt originated in 18th century Cuba.

HistoryMiami has a wonderful history of the guayabera that you may enjoy.

Men in Guayaberas

All my life, for as far back as I can remember, (and that's a really long time, people!) all the Cuban men I have ever known have worn guayaberas.

It is the iconically beautiful Cuban shirt worn by iconically handsome Cuban men. It is as God intended.

My Cuban Store graciously provided these gorgeous guayaberas for me to review. (Well, technically, for my guys to wear and review, but that's not important right now.)

Although the original guayaberas are white or light, today you can find them in a wonderful plethora of colors and styles. Coincidentally, the men in my family come in a plethora, too.

Brace yourself for the awesome...

My boys in guayaberas

My handsome men in their new guayaberas from My Cuban Store. You're speechless right now, aren't you?

*puts on her best Runway Announcer Voice*

My husband, Eric on the left is wearing a gorgeous black linen Men's Long- Sleeved Guayabera. He has already worn this to the office and gotten many compliments. Someone actually said, "Pretty fly for a white guy." (I know. 1998 called. They want the use of the word, "fly" back.)

Adam is looking handsome in the beautifully detailed Deluxe French Cuff Fitted Lavender Guayabera. The soft lavender color brings out his striking blue eyes. The guayabera style brings out his Cubanity. (<--is that a word?)

There's something magical about the guayabera. It looks fabulous on multiple body types. And it evokes an air of mystery and Caribbean charm. The guys carry themselves differently when they're wearing them. It is as if the beauty and mystique of the tropics becomes a part of them the moment they put the shirts on.

Jonathan, on the right, is rocking the Short Sleeved Navy Guayabera. He's wearing it all the time now. Seriously. All. The. Time. And he's speaking with a slight Cuban accent when he wears it. And he's started calling me "Mami."

Oh, guayabera, you've cast quite a spell around here.

Eric and Jon in guayaberas

Jon: (in a Cuban accent) "Papi, look at me in all my Cubanity." (<--it should be a real word.)

Eric: (to himself) "Did my son just call me Papi??"

Thank you, My Cuban Store, for your contribution to my family's Cubanity. (<--it should totally be a word.) My guys love their shirts and they look beautiful in them.

As God intended.

Everyone's Invited

Everyone knows that Thanksgiving lands on the 4th Thursday of November. So, it's not like it's a big surprise that Thanksgiving this year will be celebrated on the....4th Thursday of November.

This happens every single year. 4th Thursday = Thanksgiving. We have already discussed and decided that the Thanksgiving celebration will take place at our home this year. Again.

And yet, my family needs wants really likes to receive formal Thanksgiving invitations. Which is fine because I'm happy to do it and it's a key part of our family Thanksgiving tradition. Because I'm only inviting family (with a couple of close friends) I don't need to add the address or an RSVP. (Also, my people are on Cuban time. That means they'll just start arriving around 5pm, but that's not important right now.)

Darby Thanksgiving invitations 2013

I kind of like this quirk about my family. It's not a big thing, but it's ours. And isn't that what makes us cherish our traditions? I have 32 coming this year, so I'll be spending the next few days moving furniture and "set designing" our Thanksgiving to make sure everyone's got a place.

I think it's important for everyone to feel welcome and to have a place. Don't you?

{Full disclosure: I took an online class from Carina Gardner to learn how to do the digital chalkboard look. The fonts I used for the invitation are: Handy George, Pointedly Mad, Bergamot Ornaments, Road Movie, Return to Sender, Housegrind, KG Skinny Latte - all can be found on dafont.com.}

From this day forward...

We took our wedding vows on August 8th, 1992.

Into this new covenant I brought my two beautiful children (Amy and Adam), and tremendously high hopes for the future.

I often tell my kids that the biggest decision they'll ever make in their lives will be who they choose to marry. That one decision will, for the most part, decide their satisfaction in life.

I married Eric with high hopes, and hind-sight being crystal clear, I can report that my hopes were beyond exceeded.

These last 21 years I've had the extreme pleasure of being a partner and co-creator of our amazingly charmed life.

We continue, on a daily basis, to practice having and holding, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Every single day of the last 21 years we have willingly and joyfully entered into those vows. And we are both the richer for it.

And after these many years we have actually been challenged by all those scenarios: we've had to hold on to each other for support. Things have, in turn, been better and sometimes worse. We've certainly been richer and poorer. And have had both sickness and health in our 21 year marriage.

Through all this, I can say with great confidence today that I would do it all over again.

I married a good man. A great husband and a wonderful father.

In other words, the greatest decision I ever made in my life has proven to have been a good one. And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. (I think I'll skip the butt bow this time.)

Happy Anniversary, Honey. And thank you for being a Faithful Promise Keeper. I'm grateful. And our children are grateful.

We did good. 21 years of kept promises. Yes, I would say I'm pretty satisfied. Thanks again, Honey.
I'm ready for whatever the next 21 years hold for us. It's been a heck of a ride!

I love you, Eric.

From this day forward...