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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fun And Parenting

Not An Oxymoron
By Silvia Uribe

While having breakfast and overlooking the peaceful blue Santa Barbara Ocean, my friend Samantha and I were talking about how much fun being a parent could be! Chatting under the shade on yet another glorious day at the California central coast, we agreed that it all depends on whether we set clear rules, expectations, and boundaries for our children.

It may sound a little too confining, but out in the world, children will have to play by the rules that the school, or the workplace (depending on their age) imposes. So, setting clear rules since the time they're little, not only benefits them and prepares them to be functional in the future, but it makes our job as parents way easier. Rules teach them discipline, and discipline is the ingredient that they will use to make magic happen for themselves time after time.

They need discipline for studying, for working, and also for socializing. No one really wants to hang out with an obnoxious person who doesn't know how to comply with the basic rules of society. When teaching discipline, we should be able to convey that honest mistakes are acceptable to give them balance. When we tell our children to apply themselves, pursue their dreams, and never give up, we're giving them the perfect recipe for discipline and persistence, mixed with a pinch of encouragement.

But beware! If we want them to learn discipline it is we who first need to be disciplined and consistent as we are raising them. Remember, our children's job is to grow up, play, and test the limits. Our task as parents becomes particularly more complex in their pre-teenage and teenage years, when they feel they're all grown up, when they have a know-it-all attitude, and when they want to fit in their group by conforming to "everything" that the group says and wants.

Many parents fear these years. However, my friend and I agreed that these are precisely the years that are most fun of all. Trust me, there's nothing to fear; we just need to stop treating our children as three year olds in teenager bodies. It is then when we need to raise the bar and expect more from them. Of course, they will challenge us, but the thing is, they will need us more than ever! You know, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and a mouth that won't repeat their secrets. If we've done a good job previously, they will only need firm reminders of how things should be, of what's expected of them, and about the fact that we trust them to do what's right.

What they need from us is emotional support through this difficult stage in which they feel insecure, weak, unloved, unaccepted, and curious about e-very-thing! Our job is to help them become stronger. This is the perfect time to be the strong and loving parent figure (not another friend), and at the same time, build the kind of trust that lasts forever! Plus, it is truly enjoyable to witness their blossoming process.

It is not uncommon for Latino children to live at their parents' home after they become adults. But today, with our country's difficult financial situation, this has become a general trend, it seems. Unfortunately, I've seen friends that do not establish clear boundaries and acceptable behaviors for their adult children when they move back in, and of course, disaster happens! This situation frequently nests abusive behaviors on the children's part, and an uncomfortable environment for the parents.

If it is true that the words fun and parenting together are not an oxymoron, they are not synonyms either. We all know this! The parenting path sometimes looks long, at times lonely, and frequently, too complicated. But those of us who have raised children know what a joy it is, in the end, to see them become the best they can be. It is then when you will look back and laugh at the tears you cried, and at the battles you fought, like Samantha and I laughed. Then you'll see with satisfaction that it was fun and worth it.

Here's our wisdom capsule: if you have young children, make them your number one priority and devote to them all the time they need (no excuses). Enjoy each and every step of your way; celebrate the ups and learn from the downs. Teach them to be disciplined, and respectful of themselves, you and others, and show them that they can trust you. Be consistent with your rules, and don't be petty in demonstrating them your love. Children who grow up with love cannot turn out to be bad human beings.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

How to Relax in Busy Goleta

Try Volunteering at One of These Places

By Silvia Uribe

For some, summer means leaving town for near or faraway lands. For many others, it means great fun for the first week, relaxation for the week after that, and from then on, long and endless days without much to do or anywhere to go. If that's your situation, be bored no more. Turn off the TV, get into your most comfortable clothes, and dedicate a few hours of your week to doing something different, something new, and most importantly, something that others will consider of incredible valuable to them.

When I decided to write about what our great city offers in the way of volunteer opportunities, I wasn't expecting such a variety. These services benefit numerous members of our community, and also communities around the world. Like laborious bees working in their hive, many non-for-profit organizations and their volunteers work day in and day out to help their neighbors.

Goleta is such a busy town! Without much effort, I was able to identify 13 different categories of services here, and some of the organizations that provide them. I'm sure that one of them will pique your interest enough to make you commit a few hours a week to helping others. I have always worked or volunteered for nonprofits, and I know that it only takes one person to ask others to volunteer, and many will gladly do it. Do you know why? Because it gives us a warm feeling in our heart to know that we're able to make an immediate difference in someone's life.

Take this opportunity to entertain yourself and do something meaningful without too much effort. If you're a student and need volunteer hours, this is a perfect time to get them. Choose the category that best suits your interests. I organized them alphabetically. Just pick up the phone, make an appointment, and spend the rest of your summer giving a little of your time and effort to make a difference. If you are interested in a particular organization that's not listed here, please contact the Non-Profit Support Center, at (805) 681-1040, and ask them.


Santa Barbara Humane Society, 964-4777.

Developmental Disabilities

Jessie Hopkins Hinchee Foundation, 967-7777.

Emergency Relief

Direct Relief International, 681-4838.


Gaviota Coast Conservancy

Goleta Beautiful (parks/open space beautification), 685-7910.


Opportunity International (micro-loans), 967-4422.


Foodbank (non-perishable food), 967-5741.

Meals on Wheels (prepared meals), 683-1565.

Homeless Services

Homeless Resource Center, 692-4999 or 968-7006.


Habitat for Humanity, 692-2226.

Low Income

Community Kitchen (meals for low income/youth), 681-1260.


See International (vision care), 963-3303.

Goleta HIV Testing, 633-7006.

Special Needs

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, 687-6393.

Senior Services

Friendship Manor (senior living), 968-0771.

Alpha Resource Senior Center (activities), 964-3800.

Youth Activities

YMCA - I.V. Teen Center, 569-1103 x32.

I.V. Youth Project, 968-2611.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at the

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why She Hearts Goleta

The Little City Has It All

By Silvia Uribe

I love living in Goleta! Have I said that before? I wouldn't be surprised if I have. I simply love it. But maybe I have not been completely explicit about the reasons why I feel so enamored of my neck of the woods. So here are some of those general reasons, in no particular order.

Goleta has a small town feel. After working and living in Santa Barbara for several years (and loving the experience) we decided to buy something in Goleta. Frankly, I had my doubts then. Leaving the aristocratic town, which reminded me of a Mediterranean or Mexican village, to go live in a suburb? Suddenly, I was not so sure about our move, but we went through with our plans and that is how I learned that Goleta is no suburb. It is its own thing: a smaller town with a vibrant community that is very involved in the issues that affect the whole area. Goleta doesn't have as much traffic, its views are breathtaking, and one can find all the shopping one needs. What else can a person ask for? But there's more.

Goleta offers all the benefits of living in Santa Barbara at a reduced price. It is difficult to pinpoint how much things such as real estate really cost these days; due to the recession prices are unusually unpredictable. However, the price for the same type of home, say a 3 bedroom 2 bath, could be (under normal financial circumstances) at least 25% - 35% more affordable in Goleta.

But that's not all.

Goleta is only 12 miles away from Santa Barbara and the commute is easy, not only for work but also for fun. Many people from Goleta (like moi) spend seven days a week working, eating, and enjoying Santa Barbara. It's a 20 minute drive under normal traffic conditions and less than that during slower days and times, so many Goletanos make the trip to Santa Barbara more than a couple of times a week to go to the movies, the theatre, or dinner or just to sit at a sidewalk cafe and chat with friends, and do some people watching too. Goleta and Santa Barbara make up a larger community; I consider these two cities extended family to each other.

Goleta beaches are beautiful and uncrowded. This is one of the things I like the most. If you're looking for a place to jog or walk, a place to think and let your imagination fly, or a place to go with your family, or just with your dog, Goleta has a variety of beaches to accommodate your needs. I enjoy walking through the Goleta bluffs down to the beach to relax, exercise, and shed my worries. The beach at the Bacara has closer parking, for when I go with my family and Pancha, our Yorkie. Since our home is rather small, Goleta Beach offers a great alternative when we want to invite family and friends over for a BBQ, maybe followed by a walk on the pier.

But let me close the deal.

Goleta offers great food for the body and for the mind. In Old Town Goleta you can find restaurants offering a variety of food, from Chinese and Vietnamese to Mexican and vegetarian. Now, if you go to the, Marketplace and Calle Real/Fairview shopping areas, you will be able to find Italian, Asian, Australian, Hawaiian, or American food for all pockets, plus coffee and blended drinks shops. But let's not forget about Isla Vista: You'll find anything you want to eat there, plus a lot of the eateries are open until the wee hours, which for a night owl like yours truly, is always convenient.

If we want to talk about food for the mind, UCSB is, of course, the "all you can eat" place par excellence. UCSB's Arts and Lectures offers a menu of conferences (at which I've become a regular), music, dance, films, and theater guaranteed to satisfy the intellectually hungry. Also, the Multicultural Center features movies, talks, and presentations from all over the world.

You must be sold by now!

I know I didn't mention the Monarch butterflies, the opportunities for youth--and for the not-so-youthful--to practice seasonal sports, the bike paths, the neon bowling, and the salsa dancing. Not my fault, no one can write about so many good things in just one column.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at the

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Frozen After Death?

Michael Jackson’s Final Eccentricity?
By Silvia Uribe

There are unimportant things that, for one reason or another, I remember. I wish I could say the same about things that matter, but my memory seems to be very selective. It's like I choose to remember mostly what's not of any value to me or anyone else. I've been like that all my life!

I remember my best friend's telephone number when we were in 6th grade, and the dress I wore for my junior high graduation. I also remember the lyrics of most of the songs of my favorite Spanish group growing up, Mocedades. Facts about Michael Jackson are among the highly useless things that I remember. For instance, at some point many years ago, it was made public that he neither wanted to be buried, nor cremated. They said that he would be frozen in a capsule when he died. No one else remembers this, seriously?

Since no one is talking about it, it seems a little sci-fi, unreal, eccentric, and plain weird to come up with such a thing … but are we talking about Michael Jackson, after all? In doing a little research on the topic, I found out that this after-death possibility exists, and that it is called "cryonic suspension" (after legal death, the patient is infused with a substance to prevent ice formation, cooled to a temperature where physical decay essentially stops, and then maintained indefinitely in cryostasis, stored in liquid nitrogen). There is a facility in California that's been doing this since the mid 70's. Nothing I dig up dealt with a death investigation by the police, as in Jackson's case, which leaves us with many unanswered questions.

At any rate, if his suspension wish was true, (all things considered) possible, and not a creation of my imagination, maybe the family is planning a viewing, a funeral and a burial of a mannequin with Michael's facial features, and everyone would think it's real, but it won't be. It would have his clothes on, but no remains of his in there. If this was the case, and people found out, would they still show up for the supposed funeral? My guess is yes, they would. They would still go out there to pay their respects to the late star. After all, what his fans wish is to be close to anything that he possessed; anything that would have his "spirit." Wouldn't this whole thing be strange?

I know that when referring to MJ nothing could surprise us anymore. His life always included some level of unexpectedness and drama. Going from a black complexion to an extra white one … from a young man's face to extremely feminine features and make up … creating Neverland and living there … having two beautiful children in a rather mysterious way … marrying their mother, whom now we know was the nurse at Jackson's dermatologist office … obtaining full custody rights allegedly in exchange for $8.5 million … never showing the face of his children (who for the longest of time didn't grow up, it seemed) and always covering their heads either with intricate masks or with scarves … being accused of abusing children … and marrying Lisa Marie Presley, divorcing her after just two years, and dangling his youngest daughter from a high balcony when she was a baby.

Wouldn't it be logical that a tragic and dramatic atmosphere surrounds his death as well? Allow me to present the following scenario: no one saw his body leave the hospital. It was covered with a white cloth and transported by helicopter to the Coroner. Maybe, by then, his body was already on its way to a cryonics institution to be "suspended". Who knows? Maybe all the body preparation needed for this purpose was made during the half hour that it took Jackson's security personnel to call 911. Maybe all the confusion with the medications and who prescribed what, and what he did or didn't take was just a way to distract us from what really went on?

We'll never know the truth about his death, as we never knew the truth about his real life and what he did or didn't do. Whether he had plans to be frozen after his death is anyone's guess. But, one thing is true - this "suspension" it's just the kind of thing that would perfectly fit his controversial, unconventional personality and life style.

The way you live is usually the way you die, or translated into Spanish: "Genio y figura, hasta la sepultura!"

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

photo by William Etling

Cross-posted at