This past weekend, I spent all day Sunday with my new adopted family: my future husband, Rafa; my future son-in-law, Gianluca; my future mother-in-law, Rosario; and Rafa’s brothers, Danny and Alex, his Abuelita (Grandmom), as well as some other family and friends who are also from Ecuador. Finding happiness for me right now means marrying into an amazing Ecuadorian family!
Rafa and I are planning a wedding in 2014, and can’t wait to introduce our families to each other. That will happen on Easter, when I will host a brunch for both families at my house.
In the meantime, he has met my family and I have met his. His lovely mother, Rosario, already calls me her “daughter-in-law,” tells me how much she loves me, and says that it’s very important for me to “get to know my husband’s family.”
We are yet even “officially” engaged, but our families are as sure of it as we are. This is my husband, soul-mate, best friend and forever love.
Spending Time with My New Family!
Rafa’s mom had invited us to a feast that she prepared for new friends of theirs from Ecuador. I was excited to try traditional Ecuadorian dishes, and to spend time with more of Rafa’s family and friends.
I wore a new turquoise dress that shows off my eyes, and black sexy stilleto boots. Rafa and Gianluca wore matching blue and white checked button-down shirts. Family portrait time, I thought!
We arrived an hour early so that we could give a hand, and also so that we could attempt to Skype with my sister Carrie who lives in Argentina with her husband Pablo and my gorgeous niece Luna, five years old, and adorable nephew Nico, three years old. Gianluca is about to turn four, and I want him to “meet” his future cousins soon via Skype.
Mi sugra hermosa (my beautiful future mother-in-law!) was busy finishing preparations for lunch, stirring up a huge pot full of baby shrimp and calamari, adding tomato, lemon and onion to that to make a tasty ceviche soup with a spicy pico de gallo flavor.
With help from Rafa’s brother’s girlfriend, Sylvia, she was also preparing chicken with rice (arroz con pollo) and veggies. I offered to help but the cooking was almost done, so they sent me to play with Gianluca in the other room while Rafa ran a few errands for his lovely mom.
Gianluca and I cuddled on the couch and watched cartoons on Nick Jr. He was in a total “love bug” mood which is my favorite.
Later he would of course run around the room and play like the wild fun little almost-four-year-old boy that he is. But I love it too when he wants to just cuddle with me and be in my arms.
Rafa ran around and took care of errands for his mom, like the wonderful son he is. Incredibly, I missed him while he was gone for an hour and a half.
It is a love unlike any I have known before, and I feel so connected to Rafa (he feels the same), missing him whenever he is away from me. I miss little Gianluca too when he is at his birth mother’s house.
It is actually such a sweet, lovely and new feeling for me to enjoy someone else’s company more than I do my own, and to not require a lot of “alone time.” Although I am an extrovert through and through, and feed on being with people, getting energy from it, I have always needed time alone to recharge.
I feel like I am a better “me” when I am with Rafa, and I can recharge with him. I am so happy and at peace with him.
This is a totally new thing for me! I love it. I love my new family.
Laughter, Fun and Comida Muy Deliciosa (Delicious Food)!
I sat down at the table next to Gianluca, who has grown very attached to me, as I have to him.
The first course was that amazing ceviche, which looked like a red fish chowder with a delicate broth. It was served cold, as ceviche is, or gazpacho.
Part of the Ecuadorian way to eat this soup includes adding crunchy texture to it, so we sprinkled crunchy, salty plantain chips and popcorn on top. I had heard the ladies popping popcorn in the kitchen earlier and figured it was for a snack or appetizer, but it was actually a garnish for the soup!
Que rico! (How delicious!). I was surprised how much I loved this delicious spicy cold soup with plantains and popcorn on top.
I have discovered that I am a big fan of Ecuadorian food so far, which is wonderful since I will spend two weeks there in October with Rafa and Gianluca. We are making a family trip to celebrate his grandmother’s 90th birthday, and to spend time with his father.
Next up was pupusas, which are sweet, round corn-meal patties the size of tapas plates stuffed with cheese or meat and fried. I don’t often eat friend food and limit my cheese consumption, and of course do not eat meat.
But wow! Those pupusas! I split a sweet corn and cheese one with Gianluca, and was in Heaven! They were also served with a cold tomato salsa and a purple cabbage coleslaw made with vinegar, rather than mayonnaise, and with jalapeno peppers.
Rafa said he loves to eat them for breakfast, so I took some home with us later that evening and we fried them up for breakfast the next day. Mmmm melted cheese and sweet corn deliciousness!
Practicing my Spanish
I was the only person in the household that day who is not a native Spanish speaker. So, it was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish!
And, practice I did. I really can hold a conversation at a basic level in Spanish, and need to practice more to be able to communicate at more sophisticated levels.
I am on it! I practice my Spanish every day, either by writing to Rafa in Spanish, doing some online lessons, listening to Spanish tapes, or talking to my mother-in-law in Spanish.
I told the Ecuadorian family that was visiting that my sister had married into an Argentinian family, and told them about my frequent travels to South America, Spain, Costa Rica, Cuba and other Spanish-speaking countries.
They seemed surprised when I busted out my fast Argentinian Spanish! I love opening my mouth to speak Spanish, and the way that people are always surprised that this blue-eyed pale-skinned redhead speaks with an Argentinian accent.
My Beautiful Angels!
It’s amazing how much your life can grow and be enriched, instantly, by simply adding a new family to your life. I am blissed out when with Rafa and Gianluca, and by extension with his larger family.
They are the sweetest people, lots of fun, and very warm and affectionate, as I find South American families often are. They are usually more demonstrative with their love than the typical stoic middle class American.
And, lucky for me, the Latin American men tend to be far more romantic than the typical American man, in my experience.This is definitely the case with Rafa; he treats me like the most beautiful queen, every single day.
I truly feel like the Queen of the Universe when I am with my two angels, Rafa and Gianluca. At the very least, I have the joy and honor of presiding over life in our little castle, which is my home and Rafa’s home until we are under one roof, and officially combine our happy households.
Ain’t love grand??? True love expands and enriches our lives immeasurably.
May your days be filled with love, joy, peace and happiness now and always as well!
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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