My father didn’t have the opportunity to have an extensive education. According to the stories that he has told me, he always excelled in school and loved to learn. Like most Mexicanos, he had to stop going to school at a very young age. Money was scarce and he had to work to help out at home.
Ever since I can remember, my dad was always reading. He would read anything he could get his hands on. His reading wasn’t for leisure. It was for educational purposes and it was enjoyable. He thought everyone should find the same pleasure in reading and learning. Unfortunate for him, my brother and I would rather play with the neighborhood kids than read and learn more than what was the school’s expectation.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved learning new things and reading. But I enjoyed reading Judy Blume– not reading about the Cold War at the age of 10! WTH!? Homework–I was cool with doing the minimal. But on top of our school homework, my dad would give my brother and I extra work. When we finished our homework we had to move on to more learning activities that he would leave for us to do while he was at work (night shift). Ay Dio Mio! I just wanted to watch T.V. or play dress up with my aunt and rock out to some old school Spanish Jams like “Rock Del Angelito” by Los Rebeldes del Rock or “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.
My dad would buy a Spanish news paper (La Opinion) and make me read it for 30 minutes a day and it’s probably one of the reasons why I can speak Spanish (Can’t say the same for writing in Spanish but I get by.) By the age of 6/7 I had all the times tables memorized and when I got to 3rd grade I was on top of the game. When I was about 9/10 I had all of the Central American and South American countries and capitols memorized (Please don’t ask me to recite them. I don’t remember them.). At around the age of 10/11 he told me to learn about radius, diameter and circumference. I had to practice it until I mastered it. Unfortunately, when it was time to use those math formulas, I had forgotten them. I think I placed them in my short term memory. He even made me remember, “Los tres agravantes de la ley: premeditacion, alevocia, y ventaja (The three aggravating factors of the law: premeditation, treachery, and advantage.). At the time I didn’t even know what the heck I was saying. But if he asked me, “Que son los tres agravantes de la ley?”, I would answer as if it were part of my daily life.
One of the things that I think I will never forget is that 3.14=pi. Matter of fact, he took it a step further and made me recognize it as tres punto catorce dieciséis. I memorized it in Spanish so every time I would hear the word pi, I would automatically recall it in Spanish and would have to translate it in my head before answering my teachers or anywhere it came up (Still do.). It wasn’t until I had to use it at school that I learned that I could stop at 3.14 and not have to continue to work out the problem with 3.1416 .
So we celebrate pi, 3.14 (March 14) in honor of my childhood trauma (LOL) and in honor of a father who pushed his kids to excel beyond their years.
My kids don’t really care for any type of pie so I had to make a pumpkin dump cake recipe into a pie because the only pie they like is pumpkin pie. LOL
1 can (29 0z) of pumpkin filling
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter
1 box of yellow cake mix
1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans
Mix pumpkin filling and milk. Add 2 eggs at a time and mix. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sugar. Mix well. Pour mix into a cake pan. Evenly spread cake mix over the pumpkin mix. Chop up 1/2 cup of pecans or walnuts and spread evenly over cake mix. Melt butter and spread evenly over mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Let cool.