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A Part of America Died

15 Aug

A Part of America Died

I bought this piece when I was a cop…yeah me. And that was quite a few years ago. Since that time, I have been a mom, wife, veteran, student, federal employee, church volunteer, and now retiree. Many years and social norms have passed since that time. We now live in a time of #BlackLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter

I prefer the simpler times – and let me tell you, the times really weren’t all that much simpler, just less public. With the social media having so much power over the public’s thoughts and opinions, the world we live in is so much different.

I wanted to be a police officer since I was 6 years old. My father told me that we live in a country where hard work and perseverance can get you anything. I know that my dream of being a cop may sound silly but I was a female and Mexican, where I was pretty much expected to get married or work in a more feminine type of job. I remember thinking that being a cop was an honorable and respectable career choice. I’ve always known that there are dishonest people in EVERY career choice so I wasn’t blind to “crooked cops” – heck I was around during the Rodney King incident and if you’ve watched the movie “Straight Outta Compton” I remember some of those incidents as well, especially since I lived in California during that time. However, I also knew that for the most part, being a police officer meant upholding the law and justice and that THAT was the kind of police officer I wanted to be. I also think for the most part, that is what many cops think of when they decide they want to become police officers.

I have known cops to work in the field many years without ever having to draw their weapon. I was in a mere 3 years before I had to draw it twice. I was also young – 22 years old. I now have 21 and 23 year old sons and when I think of them being in the same situation I was in, it scares the heck out of me. (I’m not sure I would be any more at ease if it were my 28 year old, but that’s just the mom in me.) But there I was a young 22 year old. The very first time I drew my weapon on someone, he was told to put his hands up and [it was cold outside] instead he went to put his hands in his coat. Being 1/4 mile from a federal prison, not knowing what he was reaching for, in a split second, I drew my weapon so fast. My partner never saw him put his arms down. Luckily, there was NO gun but we didn’t know that. It’s crazy what goes through your mind – so much, so fast! In a short – for me it was: “I have a 2 year old son at home and if you draw before I do, it’s you or me, and I will not orphan my child because you were faster….” I didn’t shoot, I was trained and believe it or not, training does kick in. But the point to my sharing this very personal experience is that not everyone, trained or not, has that level head when they fear for their lives. That does not make them a bad person. Yes, there are bad people out there but some people truly are just human and react – not in accord with their training. Whether or not those people should or should not be police officers is not for me or public opinion to decide.

Coming from a background in Law Enforcement, it breaks my heart to see the country so divided when it comes to cops and the masses. Coming from a multiracial family, it breaks my heart to see the country so divided racially. I can’t – No, I WON’T TAKE SIDES when it comes to black or white, or blue. I believe in two sides -RIGHT OR WRONG! Because for me it’s not #XXLivesMatter but rather #IChooseLife #IChooseRight.

As cop, I had a cop friend killed by off-duty cops while on a ‘routine’ money escort. (Routine=the dumbest word in the cop dictionary) So you see, it’s not color we should be looking at or focusing on, it’s right or wrong and only that!! And on that day….A part of America died.

*And for the record – this is very gender biased assuming the police officer is a man…that’s the only part I didn’t like but hey it can’t be perfect, after all I didn’t write it, haha – that was a joke.



A crazy cold December morning

7 Mar

McNeil Family December 2015

We took this amazing family picture recently and I am in love with it.  I owe the hard work of the quality mainly to the photographer, my son Jeremy (aka @shilohshiloh).  We woke up, got ready, and headed out to the park.  For me, that entailed, DOING MY HAIR!!!  We decided we were gonna go easy with button down shirts and jeans this year.  It was meant to be our family picture and then we might do some silly pose for a Christmas card.  (Last year’s was amazing!!)  I do hair and makeup, I help with the granddaughter’s hair but her daddy picks her clothes and gets her ready.  Simple enough, right?  Well the photographer who is also my son, lives across town.  He is calling early to make sure we are ready to go.  Timing is everything because of the sun and shadows, the cold weather, but probably the most important thing is catching the almost 3 year old in a good mood.  Coffee is a must but can’t have stained teeth in the picture.  Of course there IS photoshopping but we want to get these out by Christmas after all and this was less then 3 weeks out.  Not to mention, getting everyone to congregate at the same time because of school and work schedules it is almost impossible and then add to that the fact that the toddler’s mama decides last minute that she didn’t want to leave the toddler over night so we could get her up and ready at our own house.  Yikes!!  When everyone has a different schedule, it gets super chaotic pretty darn fast.  Add the McNeil and Salazar character traits and we are up for some serious eye rolling, some yelling and ‘hurry up!’ and ‘Where are you?’ etc etc.

One car from across town with all the camera, lighting, table, computer, flash, etc equipment. A second vehicle – a truck with our love seat from our living room – because NO we did NOT just find a random couch in the park, and a third vehicle with Grandma, Daddy, uncle, and the toddler in charge.  The kid is in a mood as if she was up all night. Grandma trying to finish the makeup on the way, the brothers were either irritated or laughing to avoid being irritated.  Ay ay ay…..Here we go.

Now we pose.  The kid won’t smile while looking at the camera. She would smile while looking away, then put on a serious face as she faced the camera.  She knew exactly what she was doing, stinker!  Random strangers at the park see us taking pictures and just walk in front of the camera, others walk right behind us, oh and did I mention it’s 30 degrees outside!!! We take our coats off for the pictures and the kid refuses to smile.  How many fake smiles are we gonna put on? How many things can we bribe this kid with?? And can we really threaten the next guy who walks with his dog across the picture taking path???  45 “CHEEEEEESSSEEEES” later and a dog walker in the background who had to be photoshopped out of the picture, here we are.

Obviously, for the photographer’s sake, I won’t give away ALL his secrets and all his photoshopped tricks, but it was one crazy morning.  It is damn near impossible to get us together all at once at the same time. And when we do, rest assured, there will be all sorts of chaos, but we always get the end results.

And if you’re crazy enough to wanna be part of my family, here is a tidbit of craziness that comes along with being part of the McNeil clan.  Oh and I might add, as soon as we were done, we all headed to Village Inn for brunch! Lots of laughter, great memories and good times….just like we like to do after the chaos.  We are one crazy family but WE ARE FAMILY!!

#family #toddler #photographer

God’s Law vs Man’s Law: How do YOU fit in?

26 Jun

This blog post may make lose some friends and that’s okay.  I will begin by saying that a few years ago, I probably would not have had much of an opinion on this topic.  Which topic – Gay Marriage.

The thing is, I was reared by parents who didn’t believe in it.  I was also reared by a mother who wished all her children had married Mexican Catholics – and if you know my family, that definitely did NOT happen.

So here goes my two cents on this topic, but a shiny two pennies I might add!

I have read many public posts regarding that marriage should only be between a man and a woman as is God’s law.  Yes, I know God’s law.  I also know that the reason behind it is PROCREATION and marriage between same sex couples will not allow that.  However I have noticed that closed-minded people only see a man and a woman because they see this as “normal” but……

Any man/woman marriage that CHOOSES not to have children are just as much sinners as same sex couples.

Any man/woman couple that has pre-marital sex is equally sinning – just as much as any homosexual couple!! Yes!!!! This is actually very true.  Pre-marital sex for fun between male/female couples whose marriage has not been recognized by God is just as equally sinning!  So if this is you – guess what? You are just as guilty as any homosexual couple!!

Another unknown tidbit:  If a male/female divorced couple engages in a sexual relationship with another “boyfriend or girlfriend” – guess what?  They too are guilty of sin!  Why? Because this sin is adultery!  As a matter of fact, the only recognized marriage for those of you that are talking Man/Woman marriage is your very first marriage that has been joined in a church so as to be recognized by God.  Any sequential marriages where a man and woman have been “legally” married by a judge or Justice of the Peace are no more recognizable by God than any homosexual marriage.

Legal versus Religious validated marriages is the issue for those of you quoting the bible here – not Man/Woman vs Homosexual.  Those that have a problem with homosexual marriage is more of a bigoted opinion than a religious one.

I am a practicing Catholic. I have a gay son.  I was told this by a Catholic priest:  God gave you a chid to take care of during your life here on earth.  It is NOT EVER your job to judge him, his lifestyle or homosexuality during your time as a mother.  Doing so is something you will have to answer to God.  God doesn’t make mistakes, Society does.  You love him, You support him, You make him feel loved EVEN IF YOU DON’T AGREE with his lifestyle because that is God’s child, not yours!!!  I have taken those words to heart for ever and ever.  When I die and must face my maker, I will not tell my Lord that I judged the child he gave me or any others like him.

For all of you that think it’s okay to do so, look in the mirror at your own lives.  Have you engaged in pre-marital sex and had a satisfying orgasm and then told that person of the opposite sex that you love them? Does this somehow make you feel that you are better in God’s eyes?  Think before you speak!!  And keep that in mind before dismissing a child of God, it may be yours someday!

If Only

12 May

Are you an “if only” type of person.  I guess at one point or another in our lives, we all are.  But there are people who seem to have more “if only” moments…..

Recently, I was visiting family in California when my nephew was killed by a train.  Sudden or unexpected death situations really bring out the “If only” moments in all of us.  That made me wonder.  Do I believe in FATE?  Is there a fated future for us all?  Do we have free will that changes our fate on a daily, hourly, minute basis?  If I turn left at the intersection, I could find a new and better route….however, if I turn left and get into an accident, then what? Was I meant to get into an accident? What if I get into an accident but it is still the better route?  UGH!!! HEADACHE FORMING!!!!

So anyway, going back to the death of my nephew…..if his parents had NOT allowed him to go to the dance that night, he would’ve been home and not died.  They may’ve been justified in saying NO since he forgot to mention the dance until the night before.  But since he was such a great teenager and son, he was allowed to go. Unfortunately, he never made it to the dance because he died just before.  

“If Only” moments come into our lives a lot more often than we realize.  In my life, I wanted to serve the military as a commissioned officer.  If I had done that, I may have had a better experience (not that I had a bad one – not at all).  If I had done that, I wouldn’t be married to my current husband because he was enlisted and we wouldn’t have dated.  

I see “if only” moments as past forks in the road.  Every choice we make, have made and will make in the future comes from forks in the road. We either go left or we go right….we either “go to the dance – or stay home”  Every single choice we make will lead to another fork in the road….the road we call life.  Life is made of choices, some small, some big, some life-changing.  Every choice we make results in something, whether large or small, significant or insignificant, they become WHO we are.  They don’t necessarily define us, but they do make us who we are.  Are you homeless, overweight/underweight, a cheater, a big tipper, a slob, a business owner, a celebrity???  

Obviously, I could go on and on.  We could overthink every decision we make, but who wants to live like that?  Live your life to it’s fullest.  If that means you like wine, instead of beer, or don’t drink anything at all…that’s ok.  Be in charge of your own life and try to stay as positive as you can because there are so many aspects of our life that we CAN control, and so many we CANNOT control at all.  Don’t live in the regret world of “if only”.   

Killer Whales: Where Do You Fall

23 Feb

Killer Whales: Where Do You Fall.

Killer Whales: Where Do You Fall

23 Feb



I know there has been a lot of publicity about this situation going on, so you can call me ignorant because I have not jumped on board. Well, today I finally watched Blackfish.  It was very moving.  The first time I watched Free Willy (the 1993 Warner Bros. movie) I remember wondering if and thinking that Sea World had to be like that to some extent.  We didn’t have cable at that time and lived in the country so all of the national news coverage — well we didn’t exactly get all of that.  We only received whatever trickled down to the local media.  It was the following year that I went to Sea World in San Antonio that I fell in love with the place (but still in the back of my mind couldn’t help but wonder how much was happening that resembled the movie).  Well needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves as we rode all the fun rides, and I managed to run through the lines because I was not only pregnant with my youngest son, but I had pretty bad back problems so they were kind enough to put me in a wheelchair and move me through the front of the line.  

We couldn’t wait to go through all of the things that Sea World had in store…the seals, the dolphins, but especially the famous Shamu. My family and I spent the entire day out in the hot and humid San Antonio weather and had a pretty decent day.  We later watched Free Willy on video and I wondered how much was true.  Well, busy life gets in the way, I get out of the military, then my husband does as well, we  struggle financially….and we don’t give it much thought.  Fast forward a few years and Sea World is practically giving away tickets to military families all over the country.  Wow!  Fast forward again a few years and now all of a sudden social media explodes with #Blackfish and other such things.  

Now, I am no different than a great majority of your average person….if I really admire and look up to a celebrity, I follow them on Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, etc.  I have seen and read all about the Blackfish thing going on all over.  However, just because I really look up to a celebrity doesn’t mean (at least not for me) that I will jump on board with whatever THEY believe in.  I believe that I should know what I am talking about before I post about it.  Weeeelllll, to some extent.  It doesn’t take a genius to know that animals in captivity can go wrong.  The main reason being that they have been taken from their natural habitat.  Add ripping apart mother’s and their young and it can only get worse. 

Well I have finally seen the documentary film Blackfish.  But to be fair, I also researched and read some some of Sea World’s side of the story.  An online article dated January 28, 2014 in the Tampa Bay Times by Susan Thurston also saw Blackfish and she states that boycotting may be a bit harsh since animals in captivity lashing out isn’t anything new.  Additionally, the article also adds that Sea World San Diego, Orlando, and San Antonio are not allowing this bad publicity to stop their upcoming summer shows.

Only time will tell if this “The Show Will Go On” attitude from Sea World toward Blackfish and other bad publicity will affect their bottom line financially.  I for one would love to see the movie Free Willy make a comeback because even though many people don’t like to follow the news, the box office is a different story.  Maybe Warner Bros could resurrect this movie from it’s forgotten vault and start a Free Willy — or rather Free Tilly — campaign this spring, just in time for the Sea World openings.  

I am not on a boycotting rampage here, but the truth is that animals that have been known to hurt humans in captivity should have been stopped from being around humans in such close proximity a long time ago.  If my pit bull bites a person, the law would be on the victims side and my dog would be put down.  But I guess when it’s a multi million dollar “pit bull” the story is a different one.  I don’t agree with that logic, or rather that lack of logic at all.  


The site has put out a YouTube video with a SeaWorld trainer who defends the mega company for whom she works.  This is only my interpretation of the video interview but the trainer really seemed to genuinly believe in what she was saying and not some spiel handed to her by SeaWorld.  Trainers who love their job and the orcas they work with can easily defend what they do, that doesn’t mean that their beliefs are wrong

The only people who know with certain which side the sword falls on this issue are probably the researchers who without bias research the life of the orcas in the wild and in captivity. How much access they get to those in captivity and how much they are allowed to publicly disclose is another story altogether.  

Where do I fall on this issue? Hmm, I think I want to see for myself but I also know that based on both interviews, footage, but most importantly, based on history, I am on the side of the whales.  I believe that when people want to make a buck and exploit such a beautiful thing like killer whales, well that cannot be totally right.  

Good luck with whatever you decide to do on your own, but if I lived closer to the ocean, I think I would do a little more to educate myself on this subject then start my own blog specifically on this subject.  For now, join the fight FOR THE WHALES!!!



11 Jul

So the 4th of July came and went….and as I stroll the stores around town, I notice that the flags are no longer on every corner, at the registers, or there is no longer a well noted aisle full of the red-white-and-blue…

Well that seems to bother me a bit. You see I remember growing up….as a first generation American-born American citizen I always took an interest in learning more about the history of how this country came to be. I also remember the overwhelming emotion I felt while in basic training to hear the National Anthem play and as I stood at attention and saluted the flag, my eyes filled with tears (well hidden, of course) and my heart full of pride. I had felt American pride before, no doubt, but there is a different feeling when one wears the military uniform….I don’t know how to explain it, it just is.

So, after having served in the military and then marrying a career military man I have developed a sense of patriotism throughout the year. I love that whole Americana style and if I could, I would proudly display an American flag in my front yard all year round. The American flag represents a long history of where we came from….not only where we are now. It represents all those people that boarded ships in hopes of religious freedom, a better life, big hope and dreams, whatever they may have been. I think of all the people that came here and died of disease who never fulfilled their dreams, for people who dared to dream and have hope just to have it lost by greedy leaders, it also makes me think of the generations of people who proudly serve this great country whose ancestors may have been brought here on ships like animals as slaves, and yes even those descendants of the Japanese who were locked in camps after World War II. This country has a log history of people and generations who have given everything in pursuit of happiness…..many have succeeded; many have failed; many have died in that pursuit; and still many have suffered hardships or been the victims of others’ evils or greed. You see like everywhere else in the world, we have good and we have bad. I may not agree with everything our law makers decide we mst do, but this is my America! what’s yours?

America, although young as a country, is the one that I was born into and although circumstance put me here, I proudly stay here, I have created a family here, thus putting down roots in this great nation. I love my country and not only on Memorial Day or 4th of July, but every day of the year. So yeah, I get a little upset when businesses really put out the flags and the red, white & blue stuff to celebrate this day, when every day that we are free, we should be celebrating, THANKING GOD & the AMERICAN MILITARY for the freedoms that we have.

God bless you and God bless the United States of America!

A Smile From Above

24 Jun

A Smile From Above.

A Smile From Above

24 Jun




My sister decided to get officially married this last weekend and in less than 2 weeks in a joint effort, we created a beautiful experience for her.  For being such an unexpected almost no-notice event, we managed to accomplish so much….even my older sister came down from so far away. 

It has now been 11 and 12 years since my Dad and Mom died, respectively.  When they died, we all came together and swore we’d always be there for each other.  Well a lot of years have passed and so naturally there have been a lot of ups and downs. LIfe experiences, marriage, children, etc have all affected and molded each and every one of us. We’ve been through so much, sometimes not speaking to each other and sometimes having better allies than others.  

This picture, however captures beauty and love that only siblings can share. Whenever push comes to shove, we all come together…..but not only then as this picture depicts, we also come together for happy times.

Each one of us had our own special relationship with our father and our mother, and they with us.  Though they treated us all the same and we had to abide by the same rules, they guided us and showed us how to live our own life, individually according to our very own personality and with others since not only did have a large family, but we had to survive in this world.  

So as I look at this picture, I seriously have a deep love in my heart for each one of my siblings. I am fortunate  that our parents taught us that family comes first and the love we have for one another supersedes any anger, hurt, offensive arguing etc because through thick and thin, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health we are like a marriage…joined by blood forever and ever!

 And now we are fortunate to have in-laws that have been brave enough to enter this family unit of ours…..and I for one am very grateful for them and those that have yet to come.  Men and women who keep us grounded and who help pick up where Mom and Dad left off.  Our lives are as unique as it gets and yet as “Salazar-ish” as can be.  I love you Mom and Dad for giving me the start to life that you did….for giving the knowledge I needed to survive my earlier years, the life experience of watching you to learn how I wanted my life to be…..the love in my heart to be compassionate towards others……my strength–physical, mental & emotional to deal with all that life throws at me….and for giving me all my siblings to continue to learn from, both older and younger than me.  I love and miss you but “take a look at us now!”  I hope that when you look at us all together it makes you smile so big from above….because I know it makes us smile down here—hoping! 




Holiday Blues

18 Dec

As I sit here in my house, alone in my living room, I look around. My ornaments sitting in their containers from storage.  They’re sitting in the same place they’ve been for over a week now. I had a thought that I wanted my children to decorate the tree this year to give them a memory as well as for me to see this is a step to the inevitable that soon enough they won’t be in my home anymore since they are growing up after all. My husband and I shared a happy though not-so-healthy breakfast followed by him retreating to the den to watch some television.

So I sit in my living room about to wrap some gifts, dog at my feet and coffee in my hand. I am listening to Christmas music that takes me back a few years when I was a kid in a house full of chaos.  A time when my parents were alive, my siblings weren’t married and some weren’t even born. We lived out in the country on a ranch where my father worked. We lived a simple life like many in our small town. But with a huge family…at that time I had only 8 siblings, there was always something going on>> Noise, arguing, laughing, no privacy, in our 3 bedroom home with 1 bathroom. I decided I only wanted 3 kids and that’s what I had.

Now, their ages are 24, 20, and 18. I sit here alone with a part of me proud at the young men they’re turning out to be and a part of me wishing they were little running around the house laughing and wrestling on the floor. A time when they had no worries in life….when they still had both sets of grandparents.

So as the empty nest feeling starts to hit me a little, I think of all the people who have lost someone, especially this year and this will be the first Christmas without their loved one. A sad time, no doubt.

Christmas to me has ALWAYS been about celebrating the birth of Jesus, family, good and happy times. And that is what I want it to be for me ALWAYS!!! I hope that everyone can find a glimpse of hope in their heart that can spark a smile on their face followed by love and happiness in their own way. I pray that in the spirit of Christmas, we find the hope in our own hearts that each of needs to bring about true faith, love, and put Christ at the center of our lives.

No one can predict what will happen tomorrow, nor are we promised a tomorrow in this life…so from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and God bless you all.