What Happens When You’re Someone Else? Dabbling with DNA

SilouetteFor Christmas this year I asked my family for a DNA kit. Let me just state that my mother-in-law could NOT fathom why I would want to know my DNA background. According to her what’s the  point.

Pilar kindergarten 3


Well, I guess if I had been adopted this would perhaps be a burning question at some point in my life.

Or if like me you were raised with no contact with your dad’s side of the family. So I was left with my mom’s vague recollections and family folklore. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we moved A LOT!

Add to this the fact that my grandma (The Head of Chaos (GET SMART) as I call her) is the matriarch of the family and is rather sketchy even when she had a good memory. Sketchy in a kind “Witness Relocation” kind of way!

We are a family that doesn’t seem to keep roots down for long. So for me who we are and where we’re from has been a nagging question most of my adult life.

It became more of a question when I had children and they started  writing ancestry type reports in school.

My husbands family has an Uncle George the family genealogist, they have photo’s going back nearly 120 years. Like my friend Barb that can name all the family members in her old family pictures, going back several generations. #Treasure

We have some photos of my grandma as a child, grandpa with my mom, aunts, a few of my own baby photos. I say a few since after the divorce my mother cut my dad out of most of the pictures, which makes it difficult to grasp at memories if he ever held me and loved me?

I have one single photo of my dads family with all my aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Anaya Family

The Anaya Family

My mother can’t seem to remember if my dad is the littlest boy in front or the baby on my grandma’s knee? Or which are my Aunts Marina and Aurora?

But I see a striking resemblance in my youngest daughter to my Aunts, who look like Spanish film stars. The ears are another family trait I inherited, like my brother, who also got the red head gene from my Grandpa Anaya and the Cason side of our family. Or the weird mole on the back of my neck like my brother and my dad, which means I can’t continue to claim my brother was a troll we found under a bridge!

Growing up I was a clone of my father, even mannerisms and personalty according to my mom. She used to say he never met a stranger, which is what my husband says about me.

But when you have unresolved issues with an absent parent and they die before you can grill them about their motives, it leaves a huge empty spot in your life. Not to mention the whole medical history side of family history.

This is not to say I don’t picture this side of the family when I pray during mass for the faithfully departed, but I can’t pray for them by name like I should be able too.

 When you don’t know who or where you come from, pictures and DNA help you like an ancient map.


So I finally received the results of my DNA from Ancestory.com and I find out (drum roll) I’m 87% European.

Hun? I thought that would have been spilt a little differently, not what I was expecting at all, maybe 56% but 87%?

Let me be clear that 24% of the “Anaya” DNA comes from the Iberian Peninsula. Spain and Portugal, which I had heard we were Spanish, but most Mexicans claim this and it’s probably not correct. I also expected Ireland( more red hair genes), England, Scotland, France (hello France boarders Spain, who knew!)

But what made me laugh, is the 8% Native American!

Have you ever watched those ancestry shows on PBS? You know where the people are certain, beyond a reasonable doubt that they have a Native American great grandma, and the results are always NO. Zero, Zilch, Do not Pass Go or Collect $200.

But nearly every person of Jewish decent is related to Barbara Walters! (Now that’s just odd). I was holding out hope that I may be a little Jewish, which would have been so awesome to be one of God’s chosen people! No Luck.

People have asked me what if the test is wrong? My answer is this , they have suggested my brother as a nearly 99.9% match (with different last names) and the region of Mexico that they predict I share DNA (Colima & Western Michocián) are within a 100 mile radius (give or take) where I was born and my fathers family lived and probably still do.

So I’m fairly certain that even with my families sketchy lack of history that the test is reasonably accurate.

Which leads me to this question, if I’m not half Mexican like I always assumed then what am I?

I have a joke I tell  “Between myself (1/2) and my 2 (1/4 & 1/4) daughters we make one whole Mexican!” People either laugh or they look really confused. #ItsAJoke

Rats! This means I need a whole new schtick! I can’t call myself the Mexican Vampire that can’t go in the sun. Or claim that alarms sound in every house in Oakwood when I enter the city limits (another joke).

I feel like I may have opened up a Pandora’s box full of questions. But by nature of my birth and birth certificate I am a Mexican, if you count the country of my origin? Why is this so weird now?

Ultimately, I would say I identify as a Catholic foremost, a Mom, a wife and an American, in that order.

Looking at my DNA now I can see a heavy Catholic influence, which my mother discovered when she paid a genealogist to research our family history. My mother said we had been Catholic going back 500 years, then came to America and rebelled against the Church becoming Protestants. #Rebels

I have yet to see this report, my mom is not good with the follow through.

So what about you friends, have you dipped your toe in the DNA testing pool? Let me tell you from my experience, you may be SURPRISED with the outcome.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

Formerly known as “The Mexican Vampire”


Cocktails With The Saints

Yesterday I was listening to the Jennifer Fulwiler Show on the Catholic Channel on Channel 129.


There hasn’t been a day when I have caught Jen’s show that I didn’t feel smarter, more informed or just encouraged. She typically has the most interesting and fascinating guests on her radio show that she broadcasts from her home that she shares with her husband and their 6 children.


I have a handful of friends that I know that when I spend time with them I feel smarter. All my friends are smart, but some are in fields that are beyond my realm of knowledge.

Like my friend Amy she is a prosector for the City of Dayton, if I had to face her in court as a criminal I would be scared. But since she’s my friend, I feel smarter every time I hang out with her. Phew

Or my friend Terri the science brain, do you see where I’m going with this. I just have amazing friends who are gifted in other areas outside of my realm of ability. But they never make me feel less, in fact they generally make me feel smarter by osmosis!

Is that even a thing? I think so, so it is!

So back to the show, Jennifer had this guest on named Brice Sokolowski who was on promoting his new book “Alms”.

Brice runs a company that helps Catholic organizations fundraise. 99% of his advice is free, because he feels it is his calling. Cool, hun?


One of the last questions Jennifer asked Brice was “If you went to heaven and met the Saints and they asked your name, what century you were from and what heresy you fought? What would you say?”

So Brice who is from the great state of Texas, and now resides in the south of France with his family , said

“If I got into heaven God willing. I picture it like a cocktail soirée with fabulous cheese and wine. But I would have to say (since they were short on time, they skipped the century and name part) the heresy I fought was relativism and defense of the family”


That is such an amazing question, what would your answer be? That just had my mind racing.

In my earlier life I was an agnostic. I did NOT believe in Jesus, but I did believe that there was a God or Higher Power. Which also led me to believe I was Prochoice. I thought abortion should be a last resort, but a “choice” none the less.

Cut to me 15 years later, before I was pregnant I really started to question, at what point was abortion just morally wrong? Was it after the 1st trimester? Certainly after the 2nd that was just reprehensible to me and late term abortion was just not even an option open for any type of discussion.

Once I started thinking this way, I just kept going further and further back in the development of a human baby. Until ultimately I concluded that life is life when there is a heartbeat, DUH!

Oh man I was on a slippery slope then. Cut to me pregnant and attending mass. Just listening and not understanding anything about the Faith, but listening and trying to keep up with all the kneeling, standing, and responses that everyone seemed to know by heart.

Somewhere along the way God lite a tiny ember in my heart that would become a raging BONFIRE for Jesus and all things relating to the Catholic faith. #crazy

Soon I had 2 kids that were in school and I discovered I was pregnant after 40 and I was beyond overjoyed! I suffered a miscarriage at 13 weeks and delivered our daughter Mia.

She was perfectly formed with fingers and toes and a tiny dimple in her chin like her sister. 13 weeks this was a shock to me I had no idea, this is how babies developed so quickly.

Our family was grief stricken and devastated. It changed me forever and I never thought I would be happy again, but from her brief life our little Saint changed our lives.

Prior to losing our baby we had been Prolife, for the most part. But seeing her little body, changed all that. It proved beyond any shadow that this was a human being NOT some “clump of cells” as some would try to make you believe.


I share my story often and each time it’s easier, because miscarriage is not something people want to discuss. It’s a sad personal tragedy, but if I share my story I may help another family in their grief.

Over the weekend I ran into a couple that spoke at our parish about the loss of what would have been their 6th child Isabella, 2 weeks before her due date. The cord wrapped around her neck and she died in utero.

This family shared that they saw this baby’s life touch so many people even though she never lived outside her mom’s body. Their truthful and heart wrenching story helped me heal. The saw so many graces come from this brief little life and God’s plan continues to unfold for them.

So if I make into heaven by Gods grace and a Saint were to ask me what heresy I fought against. I will be able to answer with a resounding certainty I fought for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

I may not have gone with the flow of what society claims to be a “choice” or what feminist rally against government for “controlling” their bodies.

But as a woman and a mother I will stand up and share my story and the truth as I know it. I will be the voice for the voiceless in what should be the safest place on earth, the womb.

I pray I share my story with love and compassion, so that it might change even one heart.

Every time I attend mass I pray fervently for an end to abortion.

So what would you say when asked by the Saints at the great cocktail party in the sky? What heresy did you fight?

God Bless you,

Your friend

Pilar The Papist Squirrel.

When I Want To Skip Mass…


So this morning was one of those Sundays when I just wanted to stay in bed and let the cats keep me warm. Do you have Sundays like that? When you think man I should have gone to Saturday night vigil.

cat on ladys back

BUT and there is a big but here. When I do go to mass God ALWAYS rewards me with plentiful graces.

I mean really why would I ever skip mass when Christ is waiting for me every single day in the Holy Eucharist?



Today I walked in alone (our friends brought my kids after a sleep over, my husband stayed home sick) but it struck me that all of these other people (young families, elderly parishioners and other stragglers) are my family!

Some of them I know through our school and others are “strangers” but they are all part of my “Family” (think mob/extended relatives style).They are my brothers and sisters in Christ, not cousins but brothers and sisters!

I come from a very small family and we are a bickering lot. I say small because it’s just my mothers side of our family:

  • 1 Grandma
  • 2 Aunts
  • 4 cousins
  • 1 brother
  •  Mom
  • Dad (deceased not sure when) we have no contact with my dads side of the family (sadly)

Of this little tribe half us do not speak to the other half . Stupid right, but it’s the truth. Everyones family has its own funky weirdness, you’re not alone.

My favorite line form “Designing Women” Julia Sugarbaker says:

“In the South people don’t ask if you have crazy in the family. They just ask which side it’s on”. (Dripping sarcasm with a drawl).

So when you think your family is crazy, remember we all have craziness, NO ONE is immune.

Back to the story at hand, because of my fractured family situation, I rely on these friends and fellow Catholics to be my family.

I ask them to pray for me on a regular basis, it’s hard the first few times, then it gets easier. Trust me on this, we all want to pray for someone else’s intentions or needs.

We bounce ideas on child rearing off each other, we call for advice on tough topics that come up with parenting in a secular world. We observe the things we admire in these families and mimic them. We love each others children fiercely like our own.

This particular Sunday God put me slap dab in the front pew. Why I asked my friend the front (where she had was seated with our kids) she said I’m gluten intolerant and want to get to the wine before everyone else!

(Insert diabolical laughter here)

Well, the choir started, a song in four parts and before I knew it, I was crying form the beauty! What in the WORLD?

Right in front of the entire church in the front row (RATS!)my kids are looking at me like I’m crazy but I can’t stop.

Later the homily made me laugh and cry again (a HomeRun in my book).

Afterward I visited with friends I hadn’t seen in weeks, complimented our new music director and left filled up to the brim with God’s love.

All of this from a day when I wanted to sleep in and skip mass.

God is laughing, he does that a lot about me.








Gifts Our Children Give Us

If you’re a parent or a cherished Aunt or Uncle you have been given a wee treasure made by a child’s little hands. As parents sometimes it’s hard to know exactly which of these master pieces to hold onto.

My friend Michelle P. says unless it has her daughters body on it (hand/foot/fingerprints) it’s not a cherished keeper.This is how she maintains an uncluttered home.

Our art teacher said most parents hide them under a bed in a plastic tub (guilty party of one).

As my kids get older their work has become more developed. Still the items from those early years are things I would drag out in a fire, to rescue.

They have no value to anyone but me and my husband. But to me they are treasures beyond GOLD!


Easter morning on vacation, the kids and I were eating breakfast. The subject of Eucharistic miracles came up. I told them how lucky I thought they were to be raised in the Faith unlike me who came home late in life.

We talked about the meaning of Easter and the true miracle of the Resurrection.

My oldest  told me that her student teacher had shared with the class a story of the Eucharist, about a Church somewhere in Europe that contains a bleeding wafer documented by the Church.

My youngest said her friend told her about a Communion wafer falling on the floor in a church, on the next day the image of Jesus appeared in that same spot.

All I could say was those are miracles surrounding the Body of Christ.

Like the death bed conversion attended by our priest, who administered the Sacraments to a woman in hospice who was not supposed live the week. She got up (after being completely bedridden) and attended daily mass for the next 6 months until her death.

The kids have heard this story but they also know this priest first hand and love him. So  we know this miracle to have happened right here in our city.

I told them the only explanation is Jesus, right? What else could it be.

My younger daughter started one of her (lengthily stories, she comes by it honestly).

She said:

“Mommy, your heart was like a wrinkled piece of paper with a rip in the middle. When you met Daddy one side got smoothed over. When you had us the other side got smoothed over. But when you found Jesus, he scotch taped the rip in the middle”

(Kleenex break)

Where does this kid come from? Where do these profound and concise thoughts bubble up from?

We got dressed and walked to the tiny little Our Lady of Good Counsel Church on Folly Beach, SC.

Where we were treated to the most amazing homily, from a young and enthusiastic priest (think a young Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, that kind of enthralling charisma and story telling). I don’t know about you, but when I see young priests, it fills me with HOPE for the future.

Later that day I called my other friend Michelle H. who filled me in on their Easter vacation and Sunday mass homily (that we both think may have been recycled from last Easter).

But with this twist, Father asked “Do you know anyone filled with JOY for Jesus? A joy that radiates from them?”

Michelle said she turned to ask her oldest son if he knew anyone like this ( all the while thinking please say ME!).

He said “Yes mom, Pappy and Ms.Pilar!”

This is a very strong Catholic family filled with many loving, involved, faith filled adults. This is a family I love and admire greatly. So for this little boy to think of me, out of all the special grand parents and loving aunts, uncles and many cousins, shocked me!


That for me was another treasure beyond measure. That entire Easter break was the best in my entire life. From sharing the Resurrection with my children, not just the Easter Bunny, to learning that a 3rd grader sees my JOY for Jesus.

Kids Art

What are your treasures beyond measure?

Confession & Other Stuff I Avoid


Are you like me and you haven’t been to confession for a while? Maybe even decades? It’s ok, I am not here to judge you AT ALL!

My last confession was last year when my youngest went to her First Reconciliation. You know the drill if you have kids that have made their First Holy Communion. You all meet in the parish and if it’s small like many parishes some kind visiting priests help out.

One in each corner and you do this Confession facing the priest (no anonymity here) . Your kid is fidgeting wondering why you’re crying and WHAT could be taking Mommy SO LONG?

Wait that’s just me, sorry I get side tracked.

Anyway before the Sacrament our old priest ( I say old as in he was transferred to a remote town and serve 3 parishes and we miss him terribly). Father Steve was such a kind and gentle priest. He gave the best homilies (that’s a sermon for you non Catholics following along).

He had an amazing way of making his homilies relatable to the kids during Tuesday morning all school mass.

The one he gave for this Reconciliation Retreat was all about his dad off roading in his Jeep. When he arrived home Fr.Steve and his mom thought his dad had taken someone else’s Jeep at the event (his dad is in his 80’s).

Then they realized it was just covered in mud. At which point his wife read him the riot act and said NO WAY was he washing that mess in their driveway.

Well, Fr.Steve concluded that’s what Reconciliation is all about, Jesus washing away our sins and forgiving us. Great analogy for kids to follow along.

So cut to me sitting face to face with Fr. Steve, where I confessed my sins and he forgave me, but at the end he gave me a beautiful gift. He said “May God forgive you, and for all the sins you may have failed to mention you are also forgiven. Go now and sin no more. Your penance is 1 Hail Mary and 2 Our Fathers” (or something along those lines).

I was stunned with this beautiful grace he had passed along to me by the power of forgiving my sins, even the ones I was too ashamed to admit.

Matthew 18:18 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

2 Corinthians 2:10 “Anyone who you forgive , I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ.



So what’s in it for the priest? Have you ever asked yourself this? Well, here as amazing article that will shed light on the absolute beauty of the sacrament Reconciliation.

My Side of the Confessional: What Is It Like For A Priest? By Fr. Mike Schmitz

If you have never heard of Fr. Mike Schmitz you can find his homilies and reflections on his blog BulldogCatholic.org or check out one of his great video’s Making a Good Confession on YouTube.com. Once you get past the fact that he is a dead ringer for Jon Hamm of Mad Man fame, he is a charismatic and thoughtful young priest with a wonderful way of explaining our faith.

So what are you waiting for? Grab that grace and wash those sins right outta your life!

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel



The School of Love

I subscribe to a daily email from  MorningOffering.com and this was the quote for today. Sigh

“The school of Christ is the school of love. In the last day, when the general examination takes place … Love will be the whole syllabus.”
— St. Robert Bellarmine

In each email, they list a quote, a meditation, the days bible reading, a verse of the day, the Saint of the Day, today had a Lenten reflection “What Jesus Saw From the Cross” (let that sink in), and so much more.


Also this prayer:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.

I personally love this prayer and because I am a revert to the faith and wasn’t raised in the Church only baptized, I am a sponge for Jesus, soaking up all of the beautiful knowledge that our faith has to impart from 2,000 years.

My kids attend a Catholic School (talk about a School of Love), so I am surrounded by all kinds of different Catholics i.e. “cradle catholics (like my husband) and new converts (who are bubbling over with great enthusiasm for the Faith).

It’s fascinating what each person shares with me. Or even what I see in their homes and how they raise their children in the faith.

I have a friend who has been a Catholic her entire life but had never heard the Angel of God Prayer*. Apparently I texted her “may the Angel of God watch over you” (I don’t remember).I give all the credit to The Holy Spirit!

She told one of her teenage sons and he loved it. It’s now a nightly ritual for them.

I know another mom who keeps about 3-4 little prayer cards tucked into the window over her kitchen sink. So that while she’s washing dishes she can pray. WOW! #Multitasking

I keep a rosary cd in my car, so I can pray and run errands.I’ve even been known to put on EWTN (I have a Roku and no cable) and pray the rosary while I clean the house (a few times a year). IMG_4198

So when I’m not listening to Adam & The Ants, I listen to the Catholic Channel on the go.

Catholic Channel

I have a Rosary app too, yes there’s an app for that.

Which has come in so handy, like when I was in the emergency room with a kidney stone, or at Cleveland Clinic waiting for my husband to see if he had a brain tumor (he didn’t thank The Lord, but he does carry the gene).

So what will you learn from the School of Love today?


(Image credit Zazzle.com

Welcome to The Papist Squirrel Blog!

Can I just tell you? I am so excited that you stopped by to take a peek at my 1st EVER blog.

My friend Heather asked my to start this because I gave up FB for Lent. Somehow I have collected a small following of friends that enjoy my wacky insights, cat videos, and posts about faith. I am totally humbled to hear that I cheer some of you up with the things I post.

I have so many things I want to share and discuss. My little squirrel brian is pinging like a pin ball machine.(insert cool sounds here)

Bare with me because I am a terrible speller and sometimes leave words out (dyslexic super powers form of super creative mind (Wonder Twins reference)).

This is a sample of what I want to share with you. I want to talk about our faith and things like,

  • Vocations
  • Prayers
  • #ShareJesus
  • Catholic media
  • Saint of the Day
  • Scripture
  • Catholic bloggers & Authors
  • How to squeeze the Rosary into your commute or carpool time.

Also I want to share some of my favorite things,

  • Books, movies, series that I binge watch
  • Cleaning Tips (Lazy style)
  • “Adulting” tips i.e. How to plunge a toilet, how to remove the shrunken head that lives in your tub drain and whats a P-trap and why do I care?
  • Beauty tips from a former makeup sales girl (B.K. Before Kids)
  • Decorating advice for the DIYer (Pinterest is your personal catalog of ideas)
  • Recipes (Crockpot style or easy enough for a kid to make)
  • and so much more…..(need more coffee to explain further)

So check back often and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Your friend,

Pilar aka The Papist Squirrel