Hello, Summer!

SAMSUNGIt is finally that time of the year; I look forward to resuming blogging with some regularity after having spent a long period of hibernation. Seriously, I started a new job earlier this year after being out of the loop for about a year; this position entails working with children in an after-school setting and I must say it left me at the end of the day–with nothing else to say. I am sure all teachers out there can relate. LOL

I will make no promises here, but I will try consistency going forward.  If I do not write much during the Summer, at least I will make every effort to post something to let you know I am still around; you will probably see more photos, that will give a hint on what I am up to. As usual, the family is a big part of my life and you already know how I feel about my granddaughters.

Elisa is 2!

Here is a preview of how my summer began, Happy 2nd birthday Elisa! Abuela loves you!



Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

I see lots of fish in there
I see lots of fish in there

A beautiful reflection, I cannot believe this was almost three years ago; she is now four years old. Oh my how time flies!

A first time visit to the Atlanta Museum
A first time visit to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

I have been busy, really busy this past month. All sorts of life events, vacations, babysitting gigs out-of-town, family illnesses, birthdays, baptisms and I am sure I forgot something else. The upside? I have spent the month of July in the company of my most beloved people and feel happy and fulfilled. I think I am now ready to resume blogging duties, unless of course…life gets in the way.

The Purple House in Punta Gorda, FL

I missed a few of the photo challenges and rather than attempt to catch up by back-posting, I will jump right in here with my purple submission. As soon as I saw this prompt, I knew I had to go down to Punta Gorda to snap some pictures of the “purple house” I frequently drive by. The choice of color always puts a smile on my face, not something I would have picked myself…but I absolutely love how it looks with its white trim; especially on an old traditional Florida home such as this one. And below… the slowly fading purple of our crepe myrtle tree. Aah, nature!


Happy Birthday Miss Elisa!

Happy birthday Elisa!

Today is our granddaughter Elisa Londyn‘s first birthday, and as the saying goes “time flies when you are having fun”, and what a fun year it has been!

Hum…I wonder what’s that?

Ms Elisa, mom and dad’s “little nugget”, and her grandparents’ delight is a bubbly, always smiling, happy baby girl. She began walking about a month ago and is now into discovering everything in her path. She is also “talking”. Grandma now needs a “baby talk” dictionary, because Elisa keeps talking (to me and everyone else) with her beautiful expressive eyes while pointing her hands, in a rapid fashion, while repeating “pata, pata, pata, pata…” I am trying to decipher the meaning of “pata, pata, pata, pata”; the hand movement thing I will attribute to her Latina roots, the rest is a mystery to me. LOL!

Mommy, that cake was so good!

Elisa was born on Memorial Day last year so we marked her first birthday with a traditional barbecue at Orlando‘s Moss Park this past weekend, a fitting theme for the occasion. Here are a few pictures of the birthday picnic in the park. Elisa must have been in “baby heaven”…both sets of grandparents were in attendance along with Mom and Dad, cousins and friends; how cool is that?  As you already know, I was in Grandma heaven!

Where's my cake, I want some more...Happy Birthday little Miss Sonrisa!!! Abuela loves you!

The women in my life

Occasionally, random thoughts assault your brain for no particular reason; they just appear out of nowhere and somehow occupy your mind for undetermined amounts of time. Today has been one of those days when I have been thinking about the women in my life. The line is long and strong and I am a proud link on this chain.

My mother, Norma, was the best example of an independent woman I ever knew; she was a mother of four and a “working woman” long before it was fashionable. She held down a 9-5 job as an administrative assistant in the Panama Canal Company, the last of various positions held from the time when she first arrived there at age nineteen until her premature death at forty-eight.  Just as women today, she did so to contribute to the household income. My dad, Lloyd, would have liked her to stay home, he worked for the Star & Herald newspaper, and used to say “I can take care of my family alone” but mom had her own ideas. I wonder where I get that from, hmm. They were the best parents we could have asked for.

The women and children in my life

Women have always been a very important part of my life, starting with my very first BFF, my mother. I could go to her with anything I had in mind—be it discussing the mysteries of becoming a young woman and all that it entails to talking about boy crushes, to figuring out what to wear to the prom—anything. In fact, when we announced our engagement to my parents, my mother took over wedding planning with such determination, that my only involvement in the whole process consisted of showing up for dress fittings and being on time for the wedding. I could count on her to come through for me.

Luckily, I also have my sister, Lydia; she is two years younger; to this day still my best friend. My sister and I have been inseparable ever since she came into my world—yes, we have two brothers and we love them dearly—but they are…well hmm men!

Since I am reflecting on the women in my life, you would need to know that when I met and married Carl, we like any other couple had plans for children; I never gave it a thought as to boys or girls, he hoped there would be at least one boy, I would be happy to just become a mother. Our daughter Natalie arrived first; then Nasima, my sister’s child and our niece appeared and I was like okay, I think girls are in our destiny and then came Yasmin our second daughter and last child; I was totally convinced—women are what will surround us. Sorry dad…to make the circle complete at the time, we even had female dogs. LOL

All along this road of life, I counted with the support of “women of strength” such as my grandmother, aunts and girlfriends—thanks to Facebook, I have even stayed in touch with my high school partner in crime, Rina. She has worked relentlessly to pull out of the woodwork many of the friends with whom I had lost touch decades ago, today we correspond just as we did when we were still in our teens.

Today, my BFF circle is tight—it consists of the women mentioned before, but what holds me together is the love and friendship of my daughters—and that includes my niece, even though she is technically my sister’s child; I am so proud of the women they have become in their own right. My other mother—Lois, who is actually my cousin and someone my parents had the great idea to commission as my “Godmother” all those years ago, when I was born. I am grateful for her because when I suddenly lost my mother, long before she could meet any of her grandchildren, I still have Aunt Lois as my go to mom—to answer all of the questions I still have even at this stage of life.

The likely reason I got into this sentimental journey–this past weekend we were in Orlando celebrating the baptism of Elisa, and as usual during family gatherings, I looked around at our children, nieces, nephews, in-laws and reflected on the great family we are. If that was not enough, the circle of life continues to bless us these days, with granddaughters, yes–more girls–Lauryn, Elisa and Sydney.

Of course—we are not perfect but truth be told this is the only family I would ever need or want and I am a truly blessed and grateful part of it!

Two Grandmas, a baby and…a toddler

Marcia and Lydia

First, a bit of background information. It all started about two months ago when Natalie (our daughter) and her husband Michael had this wonderful idea—they were planning a get-away for a couple of days—and would I mind coming up to the ATL to babysit the girls? You already know my position when it comes to the grandkids, of course I will do it. When, was my response?

As luck will have it, Airtran (my preferred airline) sent a promotional email announcing they were running a special–$35 each way from Sarasota to Atlanta and points in between; you know we jumped on that one. Then, as we were getting ready to buy tickets, it hit me. Wait a grandmamma minute I will be alone with the baby (4 months, breastfed only up to this point) and Little Miss Lauryn, (3 years old) who I will need to take to and pick-up from school—for two days? Am I crazy? What was I thinking!

Here we come!

Second great idea, someone else will need to co-manage this situation with me—enter Tati Lydia (my sister) who lives in Miami, and lucky for her Delta (her preferred airline) was offering the same deal as Airtran. It was a hilarious situation, trust me; coordinating ticket buying, on two airlines and we had to buy them before midnight that day, it was already 9:30 p.m. After enough drama going back and forth, at 11:45 p.m., it was all set; we will be flying to Atlanta on December 8. Mission accomplished.

Oblivious to the Grandmas' drama, LOL

I had already spent time babysitting my grandchildren before, so that was not the problem. My concern this time was the baby, Sydney; who was breastfed exclusively, no formula/bottles had crossed her tiny lips to this point. It became a running joke between Natalie and me during our pre-trip phone conversations. I kept telling her I was not worried about Lauryn—she talks, is potty trained and will certainly let me know when she needs something. No problem there at all—Sydney on the other hand, I envisioned going on a “hunger strike”, no mommy–no food. So please practice giving her formula from a bottle. Two days before we arrived in Atlanta, she finally did; we were very pleased with this development. No hunger strike during our watch, yeah!

So here we were, Tati Lydia and Grandma Marcia, enjoying the girls; relaxing from our usual chores, reveling in the fact we could finally spend some sister time together, catch up on our lives, in person this time (we talk on the phone daily); and Natalie and Michael were on their planned escape to Savannah, well deserved, I might add.

Girls just want to have fun

The trip to school and back, no problem. Lydia stayed home with the baby while I picked-up Lauryn. The funny stuff came later. Before the parents left on Friday, we received detailed instructions, complete with demonstrations on how to do this and how to do that—how the car seat works, prepare the formulas, how many ounces, give her vitamins, tuck the girls at night, how to fill the humidifier with water, read a story…yeah, yeah, yeah… been there done that, we raised you all, did we not? You turned out ok, did you not?

On Saturday, Lydia and I decided to take the girls out to Kanga Zoom (a playground) and then to the Chickin’ store as Lauryn calls it (Chick-fil-A). All was well until it was time to get the baby in the carrier that process took more than five minutes with both of us trying, and then voila she was in—now we just had to figure out how to set her in the car seat and we’d be good to go. Let me tell you, right here and now—those things are a menace to grandparents! We got her in, but when we arrived at Kanga Zoom? Grandma could not remember what buttons to press to release the da** carrier, and Tati Lydia stood outside the car cracking up, with Lauryn as her accomplice, telling me stuff like “maybe Lauryn knows what to do”, oh… shut up, I said; you try it then. She did and it worked, WTH…! By the time we got to the Chickin’ store about two hours later, we were delirious with laughter. Michael told us what to do—we just thought we knew better. LOL

Easy stroller; no complicated instructions needed.

Back in the days when we were raising our girls, we made do with those “umbrella type” strollers that were light as heck, did not require any complicated instructions and were easy enough to carry with one hand. You know what, after all this excitement; we did not attempt whatsoever to take Sydney’s stroller out of the car trunk. Thank goodness, Lauryn can walk! That is it for this Grandma tale, I am sure there will be more to come. LOL

Stroller and plane images courtesy of Google images.

Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad…

Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens Mansion

It is finally here, Christmas, no more shopping (did not do any), no more parking wars (none of that either), no more falling for the latest gadgets out in stores; (wish list is still growing); no, not me—not this year anyway.

The Gibsons and Miss Lauryn

Instead, I have adopted a mellowed out attitude, and  laid back style—now all I want for Christmas is to spend time with our granddaughters, the three little angels we are blessed with—two of them brand new additions this year alone; I could not ask for better presents. They are all healthy, happy and adored by their parents, aunts and uncles, and of course their grandparents; and since they are growing too rapidly from one week to the next, Grandma wants to see them all the time.

The Covingtons

Christmas, the holiday season, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, whatever you call it—are celebrations for children; best celebrated as a family. That is how it was for me, when I was growing up. Our parents had more than a “village” at their disposal to take care of us; those were joyful times. Immediate and extended family members, nannies, friends and neighbors—especially neighbors were part of the circle of care.

Christmas decorations at Bok Gardens

Christmas traditions are what make the occasion special. In Panama, one of my favorite celebrations was “Noche Buena”; Christmas decorations were set-out the night before Christmas—not a moment sooner, and this included preparing elaborate, “Nativity sets” the bigger—the better.

Decorations were kept hidden from neighbors’ prying eyes, until midnight, when baby Jesus was born, signaling the official start of Christmas.  The celebrations always began at home; every home went through the same ritual. We had our Christmas meal at home, then go out to visit neighbors, where we would eat some more; this would go on until the wee hours of the morning.

After all the night’s excitement, children would go to sleep (adults stayed up); when we woke up in the morning, we saw the gifts Santa left under the Christmas tree. Nativity sets and Santa co-existed in the same place; talk about conflicting messages, LOL! Funny thing is–we never gave it a second thought, it was Christmas, we had food and –there were presents for us, and that was the end of that!

Merry Christmas everyone and Feliz Navidad, Prospero Año y Felicidad! Whatever you

OMG, it's The Grinch...oh, no!

do… don’t be a Grinch this holiday season!

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas… From the bottom of my heart!

It is that wonderful time of the year… again

It is December…again. Just like it was just Monday… and it is now Saturday, again. Time is passing by so quickly I can barely catch my breath!

Bok Mansion's entrance

As of Thanksgiving day–Christmas officially arrived; never mind it was already here since before Halloween. I love the holiday season, even when they begin to sneak in Christmas carols on the radio when I am not paying attention. I happened to notice this when I began to hum along, suddenly it hit me–I am humming “It is a wonderful time of the year… la, la, la….

Dont’ get me wrong, I love the holiday season; the songs, the trees, the Menorah and the candles,  the Kwanzaa celebrations, lights everywhere, Macy’s windows, Rockefeller Center, etc… (hey, I lived in NYC for over 20 years, the “melting pot” as it is known, and we all celebrated together) but Christmas is my favorite.

Winchester Roller Skates, 1960s

Christmas is what I grew up with in Panama; my first recollection of a Christmas present was getting a pair of Winchester Roller Skates, and these were nothing like the rubber skates of today. I mean, these were steel and I felt like a powerhouse when I clamped them on my shoes. I was about five years old when I got the first pair of training Winchesters, fell many times and promptly learned how to skate. By the time I was a teenager I was a pro on those babies; my siblings and friends will have skate parties on the streets, (no rinks, for us daredevils) and we ran competitions to see who could make the most pirouettes without breaking a bone, and then we held on to each other in groups of ten or fifteen kids to form a train or “cola” (long line), and proceeded to jump over the many sets of steps found in “Paseo Las Bovedas”; that memory will be forever etched in my mind. So much fun and… there was always a broken bone and a trip to the emergency room, lol!

Pretend play is not the same as the real thing

Kids today don’t get such physical workouts, like we did. Everything happened outdoors, we played with hacky sacks, which we made ourselves (from old socks filled with lentils), and rode bicycles, roller skated on the streets, went swimming, played every kind of ball there was: baseball, basketball, soccer… you name it. We were fit, brassy and healthy! Today it is all about Nintendo, Xbox and the like, kids and adults can even pretend they are being active by playing games (indoor) on their Wii. What’s up with that?

I don't wanna...

Enough of that, I am afraid I am dating myself; but yes, I am a child of the age of Aquarius, and the Beatles, and The Temptations, and Aretha Franklin; but make no excuses for that–they were the best of times to grow up in. There’s no mountain high enough to keep me from getting to you…

Here are some pictures I took last week when we were in Orlando and ventured 45 minutes out-of-the-way of the usual sites, to visit Bok Tower Gardens. We enjoyed their Christmas decorations, quiet surroundings and gardens; it was a beautiful experience, and I highly recommend it!

Bok Tower, in the distance

I will post some more pictures during the month as I am now officially–in the Christmas and holiday spirit!

The dog days of our lives…

My hubby and I have been married a long time; I love him dearly and think he loves me too (just kidding, hon!). For most of our married life we have always had a dog. Our first was Susie, a German shepherd we got as a gift when she was about 4 weeks old. Susie stuck around us for twelve years; until one gray winter day when she ran across the street to go to the park; and we never saw her again. I loved that dog!

Susie was about eight years old when my hubby came home one day with a fawn colored Doberman whom we promptly named Dee Dee because she introduced herself to us, by going on our carpet! Two large dogs in our household at a time, what was he thinking? Dee Dee was one unlucky dog though, she contracted Parvo when she was six years old, and we had to put to her sleep.

Our children must have thought she was a horse as she allowed them to ride her. She was amazingly gentle with them considering what they put her through on so many occasions–even their friends joined in on the rides; that was one crazy dog. These were our two dogs while we lived in New York.

Lucky dog

A couple of years later, we moved to Florida; and voila’ another dog. His name was Lucky, so named because I found him one day under my car as I was getting ready to go home from work. My girlfriend took a look at the little mongrel and proclaimed: “You should take him home, he looks like a Sheltie, they are little dogs, he would not get too big”. I took a look at his sad eyes and did just that–took him home with me. He was our first introduction to a Marley and Me dog-like experience and definitely not a Sheltie; Lassie’s size is what comes to mind; a mixed breed, a jumper, runner, destroyer of everything in sight: records, doors, gates, carpet, vinyl, paper, plastic, plants–you name it!

The hubby? He was like “we” agreed there would be no more dogs, right? He has to go! Needless to say, we really are suckers for puppies. We survived Lucky’s antics and his eighty pounds, for 14 years. He brought lots of joy to our lives.

Every dog owner I know who has gone through the death of a pet, I am sure feels the same way. The process of grieving, the feeling of loss and then we all swear “never again”, that is the last time I put myself through this! That was the two of us two years ago, when Lucky died. Did I mention I have had a dog in my life, since I was a small child?

Enter Sasha, our Labrador and Husky mix, who is now 6 months old and almost 50 pounds. I tried to resist the temptation of getting another dog, but as I said before I really am a sucker for dogs. She is our current and last dog, and our latest Marley and Me experience. Lol!

I see signs of intelligence in her, she somewhat listens to our commands–when she feels like it; loves praises. Good girl Sasha, sit, you are such a good girl. However, she is not too obedient when it comes to our allowing her to roam around the house; we have to stay vigilant, watch her every move. I keep threatening her and the hubby with sending her back where she came from (Ormond Beach), and reminding him, he is the reason why she is still here. She is a big girl, and a rambunctious one at that; and she is definitely no Alpha dog. All she has to do is hear a garbage truck, or a school bus, or anything with a large engine–and she immediately makes a mad dash for the hills!

My new mantra? Where the hell is that “Dog Whisperer” when you really need him? Cesar Millan I need you and I need you now!

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