Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snuggalicious Gifts

This was the Christmas of unique gifts.  Of course the greatest gift is being in the company of family and friends. Two-legged or four-legged, they are all appreciated.

Actually, I suppose we could call this "the year of the Snuggie".  A good friend of mine was a bit chagrined to receive a Snuggie from her husband for her 50th birthday. It was a running joke between us for a couple of months. THEN, I was Christmas shopping and ran across "Snuggies for Dogs".  Since our two short-haired black and whites often get chilly when the mercury dips below 70, as any good Floridians do, I snapped up two and put them under the tree.  I told my friend that she could wears hers knowing that she was in the finest of company.

Sammy and The Writer arrived in town and since we wouldn't be with Sammy on Christmas Day we exchanged gifts with her beforehand.  Mr. Tennis was honored to receive something from Sammy that would cement his already tight relationship with the Bostons. Yes, Mr. T is also the proud owner, and wearer, of his very own Snuggie.

Isn't it nice when you and your dogs can wear matching outfits?  Sammy knows this is all in fun and Mr. Tennis has been actually using his Snuggie these last few days during the recent cold snap.

Since, I, The Boston Lady, am known for my much more refined tastes, Sammy gave me a beautiful, vintage serving dish that I have already used three times.

Even more special is that she hunted for and purchased it at a weekly "swap meet" that we went to when we visited LA last summer.  What a fun place that was and what a special gift this dish is to me since I will always think of the fun we had with Sammy and The Writer.

All members of the Fantastic Four received special gifts, from my neice, Val.  She is an extremely talented young woman who put a lot of thought and effort into her gifts to us.  She was working on them right up until the moment she arrived in Orlando with Uncle R.  Four beautifully cross-stitched coasters for three Gators and a Knight:

Thanks Val!

Mr. Tennis and I will have a fun event every month for the first half of 2010.  In January we will jaunt up to Gainesville to see the Gator Basketball team play a game and revisit some of our old college haunts. We have a treat in February when we will attend a concert by the talented Harry Connick Jr., due to the generous Christmas gift from The Maven and her brother.  They have certainly learned the joy in giving an "experience" gift. In March we will go see "In The Heights" at Orlando's performing art center, courtesy of Mr. Tennis' Christmas gift to me which also includes seeing "Spring Awakening" in May (with The Maven too) and "Chicago" in June.

So, it looks like our year will have many things to look forward to along with many things to be thankful for.  I hope all of our family members and friends experience joy, good health and success in the upcoming year.

Boston Lady, out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Learning from the master...

although it doesn't look like Sadie is paying very close attention.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It Was a Squirrely Christmas

Well, we had a unique, fun Christmas with family and friends.

Christmas Eve we sauntered over to Orlando Grandma's and had some delicious pulled pork, nice wine and of course, refined company as you can see by the picture. 

The Writer and his little cousin, J

Yep, Orlando Grandma knows how to throw a Christmas Eve bash.  Eddie was there relaxing after a day of fishing, you can see The Maven in the background talking to our wonderful Maria. V is sporting the Santa hat

V and J were definitely in the spirit and ready for Santa's visit that night.


 For some reason the usually brave Writer was terrified of Orlando Grandma's decorative rooster.  Who knew he was such a "chicken"?

It was nice to see the four youngest Orlando grandchildren together

It was good to see "Big J" again.  He's V and J's grandpa and we missed seeing him last year.

Ralph and Orlando Grandma had fun catching up.  Ralph is Eddie's brother and uncle to V and J.

And of course the party wouldn't be complete with out Uncle K.

The Party moved to the The Boston Lady's house on Christmas Day.  Panda and Sadie were very excited about opening their gifts and celebrating with family.

Bumby and Susie were excited as well.  Susie even donned a Christmas collar

Val, Uncle R, The Writer and I exchanged gifts at lunch time. Mr. Tennis did too, but someone had to take the pictures.

Uncle R tried out THE chair and declared it a successful upholstery project.

The Writer, Mr. Tennis, Maria and our guest Dr. Rico relaxed while the kids played the Wii.

The surprise guest of the evening arrived in a Christmas stocking. A squirrel!  She came with Maria, little J and V, who she lives with after being found by one of their uncles.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

To all of our friends and family, may you have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sweet Tita, Happy Birthday!

Mr.Tennis' Panamanian grandmother would be celebrating her 100th birthday today.  I first met her in 1979 when I took a summer trip to Panama with Mr. T to meet his family.  Her welcoming warmth just eminated from her.  Although we had a language barrier, we managed to communicate our mutual admiration.

Tita, enjoying the "fresca" atmosphere of camping in the keys in 1982.

Tita and her "little" grandson, Mr. Tennis in July 1979 when I first met this wonderful woman.

Mr. T and Tita Christmas  1998 in El Valle.  This was the last time we visited with Tita and it was such a wonderful, relaxing Christmas.   

To Mr. Tennis and his brothers, she was Abuela, but to the great-grandchildren that eventually came along, she was "Tita".  Our Neice Chelsea was the first to call her this easier-to-pronounce name, and from then on she reigned as Tita.

College graduation March 1981

When I was pregnant with The Writer I took a class in conversational Spanish so I could communicate with Tita and Mr. T's other spanish-speaking relatives.  I remember sitting in that class battling all-day nausea, nibbling on crackers and learning how to say "pregnant" in Spanish.  I don't remember the word now, but I retained enough of the basics to carry on very basic conversations which were heavily dependent on hand gestures.

I had no bigger fan than Tita when it came to my Spanish.  You would have thought I was spouting the finest poetry from her reactions.  Her sweet smile and generous hugs were a welcome reward for trying to talk about the pleasant weather.  Who knows what I was really saying?

                                                 Tita, me and Gramps before graduation 1981

Tita was determined that Mr. Tennis and I start a family rather soon after getting married.  We wanted to wait a few years so we could get on our feet financially.  This did not deter Tita from dropping hints, or should I say baby shirts by our house every so often.  Our first Christmas after we got married I received a hand-knitted pair of baby booties from the ever-optimistic Tita.

The Writer and Tita circa 1987
Shortly after one of her baby shirt drops I announced that I was pregnant and Tita had a knowing smile on her face.  She knew those shirts would do the trick eventually.

Tita was in Orlando for both of our children's births.  She loved them both instantly and thought they were the most brilliant children on the face of the earth.  She would cup their faces in her hands and tell them wonderful things about themselves in Spanish.  She used to sing a song to them when they were very small that I still remember:"  Un barquita, chiquitito..."  They loved to sing that with her.

At the Market in El Valle 1998. The Writer, Orlando Grandma,
The Maven, Me and Tita                          

This diminutive lady was not a wilting flower.  Her size did not reflect the great inner strength she possessed.  I've witnessed her three, over 6 feet tall, grandsons snap-to-it when she gave the word.  And that's all it usually took, a word.  After all she had grown up and lived in the lovely countryside of Panama where she made her home with her husband, Abuelo.  They were cattle ranchers and Tita was the village teacher.  Her rough and tough husband would tend to the cattle ranch and Tita would take care of things at home including running the school.  I saw her no-nonsense, this is how it's done, spirit during that first visit in 1979.  I had the pleasure of having a typical ranch-style breakfast with eggs, steak (from the ranch) and a tortilla I watched her make by hand in her backyard.  Delicious!  Not to mention the stories Mr. T has told me, in particular the one about going to the larger neighboring town to get a chicken for Tita.  He rode the little "Chiva" bus with the chicken on his lap and when he returned and handed the bird to Tita, she said "gracias" and then cracked it's neck.  Dinner was served shortly afterwards.

She made sure her three children grew up educated and eventually sent them to boarding schools and universities in the US.  All three grew up to be intelligent, responsible adults with beautiful families.  Orlando Grandma is the oldest, then Vicki, who lives in Iowa with her husband Jacques and the youngest is Chalon, who left us a couple of years ago.  Between them they have 8 children, Orlando Grandma has 6 grandchildren, Vicki and Jacques have 9(!) grandchildren (all girls from their three boys) and Orlando G-ma has two beautiful great-grandchildren.  This is quite a legacy Tita has left behind.     

Chalon, Tita, Orlando Grandma and Vicki. Tita and her children enjoying her 90th birthday celebration in Panama.


                                                      At the Lake in St. Cloud, FL. Circa 1961. Tita, Tony,
Orlando Grandma, Chalon, Grandma Rose, Mr. T on Uncle Larry's lap.

There are so many more things that could be said about this great lady who was such an influence on our family.  She had such deep faith and always kept a rosary close at hand and that in itself was inspirational.  It's comforting to know that our Tita is at peace joined by loved ones and looking down on her family with pride and love.

Uncle Larry, Gramps, Tita and Abuelo, not sure of the year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas time with the Manatees

The Writer's birthday dawned crisp and cool, a perfect day to go to Blue Springs and see the Manatees.

It's been a few years since the Fantastic Four took a trip to this lovely state park located near Orange City, FL, about an hour from Orlando.

We thought the usual crowds would be there, but luck was with us.  There wasn't even a line to get into the gate.  In past visits we have sometimes waited in a line of cars for up to an hour to get in to see these gentle creatures. 

The Manatees head into the springs in the middle of November to escape the cool river temps.  The springs are a constant 72 degres. The manatees stay until about March when the river water begins to get warmer. During these months, visitors flock to see these awesome beasts, especially on weekends.  We seemed to have timed our visit just right this year as a lot of people may have been out shopping for the end of the week Christmas celebration.

The spring was filled with clusters of these large, yet graceful mammals.  We had the pleasure of seeing them through the crystal clear water of the spring or when they would surface for a loud, gurgly, breath of air.  

The St. John's river is where the Manatees migrate from, although we did spy a lone Manatee who wanted to brave the colder water of the river.

The Maven, Mr. Tennis and the birthday boy seemed to enjoy the relaxed day.

And, no, the Bostons didn't join us.  They were being wimpy about the cool weather:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy 25th Birthday to The Writer!

It's hard to believe this little fellow is now 25 years old!  In this picture he is about 2 months old and is propped up on our couch in the "family room" of our first house. 

It was just Mr. Tennis, Ziggy, Cheetah and me when this little package arrived a few days before Christmas.  We arrived home from the hospital on December 22, stayed up all night trying our best to do what was right for a crying newborn.  By Christmas Eve I was on the phone with both our pediatrician and La Leche league, sure that I was doing something wrong and this fragile little baby would never survive my clumsy attempts at motherhood.  Mr. Tennis, ever the calming influence slept for the first three nights with his baby son on his chest because that's what seemed to make The Writer feel best.

We somehow all survived and The Writer thrived.  We actually got him to his first birthday, a feat I thought would be impossible.  Here is his first birthday cake, a banana cake because that was his favorite food.  He's probably the only child whose mother made him a banana cake for his birthday.  Crazy.

That first year had many milestones.  Here's Grandpa Hughes helping his grandson with his new skill, walking.

And Orlando Grandma did her part for the Gator Brainwashing Project.

The Writer got his first haircut at Fantastic Sam's

And Grandma Hughes did her part by taking him to the "little beach" at Med Manors.

As he got older, The Writer developed many interests and hobbies, some which may have been indicators about which path he would eventually pursue.




Filmmaker?  Ah, we are getting somewhere now!

Writer?  Hmmmm, who knew as he sat at his first desk that words would be his chosen path?

High Acheiver?  Yes, definitely as he was a Disney Dreamer and Doer in fifth grade.

Or Gangsta? Nah, just the actor in him coming out again.

One thing that has changed over time is the slightly fretful, young baby has turned into a fine young man who is laidback, remarkably talented, and determined to pursue his dreams.     He still retains the stubborn determination he showed as a young child to not give up easily and persist until he is successful.

Oh, and the Gator brainwashing worked.  The Writer graduated from the University of Florida in 2007, with his family cheering him on.       

Now, he is chasing his dreams out in Los Angeles with his biggest fan, Sammy, by his side.  His other fans come out and visit them in this beautiful state and we look forward to the next exciting chapter in the life of Our Writer.