Keeping You In Stitches

Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Last year on Halloween, one of my bff’s lost her husband unexpectedly.  She was a Halloween nut!!!  I know this has been a tough year for her, and I’m hoping that next year will be a little better.

raymond-ofenbeckLast week, Todd (married to daughter, Amy) lost his father.  He was 94 years old – a Cubbies fan from the beginning.  He had told the family that he hoped to see them win the World Series this year.  Alas, he passed away before the beginning of the first game in Cleveland.  He had mesothelioma – his body was shutting down but his mind was there.  Had to be sad for the family to see that.

As a father-in-law to Amy, there couldn’t have been a better one!  He was at the hospital every day, all day when she was in the Critical Care Unit.  After 8-10 weeks of that, she went to a rehab hospital and he was there every day too.  Not many father-in-laws would do that!  We can never convey what that meant to us.  Of course, we went to FL as often as we could and we were there for every surgery.

When Todd and Amy first moved to Fort Myers, she was an anchor for the ABC station. Todd worked for the NBC station.  Ray would always call her and tell her if hair didn’t look right, or if he didn’t like what she had on that day!  That cracked us up!

Ray was quite the entertainer all the hours we spent in the hospital!  Especially with the nurses!  Always had a smile and joke for them.

Hugs to all the Ofenbeck family and we are so so sorry for your loss.

One disadvantage to living in Costa Rica is we can’t get to events like this.  RIP Ray….you and Todd’s mother have a lot of catching up to do…..please let her talk too! LOL

bikerbabeHaving had 2 friends husband’s die on Halloween, and now Ray will be buried on Halloween, I have come to a decision.  When my time on earth is done, if it’s 5 days before or after Halloween, I want my funeral to be a costume party.  And believe me, I’ll know if you’re not in costume!

 

 

santajeanmarienancy

Yesterday, a friend, Jean Marie and I decided to go shopping and take a break from knitting.  I have finally found someone down here that loves Christmas and all the decor like I do.  So we decided this would be a “check out Christmas stuff shopping trip.”

Universal, which is a large department store in Alajuela, moved into the new City Mall, the largest mall in Costa Rica.  We decided to check out the old Universal because everything Navidad was discounted!  We had a ball.  Most things were 50% off and some were 30% off.  She shops like I do, check everything out and then make a decision!  By the time we were finished shopping there, it was noonish.

So we headed to  City Mall, with plans to hit every store with lots of Christmas decor.  Checked out the Universal store there, prices at the old store were much better.

Then we headed to Aliss; beautiful things there and we oohed and aahed!  By then we decided it was time to eat.  So we headed to Subway.  Finished eating and then we headed to Oxygen, we love their clothes and prices.  Tried on a few dresses but nothing hit me just right!  Then we headed to Cemaco, a department type store that doesn’t carry clothing.

O.M.G.  They have 4 different villages set up under glass in the front of the store!  I loved everyone of them.  One was like an amusement park with rides that we both used to ride at county fairs.  One was a village and I fell in love with the Pet Store and Shoe Cobbler store that was actually shaped like a shoe. The whole set up was beautiful!  Then there was a snow scene, and another scene with Santa flying around with the reindeer; ice skaters skating; let’s just say, we were both in “Christmas Heaven”.

Left there and decided to sit down and get our purchases arranged to head to the car.

I think my heart skipped a beat!  My phone was missing.  So Jean Marie stayed there trying to call it, and I tried to retrace my steps.  Maybe it fell out of my pocket in the rest room.  As I was headed down that hall I saw a female security person.  So in my best Spanglish, I tried to explain what happened.  She patted me on the back and said she would call her Jefe (boss).  So we stood there waiting for the Jefe of Security to show up.  They arrived shortly.  Kept asking me to describe it.  Kept saying is was “pink, cover was like a book with a giraffe on the front and a giraffe on the back.  Every time I said giraffe in Spanish, they smirked….I’m guessing they figured an old lady shouldn’t have a phone with a giraffe cover!  Then a guy came by and said do you need help?  So I said yes, that if I went home having lost my phone, I would probably be beheaded!  So he asked me the same questions that the security officers asked me.  The whole time the female security person was patting me on the back.

All of a sudden, one of the security guards pulled my phone out of his shirt pocket.  I got really excited and gave him a big hug (am sure he thought another loca gringa); so then he wanted some ID.  So I said we had to go where my amiga was sitting.  I pulled out my Cedula (national ID card) and he turned on my phone, laid it on the settee and took a picture.  Then gave it to me with a big grin.  I again hugged him and the female security person.  Keep in mine we’ve walked a five story mall and this was probably a 2 hour deal!

Took Jean Marie home; and since the story had a happy ending, I did end up telling Mark.  Who just stood there shaking his head! I found out he had turned on “Find My iPhone” since I had my iPad with me, I could have located it via the GPS.

Then off to Don YaYo’s for Huesos (Bones) Night with Mike and Karen Elder.  They kept us up way past bedtime! Huesos are the pork bones with hunks of meat still attached. Mike and Mark enjoy them from time to time. I had chifrio and Karen had fish and chips!

Early this morning, I’m guess it was early, Jean Marie called and woke me up and said I left my knitting in your car.  I said “no, you stuck it in one of your bags”.  She said OK, I’ll check.  Then I pleasantly went back to sleep and didn’t wake up till 11 a.m.

But I keep thinking about all the gorgeous Christmas things we saw, and the phone story ended up OK, so it was a great day!

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In Costa Rica, most Ticos (at least in Guacimo, where we live) celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve.  This year we expanded it a little and invited Maricela’s Mother, boyfriend, and sister, Lola. We’ve always invited Lola’s boys, Gabriel and Moises.  Maricela, Dimas, Dylana and Nazareth were here too.  It was a rancho full of people.

They arrived Christmas Eve morning and everyone was in a happy, jolly mood.  Especially the boys when they saw the gifts under the tree.  I asked them if they wanted to eat first or open presents….to my surprise, they wanted to eat first!

And did they ever eat!!!! LOL  Nana, Maricela’s mother thought the coffee was so delicious!

After lots of laughing and talking, some in Spanish, some in English and some in Spanglish, it was time to move into the house to open presents.

Nazareth wanted to be Santa!  And a dramatic Santa she was!!!!  I told them this year they were going to open one gift at a time so we could see what everyone gets!  I tried to get pictures of them with their gifts and I’ll be darned if “Santa” didn’t photo bomb almost every picture!

Nazareth, would go “do, do, do do……Gabriel” – and then Gabriel would come up and get his gift and we’re all clapping and yelling Gabriel.  It did get loud but isn’t that what Christmas is about.  It was so fun to watch the boys open their gifts!  Moises will start kindergarten this year, so he even got a new backpack for school; (I’ve always gotten them new backpacks.)

Nana was so pleased with scarf and immediately tried it on!  I thought Lola was going to cry when she opened up her necklace and ear rings!  It really tugs at your heart so see how excited they are.

I’ve gotten so I take the girls to the mall and let them pick out some clothes; better they get what they like, then something I would pick out!  They look forward to this every year!  But, they have to act excited when they open what they pick out….that’s the rule, as if they’ve never seen it before!

The girls both wanted calendar books this year.  I told them every day they had to write “I love Nancy” and that I was going to check on them once in awhile.

After the gifts were opened, it’s quite funny to watch the kids pack up their things to go home.  They cram as much as they can in their new backpacks; and head home wearing them.

I was exhausted when they left!  But it was a good, happy exhaustion!!!

They truly are our Tico family; Nana, always refers to me as the kids’ abuelita (grandmother), but she really is!  The girls are old enough to know that I’m their Gringo Abuelita!

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and will have a happy 2016; I would hope their would be Peace on Earth, but I don’t think that’s going to happen!  But there’s always hope!

Pura Vida!

 

PS:  Mark is known for wearing his shirts inside out – well, he did Christmas Eve too!

 

One of my best friends in Bowling Green, KY lost her husband early Halloween morning.  Halloween is her favorite holiday and her house is decked out in a “million witches” besides other Halloween decor.

Velma’s husband, Jim, was my age…..and I am not ready in my life for friends to start dying.  I don’t handle death well.  And being in Costa Rica is tough on me because I feel like I need to be there for Velma.  However, I was just there 6 weeks ago.

I would stay at Velma’s and Jim would pick on me relentlessly!  However, me being the Mouth from the South, just dished it right back to him.  We had such good times together!

I’m sad for Velma, Jason, their son, Denise, their daughter, but most of all Eli and Farrah, his young grandkids.  Jim loved going to watch Eli play baseball; I went to one of his games when I was there in Sept. and it was hysterical.  (He’s in kindergarten).  Farrah is 4 and a young Diva in the making; an absolutely adorable little girl.

It should be a rule that God does not take people from mid-October till after the first of the year.  For some reason, losing loved ones around the holidays seems to be the worst – probably because of the previous memories and excitement for the new holidays coming.

I know this has been devastating for Velma and I feel so sorry for her – we all know we’re going to lose our husbands or wives eventually, but this was just too damn early!  Yes, God, I am angry with you – he had lots of things to teach those little grandkids.

This is going to be so tough on Velma but I know she can handle it.  She keeps telling me she feels lost.  I keep telling her it’s baby steps and she’ll get through it.  She has many friends and I know they will help her.

It’s times like this that it’s tough living so far away….I do call her frequently and we cry and laugh, which is good for her.  She started laughing about something we were talking about and then she said, “I’m sorry, I guess I shouldn’t be laughing.”  I told her to laugh all she wants…..because we’re laughing about memories and what good are they, if you can’t enjoy them.

Today is probably the worst day of her life so far because it’s the funeral.  And it will be a military funeral, which is always so touching.

Velma we love you and our hearts are broken for you…..you know we’re here if you need us!

Love to you and peace to Jim!

 

We celebrated Valentine’s Day with friends Mike and Joni, Pat and John, and of course Mark and I. We had dinner reservations at LaTrocha……because Joni discovered they were having a chocolate fountain for dessert. Chocolate, which has been confirmed as a health food, and skewers of fruit, well, with one marshmallow, which probably isn’t the healthiest of foods…..let’s just say we took a vote and it was decided it was a healthy dessert!
For the most part, everyone was pleased with their food and the dessert.

We had ordered our food and someone at our table was quite concerned that the fountain was flowing yet.  I will not divulge that name!
We had ordered our food and someone at our table was quite concerned that the fountain wasn’t flowing yet. I will not divulge that name!  Soon after the “panic”, the fountain was flowing with yummy HEALTHFUL chocolate.

Mark couldn't wait to try out the chocolate and immediately took a turn.

Mark couldn’t wait to try out the chocolate and immediately took a turn.

Joni was debating which skewer of mostly fruit to start with....she has what most people would call a "decision making disorder".

Joni was debating which skewer of mostly fruit to start with….she has what most people would call a “decision making disorder”.

At last the decision was made! YUM! YUM! YUM!

At last the decision was made! YUM! YUM! YUM!

Mike thought if he didn't look at the plate of skewers, he wouldn't be eating them.....but I can assure you he's "busted".

Mike thought if he didn’t look at the plate of skewers, he wouldn’t be eating them…..but I can assure you he’s “busted”.

And this is what the tablecloth looked like after 6 gringos were done!

And this is what the tablecloth looked like after 6 gringos were done!

It was a really nice evening with good friends and good times.  It’s what I would call a nice little fiesta!

Tonight is another fiesta!  For those of you thinking about retiring, remember, there are lots of fiestas and that’s what makes retirement so difficult!!!  (Sort of like living in a college dorm.)

Pura Vida from Costa Rica – the pool is calling my name!

Our 12 year old neighbor, Dylana, wanted only “ropa” (clothes) for Christmas.  Knowing how difficult it was to shop for our daughters back in the old country, I decided that she and I would go shopping together.  We would make an adventure of it!  She was excited when I asked if that would be OK, but she had to act surprised and pretend like she hadn’t seen any of the clothes when she opened the packages!  She readily agreed.

Today was the day that finally fit for both of our schedules to do the shopping.  She decided she would like to shop at Aliss, a department store down the way from Multi Plaza (in Escazu) or it’s also called “the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica”.  Keep in mind, this is a store she’s never been to but has heard me talk about it! LOL

Originally, just Dylana and I were going but Maricela (her mother) and Nazareth (her sister) decided they wanted to go too.  Again, neither had been there before!  I made sure that Maricela and Nazareth were aware that this day was for Dylana and they weren’t getting anything…..

I had been warned from various friends that the traffic is horrible, etc.; I found just the opposite!  In fact, I’ve been in worse traffic in that area when it wasn’t holiday time.  We arrived at Aliss about 10 a.m., so maybe that’s a little of the reason there wasn’t much traffic yet…and I noticed when driving past Multi Plaza there were still parking places available.

We walked in the store and I wish everyone could have seen the grin on Dylana’s face!  Maricela and Nazareth’s faces too for that matter.  I kept telling Dylana, venga….(come) to get her to the department where clothes were.  Keep in mind, she couldn’t quit smiling!  She picked out a few tops and pants; altho’, she had no clue what I meant about trying the clothes on to make sure they would fit.  I could tell that they shop by just holding up clothes to themselves. If only I could shop like that! LOL

All clothing was 20% off today – including the new summer clothing they were just putting out.  And 50% off Christmas things….

Maricela did buy Nazareth a pair of flip flops.

We were back in Atenas by 12:30 p.m.

Not sure if it’s wise of me to introduce them to stores like this but Maricela noted on the way home that the prices at Aliss didn’t seem to be too high.

All in all, it was a great morning, Dylana was still grinning when she got out of the car.  How fun it must have been for  her to go into a store that had a great quantity of things to choose from.

Made me happy that I did this….I know she enjoyed shopping and picking out fun stuff.

Pura Vida! and Feliz Navidad!

While I absolutely love the hub bub of the holiday season approaching,  this time of year really drains me, mentally, physically and emotionally.

In our 45 years of marriage, we’ve never lived any where near relatives….however, we’ve lived in 5 different states and have many friends still in those old haunts. And with Facebook, it’s a real treat to re-connect with old friends.  Our family is scattered all over the US and it’s virtually impossible to do the family Christmases we had when the girls were little.

The worst part for me is the shopping.  I like to do handcrafts and it’s just impossible to find fabric and all the notions, etc. in a one stop shop!  Usually, I just get frustrated and head home – ticked that I can not get the things I want/need.  Am slowly getting over that, tho’….or else the Pura Vida is slowly creeping in.  Or I suck it up and pay the international shipping and then by the time my order makes its way to Costa Rica, I’ve forgotten what I wanted the things for.

Stopped at Payless Shoes yesterday because a friend was going to buy shoes for their “angel” from the angel tree; a pair of tennis shoes for a child was $26!!!  It makes me sad, because the Costa Rican people we know and are friends with, can’t pay that for one child, let alone their family of 2, 3, or more children.  I honestly don’t know how they do it – but they are so happy!

Am slowly getting used to the grocery shopping – still not quite sure what I’m getting in the meat department because “cuts” of meat here sure look different to me than they did in the Kroger meat department.

With Christmas approaching and it being the giving time of year, it would certainly be wonderful if every charity could spread out their “please give to me at this time of year”…..either that, or I need to learn to put aside a certain amount of money each month for the month of December.  Probably will end up being the latter of that previous statement.

Our neighbor girls are excited about Navidad approaching.  They come and go pretty much at will at our house – so I’ve really frustrated them! LOL   Have started wrapping Christmas gifts so they have no clue who they are for!  Mark said he caught Nazareth peeking in the window of the second bedroom looking at the wrapped gifts.  This is the fun part for me.  We’ve sort of adopted the two girls, Nazareth and Dylana, and their two cousins up the street from us.

Dylana will be graduating from 6th grade in mid-December.  She wants clothes for Christmas….so I will take her shopping with the stipulation that she has to act surprised when she opens her gifts!  Did that last year when I bought them shoes because I wanted them to pick out the shoes they wanted – and their expressions didn’t disappoint.  As usual, Mark has no clue what’s in the packages, so he was the most surprised!

Maricela, the girls’ mother, has been asking me for two weeks, about the arbol de Navidad…she’s quite excited about the trees, yes, trees, going up soon.  Last year was the first year the girls “had” a Christmas tree, even if it was at our house.  They spent hours helping me decorate the trees. (One inside and one on the rancho.)  And are eager to do it again this year.

Since a lot and I mean A LOT of people already have their homes decorated, I guess I’ll give in and get started with the tree decorating.  According to Mark, he needs at least a 10 day notice to get all the bins, and boxes down for this endeavor! LOL

I was going to try and wait till after Thanksgiving, but think I’ll just jump on the bandwagon and go for it!  Everyone will be happy! LOL  And that’s what it’s all about, keeping everyone happy.

One thing that is really super wonderful here, is that all ex-pats take on “being your family”.  We have so many wonderful friends here from all over.  Disney is right, it is a small world!

Pura Vida for now as I give Mark his marching orders to get the Christmas decor down.

UPDATE:  Forgot to mention that the girls and I made the 350 name tags for the Angel Tree Angels Christmas party!  They love helping me do things like that!!!

 

Back in the old country when I was but a wee lass……May Day, May 1st, was a great holiday.  We spent the week before May 1st making May Day baskets.  Then we would fill them with candy, spring flowers, etc. – on May 1st, you would deliver your May Day baskets, hang them on the front door or your friend’s homes, ring the door bell, and run like hell so they wouldn’t see who was delivering May Day baskets to you!  Sort of signified the coming of spring in Michigan (for us, anyway).

I kept up the tradition with our girls for awhile too….of course, by then, people had no clue what was going on…hmmm, perhaps that’s the beginning of dumbing down America! LOL

Here in Costa Rica it’s  “labor day” and most things are closed.

With President Obama coming here on Friday, traffic will be a worse mess than normal; except for the closed roads.  We live on the side of a mountain where planes coming in to land at Juan Santa Maria airport, make their wide turn in their approach.  We are hoping to see Air Force One make that approach!

I had wanted to go and see the “parade” but decided to heed the warnings of traffic delays, etc. , so we’ll just stay home and watch it on TV.

Welcome to Costa Rica on Friday, President Obama…..too bad you can’t come to Atenas and meet lots of ex-pats!

Pura Vida!

 

Maricela asked us to go to her mother’s house last night for ………..never could figure out what she was talking about!

So about 7 p.m. Mark and I trudged up the hill to her mother’s house – smacking my forehead because I can’t remember her name! DUH!

As we were arriving, a car with 4 men in it was arriving; they each had a guitar and one had an accordian.  There were lots of people that had already arrived.

Unfortunately, we did not take a camera. Bummer!!!

It was some kind of ceremony signifying that Navidad was over and the nativity scene could be put away for another year. A priest was there to perform this, one of the guitar players.  The four men faced the nativity scene and began playing their instruments, singing and the Padre was saying whatever it is he was supposed to say.  Mark, Tonya and I were the only clueless people in the room.

After about an hour of this, the ceremony was over.  Then the food started…..yum!  Homemade bread, tortillas, and the wonder “potato hash”!

Then the musicians began playing and the kids began dancing.  Nazareth cannot stand still when there is music!!  This child desperately needs to be in a dance class….she has rhythm from the tips of her toes to the top of her head! Her mother convinced her to get me to dance with her…..what an uproar from the crowd; then Maricela convinced Mark to dance, and another uproar erupted.

It was so much fun!!!

Maricela is having a ceremony like this next week at her house!  Oh boy!!!

We will have cameras this time.

When we were walking home, Mark said, remember when we did our due diligence tour here and we were told we would never be invited to a Tico’s house…..well, I think it all depends on the person!  We’ve been invited to Maricela’s many times and now to her mother’s…..

We had so much fun…..Tico’s know how to have fun!!!  We can never thank them enough for including us…

Pura Vida

Our second New Year’s Eve in Costa Rica!  Can hardly believe we’ve been living here for over a year and a half!  And lots and lots of things have happened in that year and a half.

We really do enjoy it here; what’s not too like – while my friends in FL, yes, FL, and KY are freezing, we have the windows and doors open with a balmy breeze blowing through the house; yesterday was a “bad” day with the December winds – we’ve got more dirt, leaves, etc. than ever – IN THE HOUSE! LOL  Sure hope Maricela shows up today to clean.

In early December, I saw the dermatologist.  He “froze” 26 spots on my face and upper chest.  I’m telling myself that for a week or so I looked like I was covered with beauty marks, ie: Marilyn Monroe style.  Hey! It’s my mind and I can tell myself whatever I want.

Back in the old country when something was removed by a medical professional, we had the understanding that things would be removed by pounds; 1 lb. minimum; preferably by 2 lbs. at a time.  I’m sad to report that these 26 beauty marks only  removed .1 pounds.  I see him again in February and we’ll be having a discussion regarding this.

Lots of resolutions for the upcoming New Year.

1. I am truly giving up Pepsi!  This will be difficult but I know I can do it….the past couple of months I could go without it for a week or so; and then I’d cave in a buy Pepsi.  It’s a big acid reflux cause for me!  Altho’ I’m happy to admit that my 1820 coffee doesn’t cause any reflux problems; am afraid to try any other coffee because I’m happy with 1820.

2.  I will definitely get a least one Christmas present made or purchased a month for Christmas 2013!  None of this stress and panic like I felt this year.  And I still haven’t completed my shipping or purchasing for Christmas 2012!  Hmmm, maybe I could just ship stuff now and say “Merry Early Christmas 2013” – keep this till December and put it under your tree.  Just a thought…

3. Get my sewing room organized!  Maricela is a good organizer so I think when the girls go back to school, she and I will get in there and tackle this.

4. I’m going to keep count of the people that I give rides to into town; that’s just part of my “Pay it forward”.

5. We will go visit some sites in Costa Rica – need to find someone to come to the house and stay with the dogs; it will be easier on them and us! LOL

6.  Work on my Spanish…I know the words, I just can’t get them into sentences!  Anyone that has young kids in their lives, have them learn Spanish!  It’s so much easier when you’re younger than at our age!

That’s enough for now….but I might add some other resolutions later.

Took a break and fixed Maricela and the girls some breakfast. Dylana, Nazareth and I are headed into town in a few minutes.  They are so good when I take them to town!  Don’t beg or whine for a thing!

Adios for now and Feliz Anos Nuevo!


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