Category Archives: Miami

Pool Time

Mike is still in Chicago, he won’t be back until the weekend, and then he stays with us for a whole week. But he was here the weekend we arrived, and my dad took these photos of us having some fun in the pool. My “new” family of 4.

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Vacation? Food!!!

One of the pleasures of being on vacation is being able to eat whatever one wants. And in Miami, the pleasure is even bigger because one has access to Venezuelan treats. I thought I’d share some of the goodies I’ve been able to consume these past days.

Empanadas de Cazón

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Pabellón con Cochino (Paleta, le dicen los Cubanos)

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Tequeños y Colita

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Homemade Tres Leches

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Cachito de Jamón y Empanada de Queso

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Más cochinito y tajadas

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Summer 2016

At the start of July, when I last posted, I said I would be back here to update you and share some of the things that have been going on this summer. Well, we are almost mid-August and I’m just now getting back to the blog. But, let’s get on it because a lot of big events have happened this summer:

Max turned 8 years-old on June 27th. It’s been 5 years since I adopted him, and we have come a long way. Love you Maxy!

Max 2016

Mike and I had our 1st wedding anniversary on July 25th and we had a nice outing. We went to see The Book of Mormon and then had a spectacular dinner at Boka.

1st Anniversary Collage

I was not able to make it to the UK on July 25th for the International Children’s Spirituality Conference, because of visa issues. But fortunately my paper and presentation were ready and Dr. Karen-Marie Yust was kind enough to read it, so even though I was not physically there, my work was shared.

Karen-Marie Yust

Mike turned 50th years-old on July 31st, and we celebrated with family. We had a plentiful meal at The Chicago Chop House and then stopped over at The Redhead Piano Bar for live music and drinks. (photos to come)

The boys (all of them) and I flew to Miami on August 5th and will be spending three weeks with los Pelos. This is where we are now. Mike had to go back to work, but will be back during our last week here as a vacation for him.

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I just realized I have most of my photos and videos in my hard drive at home, in Chicago. Bummer. I’ll update this post once I get back. For now I’ll share what I do have with me on my phone.

How’s you summer coming along? Did you get a break? Did you celebrate something special? Or is work looking mighty up to date for you? Speaking of which, I need to get at it my self, these papers don’t write themselves and classes are not prepped by the prepping Gods, unfortunately! Hope you are all having a wonderful summer!

A family of 4

My mom had another esophagus/varicose vein bleeding episode, Saturday night. I thought about it for a bit and decided, the best I could do was take a plane the next day to be there with my parents. Last time this happened in September, Liz and I talked about coming and we offered, but the Pelos said it wasn’t necessary. Things had evolved quickly and they had her under control. We both felt bad my dad had to go through all that by himself, with no direct or continuous support from us, since we were in Chicago and New York, and all that was happening in Miami. So this time, we decided it would be different. I flew in Sunday afternoon, with the earliest ticket I could get, and will be staying until Thursday. Liz and her kids are coming down this Saturday, and staying for a week. So, this time the Pelos will be on their own less than 48 hours.

Of course, they are not completely on their own. There is a lot of support from extended family and friends, and for that, we are all immensely grateful. But, I think it’s important for us to be here. The nuclear family. The family of four, as my dad used to call us when we were growing up. He used to say “No matter where life takes us, we will be fine because we will always be together. Us four, always together. We are a family or four.”

Our family of four got extended to five (Cas), then six (Nick) and then seven (Sophie). Liz added in, what I jokingly refer to as her “combo”. And more recently, with Mike, Max and Charlie, it grew to a family of 10. Now, we have Hazel and Jack too, so we are 12! Six adults, one teenager, one wanna-be teenager, and 4 dogs. The family of four surely has grown. But, sometimes, when we are together, just the four of us, it feels just as it did when we were growing up, just us, a family of four, and I truly appreciate that.

Yesterday, before my mom was going into surgery, we got to speak to the radiologist. I, unfortunately, had to run to the bathroom. My bladder had been waiting for over 30 minutes and I really had to go, so I ended missing the talk with the radiologist (!!!). When I came back, my dad told me he had gone through every possible negative outcome, as if covering his back, in case anything went wrong. Instead of building my dad up and telling him to keep it positive, like every other doctor had done so far, he completely deflated him and put all these negatives images in his mind. My poor dad. He was worried, nervous, and now frightful for what could happen. There was a possibility that the doctor could not do the procedure, because of the difficulty of finding the veins. He was doing a TIPS procedure, to bypass the malfunctioning liver (my mom has an autoimmune liver disease, that has caused hepatic cirrhosis, and bleeding varicose veins due to high artery pressure, is a side effect of the cirrhosis), and of course, anything can happen when a person is fully under anesthetics. But, for Pete’s sake, anything can happen to anyone, anywhere. Why did he have to bring up the possibility of death, right before she was going under, and make the two-hour wait an unnecessary nightmare?

I tell you, I was so mad at myself and my bladder for not being there, because you know I would have put that dickhead in his place. I’m usually a kind, calm, sweet person, but if you mess with my family, are rude, unnecessarily disrespectful or a complete jerk, I will go ape-shit on you. I wanted to punch that asshole in the gut! In retrospect, I guess it was for the best that I was not there for the talk. It wouldn’t have helped one bit to punch the doctor just before he was to operate on my mom.

Thankfully, what doctor-no-bedside-manners lacked in tact, he made up for in expertise. He came back ecstatic saying “we did it!”. Apparently, it had been difficult to get the bypass in (it’s all tiny instruments operating in an already compromised organ) and for a moment there he had thought it would not be possible to do, and they would have to try again next week (!!!!). Fortunately, there was divine intervention, and at the last minute, the procedure worked and immediately the arterial pressure dropped. He said “she’s not bleeding anymore, and will not be bleeding again”.

Coquito is recuperating now. They have her under observation and she’s making progress. Hopefully, she will be back home soon. I know Jack truly misses her, and she misses him. Soon our family of four (or twelve) will be back to normal, as it has been since 1972, that’s when I joined the clan. If you have been praying and sending positive (get-well) thoughts to Coco, thank you! I truly believe they all worked their magic during the surgery yesterday. And helped us continue to be the family of four, we have successfully been for all these years. Thank you! And may Coquito continue to get better.

And, we are back!

Happy New Year! And Happy January! I am hoping this year I will blog more often than the previous one, but I’m making no promises. I did go back and re-read the previous post about goals for 2014, and edited it a bit. I apologize for the mistakes. I wrote that from the iPad, and sometimes it’s hard to edit there.

Our trip to Miami was a success. As you know, we headed down by car, with the two dogs in tow. So I was a bit apprehensive as to how that would go. But it was good. On our way down we encountered a storm, mainly rain because it wasn’t all that cold, in the 30s F. We did 12 hours to Georgia, where we stayed over night and then 12 more hours to Miami, arriving Sunday the 22nd around 7ish pm.

A friend of mine was surprised it took us so long to get there. We stopped quite a few times, for food, bathroom breaks, and to walk the dogs as a bit. They were troopers though, really well behaved for two very active pups being cooped up for so long in the car. We gave them a little something to soothe them and help them sleep the first day. But then decided they looked too doped and like they weren’t having any fun, so we skipped the pill on day two. On the way back we didn’t give them anything either and they did well.

Miami was great. It went too fast though. We were there from Sunday 12/22 night to Tuesday 1/2 morning, so 10 full days, but it still felt too short. My sister and her family were there too for Christmas, so we had a full house for Christmas Eve dinner and presents. They then left for the Bahamas to visit Cas’ family, so we had a smaller group for NYE.

Mike and Jen


Us with Dogs 1

(with the boys)

All of us

(all of us before dinner)

Jen Photo Bomb

(me photo bombing!)


(us four)


(with my mom)


(las hermanitas Mata)


(Mis Pelos)


(with Mi Ni)


(with my mom)


(la Mophie and her mom… and Charlie)


(with the grand-kids)

We ate a ton, but I also exercised quite a bit too, so I want to think I compensated. I was determined to begin on goal one (lose 25 lbs) while there, because I knew that coming back it would be hard to exercise outside, which is what I like to do. So I got as many jogs in as I could. But the food, ah the food! We ate out at Versailles (best Cuban food) and Vellagio (great Italian food), and also went to El Arepazo for some great Venezuelan food. You can find mostly all the Venezuelan goodies in Miami, which is always a sweet treat. But most of our eating was done at home.

Regarding outings, we went once to the movies to see The Hobbit, we went to Dolphin Mall and Dadeland Mall for a bit of shopping, I got a mani/pedi (the best one’s are done in Miami no doubt), Mike played golf to his heart content (5 times total), we watched two movies at home family style (The Lorax, with Soph, and Flight with my parents), we had family come visit on three different occasions, and had tarot and Family Feud game sessions too. We stopped by Target twice for provisions, because what’s a vacation without Target, am I right? And lounged by the pool on every sunny opportunity.

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(the boys golfed)

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(this shot was taken by Mike on the course, the first of January)


(a mini extended family reunion)


(the proud parents of the most beautiful baby… cutisimo!)


(second cousins)


(Sophie definitely was the one who enjoyed the pool the most, like always)


(but others enjoyed too)

Pool with Dogs

(we even got Max in once)


(Charlie lived in the pool. Max? Not so much)


(I’m outta here!)


(and here I come!)

We missed going to the Beach and to the Fairchild Botanical Gardens. I wanted Mike to see the butterfly conservatory, but it will have be visited on another trip. We just didn’t have enough time.

New Year’s Eve was a treat. My dad got us tickets to a boat dinner cruise and it was great. It was my parents, my cousin Cory, and Mike and I. We had a great time. the food was delicious, the music was great and the view of the city beautiful. We got to eat, dance, and see the fireworks go off after midnight. Really fun.

Jen and Mike

(all dressed up for New Year’s)


(the New Year’s group)

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(before getting on the boat)

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(on the boat)

On Thursday 1/2 in the morning, we packed up the car again and headed back. This time we stayed the night at Macon, Georgia instead of Dalton, and it only took us 9 hours to get there. The following day, Friday 1/3,  we drove about 8 hours to Louisville, Kentucky, where we were going to stay with Mike’s dad and his wife for a couple days. But as it turns out a snow storm was expected Saturday night, and we feared if we stayed we might get caught in Kentucky and not be able to drive back due to closed roads. So Saturday 1/4 morning, we packed up again and drove back the 5 hours to Illinois.

The snow started falling as we were driving in. And it didn’t stop until almost Sunday night, so it was a good thing we got on the road early and didn’t have to drive under those awful conditions. I was going to spend the night at Mike’s Saturday and head back home on Sunday, so I could get settled in and ready for my Monday class. But we received noticed from the university that classes were cancelled and the entire university (all campuses) would be closed on Monday due to inclement weather. So I stayed, and today Monday, when I should have already been home in the city, I am still out in the suburbs at Mike’s because the amount of snow still on the roads does not make it safe to drive, and it is incredibly cold out there. Hopefully, tomorrow things will clear up a bit more and I will be able to pack my stuff and head home and into work. I don’t teach until Wednesday, but I do have to prep my classes and get everything settled for my early Wednesday morning class. They haven’t said anything yet about tomorrow, I’m thinking everything will resume by then, but I have to go home regardless, because come Wednesday I need to be ready and in the city.

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So there, we came back from Miami to the worst weather possible. It’s so cold in Illinois today that they are saying it’s the coldest high temperature ever registered in Chicago. EVER. Isn’t that crazy? Here’s hoping it gets warmer soon. I hope you are keeping cozy wherever you are, and staying in if you don’t have to absolutely go out. I, will be walking the dogs again soon. The little devils (Charlie mostly) pesters us to take him out, and then when there, wants to come right back in immediately because it’s unbearably cold. Oh well, the perils of the dog human. Anyway, happy 2014 and happy freezing January!

Off to Sunny Miami

And we are off! By the time you read this, early (very early) Saturday morning we will have packed the car and started our long drive south. We are leaving this:


For this:


Because who in their right mind wouldn’t, huh?

We will be with family in Miami for two whole weeks. I might post from there, but I make no promises, because I want to soak up as much of summer as I can before coming back to dreary old winter.

Lovely, sunny, warm Miami, here we come!

Miami: Fourth Week

Week 4 was my last week in Miami, and it was great. I want to say it was the best because we had 3 more family members join us, but all weeks were great, so that would be unfair to claim.

 This is what went down:

  • A great visit from an ex-colleague and friend from Venezuela. We talked for hours and hours.
  • A whole day of swimming-pool fun.
  • Baking! A key lime pie for Mike’s birthday and a pavlova for a BBQ we had on Saturday.IMG_4511IMG_4558
  • Mike arrived from Chicago, to spend 5 days with us.
  • Liz arrived from NY to spend a week at my parents’.
  • My aunt Mireya came from Caracas to stay for 10 days at my parents’.
  • A shopping spree at Dolphin Mall. We had to take Mireya.
  • A fun afternoon at the Marlins Park inclosed stadium, to see a Marlins-Mets game. The Mets lost, but we still had fun and lots of food.
  • One last Mani with the great Arlenys at Stylos.
  • A birthday dinner for Mike at the Melting Pot, yummy!
  • A golf outing for Mike, he enjoyed that.
  • A delicious BBQ, courtesy of my dad, with family and friends.
  • A family game night of Family Feud, our favorite game.

Mike and I flew out on Sunday morning, back to Chicago, back to the grind. It was so great to be able to spend some down time with my parents and Sophie. And then even greater to spend time there with Mike, Liz and my aunt, whom I hadn’t seen in over 3 years. Vacations should last forever, shouldn’t they? But they don’t, so now it’s back at it. Write, read, write, that’s what I’ll be doing the rest of the summer.

Miami: Third Week

Week 3 in Miami was a bit more active than week 2. Here is what we were up to:

  • A tarot/astrology session with my mom, and then my dad joined in too.
  • A visit to Jungle Island. Great lions and tigers, and a huge collection of birds. Well worth the visit.
  • A visit to Dolphin Mall, where I scored the Forever 21 goods.
  • Meals at El Parador, Versailles, and Il Forno, both delicious in their own particular way.
  • Fun Swimming Pool time.
  • A new mani/pedi. These Cuban manicurists are truly the very best!
  • Ice cream visit to Cold Stone and Baskin Robbins (they still make Rainbow Sherbet, my favorite since 1976).
  • A day at Rapids Water Park. Black Thunder is the bomb, at one point you feel like you might just die right there and then.
  • Exercise twice this week.
  • A family visit, in which food, drinks, and lots of conversation was had.
  • A consult with Silvia Rioja, my parents’ astrology teacher, which proved enlightening and some what reassuring.
  • A visit to the local library, from where I borrowed Maya Angelou’s “Letter to my Daughter”, which is what I currently reading.

I have also done quite some blogging (as you might have noticed), I’m revitalizing my Interests in Spirituality website, and have continued to sleep a whole lot too. So, not bad, huh?

Photos are Back!

It’s been exactly a year since I reached the 3 GB free space quota offered by WordPress, and since then I have not been allowed to continue posting photos on the blog. Mainly because of this, it’s been a sparse blogging year; I’m sure you’ve noticed.

Even though the limitation of only being able to share words with no images has forced me to write more, which I appreciate, we all know an image is worth a 1000 words. So I ponied up and payed for the 10 GB increase. Yes, it’s an annual thing, but I figured it’s going to be easier that moving the entire blog to another server/host and paying for that as well. So here we are, staying with WordPress and now back to posting photos and media along the words! I’m excited, aren’t you?!

To get us started I thought I’d share some photos of our “Miami Adventures” thus far.

At the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens (a first visit to explore and a second time for the Mango Festival):











And these at Cauley Square, sporting my new hair look:






And then that same day, at Village of Merrick Park:



Yay, photos are back!!!

Miami: Second Week

I didn’t make my bed this morning, I usually do. I guess I got distracted after I got up. It’s been some lazy, sleepy days in Miami lately. It has been raining non-stop, which makes it difficult to make plans for outdoor activities. I have managed to get some exercising walks in here and there and some fun times at the pool, but mostly I feel like I have caught up on sleep and blog reading. Sleep, something I absolutely love to do, yet when I do too much of it, it leaves me feeling drowsy and unmotivated.

A few days ago I discovered Lee Brice. Did you know about him? I love country music, and while listening to the country pop radio station on Pandora the other day, I bumped into Lee and instantly loved him. I bought his Hard 2 Love album on iTunes, and my all time favorite song right now is A Woman Like You. Do you like country music? No? Well, it’s not for everyone I guess. I love it because each song is a heartfelt story. Last summer, I discovered Griffin House and bought The Learner and a couple songs from Flying Upside Down. I fell in love with The Guy that Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind. Can you sense a sappy trend here? Yeah, that’s the water sign, emotional side of me.

I’m missing Mike. We’ve gotten into two “fights” so far. He says it’s because I’m bored and have too much time on my hands to think, and apparently, when I think nothing good comes out of it, at least relationship-wise. The discussions have been about lingering things, nothing major, just aspects in which we don’t see eye-to-eye. But I’m left missing the making-up portion of the discussion. I miss him, I wish he was here… two more weeks until he comes.

This afternoon we are off to see Despicable Me 2 in 3D. I’m not a fan of 3D… those glasses are bothersome. But Sophie insists it’s the best, “it makes the awesome parts even more awesome!”, so we are all going. The week she spent in Chicago, we went to see Monsters University, and we both loved it, so we have high expectations about this one too.

So there’s the update. What have you all been up to? Enjoying summer, discovering new tunes, watching movies, sleeping in, and getting into discussion with your far away boyfriend like me? No? Well, spill the beans already, will ya? I’m kinda bored here with all this free time.