Tag Archives: birthday

The Long Weekend Wasn’t Long Enough

05.21.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

 The Victoria Day long weekend apparently wasn’t long enough—though it was filled with enough activity to actually keep me away from my computer and my blog.

On Friday, I made arrangements with my parents to pick up the kids straight after school so I could trek to York University (where I’m proud alumni) to meet my husband after work. While waiting for him to finish his work at York, I browsed the bookstore—and got a great deal on an official York University hoodie!

While reacquainting myself with the new architecture on campus and reminiscing on my years of study in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Women’s Studies, my husband and I decided to have a cheap, but bountiful dinner at The Falafel—chicken shabob with rice, salad, pita, and a drink—a favourite dish I had when I was back in college.

Our purpose of the night? To check out the play, Oh My Godzilla, by Asiansploitation, a comedy troupe my brother, Rjay Garcia, who is an actor, singer, dancer, and comedian, recently joined.

Esly, Zara, Rjay, Isabel after the play, "Oh My Godzilla" in which both Rjay and Isabel starred. (c) Photo by S. Kanaan. All rights reserved.
Esly, Zara, Rjay, Isabel after the play, “Oh My Godzilla” in which both Rjay and Isabel starred. (c) Photo by S. Kanaan. All rights reserved.

***

We took the TTC to Downsview, got off at St. George, and walked east to The George Ignatieff Theatre on Devonshire Place.

What was exceptional that night, aside from the comedy of the play itself, was running into my nephew, Cedric, and his best friend, Mike, who I haven’t seen since Christmas.

Cedric, Zara, and Mike outside of The George Ignatieff Theatre. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Cedric, Zara, and Mike outside of The George Ignatieff Theatre. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

I was also able to finally meet my brother’s girlfriend’s mother, Tita Shirley,  and a few of her brothers, Philip and Alex, for the first time.

Philip, Izzy, Tita Shirley, and Alex at The George Ignatieff Theatre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Philip, Izzy, Tita Shirley, and Alex at The George Ignatieff Theatre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

But, the highlight of my evening was being able to reunite with my long, lost best friend, Mae, who I lost touch with over time, and didn’t realize I haven’t seen in more than 13 years! We had grown up together, but became quite close in our university years.

Much to our relief, our personalities and chemistry hasn’t changed at all—so much so, the two of us together again felt very much like we hadn’t lost touch at all and that we started right where we left off! I was giddy all night and so pleased to connect with Mae again that we’ve already made plans to get together soon.

Best friends reunite. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

For my review on the play, Oh My Godzilla, check out my blog later this week (or next).

***

The rest of the weekend, I took the opportunity to spend more quiet and intimate time with the kids—outdoors. We visited one of their favourite hotspots—McDonalds, of course, largely due to the Happy Meal, which provides happiness in the toy provided…and French Fries. For me, the real reason it’s a Happy Meal is because it always keeps the kids smiling.

Why it's really called a "Happy Meal." (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Why it’s really called a “Happy Meal.” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

After lunch at McDonalds, we visited one of our favourite family spots—Kariya Park in Mississauga.

Usually around this time in May, the Sakura trees are blooming with flowers, but not so this year. With the past, harsh winter, the blossoming flowers were delayed and it seemed we came too early in our visit to see them bloom. While there weren’t any flowers, we nevertheless enjoyed ourselves: our traditional walk around the small trail, our visit to the pond, our greetings to the geese, and our family poses.

Michael by the Kariya Pond. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael by the Kariya Pond. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Xara by the commemorative bell in Kariya Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara by the commemorative bell in Kariya Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

The kids in front of children statue in Kariya Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids in front of children statue in Kariya Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Kariya Pond. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Kariya Pond. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

As if one park wasn’t enough, we also made a trip to Gage Park, a popular spot for families situated in the center of downtown Brampton. While the children usually release all their energy on the playground, my husband and I usually enjoy a picnic reading or walking the roundabout appreciating all the new foliage come spring.

Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara taking a break on the park bench after a whirlwind of play on the playground at Gage. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara taking a break on the park bench after a whirlwind of play on the playground at Gage. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

This long weekend really couldn’t keep us inside. After BBQ hot dogs, we all hung out in our backyard and enjoyed the sun and the company of our neighbours (and a very feisty dog named Princess.) The kids played LEGO, tag, and hula hoops with Savion, Kierta, and Gracie, while my husband and I wondered where our kids get all their energy…

Xara with her hula hoop. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara with her hula hoop. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Michael sharing his LEGO creations with his friends, Savion and Kierta. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael sharing his LEGO creations with his friends, Savion and Kierta. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Xara reading quietly in the backyard. Notice her "Elsa" cape from the movie, "Frozen?" (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara reading quietly in the backyard. Notice her “Elsa” cape from the movie, “Frozen.” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

But, that wasn’t the end of our weekend. It’s been a constant celebration in our house right from Mother’s Day, to celebrating my 13th year anniversary with my husband from the day we first met on May 14—

(c) Photos and photo collage by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photos and photo collage by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

—to celebrating my husband’s birthday on May 20!

His day started by taking the kids to school in the morning, a special treat for all of us, and then a hearty birthday lunch at Spoonful, a buffet restaurant in which I ate far too much than I should have. (I actually ate so much that I conceived a six-month food baby!)

Walking to school with Daddy. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Walking to school with Daddy. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

The Birthday Boy, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The Birthday Boy, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

My plate filled with great food from Spoonful Restaurant. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
My plate filled with great food from Spoonful Restaurant. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.

***

And in the evening, even though Esly and I were both full from a gluttonous lunch, we celebrated with a small birthday cake—Xara and Michael’s favourite part of birthdays!

Esly's birthday cake, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Esly’s birthday cake, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

The Birthday Boy with the kids, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The Birthday Boy with the kids, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Because my husband is such a mellow, down-to-earth, and private person, he never asks for much on his birthday—especially for his birthday, but it’s with gratitude to God that God has given him life and many years to enjoy it, and to me, a tender, loving, and steadfast husband, and to the children, a strong, responsible, and affectionate father. We’re so blessed.

***

What did you do for the Victoria Day long weekend?

Do you celebrate Victoria Day with fireworks?

How is it that the long weekend is never long enough?

***

zara cat stamp

Happy 450th Birthday Billy!

08.23.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Today, William Shakespeare turns 450.

For most individuals, Shakespeare’s name is synonymous with being one of the most influential people in the English language, second to the Bible.

And while most of us cringed in high school because we had to study Shakespeare’s difficult language, his plays and sonnets are not only classical, but world-famous for their linguistic and dramatic appeal.

In celebration of Billy’s birthday today, here’s the famous and most well-known sonnet by the man whose use of language has earned itself its own name:

Sonnet 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

***

shakespeare

***

What’s your favourite Shakespearean play?

Who is your favourite Shakespearean character?

Have you read Shakespeare’s sonnets? What do you think of them?

***

zara cat stamp

Happy 9th Birthday Bronx!

04.03.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

This post comes a little late today on account of a few things I had to do, which kept me away from my computer. And in the flurry of my focus on other things, I had forgotten it was my dog-nephew’s birthday. I’m not sure how else to refer to him since he’s my sister’s dog, (which would essentially make him my nephew, only in dog species!).

At first, I was skeptical about Bronx entering our family. I was, after all, at that time, fundamentally scared of dogs. And then I heard he was a Boston Terrier. All I heard was “terrier,” which almost paralyzed me.

And then I saw his picture as a pup.

bronx puppy
(c) Photo by Riza Garcia-Yarra. All rights reserved.

 

***

Oh dear. How could I not fall in love with that? Him? This dog who materialized from the desire of my sister and my brother-in-law long before they had plans of having any children?

He was bred from a line of champion show dogs, which by the way, if you met Bronx personally, you’d know you’re dealing with a champ both in health, demeanor, and temperament.

As a person who was essentially frightened of dogs, Bronx’s personality quickly put me at ease. He’s an extremely dignified and obedient animal, wonderfully social with both humans and other dogs.

He doesn’t bark incessantly like some young pups eager to please or get attention. He barks as necessary.

And he has this tendency to sit on your feet under the table, wanting to be close to you, a dog keen on human contact, but not coddling.

bronx - sitting on feet
(c) Photo by Riza Garcia-Yarra. All rights reserved.

 

While he’s restricted at home to only certain areas in the household, he’s a good sport about it, respecting his owners, respecting his boundaries without complaint.

And he’s a loving and protective companion for my nephew who is only two-years-old. Pretend to point a gun at my nephew or pretend to harm or attack him in any way, and Bronx will be there. And be there quickly and with force. His kindness will shift to fierce loyalty and protectiveness. And he’ll fight you–and win. When it comes to Bronx’s family, their well-being, and their safety, you can’t mess around.

bronx - ayas
(c) Photo by Riza Garcia-Yarra. All rights reserved.

 

Guard dog? It’s not a term for Bronx, it’s an instinctive predisposition. Strangers and delivery people, beware.

But, for those who know and love Bronx, you can count on his affection, his obedience, his close and loving contact.

***

Here’s a little about Bronx who turns 9 today:

Breed: Boston Terrier (heavyweight class)

Name: Bronx (after the dog in the Gargoyles cartoon)

Birthday: April 3, 2005

Personality Traits: Loves people and other dogs; tends to lie in front of people and when you trip over him, you are the one who gets hurt and he doesn’t budge; has a tendency to sit his butt on peoples feet; hates baths; infamous for his SBD farts, often mistaken for a warthog due to intermittent snorting sounds.

Favourite Toy: His 4′-long stuffed alligator

Favourite Treat: Loves mini carrots and apple slices

Favourite Trick: Sits and waits for treats and food until you give the “take” command; protects Elias when you pretend to point a gun at him.

My favourite memory with Bronx: Uncalled, he came over to me, gallantly trotting over, I patted his head and then  he plopped down with his butt on my feet, his back wedged between my calves. I said, “Bronx, you okay there?” He turned to look at me, then wedged himself even more between my calves. He and I stayed that way for a good 10 minutes until I had to gently shove him off since I needed a drink!

His Best Halloween Costume: Dressed up as Yoda.

His Most Endearing Feature (to Me): His flat nose and his big eyes. His face just makes me laugh. It’s got as much personality as he does!

Happy 9th Birthday, Bronx!

Translation: (Woof! Woof! Woof woof woof woof—woof, woof, woof-woof!)

(c) Photo by Riza Garcia-Yarra. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Riza Garcia-Yarra. All rights reserved.

***

zara cat stamp

Happy Birthday to Me!

zara red hair avatar - happy bday to me

Happy Birthday to Me!

01.06.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to “grow up,” get older, and move on with my life, speed it up a little to the pace that belonged to adulthood. And then adulthood came and it was a lot harder than I had expected. Since then, I’ve been subconsciously regressing each year of my life, not trying to emulate youth, but to preserve the best parts of it—with maturity.

And now with two children, aging has become less graceful as I once believed it to be, but rather a sharp reminder and ticking countdown of the remainder of days I have left before my life passport expires. While it’s often a miracle and a joy to witness the ever-changing nuances of my children, it’s in each passing milestone that I’m reminded of my limited time with them—that one day I won’t be around.

Age does that to you, too: reality (and the Grim Reaper) gives you a slight tap on the shoulder that may sometimes leave a trace of cynicism. But, I’m not there yet—though I have often shown signs of aging like:

  • discovering gray hair in places I never thought would be gray hair…like my eyebrows
  • not recognizing the artists and musicians featured on the MTV Awards
  • comfortable singing along to a 70’s track—and then realizing the radio station is simply featuring an “Oldie, But Goodie” tribute to the 70’s
  • discovering an impatience and deep irritation to teenagers’ “antics” like loud bravado, incessant cursing, and “strange” fashion choices
  • an inability to stay past 1:00 a.m. without complete exhaustion
  • a lack of interest in “partying” as opposed to “relaxing and staying in”
  • a heightened sensitivity to loud noise
  • nausea when riding a roller coaster
  • tracking physical ailments in order to have a clear, medical history—for the next physical ailment expected to come along
  • squinting even with prescribed eyeglasses on
  • forgetfulness…often
  • the need to write almost everything down to curb that forgetfulness
  • crows’ feet (and the one’s I’m talking about aren’t on crows)
  • permanent callouses regardless of how much ointment and creams I use, or how many pedicures I have
  • consideration and concerns about pension, life insurance, early retirement, and my will
  • reminiscing and nostalgia as a popular pastime
  • a great disdain for misspelled words, an insurgence of online acronyms, and the loss or dying art of letter-writing and natural penmanship
  • genuine surprise when your children begin to refer to you as “old”
  • a predisposition to “complaining” and “self-pity”

***

Well, the good news is…I’m not dead…yet!

And a great consequence of having a birthday is celebrating it. Because my actual birthday falls on a weekday this year, my husband treated my immediate family to lunch on the weekend. And food, especially great food, has always brought my family together for some festive fun.

Spoonful Restaurant. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Spoonful Restaurant. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Happy birthday to me. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Happy birthday to me. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Michael excited to try the Spoonful menu for the very first time. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael excited to try the Spoonful menu for the very first time. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Xara ready for her first plate. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara ready for her first plate. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

So glad it's buffet. There's more where this came from. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
So glad it’s buffet. There’s more where this came from. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

And now for dessert! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
And now for dessert! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Michael enjoying fries. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael enjoying fries. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Michael and Elias playing. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael and Elias playing. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Thanks to my husband for hosting my birthday lunch. (c) Photo by Caesar S. Garcia. All rights reserved.
Thanks to my husband for hosting my birthday lunch. (c) Photo by Caesar S. Garcia. All rights reserved.

***

Us on my birthday. (c) Photo by Caesar S. Garcia. All rights reserved.
Us on my birthday. (c) Photo by Caesar S. Garcia. All rights reserved.

***

My family. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My family. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

A wonderful bonus to becoming a year older is also receiving gifts. Because my birthday is in January, it’s much like celebrating Christmas—twice! Thanks to Mom and Dad for fuzzy, leopard print slippers and a monetary gift to aid my shopping habit. The fuzzy slippers go perfectly with my leopard pants and are cozy to warm up in since our hardwood floors are so cold in the winter. Thanks to my sister, Riz, my brother-in-law, Joe, and Elias for my new Joshua Perets leopard print purse, a leopard print robe, and a Burt’s Bees lip balm and lotion set. The only thing I love almost as much as leopard printed things and nail polish are purses! And I’m privileged to own a Joshua Perets designer bag. As for the robe, I’m wearing it right now because it’s so soft and cozy.  And you’ve completely converted me to Burt’s Bees products. The replenishing, pomegranate lip balm is so smooth and 100% all-natural that I actually look forward to putting it on…and on…and on… Thanks so much, you guys. I love you—and my presents!

And because the day isn’t over yet, I look forward to celebrating again tonight with a special birthday dinner, cake, and more presents from my husband and the kids! (My daughter has been waiting to eat my birthday cake all weekend.)

Aside from that, I think I’ll be spoiling myself with a mani/pedi, a warm bath, a glass of wine, and a good book. In my “old” age, I’ve learned to enjoy the simplicity of things.

Thanks to all for taking the time out of your day to wish me well either in person, on the phone, or on Facebook and/or Twitter today. It’s especially nice to be thought of and remembered on your special day.

(Now, if I can only figure out which wish I’d like to make…)

***

What’s the most memorable birthday celebration you’ve ever had?

What’s the most thoughtful birthday present you’ve ever received?

What age do you think you’ve enjoyed the most or think you might enjoy the most?

***

zara stamp

Michael’s 9th Birthday LEGO Party Ideas

happy birthday avatar

Michael’s 9th Birthday LEGO Party Ideas

07.08.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

While my son’s actual birthday lands on Canada Day, we thought it best to throw him a party the following weekend and celebrated by hosting a theme to reflect his favourite and current obsession—LEGO—and in particular, LEGO mini-figures and their Superhero sets!

And so, it was with some planning, patience, and a few supplies that I was able to create some decorative ideas, games, and desserts that incorporated the popular LEGO brand:

1. LEGO Board

An effective way of decorating your home to match your birthday theme is to cover what’s already hanging on your walls. In this case, I covered my black-and-white painting with blue wrapping paper that I designed to look like a large LEGO piece. I simply traced large circles on the wrapping paper, marked them with the words LEGO, and taped the piece to the painting that was already hanging on the wall.

LEGO board

***

2. LEGO Mini-Figure Hanging Décor

I drew simple-shaped LEGO mini-figure heads out of yellow construction paper, drew the faces with black marker, and hung them from the ceiling with wrapping ribbon.

LEGO hanging decor

***

3. LEGO Brick Road

My attempt at some wit helped me to create the “LEGO brick road” as inspired by the famous “yellow brick road” from The Wizard of Oz. I printed a Batman LEGO colouring page from online, coloured it, and created a comic bubble inviting guests to follow the LEGO Brick Road to Michael’s birthday party. I also cut different coloured pieces of construction paper, made them into LEGO pieces, and taped them down on the ground that led to the front door, and continued its path inside the house, and out again into the backyard.

LEGO batman sign

***

LEGO brick road

***

4. LEGO Letters

To honour the celebrant, I used double-sided tape to mount LEGO pieces that I shaped into Michael’s name onto a white erase board. Then I surrounded it with clear glass, block vases filled with the same-coloured LEGO pieces.

LEGO Michael letters

***

5. LEGO Plates, Cups, and Cutlery

To save on costs, I encouraged guests to re-use their drinking cups for the party by labelling each cup with each guest’s name. I used tablecloths, plates, cups, and cutlery, and coloured sticker dots that matched the colour theme of the celebration: red, blue, yellow, and green.

LEGO cups

***

6. LEGO Loot Bags

I printed a LEGO piece graphic on labels, coloured them in a variety of colours, and stuck them on paper bags, and then punched holes at the top of the bags and the name tags, and tied them with red wrapping ribbon to create a simple, but fun LEGO loot bag. The children were happy to receive their very own LEGO mini-figure inside!

LEGO loot bags

***

7. Large LEGO Blocks

To create large, decorative LEGO blocks, I wrapped wooden boxes (but, you can use tissue boxes, foam blocks, or anything shaped like LEGO) with coloured wrapping paper, painted candles with acrylic paint, and then glued them on the boxes using industrial glue. They’re a nice touch to the party’s décor, the most fun to make, and can be used as toys for the celebrant after the party. Michael kept his and uses them to decorate his room!

LEGO block piece

***

LEGO block piece2

***

LEGO block piece3

***

8. LEGO Mini-Figure Man

To make a LEGO Mini-Figure Man as the decorative centre-piece, I used what I had on hand. For the bottom of the LEGO mini-figure man’s body, I used an old, red milk crate and taped the printed LEGO logo on the front. For the upper part of his body, I used a red bin that you can buy at any dollar store. For his head, I painted a large Coffeemate tin yellow and painted his eyes and mouth black. For the top of his head, I covered a can of tuna with yellow foam. And for his arms, I stuffed an old pair of white stockings with fibre batting and pinned on some yellow foam for his hands. Et voila! The LEGO Mini-Figure Man was able to attend Michael’s birthday party, too!

LEGO Mini-Figure Man1

***

LEGO mini-figure man2

***

9. LEGO Games

A spin-off the traditional, “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” game, I created the “Stick the Dot on the LEGO Block!” I drew LEGO blocks on Bristol board and gave the children different coloured sticker dots to stick on the board. The trick is, after being spun around a few times, they had to place the sticker exactly inside the dots.

LEGO game1

***

LEGO game2

***

10. LEGO Block Cake

For a little extra cake, I baked a simple vanilla cake in a block pan, levelled it off with a cake leveler, and coated it icing that I dyed with gel food colouring. Then I cut a few large marshmallows in half, iced them, and placed them on top of the cake to mimic a LEGO block. Easy-peasy! (And yummy, too.)

LEGO block cake

***

Needless to say, Michael’s LEGO birthday party was a hit!

***

Happy belated 9th Birthday, to my little man!

Michael - birthday boy

***

zara alexis blog signature

Queen Victoria Isn’t the Only One with a Birthday! (Happy Birthday Esly!)

happy birthday avatar

Queen Victoria Isn’t the Only One with a Birthday!

(Happy Birthday Esly!)

05.20.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

While many people take the opportunity to bask in the limelight in life and especially on their birthday, my husband, Esly, is quite the opposite. He’s known to many to be “reserved, quiet, and/or shy.” But, in actuality, his reservation comes from a well of humility and wisdom more than it does shyness.

It’s said that “empty cans tend to make the most noise.” But, when it comes to my husband, his silence isn’t because he doesn’t have anything to say—it’s because he knows just what to say, how to say it, and most importantly, when to say it. He’s always been a man of more significance than what people give him credit for, especially those who take things at face-value.

And in regards to his “shyness,” that’s also another misconception by others who don’t know him well like I do. He isn’t actually shy. His ego simply doesn’t demand attention. He’s fine standing in the background, observing the world with a keen eye. His inner confidence helps him know exactly who he is, and while extroverts enjoy the obvious charm they’re compelled to share in their obvious and often busy gab, Esly’s charm is like a hidden gem that only a few and privileged people get to enjoy.

You know the term, “strong and silent type.” That’s him. A rock.

I’ve dated men in the past who were wonderfully extroverted, the most popular in a crowd, and the tallest and loudest in the group due to a well-practiced bravado. But when it came to substance and strength, these attributes would falter at the slightest sign of conflict. They were at most, temporarily and superficially entertaining, but fast and fickle as the wind.

Esly, though, was a treasure worth waiting for. A chiseled force undeterred by hardship, nor easily swayed by the superficial.

I have a few friends who have complained about their boyfriends and/or husbands who have a “wandering eye,” those that have no qualms flirting with a woman simply because an opportunity arises. That’s something I don’t worry about with my husband, not only because we share a sincere trust and respect for one another, but because he’s not easily swayed nor interested in the gaudy audacity of women who demand that kind of attention.

As a woman, I’ve had my own insecurities that originated from the burden of poor relationships. And after 12 years of being with my husband, two children, and the toll of changes that come with age and a number of experiences, I’ve asked Esly,

Do you still love me? I mean, I’ve gained weight after the babies, my body has changed, my hair is getting grey…

And on and on I would go, listing my imperfections, foolish enough to compare myself to those that are younger than I am, or that I feel are more attractive than me. And do you know what my husband told me?

I love you. Our bodies will change. We’re going to grow old. But, you’re the one. Those women depend on makeup and crass and their looks only. They think they’re sexy by giving their sex to just anybody. But, you, you’re my wife and the mother of my children—the one I chose and fell in love with from the very beginning. No matter how old we get or how our bodies change, it’s still you. You’re beautiful and I love you.

Okay, ladies. COME ON!! Right?!? RIGHT?!?

Do you see what I mean, now? I am blessed to be loved by such a man.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Sure, my husband isn’t Rambo. He doesn’t ooze machismo like Bruce Willis or Jason Stathan. He doesn’t flirt like George Clooney, nor does he tell jokes Jack Black or Will Farrel. And he sure isn’t the man of the hour in front of paparazzi like Brad Pitt. Nothing wrong with those guys—they’re just not my type of guy.

He doesn’t even need to prove his manhood by the size of his muscles, the speed of his car, the amount of his paycheque, or the alcohol content in his glass. (And that doesn’t mean he isn’t built; he just doesn’t wear skin-tight T-shirts or go to a gym everyday and then tell everyone. He drives a Jeep Cherokee. His paycheque is more than you’d think. And he doesn’t need whiskey or beer to be “one of the guys.”)

He is, however, a faithful man to his word (however few); a man who works hard for his money, but isn’t blinded by the love of it (he doesn’t have to own the largest flat screen TV in the neighbourhood); he’s a man who can be as fiercely protective of those he loves as he can be tender (he still holds my hand and writes me love letters); a man who believes in doing the right thing even when someone isn’t looking; and a man whose quiet resilience will prove to outrun those who lose steam just by bragging about winning the race before they’ve even run. He’s not only a man who’ll help a friend, but also a stranger in need. And he’s humble enough to still help me out with any of the house chores or give me a massage when I’m tired. But, most of all, he’s a man who reveres God, prays for his children, and loves his wife, and remains at best, a positive person, believing and hoping the best in all things and people regardless of the circumstances.

(And for those of you who don’t know: he’s a sports fanatic and plays a killer guitar! LOL)

He’s at the most basic level, a wonderful man.

Queen Victoria isn’t the only one with a birthday! Today’s fireworks are worthy of him, too.

***

Daddy, the kids and I wish you a wonderful birthday. May God continue to bless you and use you for His plan and purposes!

I love you, Papa.

***

esly collage

***

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

zara alexis blog signature

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Cousin Shakespeare, ‘Tis Thou 449th Year To Date! Sirrah, Bloweth Thy Candlewick and Pen Thy Verse!

happy birthday avatar

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Cousin Shakespeare, ‘Tis Thou 449th Year To Date!

Sirrah, Blweth Thy Candlewick and Pen Thy Verse!

04.23.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

shakespeare

***

A Verse for Shakespeare

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Billy, Billy—thou art thee Bard of Avon,

Thee poet and playwright of sonnets 154 and plays 38,

How must we epitomize thee,

Billy,

Sirrah William Shakespeare-the-Great?

***

Neither am I, Mistress Anne Hathaway,

nor Susanna, nor thou twins.

Nor part of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men,

nor as rich as Lear, thou King.

***

Son of alderman, third child of eight.

Son of a farmer’s daughter,

Grammar school curricula,

Latin text of late.

***

Thou shooketh the scene with thou

“Shakes”peare wit,

thy Royal Patent,

that new King James I

bit.

***

Thou built a theatre by River Thames,

Christened it the Globe,

Oblivious to fame.

***

But wealth brought you goods,

In Stratford, thy New Place;

Parish tithes, an albatross dwelling,

Quarto editions—a famous face.

***

Between London and Stratford

and St. Helen’s Bishopsgate,

Thou moved cross river,

to Southwerk, passed

St. Paul’s Cathedral gate.

***

O, Cousin! O, Cousin!

In the chancel of

Holy Trinity Church;

Thy curse of moving

bones from thy grave

dost fears us so.

Spare us the tragedy

of  letting go.

***

Thy plays and sonnets,

iconic as thou.

Worshipped and studied,

manifestos somehow.

***

But, ’tis your day,

your 449th year.

Thy verses and plays

still quiver our tears.

***

Go forth and go well,

in the light of thou pen.

Bloweth thy candlewick,

Beloved poet of men.

***

Happy birthday, Cousin Shakespeare,

Three cheers for thou, Sirrah!

From this small, humble bibliotaphe,

Of word, of verse, of bookish guffaw.

***

What is your favourite Shakespearean play and/or poem?

***

zara alexis blog signature

Happy Birthday to My Dad! 04.05.2013

happy birthday avatar

Happy Birthday to My Dad!

04.05.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I’ve always had a close relationship with my father and I’ll be the first to admit when I was young I happily took on the role of Daddy’s Little Girl. There was no choice, really. I was the first-born, the eldest—a gregarious and precocious daughter, not a son.

And while my sister clung to my mother’s legs like a koala to a tree trunk, I was a rambunctious little girl who spoke her mind, openly, loudly, and most often times, without self-edit—much like my father.

To celebrate and commemorate my father’s birthday today, here are some of my favourite memories I have of me and my Dad:

My Dad strumming his guitar while sitting on the floor and encouraging me to sing along with him, the song, Yesterday, by The Beatles, when I was four-years-old.

My Dad sitting me at the dinner table and teaching me how to write the alphabet in both uppercase and lowercase letters, of which I now owe my penmanship.

My Dad holding the back of my bike seat while I was learning how to ride a bike for the very first time.

My Dad holding my hand in the operating room when I was a child and I had to get stitches on my forehead and he said, “Just squeeze my hand when it hurts, okay.”

My Dad punching a guy out at a party because he said that I was ugly!

My Dad buying me and my sister a Strawberry Shortcake record player from Consumers Distributing. My mother argued that we couldn’t afford it, but my Dad argued back that we still deserved to get something because “it’s for us and [we’re] still kids.”

My Dad being firm with the man from a collector’s agency who was harassing me for payment on a credit card when I was teenager.

Whenever my Dad dances.

When my Dad sings Hotel California on karaoke–and sounds better than any guy who’s in the room.

My Dad holding my hand on the way to a pew on Sunday morning at St. Catherine of Siena Church when I was little.

My Dad telling my husband to go to me while I was in labour with my first child—when my husband fell asleep !

When my Dad told us, “If you don’t stop fighting, I’m going to throw that [toy] racoon out!”—and then did, (out the car window while driving on the highway) because we refused to listen. (We never questioned him after that!)

My Dad singing Dream, Dream, Dream by The Everly Brothers with me in harmony, by the campfire, the summer we went to Bonnie Lake.

Every time my Dad tells a raunchy joke!

When my Dad took me to my very first Toronto Maple Leaf game at The Maple Leaf Gardens—when he could have taken anyone else.

When my husband told my Dad’s co-worker, “I’m married to ____________’s daughter,” and his co-worker answered, “And he let you?!?”

When we were all on our knees working on our front yard landscape and my Dad said, “This is called a peanut, see? Because it’s shaped like a peanut.” (In reference to a mound we were building to plant some bushes.)

The fact that my Dad taught me how to truly and effectively shovel the driveway in winter.

That my Dad called in a favour so a salon would close so that me and my bridal party could get our nails done the night before my wedding.

The fact that my Dad and I share the same taste in mugs, plates, and cutlery.

When I hugged my Dad before leaving for the hospital and he said, “Just go. Don’t worry. God is with you.”

***

Happy birthday, Dad!

Hope you have an amazing day filled with the things you love to do!

And a year of good health, freedom from stress and anxiety, and a lot of happiness and prosperity!

I love you!

***

Zar bottle feeding
My Dad bottle feeding me a few days after I was born.

***

Me and my Dad in Florida.
Me and my Dad in Florida.

***

What great memories do you have with your Dad?

Do you have any special birthday traditions that you celebrate?

***

zara alexis blog signature

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein! 09.25.2012

 

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

09.25.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I was nine-years-old and in grade five when I first came across the poetry of Shel Silverstein. My first book was Where the Sidewalk Ends, published by HarperCollins in 1974. And to date, it’s still a book I thoroughly enjoy if not only for its nostalgia. And now my eight-year-old son, Michael, and my three-year-old daughter, Mercedes, enjoy its poetry, too (not to mention they also enjoy colouring the illustrations!).

***

And one of my favourite bookish poems comes from Shel Silverstein’s collection, A Light in the Attic called “Overdues”:

What do I do?

What do I do?

This library book is 42

Years overdue.

I admit that it’s mine

But I can’t pay the fine—

Should I turn it in

Or hide it again?

What do I do?

What do I do?

– From A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, HarperCollins Publishers, 1981, p.   65.

***

And of course, one of my all-time favourites is “Backward Bill.” Here’s a YouTube clip of Shel Silverstein reading it aloud:

***

***

So, in honour of your birthday, we remember you, Uncle Shelby! Thanks for being a best friend to a young, introverted girl who loved words (and still does). You are missed. And wherever you are, I trust that the sidewalk never ends.

Happy birthday, Shel Silverstein!

***

Which is your favourite Shel Silverstein book or poem?

***

Saturday Snapshot. 08.26.2012

Saturday Snapshot

08.26.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post. Please see the linky at AT HOME WITH BOOKS.

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

***

In my dreams, I could be a Princess, and that’s what I was.

– Loretta Young

***

I own copyright to all photos posted and request that any use of my photos be first cleared by permission from me with the use of an appropriate credit line, which I will specify and provide, as well as a link back to my webpage.

Copyright requests may be sent to me via email.

***

Zara Alexis