Thursday, February 28, 2008

Look Who Came To Lunch!

Aunt Donna (my dad's eldest sibling), Cousin Ron with his wife Ellie.

Sunday was a special treat! My cousin, Ron, his wife, Ellie, and his mom, Aunt Donna drove up from Ruskin to attend church with my parents in Tampa. After services they came on up to Wesley Chapel to honor me with their presence. I had made a mega pot of Mexican Style Chicken Soup! Hey, it's good for whatever ails you! I had forgotten that Ellie isn't a lover of soup, but since my recipe is quite rustic with big ol' chunks of chicken and veggies, she enjoyed two bowls full! I made sure they all knew to add in some Oaxca cheese and fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime to give the soup that truly Mexican twist. I also served crusty french baguettes with butter. When they asked if there was a connection between the Mexican soup and the French bread, Agustin was happy to point out that the whole "Cinco de Mayo" celebration is in honor of Mexico winning it's independence from France! So we happily dunked our French bread into our Mexican soup! LOL

We had a wonderful time visiting and catching up. We only live about 45 minutes apart, but hadn't seen each other since Christmas of '06!! I know, it's a crying shame!

Monday, Ron called me from his office to let me know that Wednesday he was reporting to Brandon hospital for a heart catherization, asking us to pray, not knowing what else lay ahead for him that day. All he knew was he hadn't passed the stress test during his physical. Well, it turned out he had two blocked arteries. One was blocked 100% , which they corrected Wed. by placing a stint in it. The other is 70% blocked, but was left as is. Ron was given a prescription and he has determined to continue his walking routine and watch what he eats more closely. (Boy Ron, I'm sure glad we got to enjoy that Tiramasu before you received your bad news!) I'm so glad he didn't require open heart surgery! Please remember him in your prayers as you go about your day. He will return back to work on Monday. Oh and one more note about my cousin Ron - he is quite the accomplished pianist! I just love hearing that guy tickle the ivories. One day soon, I want to take a photo of his unique piano and post it here for you all to see how truly beautiful it is.
I was thrilled with Ron's laughter and strong voice when I checked in on him tonight. He was so happy to be able to share with me how he had the opportunity to be a witness for Christ to several during his short hospital stay.

Me and my Aunt Donna!
The Motley Crew! (Ellie, Ron, my mom, Aunt Donna, and Agustin)

Ron giving me one of his charming smiles!

(HMMM---makes me wonder what he's up to!)

The S.O.U.P! (There really is chicken in there somewhere!)

Agustin made the rice just like his Mama used to make!

Looks good enough to eat!

The 3 toppings that make my chicken soup special! (Cilantro, Mexican cheese, limes)

We love you Ron and Ellie and are so thrilled you chose to spend Sunday afternoon hanging out with us!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Restaurant "La Casa De Rios"

Hello World!! I've missed you greatly dear buddies! We have been so sick in the Rios home and busy to boot. Things have slowed down for this week, I think due to all three of us trying to rest and just get over this flu! Shane was almost well, then I noticed his cough getting worse. He also became very lethargic and just looked so hollow eyed and peaked. We finally decided to take him to see a Dr. at the Urgent Care on Sunday, at which time he was diagnosed with bronchitis. Agustin is starting to get some of his mojo back. He has missed out on his jogging for two weeks now and is itching to get back to it. I have only been walking in a hit or miss style lately but hope to remedy that soon. So---how are all of you wonderful people? Have any of your families been hit hard with the flu this winter?
Now, about the title of this post. I wanted to share with y'all how we spent Valentine's Day. Agustin had to work of course. He's in the restaurant business, so Valentine's Day is one of their busiest days of the year. They served more than twice their normal number for supper on February 14th. The day before V-Day, he brought me a dozen beautiful red roses and a sweet card. He also brought a card home for Shane with some chocolates.

Seeing as how Agustin and I weren't going to be able to be together on Thursday, Shane and I concocted a plan for my parents. Wednesday night, driving home from church, I asked Shane if he would like to play HOST and invite Grandma and Grandpa over for a special dinner. We would set everything up as if they were in a classy restaurant. Any of you who know my Shane, know that this role playing and "putting on the dog" is right up his alley! I just about died of laughter when, after I shared my plan with him, he looked over at me from the passenger seat of the car and said, "Yeah I'd like to do that. Besides, Grandpa does need a little help in the romance department!" I swear, that kid is a hoot!

I got on the phone with my dad and told him to respond as though I were asking some questions about the book of Acts and the Apostle Paul. I didn't want mom to get any hints! I ran our plan by him and he agreed he did need some help for Valentine's evening!

The day was one of the most fun days I've had in a long time. Shane and I worked hard all day decorating hand made place mats, prepping food, pulling out the china and special dishes, decorating our back patio by the lake. We strung lights, etc. We chose some very special music to set a romantic mood. Shane made a sign for the front door which read, "Welcome to "La Casa De Rios Restaurant". Oh, and he also asked if I would type up a bill. I'll enclose a photo of it below.

Upon entering, mom and dad saw another sign which read, "Please wait to be Seated". Shane then led them into the front living room, which he called the Lounge. He asked if they would like a before dinner beverage, then served them Diet Coke in my finest goblets! I hid in the kitchen, preparing their appetizers of fresh croissants and fresh butter! Shane kept coming in to me to check for the next step. He then served their appetizers with flair! We tried not to hurry any step of the evening. Mom and Dad were giggling and having a blast! Mom was most pleasantly surprised! Dad had told her a little fib to get her out to our house. He told her that since Agustin had to work late, they were coming to pick Shane and I up to take us to try a new restaurant! Of course when Mom arrived and saw the sign Shane had made for our front door, she realized the surprise was for her!

Moving on now! Shane then asked them if they would mind having their dinner on the patio. He told them the restaurant was really crowded due to it being Valentine's Day. They agreed the patio would be lovely. He led them out the front door and around the side yard to the patio, which I had set with fine china and silver and my vase of red roses. The sun was setting and I had turned on the lights to create that certain ambiance they needed! Then I ran in and hid again. Shane seated them then came in and took out more fresh bread served in a basket. Then he took our ice bucket, which I had filled with ice and bottled water. Shane draped a white napkin over his arm and went out. I eavesdropped behind the patio door blinds. He asked them, "May I interest you in a bottle of our finest water?" They played right along. He poured their water, then came back in and began carrying out the entrees. I had baked chicken and dressing with gravy. I served grilled asparagus on top of the chicken. Then for sides, I served corn and mixed veggies. (broccoli, red peppers, etc.) Shane also bussed their table and served their desserts. I would prepare all the plates, etc. and he would carry it all out to them. That little booger worked hard! For dessert I dished yogurt into a goblet, topped it with fresh cantaloupe, a spoonful of Cool Whip and sprinkled some walnuts on top. I made coffee for them. Shane asked if they would like to sit a spell and sip their coffee while watching the sun go down over the lake. We had some Christian love songs by Steve and Annie Chapman playing outside also. Finally, Shane suggested they move to the "theatre" to view the night's movie. When they came in, I finally greeted them for the first time that evening. I had stayed hidden to help maintain the ambiance of a fine restaurant. I mean, they couldn't be allowed to see "the help" sweating and running around cooking up a storm now could they???

We watched a sweet movie called, "The Game Plan", which stars Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. "THE ROCK". He lived in the Tampa area for awhile when he was younger. We have friends who were his neighbors for many years and he still keeps in touch with them often. They say fame hasn't gone to his head! That's always nice to hear!

It was a splendid night and oh so much fun. Mom and Dad were the happiest I've seen them in awhile and just couldn't say enough good things about their evening. I was told that they couldn't get Shane to come out of character at all. He wasn't Shane at all but a wonderful mature host!

Shane and I had a good discussion about serving others. Having someone over made our night wonderful! We could have sat home and done nothing. I could have moped around missing my hubby on that special evening, but I'm glad we chose to do the better thing. It was a great learning experience for Shane. He learned through playing! I was so proud of him.

Now enjoy some photos from the evening! As always, you may click to enlarge any photo!

Shane "patiently" awaiting the arrival of his customers!

Enjoying appetizers in the Lounge!

Place mat made by Shane!

Dinner is served!

These two are known for "making the bear growl"! (Shane always growls like a bear when his grandpa hugs him.)

Dessert is served!

Close up of dessert!

The best tip ever (Notice what Shane is holding in his hands!)
Shane's list of Reservations!


The Menu at "La Casa De Rios"

From Shane's order pad!

Sign at Entrance!

Mom was wearing this aged pin on her lapel. She bought it back when she and dad started dating. She was 16 years old at the time. The background is supposed to be white, but you can tell it has yellowed over the years.

Roses from my honey!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Words of Affirmation

Okay, okay, I get it. Most of you don't think I'm boring! It made me giggle when reading your comments. You see, my love language is "Words of Affirmation". Maybe I was craving some of your kind words, which is why I opened myself up to say "I'm boring" right here on this very blog! *smiles**blushes*

Another "affirmation" I received today is posted above. Betty from Country Charm awarded me this Blogging Buddies Award. Arent the hugging kittie's a great representation of how we feel when we recieve our cyber hug? I just love it and hope you all will give Betty's blog a visit and a comment.

Friday, February 15, 2008


A)You forgot how to sign into blogger
B)You can't remember what your last post was about
C)At church last Sunday morning, a friend's hubby mentions that you've been absent from posting for quite awhile (I found Mike's comment to be cute and endearing and motivating to try to get back to my posting consistency!)

I must say, ladies and gents, that the answer is D) ALL OF THE ABOVE! That is where I have found myself tonight. I actually had to think about the proper way of signing in to Blogger! Dear me! I used to be accused of being a "Comment Nazi" and "the Gestapo of Blogging"! It appears I am losing my strong hold on blogging.

Sunday morning, after Mike's casual comment about not being on my blog in so long, I started analyzing why. Here is what I came up with.

1.) When I first started this blog back in Oct. of '06, I was in very poor health and not up to doing much out of the home. I was pretty much homebound for several months. The blog was a great way for me to have a connection outside of these four walls! It was intoxicating to me! I slept in strange patterns. I would be up all different hours of the night. Many times, my best posts were written at midnight or later, hence, the title of my blog! "Midnight Musings". Now that I have most of my health issues under control and I have restored energy, I'm out and about so much more. This really cuts into my down time, when I used to be able to post.

2.) Shane's schooling is requiring more of me it seems. He needs much drilling in math and as he undertakes many new concepts in most subjects this year, I find I need to be more available for him than the past two years.

3.) I fear I am just too boring! Yes, I really think that sometimes when I sit down here to write something. What is exciting to me and worthy of my writing about, is probably nothing to you folks. I'm so happy when you do leave comments, as they allow me to know you've been by for a visit. It really is a highlight of my day! So keep 'em coming! I know some of you are still lurkers, but at least you let me know by phone or email that you've been keeping up with the Rios Ramblings.

4.) I find that many times when I can take a moment to post something here, I'm just too tired to think straight! Being tired is a blessing because it testifies to the fact I've been busy doing and accomplishing other things.

5.) Hubby has been needing a little extra attention and loving lately. Some crazy situations have been taking place, which affect his life more directly than they do mine. I have had to be that ear and support he has needed of late.

So there you have my thoughts on why I seem to have been neglecting my blog lately. I sure hope I'm back on the wagon now! I hope to be posting soon, about some of the things that have been going on in our lives. See ya' around!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


This is the first prayer card Rita, a.k.a. Jungle Mom, and Clint, a.k.a. Yekwana Man, had printed. You can see how young they were when they first began their journey as missionaries.

Yes folks, today our beloved Jungle Mom from The Jungle Hut is turning __ __ years old! I wanted to get this posted earlier today, but later is better than not doing it at all. As most of you know, Jungle Mom is my baby sister. We haven't had the opportunity to spend very many of our adult birthdays together due to living on different continents. She and her hubby have been missionaries in Venezuela for years and now are moving on to Paraguay. Well, it turns out that we weren't able to be together on her birthday this year either, even though she and her family are home on furlough. I called her cell phone to wish her a happy birthday, as she was on the road to Jacksonville, FL where the family will participate in a mission's conference there for the rest of this week. As we spoke on the phone, she passed my exit and informed me that she was waving to me as they sped by!!!

I thought it would be fun to share some photos of my sis, (Rita) in honor of her birthday. Kim and Teresa, there are a couple I'm including here that will give you girls giggles!! Enjoy! Oh and Happy Birthday Rita. I'm so very proud of you. You have accomplished so much in your life already. I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for your life from this point forward! LOVE YOU! Maybe on your way back into town, you can actually STOP off at my exit and have lunch or early supper with us! Call when you're near.

Rita holding baby Jackie. (Missionary in Paraguay now with her own 2 girlies!) Also in this photo are Clint Vernoy, his brother, Ed with his wife Debbie and son Jared.

Rita in center, holding her youngest, Jayde. She and Clint recieved a wonderful blessing at this Cathedral concert. You can see the late Roger Bennett here at his music table. When he discovered that Rita and Clint were missionaries, he gave them loads of free music from his table. Roger went home to be with the Lord after a long battle with leukemia. What a wonderful Christian testimony this talented musician and song writer maintained to the end.

Rita in her high school A.C.E. uniform.

Rita is in back wearing red shirt. These girls were coming out of the ladies room at the local Dairy Queen - West Virginia! Hi Teresa! (Front gal)

Rita, Kim, and Debbie at Bill Rice Ranch, summer camp

This is one of my all time favorite photos of my little sister.

Rita posing in McDonald's playground, Arcadia, FL with one of my former students.
Riffe family photo. Rita is in front next to our little brother. I'm standing up in back. FYI: This photo was taken to put on our first prayer card as we were going to Australia as missionaries.

Me with my new baby sister!

Mom holding my baby sister as I look on. This was in our home in Fortuna, CA

One Christmas in Arcadia, FL

She always loved our pets!
Rita at age 12