Nana y Papa y Noviembre

Much to our delight, my parents made a trip to visit us for two weeks in November.  Because of the uncertainty of my dad’s health, Mom thought it best not to share the news of their plans to come down with the kids, just in case they had to cancel plans at the last minute.  With much prayer support behind them, a wonderful doctor’s kit filled with “in case of” meds, and armed with gifts and goodies, they arrived a day earlier than we expected (yay for no night-stay in Panama City!), and here is the reaction of the girls…

I (Shirlene) put a movie on for them to avoid any early detection of my parents as they came up the walkway.

I let my mom and dad in, and they walked into the room where the girls were watching their movie.  It took several seconds for it to “register” as the looks on their faces were a mixture of confusion, and shock.  Ellie later told us she thought she was dreaming and they weren’t real when she looked over and saw them standing there in the doorway.  Bella had a permanent jaw-drop, open mouthed expression. :)

Once they realized it was “for real” they bounded off the couch and the smiles didn’t stop for two weeks. :D

Ethan’s reaction to seeing them.  Now, I did let him in on the little secret several weeks before Mom and Dad came.  I told him we had to keep it a secret and was pretty confident he wouldn’t spill the beans. ;)  I started to worry though that the girls actually might hear him when he started repeating back to me, “Papa, Nana, avion (airplane)” every time he heard an airplane outside!

Dad did a ton of coconut husking while they were here!

Ethan hitching a ride up the steps from one of his sisters.

Almost there, Bella!

PHEW!  Sometimes I am amazed at the strength Ellie and Bella have to continue toting around their 26 lb. brother.

Ethan knows he has it made with these girls taking such good care of him. :)

Once at the top, the hike seems worth it!

Dad….still husking coconuts. :)

My pretty mama made us all kinds of yummy fruit drinks and liquados while they were here.  I loved being able to ask her about strange looking fruits and foods that she is familiar with from her childhood days.

Ahh yes, when the clothes start coming out of the suitcases, the girls start getting creative with Ethan’s wardrobe.  Visions of dressing up my own little brother come to mind when I see Ethan sporting dresses and tights. :)  Sorry Johann for all of the dress up/hair sessions you had to endure!

Suitcases make great toys

Mom was determined to get into a cayuco during their trip, because as she put it, “Sometimes you just have to force yourself to do things you don’t want to!” :)  Mom dislikes the water, sun and sand, and boats, just FYI.  And yes, Mom has ALWAYS been an over-achiever. ;)

“The Day” of riding in the cayuco turned out to be quite challenging.  Waters were choppy…but she was still willing to give it a go.

Bobby helping her get into the boat…with instructions on where to find the most sturdy placement for your feet when getting in.

She did great!!

And then the waters starting rocking a bit…

And I think she wasn’t so sure…

When it was Dad’s turn to get into the cayuco, he was confident and stepped right in….Mom, as you can see, continued to get nervous.  But she also couldn’t stop laughing as the boat rocked and moved.

Hands started grabbing, grasping for anything stable as Dad took a seat.

By now we were all dying of laughter…Mom especially.  Bobby laughs out loud every time he sees these photos and remembers her funny reaction to the horrible instability of the boat.  Cayucos make canoes look like they have the stability of barges, in case you were wondering.

More uncontrollable laughter, despite her white knuckles. :)

More waves and wind made the decision of whether or not she’d had enough of a “ride” an easy one. :)

Bobby, Dad and Ellie went on a little tour.

As they waved goodbye, I shouted, “I hope this isn’t a little three hour tour!”

There were some really good wobbly waves out there but they safely returned half an hour later.

Ethan and Bella preferred the beached cayuco on hard land too. ;)

Movie time with Nana!  Ethan just wanted to stay sprawled on her lap.

Bobby and Mom down at the dock in the dark for another must see/do: Bioluminescence caused by plankton in the water!


Bella teaching Ethan the beauty of staying laid back and chill.

Ethan sharing his dried apples (all the way from Washington!) with the horses.

Ethan chewing on a pineapple core.  Three things Ethan loves:  headlamps, pacifiers and pineapple.

We were all entertained by a colorful wig that came amongst the gifts from home.

Nana got to clown around as well.

Bella was excited about her boy Barbie.  Now all of the girl Barbies can swoon and fight over him.

Ellie loves swimsuits!

Some of her gifts came in a mesh bag from Mom and Dad’s house and she repeatedly smelled the bag throughout the day exclaiming, “It smells like Nana and Papa’s house!”  I’m embarrassed to say she gets that smelling thing from me.

Cars and underwear, what more could a boy want?


And hats!

One of the fun things about Mom and Dad’s visit was that they got here just in time for Ethan’s birthday.

In true kid-form, the balloons are just as exciting as the gifts.

Happy 2nd birthday, Ethan!!  We love your sweet nature and

charming personality.  Your prayers are precious and we

already see that you have a concern for others (when you’re

not busy getting into your sisters’ things) which makes our hearts happy. :)

When he saw his new hat, Ethan promptly said, “Daddy!  Mommy!” and ran to get our hats that look similar.

Ethan loves his new hat!

There were all kinds of treasures in the gift bags from home!

Liz and Terry helped us get him a set of wheels.  This is my attempt to keep my little active boy busy while I do school with the girls.  We’ll see if it works. ;)

No birthday is complete without some messy chocolate cake

Flashback: and here’s our little guy a year ago.  Same chocolate cake, same messy face. :)

Mom immediately took on all sorts of “projects” while she was here because she can’t sit still and be lazy.  I don’t think I take after her in this area.  Here’s one of the tasks she undertook….scrubbing grime and wear out of this dining table.

There was a lot of elbow grease involved.

And the facelift on the table continued…

Meanwhile the big open space created the best dance floor.

So on went the music.

And out came the dance moves!

Mom can’t sit still if there’s Latin music playing.

I’m sure Dad and Bobby enjoyed the upbeat music for their sanding project.

The end result was a table that looks like new!  Well, for Panama standards anyways. ;)

We went on a few boat rides.  Some wet, some dry.  This one was a pleasant one.

My beautiful Mama!

I love my Daddy!

We had to take them to our favorite pizza joint.  Los Secretos!

Dad checking out their wood fire oven.

 Dad is such a poser. ;)

My little boy

My big boy

Dad getting acquainted with Pearl.

William cooking up some pizzas

Mom, Bella and Dad playing Uno.

Bella discovered she really liked this game.

A day around Bocas town.  This is in the park along the main street in town.

Eating fish and chips at the Rip Tide, a floating restaurant boat.

Another windy day!

And then it started raining.  Ethan started dancing.

Dad walking back in the rain.

There was no getting around it, we all got wet.

Ethan thought it was a good time to put bug spray on Dad.

Soaking wet!  Dad declared the rain, “Refreshing!” but I’m not sure Mom agreed.

Ethan tired after a long day in town.

Mom braved a trek into Bocas with me later in the week only this time it was dry….and quite warm.

View from our lunch spot.

Taking a JAMPAN water taxi.  That’s Moises, one of our favorite drivers.

Mayelis came over for her tutoring and Mom was quick to take on the task of working with her.  She found our little neighbor girl quite cute and I think Mayelis was surprised to see that I do indeed have a chocolate skin colored mom.

Ethan hanging out with Papa.

Playing with clothespins.

Playing with Nana.

After all of that husking, Dad helped me grate several of the coconuts too!  I miss you already, Dad! ;)

We took a little tour to our old stomping grounds and were blessed with a breezy, sunny day.

We used to live near here and every time we’d pass by, I’d think of my lovely South African friends Brett, Lyn and Jodene!  The girls and I used to refer to this as “Table top trees” because it reminds me of Tabletop Mountain in South Africa.  I know, it’s a big stretch, but that’s what I thought the first time I saw it and it stuck.

Checking out some of the local vegetation.

Ethan adores cayucos.

And pretty soon he convince Nana to come and sit with him.

She was glad it was on dry ground. ;)

Another stop by Los Secretos where Amy snapped a photo of us.  I think my eyes are closed.

We went by Bram’s property where we hope to start building soon (when it’s officially our property) and Bobby had to pee.  And

I had to take a picture.  And then I decided to share it with you.

Mom heading down from the mountain top

Although neither of my parents are “beach” people, we couldn’t have them leave without them seeing the infamous Red Frog Beach that’s on the island where we live.  There are often sloths from the dock to the entrance of the property and this day was no exception.

 My babies, dressed in their bathing suits, “just in case.”

Punta Lava, one of the restaurants on the beach.

I think Mom must be telling Ethan secrets.

Checking out the big waves

Here we are!

I love my parents!

A somewhat posed shot.  Nice hat, Bella.

Some funny candid shots.

Ellie and her Nana.

Another funny one. :)

Bella must have inherited Mom’s love of dancing.  They would take time to twirl in random places.

A trip to Red Frog Beach wouldn’t be complete without a little dip in the water.

So happy she gets to play in the water.

Beach bum

Have I mentioned we have missed these people???

I can’t tell you how quickly two weeks went by!  It seemed like they had just arrived when it was time to say goodbye.  They had to leave dark and early (the sun wasn’t up yet), the waves were rough and it was raining.  Ellie woke up to get in one final hug and kiss!

The day of Mom and Dad’s departure was a sad one for us all (there were many tears!), but we were SO thankful and happy that God made a way for them to come and worked out all of the details, from planes and taxi’s to good health and protection from harmful “bugs”!!  The only bad thing about having wonderful people in our lives is that it makes the goodbyes that much sadder and the wait until we see one another again, that much longer!

So, who’s next???  We promise we’ll do our best to take care of you!  :)


  1. Aidy
    Dec 7, 2012

    Oh Sas, that made me cry, then laugh, then rejoice. So neat to get a glimpse of the wonderful time you had with your ma & pa. Miss you all. xxx

  2. Andrea
    Dec 7, 2012

    I rejoice with all of you, on that end and now on this end for having had such a life-FILLED and life-giving time together! GRACE<grace, always amazing grace for ways that Father pours forth His blessings on His children!!

    I always consider it a treat when I see your blogs arrive on my little Mac…And I do pray for you every time you come spinning or sliding into my mind. Sorry that I rarely make time to send a comment of thanks and encouragement for all that your lives have done and walked…trodded through these many but fast and full months.

    I pray that you will continue to be led day by day, step by step…including the surprise detours, (that only look like detours to you….and us!) Aren't we ever-so-glad that our loving Daddy is on the throne of EVERYTHING! Much love dear ones, "Andream"

  3. Slim
    Dec 8, 2012

    I had a big smile on my face from the very start to the very end. So good…

  4. Lauren
    Dec 8, 2012

    What PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS memories. Sharing your joy and your tears. Love you all!!


  5. Mama
    Dec 10, 2012

    I look at the pictures and I can feel the wind on my face, the warmth… the soaking rain… oh, I can hear the laughter. I read Shirlene’s words and the moments of our time together gain new life , the great joys, the funny moments, the tearful goodbyes. I look into my heart and I feel blessed, loved, privileged… and so grateful! Tears rolled down my cheeks as I revisit and recall our special gift, a gift of love! Gracias Señor y gracias amores! Los amo mucho!! MUA!

  6. Mama
    Dec 11, 2012

    I was reflecting about the elbow grease and the cleaning of the table … when Ellie heard Shirlene make that comment she turned to me and said: Yes, Nana, there is a lot of elbow grease on this table. I have noticed that there are people with bad manners here. I saw that they set their elbows on the table, that is why we have all this elbow grease!! I love her, my little helper :-) Be on guard, watch those elbows, she will catch you! he, he, he.

  7. Brettitto
    Dec 16, 2012

    Thanks for thinking of us. Loved your report!! I looked back on my journal for the year and a highlight was the hours we grabbed together at the coffee shop in Portland, Shirlene. Miss you!!

  8. Alice Mathis
    Dec 16, 2012

    WOW! Such awesome parents (or grandparents). Shirlene was blessed with the best parents. Love and prayers.

  9. Ramona
    Dec 18, 2012

    I’m sooo glad they made it there safely and had such a good time with you all! Store those memories for the days ahead!!! Thanks to God you got company from HOME:) Love and miss you!

  10. Paula
    Jan 3, 2013

    I can’t believe that I’m just getting around to reading this post, but what a wonderful post to read. I’m so happy that you got to see your parents and have such a blessed time together. Thanks for sharing all of your precious memories with all of us. We love and miss you guys. We think of you often and your names come up in conversation regularly. We pray that God will continue to bless you all. We can’t wait to hear from you all again. And once this little one arrives and gets a bit bigger, we will begin planning our trip to visit you all. xoxox

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