The Return of Atypical Latino Grandfather

25 Feb

I never went away, but been busy. Sharing some photos while I figure out what’s next.

Alia and Zaylah passing through from El Paso to Tacoma. Celebrating Zaylah's birthday.

Alia and Zaylah passing through from El Paso to Tacoma. Celebrating Zaylah’s birthday.

Found gif app for iPhone. Having fun with Samina, age 15, who's been living with us the past year and a half.

Found gif app for iPhone. Having fun with Samina, age 15, who’s been living with us the past year and a half.

Jewel's stated favorite thing is food. Takes some effort to make her stop.

Jewel’s stated favorite thing is food. Takes some effort to make her stop.


All My Children’s Children

19 Sep

All My Children's Children

First photo of all seven granddaughters, one place, one time, taken in August 2012 in South Pasadena, CA.

Mila Holds a Grudge

12 Oct

When I picked up Valentina to take her with me to the Latino Heritage Parade, her sister Mila came down with their dad Michael.

Mila was a bit angry because she couldn’t come. I saw her crying as we pulled away from the driveway. Later that day, at my parent’s house for our annual October birthday get together, Mila was there. She let me pick her up, but she wasn’t too happy with me.


Mila holds a grudge after I stood her up that morning


Later, after hanging around and talking to her and making faces and stuff, she forgave me and give me a smile.

Valentina Waves and Smiles

9 Oct

This morning, I picked up Valentina and we drove to Pasadena to take part in the city’s Latino Heritage Parade. It’s been going on for 12 years, organized by the Latino Heritage Committee, led by good friend Roberta Martinez.

I received the Doña Eulalia Award, named after one of the Latina pioneers of the San Gabriel Valley. It was for my community service e.g. editor of and a director at the Mexican Cultural Institute.

But enough about me:

Valentina was dressed in her favorite dress, a red, white and green frock purchased at Olvera Street. Her hair was done up in pretty braids and she was wearing sandals.

On the way, she asked how to describe being nervous and excited at the same time. I said, maybe “giddy”. She liked that.

She was concerned about waving and smiling at the same time, so we practiced for a while in the car, waving at other people in their cars.

At the beginning of the parade route, we met up with her mom, Felica. She was excited, too.

It took a while, but we finally jumped on the back of a really nice car, a converted VW with a ’54 MG body. She practiced some more.


Good job

Valentina practices her parade wave in anticipation of Pasadena's Latino Heritage Parade.


The parade started and we waited while the Boy Scouts, a group of danzantes Aztecas and a group of folkloric dancers paraded by.

Finally, we got the signal to get going. We were after a drill team from a local school and in front of marching band.


Drill team passes by while we wait in line to participate in the Pasadena Latino Heritage Parade


It was a slow-moving parade down Los Robles. Clusters of people — kids, parents, grandparents — sat on the curb or waved from their porches. I told Valentina to look both ways to make sure she smiled and waved to people, even if she didn’t know them (which was about 99.9% of them).

She was excited when she recognized a little girl who’s in her class. Then she saw her mom and dad Michael and little sister Mila standing on the corner near the end point and she burst out laughing, surprised and, well, giddy.

We made it to the end of the parade, hung out at the park where the committee is hosting a jamaica — a fiesta — until the early afternoon.  Los Pochos are going to play, but we left. Next stop: a party at my parent’s house to celebrate my brothers and brother-in-law, who all have birthdays in October.

I hope Valentina got a little more in touch with her Latina side. She’s a biracial kid — her mom’s African American — and the blended family my son’s put together is also African American and Latino mixed together.

Her favorite part: Seeing the pretty dresses worn by the folklorico dancers. My favorite part: Having her sitting next to me, waving and smiling at people we didn’t know, but who were happy and cheering us for being in the parade celebrating our cultura.

It’s Quiet Without Jewel

9 Oct

Jewel and her mom, Ana, left late Thursday night to spend time with her dad Scott and other grandmother Karen. They live in Louisiana, outside of Baton Rouge. Ana and Jewel spent one long year there, returning a couple months ago and are now living with us.


Jewel in bath with bubble hat


It was quiet this morning. No cartoons on the TV, no running around the loft, no deep voiced laughs or barging into our room to say “hi papa, hi gama.”

They’ll be back on Monday morning.

She left evidence of her presencia, so I am not so sad…


A happy mess

Jewel's toys. She likes Elmo, particularly.


Atypical Latino Grandfather

8 Oct

My name is Abelardo de la Peña Jr.

I have six granddaughters: Samina, Valentina, Zaylah, Jewel, Cassiopeia and Mila, ranging from almost two to 13.


The best I could do

Mila, Valentina, Cassie, Samina, Zaylah and Jewel


Samina’s the oldest, lives with her two sisters, Zaylah and Cassie, in El Paso, where my son Cristofer is stationed at Ft. Bliss and his wife Danielle works as a nurse.

Valentina and Mila, the youngest, live with their father Michael in a blended family with Lashonda and her two kids, Jaylen and Ryan. Their home is an apartment in Highland Park.

Jewel is my oldest daughter Ana’s daughter. They both live with us.

My wife Linda and I try visit with all of them as often as possible. I get to change Jewel’s diapers and walk with the dogs, Riki and Mr. T (chihuahuas) up and down Grand Avenue. Mila and Valentina visit us, we take them, and I’ve babysat Mila at their home. It’s harder with the El Paso girls, but we make it up there and they make it down here 3 – 4 times a year.

That’s what makes me a Latino grandfather. They call me “Papa”, with the accent on the first syllable, not to be confused with “Papá”, which is what my brothers, sister and I call my father, as do all his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

This is about my life a Latino grandfather. In some ways I am like a typical Latino grandfather, or abuelo.

But in many ways, I am not. This blog will also cover other aspects of my life as well: husband/ dad / son/ brother / writer / editor / community activist / professional cultural observer / music-lover, etc.

I’ve tried personal blogging before — here and here — and I couldn’t keep up. Some of my professional writing appears as blog posts here. I also edit this and this. I Facebook here. And here and here, And Twitter here.

But this is special. I want it to be fun, for me and for you.

Being a grandfather is fun!


That's Me!

I have six grandaughters. I am Latino.


So have fun!

– Abelardo