Monday, April 20, 2015

Our trip to Europe

It has been two weeks since we came back from Europe and I don't want to neglect sharing this wonderful experience on my blog. 
So many of my friends and readers often ask me about how I plan my trips, where I buy my tickets, how much money I spend, etc... and this time I want to share a wonderful website I found (www.europeandestinations.com), which offers the best prices for Europe and gives the traveler the flexibility to create a unique package at a reasonable price. On this website, the traveler is able to select the cities he/she wishes to visit, the amount of nights to spend and whatever add on is needed for the perfect trip.  Our experience was incredible as the hotels were great with perfect locations, flights were meticulously coordinated and the flow of the trip was easy and well planned.  Prices are very good too so I strongly suggest this website to anyone considering a trip to Europe, I promise you won't be disappointed; the site is extremely reliable and I cannot say enough good things about it.
Now, on to our incredible trip and some pictures. 
Our first stop was Barcelona, Spain which is of course one of my favorite cities in Europe.  With its hippie style and unique vibe, Barcelona is sure to captivate the heart of any traveler. It is a colorful city, full of history and amazing architecture; incredibly diverse and very touristic.  There are so many things to see and do in this amazing place. 
We visited Parc Güell, which is a top spot in Barcelona and such an enjoyable sight. 
Here are the girls posing with Gaudi's famous Salamandra sculpture; for some reason I love this picture so much!


We spent some amazing time with my cousin Renato who has lived in Barcelona for the pat 5 years.  Seeing family is always the best part about traveling; the girls love him and he made our trip so much fun!

..and here's a picture of "Sagrada Familia", which is one of the most famous structures in Barcelona. This place holds a very special spot in my heart; not only did I meet some wonderful friends there a few years ago, but it also happens to be the place where I was at the time we found out we're having a baby boy! I hope I can take him back there one day....it will be so special! :)


After spending a few days in Barcelona we moved on to London, England and I will start off by saying WOW!!! What an amazing city; I don't think I've ever seen something so beautiful and picturesque as London. It is such a modern, chic and enthralling place and we are so lucky to have been able to visit such place.  In London, everywhere you look there's something fascinating; from the buildings to the streets, to the people and the attractions... it's all so wonderful.  I know so many people have a love-hate relationship with London and I can probably see why; it is such a busy place and the weather isn't always nice, but OMG what a captivating scene. Nothing I say will ever be enough to describe this place. We did so much in London and we were left wanting more so I see another trip to this place in our future... 
Here are some pictures...


Here's a family picture in front of "Big Ben" and the parliament buildings.. the pictures don't do justice to this amazing place...


View of the city from the "London Eye", which was one of the most fun attractions in London...


Here's us at Buckingham Palace; even though we didn't get to meet the queen, the experience was great.. LOL!


..and we also met up with family in London, Iggy's cousin Luis who has lived in London for the past 6 years... (yes we have family everywhere!  how cool is that!?!?).. 


..and here's us by the Tower Bridge which is a very iconic spot in the city....


Once we were done with London, we traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, which is a place I've always wanted to visit. Not only is Portugal home to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, but it is also a very mysterious place with a very diverse and interesting culture. Lisbon really fascinated me because it is so different from the rest of Europe; people seem to be more conservative and it is a very traditional place; we really enjoyed it...

Here are the girls at the Fatima Sanctuary, which is very famous for Catholic pilgrimages.  Our visit to this sanctuary was so special; as soon as we set foot on the premises we felt an overwhelming presence and incredible energy; it really was such a powerful experience for our family and we are so glad we got to visit, especially around Easter!  If you haven't heard the story of Our Lady of Fatima, I strongly recommend you Google it so you can understand the meaning of this place a little better!  It was so beautiful!


We also visited Nazare, which is a beautiful fishing town a little west of Lisbon.  I have never seen such beautiful nature and peculiar culture.. we really loved this little spot and the food was amazing!


...here we are at "Cabo Da Roca", the westernmost point of the European continent, located in Sintra, Portugal.  This was really nice and the scenery was so pretty...


...and here are a couple of picture from Lisbon.  The weather was perfect and I will never forget this amazing place... Strongly recommended....


So there it is..another one for the books. I will never cease to thank God for granting us these amazing opportunities and allowing us to create such wonderful memories. Traveling is such a big deal for us and we are so blessed to be able to do it so often. 

Happy Blogging! ;)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Product Review: "My Spiral Slicer" (giveaway included!)

A few weeks ago I was approached by the creator of a wonderful kitchen gadget, which I have successfully used (and I now love!) quite a few times.  She introduced me to her product, called "My Spiral Slicer" and I will admit I have fallen in love with this little kitchen item!
Healthy eating began as a "trend" and it has now become the lifestyle of many; the RIGHT lifestyle if I say so myself.  Sometimes it's difficult to come up with creative and fun ways to eat healthy and even more difficult to "spice up" our vegetable eating habits.  I believe "My Spiral Slicer" is one of the most amazing ways to slice fresh vegetables and it makes for the cutest salads. 
The gadget is incredibly easy to use and it is also very safe; it has a very comfortable grip and it is very compact for easy storage.  My 8 year old even used it and had a great time slicing zucchini and cucumbers but the best part was to see her eating all the stuff she had sliced up with such joy.
"My Spiral Slicer" is also very reasonably priced so everyone can be part of this amazing new way of eating vegetables.  It can be purchased through Amazon and very soon through Shopify; I invite everyone to try and spread the word about this amazing gadget. 

You can follow this link for amazing recipes and slicing ideas.  I am sure you will love this recipe book and will get hooked on spiral slicing your vegetables before you know it!

I will also give ONE slice to a lucky reader; the item will be mailed to the winner within 5 business days!  Just comment below to enter the giveaway!
Happy blogging! :)


Friday, March 27, 2015

13 weeks!

I promised myself that I wasn't going to "spam" my blog with pregnancy updates so I won't do that, but the occasional update won't hurt anybody and I want this journey to be a part of the blog that I will print for the girls (and this baby!) in a few years. 
So, here's my update... I am 13 weeks pregnant with baby #3 and even though it still feels surreal at times, we are incredibly excited by the prospect of a new baby come October! :)
I felt very crappy for the first few weeks and I'm really lacking in the "energy" department; my bed is my best friend these days and I'm ok with that even though I've had to cut down significantly on my day to day activities and "on-the-go" lifestyle.  A girl can't have it all, right? 
Now that I'm in the 2nd trimester, I feel MUCH better; the nausea has subsided and even though I do feel heartburn pretty much every day, it isn't nearly as bad as it was in the beginning.  
I did my preliminary blood test and everything came back normal.  I also had blood drawn from the Panorama Test last Wednesday and I am eagerly awaiting the results, which should take about another week to come back.  Not only will I know about genetic abnormalities and other disorders, but I will also find out the gender of this little one, which is about the most exciting thing aside from having the actual baby! 
My belly is growing by the minute and I get unbearable headaches about twice a week, but aside from that this has been a very uneventful pregnancy so far (thank God!).  I have already felt *some* movement and I love that feeling so much!
Next doctor's appointment is on April 15th, I'll update more then!
Here are a few pictures... one of my latest ultrasound at 12 weeks, a belly shot and also the most adorable 13 weeks ultrasound video! :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Olivia's First Reconciliation

Olivia is SO close to having her First Communion and of course she's over the moon with excitement.  We have already picked out a dress, shoes, hairdo, etc and most importantly she has completed her First Reconciliation.
It was such a special event for us and Olivia was beaming with pride and joy and I was so happy to see her take this big step; this girl really takes her Catholic faith to heart and that makes me so proud!
Here are some pictures of her special day... First Communion is just a month away! :)

One year...

Today marks one year since my beloved Grandma was called to heaven; one year that I have spent missing her every day and reminiscing about what my life was like with her in it. It hasn't been easy; losing a loved one is such a challenge and moving forward without them is an ever bigger challenge.
There isn't a day that I don't think of Grandma, sometimes I even talk to her thinking she is still around, there are even days when I forget she's gone and I want to go over to her house to play Scrabble all afternoon and then it hits me that she's in a better place and probably enjoying her eternal peace.
My Grandma's absence has taught me so many things starting with the fact that people are alive as long as they are remembered and that God always provides that comfort needed beyond our human understanding, that death is permanent but so are the memories in our hearts and that Grandmas are angels no matter where they are.
I miss you so much, Grandma! Thank you for teaching me so much and for loving me without hesitation, even at my worst! You are always on my mind! :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Forever my baby...

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."

There's something about being a mother that changes us forever; we develop this crazy instinct  and instantly become eternal guardians of our children.  I always say that becoming a mother has proven to me that love really has no limit and that there isn't a thing I wouldn't do to protect my children.  I also say that before becoming a mother, I had no idea I had a sleeping bear inside me, which gets really angry if/when anybody dares to mess with my children's well being....

So many things go through my mind when my children are in pain, whether physical or emotional.  I hurt when they hurt, I cry when they cry...that's just the way it goes....and it happened tonight...
After I put the kids to bed I was trying to unwind in my room and in came Olivia crying hysterically...more like sobbing.. she could barely speak through her tears and I became increasingly anxious... As I kept asking her "what's is wrong?, why are you crying?, what happened to you?, did you have a nightmare?, are you feeling sick?" she finally mustered up the courage to tell me "I'M SCARED!" I said "scare of what?" and she proceeded to tell me how one of her "friends" (notice the quotation marks since I'm not sure what kind of "friend" finds scaring someone to be funny) had told her a story about "Bloody Mary" and how she was petrified to sleep alone.  Olivia was literally shaking and she kept telling me how she thought she couldn't fall asleep just thinking about these awful stories her "friend" had told her.  I was so mad! I couldn't find the right words to give her peace, I felt so angry that someone would mess with her confidence and that peace and glow she always carries.  Olivia has no malice; she's such a happy and innocent child and I just hate the idea that some silly child even tries to take that away from her and I also hate that for a minute I froze and instead of finding the right words to calm her down, I dwelled in that anger which shouldn't have been my first reaction.
After I processed my thoughts, I started telling Olivia how she is surrounded by angels and how Jesus and God are much stronger than anything and that all those stories are just crazy things people make up when they lack faith and peace.  We talked about how strong our faith is and how our family is always at peace because God is by our side. We cried, we hugged and she finally calmed down and went back to bed.  I stayed with her for a while and she seemed to be back to her normal self.
Still, this incident left me thinking about she will be my baby forever and how no matter how much she grows, I will always do my best to protect her and allow her to have that glow in her eyes that makes my heart glow.  Olivia, please know that there will never be a time that I won't try my hardest to make you smile and to help you understand that as long as I'm alive, no evil thought or power will get to you because I'm your mama, and that's what mamas do....love and protect until the last breath!
I love you so much...and you're forever my baby! 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Movie Review: "Cinderella"

The long awaited Disney action film finally came out yesterday and we, of course, had a special date to watch the premiere.
Cinderella is such a classic; a beautiful story that always makes my heart pump no matter how many times I watch it, but this live action version was so much better than I imagined!
The casting was absolutely on point and I really appreciated the fact that the actress that played Cinderella wasn't a "perfect" beauty but rather an angelic girl that was so beautiful precisely because she wasn't "perfect" and she embraced that.  Cate Blanchett did an incredibly job as the evil step mother and the rest of the characters were just as great! (especially Lucifer the cat!)
The costumes were incredible and Cinderella's blue dress was simply stunning (I couldn't believe her tiny waist, omg!); it really gave the movie a "magic" touch...and the glass slippers.. wow! those were just plain awesome!
The scenery came straight out of fairy tale heaven, everything was beautiful, the castle was majestic and the royal ball was as royal as they come...
I also really enjoyed the way the movie brought to life that "magic" scene where Cinderella is turned into a princess, mice turned into men and pumpkin into a grand carriage; thanks to modern technology and special effects, the Fairy Godmother scene was just perfect; it all looked so real and magical at the same time; that was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the movie and one where the whole audience was in awe.
I loved that all elements of the story, including the little mice, were included into this version; I will admit that before I saw it I was intrigued to see how things like talking mice would be incorporated...
Even though this version slightly deviates from the original story (a little more background is given about Cinderella's happy life prior to the evil step mother and the shoe that breaks is the one she kept instead!), I think the movie stayed very true to the classic and was incredibly heart warming. I really enjoyed the new angle to this classic and thought the movie was absolutely perfect.
When the movie was over, everyone was clapping so loudly; they definitely did a great job in building up those big moments including the final kiss between Cinderella and her prince.. great writing!
All in all, Disney didn't disappoint this time and Cinderella is the perfect family movie that I'm sure will be a hit for many years to come! This one gets 4 out 4 stars from me! Loved it!
And of course, the MOST important part of the movie is its message to all girls (and all people): "Always have courage and BE KIND!"