Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Movie Review: "Inside Out"

It's no secret that I am a Disney/Pixar fan and to me all most of their movies are just great...but in trying to be objective in reviewing their latest one, I will go ahead and say that it was AWESOME!!!
It is so refreshing to see movies that aside from being incredibly entertaining, also carry a powerful message that will likely stay in our minds for years to come...this is exactly the case with Inside Out.. we just loved it...
The plot is based on a clever look of Riley's emotions that basically control all of her moods, personality traits, etc.
These emotions are also in charge of her memories, whether happy or sad and they guard them with their lives...literally...
The movie is very colorful and extremely creative; it takes the viewer on a journey through Riley's brain and it provides a kid friendly explanation as to why all feelings and emotions are necessary because they compliment each other. I love the message of "feelings are what make us human" and there are no "bad feelings" just emotions that work together to make us who we are, to develop our personality and empower our relationships. The characters are fun and unique and the plot is developed smoothly, which helps capture the attention of both children and adults the same.  The movie also features jokes intended for adults (i.e. facts vs. opinions- you have to see the movie to know what I'm talking about!) that make it even more appealing for all audiences.
I could go on and on about how amazing this movie was, but I will let you see it for yourself.  This one gets 4 out of 4 stars from me.. We can't wait for it to come out on DVD! :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

End of school year and summer kick-off!

Another school year down for the books! I feel so proud of my girls for having finished Kindergarten and 2nd grade; they are such champs!
This school year was intense to say the least.. I lost count of many crazy projects Olivia had and how many activities we were part of this year and I know they are probably as exhausted as I am!
And now here are some pictures for funsies.. it has become a tradition for us to do First/Last day pictures and the girls really love it. The pictures really show how much they really change in the course of a school year; it's so crazy to see!
I think Gaby is the most changed this time around; she looks like a baby on her first day.. I can't believe she is a First Grader!!!

And to kick off our summer break, Olivia got braces on Saturday! The process was surprisingly smooth and very fast and she is very excited about her new look. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bye Bye Kindergarten

This week marks the end of Kindergarten for our "baby"; she is officially a "grader" now and we couldn't be more excited about her accomplishments!
Gaby is such a special little girl with a strong personality and strange sense of humor.  She is so incredibly mature for her age and never ceases to surprise us with her negotiating abilities. 
Kindergarten was such a great experience for her; we started the year thinking that she would have to be held back at the end and maybe re-do the year; she could barely read and didn't seem to have what it took to match up to whatever academic requirements were set for kids her age. Her birthday also happens to be in the summer so she is among the youngest in her class, so for us it was always a "play it by ear" kind of thing.. so we did!
I am proud to say that Gaby is now a star reader who has exceeded all academic expectations for kindergarten; she loves school and she loves to learn.  We are so blessed to have had teachers who dedicated themselves fully and were able to teach her everything she needed to learn and then some! Thank you Mrs. H and Mrs. V.. you two were amazing!

Yesterday the school held a special "Kindergarten Prayer Service" to celebrate the end of such special year.  The kids sang songs and recited prayers and we had such an awesome time!
Here are some pictures:

Gaby's "graduation" pictures! :)

And now we enjoy the last two days of school and as we get ready for summer break I can only thank God for his abundant blessings and a wonderful school year! :)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pregnancy Update: 20 weeks

Here's another pregnancy update, long overdue since my last one was over 7 weeks ago! This pregnancy really is flying by although I'm sure now that I've reached the halfway mark time will magically slow down and it will drag on... LOL!
I am happy to report that the pregnancy has been rather uneventful; it is progressing as it should and with the exception of an evil stomach bug that I somehow caught from the girls and the occasional back pain, I feel great for the most part. 
I see my doctor for boring appointments every 4 weeks and have gained a total of 3 lbs in the first 20 weeks of this journey which is quite an accomplishment considering my past weight gain with the previous 2 pregnancies and the fact that I was grossly overweight when I surprisingly turned up pregnant!

We had our "big" anatomy scan this past Wednesday and it was the first time we saw boy parts on the screen; it was quite different from anything I have ever seen before.. really funny and very blatant, I will forever cherish this picture of our well endowed little boy! :) Aside from that, all organs look normal and baby is developing perfectly, right on track for his gestational age...

Here's my 20 week belly picture; I think my belly shrunk after the weight I probably lost with the stomach bug.. thankfully it lasted "only" 2 days, otherwise I probably would have ended up in the hospital getting IV fluids! Praise God for his healing hand!

We have made a few purchases for the baby, mostly clothes and a few other accessories and it is now getting more real that we are having another baby. I will admit I've had a hard time getting "attached" to the pregnancy and as much as I know I will love our son with all my heart, it has taken me some time to love the idea.  I know this is a very normal and valid feeling but sometimes I can't help but feel guilty about the fact that I'm not overjoyed at the premise of growing our family. 
My plan for the next twenty weeks is to continue to take advantage of this "smooth sailing" (God willing) and do as much as I can to get ready for baby, both physically and emotionally. 
I will update again in a few weeks!  Thanks to everyone who is constantly checking on the baby and I; we are so lucky to have such wonderful friend and family!

Happy blogging! :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Movie Review: "Avengers: Age of Ultron"

I will start off this review by making a semi disclaimer that may or may not explain my opinions about the movie:  I am NOT a hard-core Avengers fan and I am in no way familiar with the intricacies of every character; I am, however, an avid movie goer who enjoys action/super hero films and is looking for high quality entertainment...
With that said, I will go ahead and state that I'm utterly disappointed on this movie, which proves once again that the increased hype is not always a good thing... I remember reviewing the first Avengers movie 3 years ago and my conclusions are scarily similar.. (I wonder why!? LOL)....
The movie is overpacked with action sequences that don't always flow well; some of them lacked connection with the plot, which was incredibly dense and lame at the same time. There was definitely a waste of special effects going and during some parts of the movie I almost wished the characters would "chill out" a bit.  I also felt like the characters had no depth at all and the "team" concept was really lacking; there is no exploration of character storyline (except for Hawkeye's family life) and even the strange romance between the Hulk and Black Widow was silly fluff to the movie.
But my biggest issue with this movie is the fact that not even the villain was memorable enough to make an impact on the viewer and the idea that artificial intelligence somehow always reigns over its human creator has been done too many times and I found it incredibly boring.
The movie drags on and the fight scenes are too repetitive and even pointless; it is way too long and not worth all that time.  The new characters lack versatility and even the "well known" Avengers fall flat in this installment.
Sadly, this movie probably gets 1 out of 4 stars from me; I did not enjoy it and I actually thought of walking out a few times.  Hats off to all the true Avengers fan who are loyal to the franchise no matter what... this one was painful!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Olivia's First Holy Communion

This past Saturday we celebrated Olivia's First Holy Communion! What an exciting day it was for all of us, and especially for our little lady, who was beaming with joy and spreading it around!
As much as I'd like to say that the planning of this event went on without a hiccup, that wasn't the case because so many things went wrong in the process that we are actually lucky the event was a success....

Where should I start... I bought Olivia's dress about two months ago; it took her weeks to pick it and it was the most perfect dress. A week before the communion I decided to try it on her (thank God I did!) and it didn't fit! I almost had a heart attack and so did she.  We had to run around and scramble to find a new dress at the last minute.  Something similar happened with her headpiece, which I had ordered from Etsy and at the last minute the seller told me she was so busy with wedding orders that she couldn't honor mine, so I had to run around to find another.
When the dress and headpiece situation were squared away, I get a phone call TWO days before the event to tell me that the restaurant where we had planned to have our party had closed down and my party had to be cancelled! I about flipped and cried for a whole day. I then picked up 150 roses that I had ordered for the event and put the boxes in my car.  With all the stress I had going, I forgot they were there and they were damaged by the time I took them out of the car (thank you, Florida heat!)

After clearing my mind and getting some rest, I figured this was God's way of telling me to focus on what really mattered, the fact that my daughter was receiving her First Holy Communion and no matter what went wrong with the party, she would still have an amazing and blessed experience. 
So I relaxed a bit and started to tackle every problem one at a time; I was able to find a new location for our party, saved most roses by ripping off some petals and leafs and Olivia was satisfied with her dress and headpiece all the same. 

The day of the communion was beautiful; weather was perfect, we were on time for the church and Olivia looked so pretty.  The mass was so heartfelt and the kids did a great job performing a song they had practiced for months.  I was filled with pride and Olivia was incredibly happy.  We couldn't even tell there had been so many "issues" in the planning process and we felt so blessed to experience this wonderful moment, which I will forever cherish. 
Here are some pictures...

Olivia and her good friend Alba before the ceremony...

The kids singing their song...

Olivia receiving her communion...

My beautiful little lady right after....

And of course a picture of the amazing cake made by my friend Jenny....

I have a lot more pictures but I still haven't gotten them back from the photographer. 

I want to thank all our family and friends who made this day that much more special and of course I thank God for all the blessings we received! 

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! ;)