Thursday, December 7, 2017

She knows the truth...

Earlier this year Olivia asked me if the Tooth Fairy was real and suggested that I was the one putting money inside the pocket of her little tooth ornament. Despite being faced with the possibility of saving some money on a night I barely had any cash on me, I quickly replied with "why would I give you money for an old tooth?" and she seemed to be content with an answer that CLEARLY made sense... of course the Tooth Fairy is real!!! So she hung her tooth ornament like many previous times and got her well deserved cash reward the next morning....

As Christmas season rolled around, it was only a matter of time for the kids to start talking Santa, gifts, elves and Christmas magic...and so it happened.. all the 5th graders started questioning the existence of Santa, searching the internet for answers that made sense and relying on each other to either keep their belief alive or uncover the "truth" once and for all.
Olivia came home one day and said "all the kids at school are telling me Santa isn't real"... I cried a little.. then she proceeded to tell me that she was starting to doubt it herself and brought up the fact that Santa couldn't possibly deliver gifts for all the kids in the world... she went even further and asked me why the elves are sold in stores if they are magical creatures that Santa sends from the North Pole.  I didn't want to burst her bubble yet or even assume she knew more than she really did so I replied with a witty "what to YOU think?"... and she simply said "I don't know anymore...but I'm pretty sure he's real and kids are just being mean as usual"...ha! Mom win!! She still believes!! Or so I thought...
A few days went by and she brought up the subject again.. (of course she would!).. only this time it didn't catch me so off guard; during previous days I had been talking to friends with older kids and also to some of my internet friends from Olivia's pregnancy forum (yes, we still keep very much in touch after all these years!). All these wonderful mothers had either gone through this already or were in the middle of it like I was... This time Olivia said to me "Mom.. I'm almost convinced Santa isn't real"... I froze for a moment... then she went on to say "the only thing that makes me doubt is that I KNOW you would NEVER lie to me about that stuff"... this time I froze for longer moment... that's when I knew I HAD to tell her. It suddenly dawned on me that my "little lady" has reached the age where if I didn't tell her the truth she'd feel betrayed and I wasn't about to jeopardize her blind trust in me for the guy in the red suit. Sorry, Santa!
So I went on to tell Olivia about the "magic" of Christmas and how parents have the beautiful responsibility of helping to keep that spirit alive and even though there might not be a guy in a red suit that slides down the chimney (wherever there are chimneys..LOL) and flies in a sleigh pulled by reindeers, there IS just something magical and beautiful about the Christmas spirit that is simply undeniable.  She smiled with that sweet face she's always had and hugged me tight; a couple of tears rolled down her cheeks (and mine!) and she said to me "Thank you mom! For giving me so much magic during all these years.. I really enjoyed believing in Santa!"..and she closed the conversation with an unexpectedly amusing remark...."can I move the elves now?  ours are really boring!"... ha ha.. that's Olivia!.. and I love her so much for that...sure, Olivia.. knock yourself out.. those elves were driving me nuts anyways.. ha!
Of course I made sure to also tell her about the HUGE responsibility she now has as a big sister to two little kids that still believe in Santa and the elves and everything else.  She acknowledged her new "job" and went about with her day, excited about the prospect of being an "accomplice" to this magic thing....

I have to say that even though I really dreaded the moment my kids found out the truth about Santa, the conversation went way better than expected.  She knows the truth and I'm surprisingly ok with it and I am even happy that she handled it with her usual grace and maturity, also I figure she's 10 so we had a pretty long run...
We have agreed, however, that we will continue to take Santa pictures for as long as we all shall live...because Santa IS real!
Merry Christmas, everyone!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thankful




I didn't want November to end without writing my "Thankful" post because this is the month of Thanksgiving and we should always use it to express gratitude for our every day people and things. I am a very blessed person; my life is filled with wonderful people and things and with a million reasons to smile even on the hardest days. If I sat down and started to count my blessings, I'd probably never finish because there are seriously so many. 
So in the interest of time, I will dedicate my post to my best 4 blessings; they are in no particular order....
1. Olivia:  I am thankful for my smart daughter; a loving girl that knows how to make me proud with everything she does. She has such a good head on her shoulders and I feel so blessed to be her mother. I am thankful for her thoughtfulness, the way she helps me even with the most tedious chores, her dedication, her love, her faith, her sense of respect and honesty. Thank you, God for Olivia. 


2. Gaby: I am thankful for this stubborn little girl that teaches me a new lesson every day. She has such strong morals at such a young age and I am in awe of her generosity and sensibility.  I am thankful for her wittiness, her intellect, her sassiness, her imagination and her strong sense of self. Thank you, God for Gaby.  


3. Oliver: I am thankful for this little boy, who turned our lives around both literally and figuratively.  2 years ago I couldn't picture my life with him and now I can't even imagine my life without him. I am thankful for his playfulness, his energy, his love and endless cuddles. There is never a dull moment with Oliver and he keeps everyone young.  Thank you, God for Oliver. 


4. Iggy: I literally won the husband lottery with this guy; he makes me incredibly happy and I feel so loved by him every single day. He is our leader, our force, the heart of our family and my whole life won't be enough to thank him for everything he does.  I am thankful for his love, his dedication, his work ethic, his faith and for every loving word he utters to lift up my spirits whenever I need him the most. Thank you, God for Iggy. 


I am so thankful for my family, for our health, our faith, our unity, our loyalty to one another and all of the time spent together. 


I am also thankful for my friends, for everyone that is part of our lives whether it's daily or sporadically. I am thankful for every moment spent with the ones we love, for every memory made, every experience lived and every prayer shared!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Movie review: "Coco"

"Coco" is one of those long awaited Disney/Pixar films that gets released right on time for big audiences and with lots of hype.
Sometimes that hype works in the movie's favor, sometimes not so much.. I'm not sure which way it went for "Coco".
While it is a great movie, with a great story line and wonderful characters, it failed to capture my attention from the get-go.  The movie's pace for the first half was incredibly slow and it took way too long for the story to be laid out...it was painfully boring for at least the first 45 minutes. Once the movie took off, all was right in the world but I have to be objective and critique it as a whole and not as a half movie.
The story revolves around the Rivera family, particularly one of its members... Miguel, a kid who has a love for music in a family that has banned it from its existence due to past hurts.
Miguel wants to follow his dream of being a musician and ends up in the world of the "dead" after a failed attempt to steal a guitar on "Dia de los Muertos".  During his time with the dead, he finds out secrets about his family and meets past ancestors who happen to be key in his love for music and who teach him that family always comes first. The movie is big on the message of keeping the memory of the dead alive and how our ancestors play a big role in our present life.
"Coco" is a very colorful movie, the characters are wholesome and fun but I found the storyline to be a bit complex and a little tangled.  Also, I feel like the title is not exactly descriptive of the story and the first half of the movie is somewhat misleading, almost as if the writers weren't sure in which direction to take to movie.
I really enjoyed "Coco" and I know it's a movie that will make a lot of money and will become a classic, but I really wanted it to be perfect and it wasn't. This one gets 3 out of 4 stars from me. Nonetheless I encourage you to go see it and take your kids; it will make for a nice family outing!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

12 years!

I met Ignacio in 2004 when I was going through a personal crisis in which I was looking to find myself. He came unexpectedly and unannounced but definitely determined to stay...
At 22, I wasn't looking for a husband and I certainly wasn't planning on settling down at that moment; but God had other plans and He challenged me by choosing the perfect man and bringing him into my life when the time was *just* right. 
Our courtship lasted a few short months and even though some people thought we were crazy for jumping into marriage in less than a year, we both just *knew* that it felt right!
Life with Ignacio is SO easy and our marriage has been blissful and happy for the past 12 years; we aren't perfect (who is?) but we love each other unconditionally and our main goal is to make each other happy by living our faith and being genuine no matter what.  Iggy is my best friend, he is my confidant, my rock, my "person", the one I want to see every night when I go to bed and every morning when I wake up for the rest of my life and I can only hope I live long enough to show him how much I love him.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for this life we live, for our marriage and for our love but anniversaries are always special and our 12th wasn't the exception. 
We celebrated 12 years yesterday (November 18th) by spending time enjoying each other's company and reminiscing of our wedding day.  We went out to dinner at night and talked well into the late hours...it was the perfect day. 
Happy 12th Anniversary, Iggy! You truly are the love of my life!
Cheers to many more! 


Friday, November 17, 2017

Movie review: "Wonder"

My daughters have been wanting to watch this movie since they saw the initial preview.  Olivia even took the time to read the book prior to the movie to get an anticipated idea of the characters and the story so it was only natural that we saw it on opening day.
The movie revolves around the story of Auggie, a boy that was born with a genetic issue that caused a facial deformity, and his struggle to fit in once his mother decides to stop home schooling him and sends him to a regular school.  It is packed with emotions and it paints a clear picture of just how mean kids can be and how unprepared the world is to accept disability as diversity.  The story is captivating and Jacob Tremblay does a great job portraying a sensitive and emotionally mature boy that has a thicker skin than many adults can aspire to.
The way the movie is structured gives way to the viewer to learn about the perspective of each of the main characters and how they all play a role in Auggie's success and ultimate acceptance from his newly found friends.
I really enjoyed the way the story develops,  the depth of each character and the message they try to illustrate. I love Auggie's sensitivity and his characterizations of all the emotions that a disabled person feels when struggling to feel accepted.
From the perspective of a mother, I also appreciate the portrayal of Auggie's parents and the description of their own struggles to make it "easier" on their son. Julia Roberts does a great job illustrating the suffering of a mother when their child is rejected or hurt; she made me shed a lot of tears.
But despite the powerful story, one of the main flaws I found in the movie was the lack of chemistry between Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts; while I believe they are both great actors (each in their own element), I did not feel their love and they did not convince me with their acting in this particular movie.  I think their chemistry was disgruntled and their relationship lacked that powerful love that I needed to see from Auggie's parents. It was very hard to picture Owen Wilson in a role that is less funny than his usual roles and I do not think he was the right person to play Auggie's father.
Also, I think the side story of Auggie's sister was a bit far fetched and I couldn't see a clear connection between her issues in relation to Auggie's disability. Now that I think about it, the chemistry between all family members was lacking, in my opinion... except for the dog, she was a great actress! ha!
All in all Wonder is a great movie, it sends of message of resilience, personal acceptance, character strength and love and it illustrates the triumph of inner beauty over shallowness, ultimately leading the viewer to connect with the main character and love him for who he is.
I give this one 3.5 out of 4 stars. Worth a visit to the theater. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Solo Trip Part 2: Spain

After I said good bye to my friends in Ireland, I headed to Spain for a couple of days. 
Spain was the "original" destination when I planned this trip with my mom but since things did not go as planned, my stay in this wonderful country was cut a little short...it was, nonetheless, still wonderful. 
Madrid is one of my all time favorite cities; it is such a regal and grandiose place with incredible buildings, iconic monuments and lots of cute little restaurants and cafes.  Madrid is such a dreamy place, I swear I would move there if given the chance; I love walking the streets of Madrid, I love the people from Madrid, the energy of the city, the food, the vibe, everything!
I had the chance to really relax while I was in Madrid; I walked around taking in the beauty of every street, sat at little cafes and sipped hot chocolate and enjoyed the beautiful and refreshing weather.  Of course the whole time  I was wishing my mom was there enjoying the city with me but I mad the best of it and enjoyed the solitude. 
Here are some pictures of Madrid. 


While in Spain, I decided to take a day trip to Toledo & Segovia, two cities I always wanted to visit and this was the perfect chance. 
Toledo is the original capital of Spain and one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited; it is built on a hill and it is rich in history and architecture; once called the "city of three cultures", Toledo was built by Muslims and every corner and every building tell a beautiful story of 3 cultures that once co-existed and are part of the great history of Spain. 
Toledo features the "Cathedral of Toledo", one of the most important cathedrals in the world and a very impressive building. The streets of Toledo are simply fascinating, I was in awe the whole time I was there and pictures don't do it justice.  I had a wonderful tour guide (Steffi) who provided the best anecdotes and snippets about the history of this amazing place, an experience I will never forget. 


Segovia was equally amazing and I am glad I had the chance to visit. It features one of the most impressive aqueducts ever built, one that worked up until the last century and which provides a gateway to this beautiful city. 
This region of Spain is famous for the strategic role it played during the monarchy of Isabella and Ferdinand and the solidification of their reign, because I happen to be fan of them and their history I really enjoyed my time in Segovia, particularly my visit to the "Alcazar of Segovia"; seeing the chairs where they sat and the room where she prayed was a dream come true. 
I also enjoyed the beautiful views from the balcony of the Alcazar and all the other picturesque buildings of Segovia. The Segovia Cathedral is also very impressive and it is located in one of the most beautiful and historic plazas in Spain (lots of executions happened there!)


This solo trip was an incredible experience and I am very thankful to my husband for making it possible; he did an amazing job holding down our fort and catering to the kids' every need in a timely and kind fashion.  I was sorry that my mom couldn't make it but I am hopeful that we will get to travel to Europe together in the near future. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Solo Trip Part 1: Ireland

Going alone to Europe was not what I planned for; this actually came up as a failed attempt to bring my mom along as a birthday gift..to make a long story short, her arthritis pain got really bad and she thought it was best if she didn't come, when I tried to postpone our trip I was informed that it would more expensive than what I had paid for the whole trip to begin with so I decided to go solo. 
The idea of traveling alone sounded refreshing, to be honest; even though it wasn't the original plan and I had never been away from the kids for that long, there was something about not having to worry about anyone but myself that sounded very appealing...and it was great!
The first place I visited was Dublin, Ireland. Although Ireland was never on my travel "bucket list", once my mom decided she couldn't travel (our original plan was to travel to Spain), I called one of my best friends and asked her if I could come visit her instead, to which she replied "of course!" and so I went...
Dublin is quite the city, with a contrast of modern buildings and classic architecture it is such an attractive and enchanting place.  I was lucky the weather was beautiful during my visit and despite Ireland's infamous damp and cloudy weather, the sun was shinning and it didn't rain at all while I was there. 
I toured the city like there was no tomorrow, hitting every iconic spot and delighting myself with countless hours browsing souvenir stores and walking around without a care in the world... it was great!
Among the things I noticed about Ireland is that it is a little pricey, public transportation is not stellar, beer is cheaper than water, Irish people are very superstitious and there are A LOT of sheep everywhere; also I learned that native Irish sheep have black faces instead of white and I thought that was a very cool fact. 


While in Ireland I took a tour to the Cliffs of Moher, which is Ireland's most visited natural attraction and I was in awe at the beauty of this natural wonder. It was relaxing to stand at the top of the cliffs and just take in all the energy and breeze coming from the ocean; quite the amazing experience.  Pictures don't do it justice, it is simply a beautiful place.

I enjoyed the picturesque fall landscapes around the city and learned a lot about Irish culture and everything the country has to offer. The Irish people I came across were always kind and welcoming and they really made me feel happy about visiting. The food was great and I enjoyed quite a few desserts that left my mouth watering. (Thank you, Mari)


But of course the most special part of my visit to Ireland was visiting with my friend Marianna.  We have known each other for over 30 years and I treasure any time I am able to spend with her. Marianna and her husband Placido were amazing guests; we spent lots of time catching up, telling stories and laughing, it was such a great time and I am forever grateful for their hospitality. You guys made my visit to Ireland much more memorable! Thank you! I love you guys! 


After Ireland, I headed to Spain and I will write about that on my next blog entry!