Monday, April 30, 2012

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Here are some pictures of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.  It is taking place at Epcot until May 20th. 
The festival is so beautiful and all of the plants and flowers are just breathtaking...
We're lucky to be able to enjoy this every year...

SeaWorld Orlando

I have lived in South Florida for over 15 years and considering Orlando is like our backyard, it's strange that I had never visited SeaWorld before.. so this weekend we decided to take a trip to Orlando and we visited SeaWorld...
Let's start by saying that while we did have fun times and the park has some amazing sea creatures, I was a bit disappointed with the experience as a whole...of course SeaWorld is NOTHING like Disney and to be honest it doesn't even compare...
These are some of the things that I thought were wrong with the experience:
- The parking lot was a MESS...there was nobody directing the traffic and people were parking everywhere, even on the grass.
- The lines at the door were very disorganized... the staff were rude and their ticket system was horrendous.
- Food places were terribly disorganized.. it took us 45 minutes to get our food from a buffet bar.. it was also terribly expensive
- The rides were lame and had no capacity.. for most roller coasters there was only one wagon, which had to go around before anyone else could ride it...
- Most rides have crazy height requirements so the park was not very kid friendly
- The staff were rude and not cheery at all.. I could tell these people are NOT in the entertainment business like Disney is...

Of course there were also a few good things like the amazing show featuring Shamu and the other whales as well as exotic sea species.... The few rides the kids could get on where entertaining and the park had a great atmosphere overall...
But I'm not sure we'll be going back to SeaWorld any time soon... we'll be sticking to Disney for now!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book review: "Bloom: finding beauty in the unexpected"

I've been following blogger Kelle Hampton for a while; she is a rather positive blogger and her pictures are always stunning.. (of course they are.. she's a photographer!)...
A lot of people are drawn to Kelle because of her awesome writing skills and the way she told "unexpected" story of her daughter Nella, who was born with Down Syndrome and it took everyone by surprise...
Kelle has been great about blogging her life and sharing her family's ups and downs so when she announced her book "Bloom", I became very eager to read...
The book came out on April 3rd and immediately made the New York Best Seller's list; Kelle even had an appearance on the Today show and her book was featured in People magazine (hello, fame!)..
I read the book in about a week's time and although I must say that her honesty really shocked me at first and I even got pissed at her for admitting her initial "rejection" towards Nella; I guess her story grew on me... After all, I've never been in her shoes so I'm no one to say what it feels like to unexpectedly deliver a baby with Down Syndrome... Her story is raw and very real...She talks about her "perfect little family" before baby Nella arrived in 2010 and goes on to describe how her perspective changed after going through so much pain and how she is trying to make the best of it every day... I cried, I laughed, I rolled my eyes and felt a ton of emotions while reading her book..
I personally know a few friends who have kids with disabilities and I have seen first hand the crazy, protective love that a mother can feel for her kids, so Kelle's story is a good one to read and to share...
Her book is packed with tons of colorful, beautiful and perfect pictures of her kids and the book has a great message...."we must find beauty in the unexpected", she's also a very good writer (with very good editors).. it was definitely a heart warming memoir...
Good one, Kelle!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Play date with Brooke and Lindsay

Today we had a great play date with our friends Brooke and Lindsay... We all spent part of the afternoon in a cute little playground at a local park...
The little girls enjoyed climbing up and down the playground and going down the slide...
Olivia did some exercise on the monkey bars and Lindsay and I caught up after not having seen each other in a few months...
It was great as usual and we should definitely do it more often!
The girls even posed for pictures at the end of our play date.. which is unheard of.. how awesome is that?

Here are Gaby and Brooke, born just 4 days apart...


and here are the three girls.. so cute!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mari!!!

Today I want to wish a Happy Birthday to my wonderful friend Marianna, who is turning 30 on this great April 17th...
Mari is my first friend ever.. we met when we were 3 years old and have been friends ever since...
Unfortunately, Mari lives far, far away and although we can't celebrate this day together, Blogger will do the job of sending her this special message all the way to Europe...
Marianna.. you are so special and so unique.. the world wouldn't be the same without you...
I hope you are having an incredible day and that all your wishes come true!.. I love you!
Happy Birthday, my friend!

Butterfly World

Yesterday my little lady attended her first ever school field trip... I, of course, was very nervous at first but seeing how excited she was made it all better...
Along with 14 of her classmates, Olivia went to Butterfly World, which is some sort of butterfly/bug/bird zoo, where they show the kids different kinds of insects and tell them all about it..
Olivia came back with so many fun stories about her field trip and said she had so much fun.... I felt so proud of her and loved the fact that she did so well...
This will be a great memory... one that she will remember for years to come.. and so will I!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gaby is 33 months!

This is it! 3 more months and my little Gaby will be 3 years old!  All the "baby" stages are gone and done with.. we have been through sleepless nights, bottle feedings, pacifiers, first steps, potty training... and it has been..FUN!
Seeing a child grow up and turn into a little person is such a rewarding experience and Gaby makes it so much better because she is so much fun!
I've said it before and I'll say it again.. Gaby is such a character.. She has so many facial expressions and has such a defined personality and great sense of humor....
She loves playing dress up, loves dolls, loves arts & crafts and is the cutest little girl ever!
She is such a good little sister and has such a good temper.. I can't wait to see what's next in the "Gaby" story!
After what happened to her this weekend.. I can only thank God for always protecting her and for allowing me to be her mother!
Happy 33 months, Gaby! We love you so much!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Near drowning experience...

At the risk of being judged by many, and even though I wasn't entirely sure I should write this post, I have decided to do it as a way to warn mothers of small children about the dangers of pools and drowning for little kids...
Yesterday I went through the most horrifying experience a mother can go through... I almost lost my daughter when she nearly drowned in a pool...It all happened so fast and was so incredibly scary...
This is how it happened:

We went to a pool party and Gaby was playing on the ledge watching her sister and other kids swim and enjoy the water...
I was watching her and warning her about not going further down... She did well for about an hour and focused on playing with some balls while I sat on the ledge next to her and snapped some pictures of her having fun and Olivia swimming...she seemed content and appeared to understand her limits...
Iggy and I watched for a while and kept taking turns to stand by her...she was pretty good about staying on her safe spot...
Then it's all a blur... I turned around to get a soda and saw her jump in the water and start to drown... I observed as she was submerging deep down and started screaming... For some reason my body didn't react and I froze as I was in shock from seeing her little body under the water... Someone at the party immediately jumped in the pool (with clothes on and all) and pulled my little daughter out of the water... She had swallowed a ton of water and immediately started throwing up, she didn't react for a second and then started crying frantically and hugging me not to let her go...It was the scariest experience I've ever gone through and I don't wish it on my worst enemy...(not that I have any enemies..but you get the point)...
Thankfully, the hand of God was there to save my daughter and keep her alive...thankfully, nothing happened and it was just a scare...thankfully, my daughter is with us today and I can hug her extra tight.
It can happen to anybody and this time it happened to us... this was a learning experience and something I wish never happens again...it happened in a matter of seconds and it could have been the worst day of our lives...thanks to God and the person that jumped in the pool, I can sit here and tell the story...
Moms, please be careful with your little ones around the pool... sign them up for swim lessons and know that crazy things can happen in a matter of seconds... It's not about being irresponsible or neglectful, it's about having kids that don't really understand the dangers around them...
I hope my story helps others and prevents similar tragedies...
Thank you, God... for always protecting my kids and for teaching us a lesson!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gumucio girls' birthday party

Today we celebrated the Gumucio girls birthdays with a wonderful pool party at my cousin's house...
These two little girls are the daughters of my cousin Irene; they were turning 10 and 5 respectively...I can't believe time flies so fast.. it seems like yesterday when I was holding each of them at the hospital when they were born..wow!
Irene Victoria's real birthday is on the 19th and her little sister's (Valeria) was on the 6th, so they're close enough for a joint party...
The weather wasn't perfect and even though there was some rain and cloudy skies, the girls thoroughly enjoyed their party...
There were grilled burgers and some other goodies and the party was a success!
Happy birthday, girls!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Movie review: "American Reunion"

Let's face it, "American Pie" made everyone laugh at some point.. even if it was just a little..the silly humor and stupid jokes were somewhat funny..
So based on the "somewhat funny" reputation of the American Pie movies, we went to see "American Reunion" last night, which is a movie about the 13th year high school reunion of the American Pie crowd...(it is briefly explained in the movie, that the class of 99 missed the 10-year mark by a few years!)
In the movie, all of the main characters have grown and evolved into adults who actually have lives and responsibilities... some of them are even married and have kids now..
I can't say the movie is funny because it's not.. at all!..but seeing all of the characters together again is somewhat appealing...
The story, however, is very lame and lacks depth and detail..the message lies on the idea that the high school years are long gone and life changes for the better...
There's way too much foul language for my taste and I think the F bomb gets dropped way too many times...There's also way too much nudity and obscenity, but I guess that's expected from the American Pie franchise, right?...well, I should have thought of that BEFORE going in to this movie...
All in all, I'd give this movie 2 out of 5 stars and if I could go back in time, I'd probably save the $10 I spent on the movie ticket!
So, in other words, wait until this movie comes out on TV!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A new stage in motherhood...

I've been such a lousy blogger lately and feel like I have so much to write about... Crazy enough, it's not because of lack of inspiration but rather lack of time that I have been missing from the blogger world... but here I am...with my mind overflowing with ideas, thoughts, stories, etc...Life has just been...well... crazy!.. which brings me to my post.. a new stage in motherhood...

It's all weird and exciting at the same time; my life has changed so much... Now that my kids are older and more mature (or so I think) everything is just so different...Sometimes I feel empty when I realize that the stage in which I had to watch every single move they made or help them with anything they had to do, has definitely passed...Not that my kids don't need me anymore, because I know they always will (or at least I hope they will)...but they're definitely much more independent now..
I'm way out of the diapers, pacifier and crazy tantrums stage...I'm way past the time when conversations about pregnancy, epidurals and and labor where somewhat entertaining and interesting.....
I have officially entered the stage where my main concerns revolve around what schools my kids will go to, or what kind of friends they will have... I have started to think about how to teach my kids about God and going to church every Sunday.. I find myself researching what kind of sports the girls would be good at or what kind of activity I can start them in...I never thought I'd get here.. but I did. I closed my eyes for a second and changed from being a mom of babies to being a mom of KIDS.. Kids whose needs are real and their demands are even more real..
It's amazing to see how fast time flies.. how life changes in a matter of seconds... To think that 5 years ago I wasn't even a mom yet and today my kids are my one and only purpose in life really amazes me...
I have learned so much during this journey called motherhood and cannot wait to see what's in store in this new stage...
This isn't the life I picture... this is MUCH better...
Let this new stage begin!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dani's 3rd birthday

Yesterday we celebrated Daniel's 3rd birthday with a beautiful birthday party at our friends' home. 
Dani is the first child of our great friends Luis and Valentina..he is such a cute little boy, who will become a great big brother in two short months as Valentina is expecting a baby girl in June...
The party was great... we got to spend time with wonderful friends and the girls had a blast eating candy, cake and breaking the piƱata... so much fun!


 ... the cake was made by my friend Valentina and it turned out so delicious...we all enjoyed it...very much.. especially the birthday boy!

Happy Birthday, Dani! We love you! Can't wait to meet your baby sister, Samantha....

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter fun...

Easter isn't even here and my girls are already having all the fun they can...
It is so cute to see them enjoy all the festivities, egg hunts and parties that are celebrated around this time of the year...
They did some face painting today at the mall and they proudly showed their kitten-themed faces..it was cute...


...on Wednesday they had their Easter party at school and thoroughly enjoyed all the candy they got...they came home so proud of all the eggs they gathered and Olivia even made some bunny ears in her class...


 ...they got home and ate almost all their candy...until I caught them and stopped the candy eating frenzy..


This Sunday we will celebrate Easter by going to church and a birthday party.. I know it will be very fun!
I hope everyone is enjoying their Easter weekend!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A strange visitor...

This might be a silly post, but it's definitely a story I want to remember and my girls to hear when they grow up...
Last night we had a strange visitor come to our patio.. an opossum made his way into our screened backyard/patio and he scared the HELL out of me...
As I went out to feed my cat, I saw a rat-like animal running in the patio.. I screamed and ran in the house and the animal freaked out...
He was hiding behind the glass door looking petrified...
My uncle and brother in law, who happen to be in town, were able to scare him out of the patio within minutes but the whole thing was so freaky... I even had nightmares about crazy opossums attacking me... Talk about randomness! I really hope he doesn't come back... his visit was certainly unpleasant! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rome

After we visited Barcelona, we had the great opportunity to visit Rome, the "eternal city".. and wow.. what an experience that was..Let me start by saying that Rome is not an easy city; it is very overwhelming and very peculiar...not entirely convincing at first but it definitely has the capacity to suck anybody in....
We spent 5 wonderful days in Rome...5 VERY productive and busy days..such an amazing trip..
Rome is dirty, disorganized and very messy... it is not the typical city where everything is tourist like and commercial... Rome is all about history and tradition... most building look like they're falling apart and the streets are extremely overcrowded...
Some of my observations of Rome were:
1. There are more restaurants than people... wow.. there is a restaurant, cafe, gelato store, bakery or bar in every corner...and every place is always packed! The food is really good but it can be a bit pricey..
2. Pasta is usually an appetizer or PRIMI PIATTI as the Romans call it...a little bowl of pasta (spaghetti, gnocchi or any other) is usually served as a starter.. After that, whatever you order doesn't come with a side.. it's all separate.. (that's how it get pricey... get it?)
3. Bread isn't free at restaurants...you get charged 1 euro per person, even if you don't order or don't eat the bread! it's crazy!
4. Beer, wine and alcoholic beverages are so CHEAP... and soda is expensive.. on top of that it's usually served with no ice so it's not even worth buying...
5. People LOVE the metro and think the wagons have endless space... it's incredible how many people can fit in there.. and it STINKS if it's rush hour so walking is a better option most times...
6. Romans are very peculiar, but I found them to be a lot nicer than Barcelonians... they were always willing to speak English (or Spanish) and the customer service was way better than in Spain...
Here are a few pictures of Rome...
The first 3 are at the Colosseum, which is one of the most awesome spots in the city... so amazing!


...here's Iggy jumping at the ruins of the Roman Forum.. such an amazing place...


...this is the Ara Pacis museum.. a very interesting building..


...this is inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican... what an amazing place... it was one of the best experiences in Rome...

..this is us at Trevi Fountain...that place has such amazing energy and it's so beautiful..


and this is us at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican again...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Today we are celebrating Palm Sunday, one of the most important Catholic feasts of the year. 
We took the girls to church this afternoon and really enjoyed our time together at mass.  Olivia had fun making crosses out of palms and she was very proud of participating in mass....
Today is a day of reflection... a day to thank Jesus for the sacrifices he made for us....
The sermon was especially moving and the mass was very emotional...
Thank you, God.. for a wonderful message!
Happy Palm Sunday!