Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Movie review: "The Wolf of Wall Street"

It had been a while since I've had the chance to see an "adult", non-animated film with no kids in tow, so I had very high expectations for the experience.
We decided to see the latest Scorsese film, "The Wolf of Wall Street", which has been by far the biggest disappointment I've had lately.
I will start by saying that I am well aware that Scorsese films are usually raunchy and raw so I definitely went into it with that mindset, but not even that could prepare me for what was coming...
The movie revolves around Jordan Belfort (Leo DiCaprio), who is a self proclaimed money hungry "wolf" making a living off selling penny stocks to naive investors and doing whatever illegal transaction he has to make in order to be rich.
Him and his "friends" live a lavish life, full of flashy possessions and wild partying. They end up being investigated by the FBI and the movie depicts (or tries to) the rise and fall of their "empire" along with the ins and outs of stock brokers...
Although the premise of the story may sound promising, the movie was total crap. The vulgar language was way over the top and the sex and drug scenes were rather offensive, so much so that this movie could qualify as porn (or soft porn?). The story line was poorly told and all the raunchy scenes were redundant and mediocre.  Additionally, the movie was unnecessarily long (3 HOURS!) and just overall very dense, not enjoyable at all.
I will admit to some good acting by Leo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, where you could really appreciate the passion of each them had for their characters, but the whole movie was just a waste of my time and I wish I could get those 3 hours back....
This movie gets 1 out of 5 stars from me.. only because some of the soundtrack was decent and the actors did a great job at making this a horrible film!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekend with great friends

 "Good friends are like stars; you don't always see them but you know they're always there"

This week we drove up to Cape Coral to meet up with my friend Jenn and her family; they came all the way from Canada to spend a couple of weeks in the warm weather and of course I couldn't let the opportunity to see them pass me by...
I visited Jenn in Canada last year and we had such a wonderful time then... a year and a half later we were at it again!
I was so happy to hang out with the Feggi family and the kids had such a blast with their friend Jackson....
It has been a long time since Jenn and I met through the "What to Expect" website (Oct. 2006) and I feel really blessed to have made such amazing friends during that time. It's hard to find true friends and even harder when those friends live so far away, but I've come to realize that when friendships are meant to be, there is not distance or time that will get in the way! :)

Here are some pictures of our wonderful time with Jenn, Grant and Jackson!
Thank you for such amazing days! :)

Day at Sanibel Island, FL

"Distance means so little, when someone means so much"

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Royal Caribbean: Cruise review

I will start off by saying I'm no cruise expert, and definitely don't claim to be one, but considering I have cruised twice this year, the contrast between both experiences is very fresh in my mind, so I will go ahead and review my latest cruise onboard the Majesty of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International.
The ship is about 20 years old, which in cruise years is ancient pretty old and I could definitely see that the upkeep of it was lacking...(below you will see some photos of what I'm talking about).

The pool area was nice and spacious; this ship can hold up to 2700 people so it was nice that this area never felt too crowded.  The water was REALLY cold so I would say they could improve that, but oh well.. it's just water and the kids really didn't mind.
Here are some specific things about this cruise experience:
* The Staterooms: in comparison to the Disney cruise, the staterooms were TINY... I felt trapped and it was definitely not comfortable enough for the 4 of us.  It was more of a box than a room, but since very little time was spent in there, the size of the room was not a deal breaker, even though we could have used a little more privacy... oh well!
* The Food: Menu selections were rather limited and the food was just "ok" for me.. the first night I had a steak that was hard as rubber and very dry and the rest of the food wasn't even memorable enough to take pictures of it, so there's that...
* Entertainment: There were a couple of shows and stand up comedians that were pretty good, but the main show on closing night was very cheesy. I did see a lot of talented performers, but nothing really impressed me enough to do it again... they could definitely improve in this department!

* The service: even though I won't say the service was bad, I will say that it wasn't stellar either.  I had a few encounters with VERY rude crew members that seemed to really hate their job.  I did complain and they apologized very deeply, but I could have done without the crankiness that stemmed from this.  I got a free bottle of champagne and a couple of complimentary pictures from the apology, but then again, wouldn't it be better if the service was just awesome instead?!  Our stateroom attendant WAS in fact pretty amazing and even got in on the "Elf of the Shelf" game and for that he scored some extra tip money a warm hug from me before we left!

* Activities: tons of activities were available on the cruise, and even though it was a rather short one (3 nights), I will say that we kept pretty busy. Iggy participated in a table tennis tournament and even scored a bronze medal.  There was a huge sports area, fitness center, spa and a few other things which were pretty good.  I have nothing bad to say about this area; they definitely did well and I praise them for that!
* Adventure Ocean: the kids had an amazing time in the kid's club, where they have trained staff members who are pretty good at what they do.  The ship offers several activities geared towards kids ages 3-11.  The only down side is that the club was closed during the "Coco Cay" stop and I though that was crappy.  I'm sure the kids would have loved a few extra hours at the Adventure Ocean, but it is what it is..
* Destinations: since this was a short cruise, the ship only stopped at "Coco Cay" (Royal Caribbean's private island) and at the island of The Bahamas.  We didn't get off at the first stop since I really dislike tender boats, but the stop at Bahamas was pretty awesome.  We didn't buy a ship excursion but rather went with the local option, which was much cheaper and just as good (or even better); we got a guided tour of the island and visited Atlantis Paradise and a few Bahamian beaches, which made for beautiful picture spots! :)

The ship was beautifully decorated with Christmas trees and all sorts of holiday ornaments.
Here are a couple of pictures of the "Centrum" which was the main lobby, where everyone gathered every night and where most of the action happened! 

* The "nickel and dime" culture of Royal Caribbean: out of all the things that could be wrong with this cruising experience, the one that bothered me the most was the continued "nickel-and-diming" going on; sodas were NOT included and there were several food items (some very basic ones) that also cost extra, which I think it's just wrong.  And of course I'm not talking about alcoholic beverages, but rather juices, coffee and stuff like that.  Also, I found staff members often harassing me to buy extra things, which got a little tiring and annoying! 

And here a pictures of the ship's "flaws", which definitely took away from the whole experience. 
I would have certainly liked a nicer, newer and better ship and I strongly believe Royal Caribbean could do a MUCH BETTER job at maintaining the Majesty of the Seas. 

So, for all fellow travelers and cruisers out there, I'm going to recommend against cruising on this particular ship.  I have heard much better things about other ships from this cruise line but I will say this one didn't impress me at all.  
After cruising with Disney and seeing how AWESOME a cruise could be (old ship or not), I will stick to paying a little more and getting the best experience possible. I will NOT be using this cruise line again any time soon and will probably submit some of my blog comments to their customer service department!

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas to all my readers and fellow bloggers! 
This is such a wonderful time and I'm so happy to be able to spend it with my family.
We had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration last night, with lots of gifts, food and great conversations.
The girls were overjoyed with everything they received, which included lots of stuff from the movie "Frozen", nice clothes and accessories and much more!

We enjoyed some "Hallacas" (the typical Venezuelan Christmas dish) as well as some delicious cupcakes and desserts. 

And here's the typical family picture by the tree, never to be missed! :)  The girls were looking adorable in their green dresses, which they will probably never wear again! LOL! :)

This morning they woke up VERY early (as all kids probably do on Christmas!) and ran downstairs to see what Santa had left for them.  
They got a huge Barbie house, a few movies, a guitar and some dolls.. it was all a hit!

With that said, let's not forget the real reason for the season, our savior Jesus Christ.  We attended a beautiful Christmas mass and all is right in the world!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I'm 32!

This past Sunday I turned 32 years old...and even though I'd like to weigh a little less and feel more athletic, I am happy to say I have lived (and continue to live) a fulfilling life. 
For some reason in the past few years I tend to get a little sad when my birthday approaches; I start thinking about what I have accomplished and what still needs to be done, I think about old friends, new friends, good ones and bad ones... I also think of what makes me happy and what makes me sad... let's just say I do a lot of thinking around this time! :)
This year, I was lucky to celebrate my 32nd birthday on a cruise with my husband, kids and parents.. it was fun, entertaining and definitely relaxing!
As I get older, my priorities keep changing as well as the meaning of life; for me, it is no longer about myself but about others.  I spend half my time thinking about what I can do for other people, what I can give of myself to make the world a better place where people are kinder to each other and more giving.
I thank God every day for blessing me with such an amazing family; a good husband who is extremely loving and supportive, kids that are angelic and well behaved and friends that enrich my life in unimaginable ways.... it doesn't get any better!
This year my birthday wish is all about spiritual peace and personal harmony, where I am able to express myself by giving others what they don't have and where I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend and person. 
Thank you, God for all the happy moments I have lived during these past 32 years... I hope the next hundred are half as good! :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

School Christmas Sing Along

This year's Christmas sing along featured Gaby and her classmates dressed up as little soldiers singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". 
It was such a cute program and we thoroughly enjoyed our little one's singing skills...she's just so cute!
This will be the last year Gaby participates in a Christmas play since her school only does it for pre-schoolers and next year she will be in Kindergarten (what!!?!?!?)... ugh! time sure flies and find myself pouting over that quite often....
Here are a few pictures... 
Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trip to Puerto Rico

Here are some pictures of my recent trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico,  a beautiful place that I was lucky to visit this past weekend with my good friend Martyna. 
San Juan is an amazingly gorgeous place, with tons of history and beautiful scenery.  The weather was so good so the days were incredibly fun...
We visited all the historic sites and monuments as well as the famous "El Yunque", Puerto Rico's very own forest; the trip included site seeing, food tasting, hiking, shopping and much more...
Definitely one to remember...
Here are some pics...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Overdue Thanksgiving post and a few other adventures...

We all know how busy this season is.. time seems to fly by and I always seem to hop on the procrastinator's wagon! Ugh! 
Anyways..this procrastination also seems to affect by blogger personality and here I am posting about Thanksgiving more than a week later.. oh well.

On Thanksgiving day, I spent HOURS cooking and even though I will always question whether or not it's worth it, I really enjoy seeing my family's reaction to my food...
So, I made a whole turkey from scratch along with a ton of casseroles and side dishes... all very delicious if I say so myself! :)

We did *some* Black Friday shopping and the girls had a blast at the mall.. and no I didn't brave crazy crowds at wee hours of the morning, we just went to the mall around 5pm.. does that count as Black Friday shopping? LOL

And here are a few silly pictures of the last days of November and first ones of December.  We've been to a few birthday parties and as usual, they girls have really enjoyed time with their friends..

I ran a 5K Turkey Trot on the Saturday after Thanksgiving! yay!

..and a few more pictures...

Gaby started dance class and she seems to be enjoying it!

... and that's all for now.. 
I'm sure I will be posting about our fun December adventures in the weeks to come.
I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful season!
Happy Blogging! ;)