Thursday, November 27, 2014

Keeping the "thanks" beyond Thanksgiving...

Even though I am an American citizen (and definitely feel very American) I wasn't born in the United States so Thanksgiving is sort of a "learned" and "adopted" holiday for me.  I celebrated my first Thanksgiving at 15 and even though it has been 18 years since that first time, I haven't necessarily grown fond of turkey and all the foods that are typical of this holiday and definitely not fond of Black Friday shopping and all the craziness that comes with that!
What I HAVE grown fond of, however, is the "art" of giving THANKS....and I call this an "art" because we often go through life forgetting how blessed with are to have all we have.  Even the most trivial possessions are often taken for granted and this is a great time to reflect and look back at how many times we fail to appreciate our day to day gifts.  Being able to understand the value of our life and everything in it is definitely an art that not everyone masters; it requires reflection and introspection.
When was the last time you went out to celebrate a special occasion and spent $100 on yourself? On a meal?  On a gift?  Did you know that in a developing country, $100 could feed a family of four...for a year?  Have you stopped to think about how many people won't have ANY food this Thanksgiving? Or any other day? Do you ever count your blessings and think about how many people are not as lucky?
And of course by no means do I think that spending money on yourself or splurging on a meal is wrong at all, but what I do mean to say is that giving "Thanks" should be done every day and every time we look at others who are less fortunate than us we should also find ways to help them and inspire them to give thanks as well.
"Thanksgiving" isn't about eating turkey, watching a football game and shopping like a maniac the day after...it is about understanding that blessings shouldn't be taken for granted and that giving THANKS should be an every day thing rather than a once a year activity.
I happen to be very religious so I have a firm believe that the blessings in my life are God given, I thank God every day for EVERYTHING I am and EVERYTHING I have and not a day goes by that I don't stop to appreciate even the smallest gifts.  But you don't have to be religious to give THANKS; if you don't believe in God then simply thank the universe or the people around you but never ever forget to keep the "thanks" beyond Thanksgiving!
Challenge yourself to do ONE charitable work this season.  Donate canned food! Donate toys! Write letters and send care packages to a prisoner!  Do SOMETHING!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope yours is twice is good as mine! :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Movie Review: "Penguins of Madagascar"

"Madagascar" is one of my favorite franchises; I think the characters are fun and the movies are amazing (especially the 3rd one!). My expectations for this movie were high so it kind of breaks my heart a little to have to write a so-so review, but it just wasn't great!
The penguins were funny as usual; their clever ways and funny jokes make for a somewhat entertaining movie, but the plot was just lacking excitement and at times I thought it was too complex for little kids.
The story revolves around "Dave" the octopus who is carrying out a vengeance plan against all penguins of the world...(I'm not **entirely** sure why he was seeking vengeance but we was); the 4 main penguins try to save the day by carrying out a rescue plan with the assistance of special force called "North Wind".
They travel the world in an effort to take down Dave and his league of octopuses and needless to say they run into some complications along the way, which make up for most of the movie.
In the end, the sweetest of the penguins saves the day and all of them are saved from evil Dave.
Even though the penguins are funny and the **lame** plot is well carried out, the movie didn't "do it" for us... Olivia even said she was "bored" and said the movie was just "ok"; it was also slow paced in my opinion.
In all honesty I think the penguins should have remained secondary characters and did not merit a whole spin-off movie of their own; they are cute and funny but just not interesting enough for a whole movie.  I will forever hold a special place in my heart for this funny penguins, but I recommend bypassing this movie.  This one gets 2 out of 4 stars from me...watch it if you want to take your kid out on Thanksgiving break but try finding something better to do if you can!  Sorry, Penguins... maybe next time?... or not!?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

9th Wedding Anniverary

Every year on November 18th I appreciate my husband a little bit more and I sit in awe as I reminisce about life and how much things have changed in the time we have been together.
Today marks 9 years since we stood in front of God along with family and friends and said "I DO!". 9 years since we started this perfectly imperfect adventure that is called marriage and even though I can't say it has always been "peachy", I can proclaim that it has been FUN, LIVELY and definitely ENRICHING.
Our love story isn't one for a romance novel; we met online, talked for a few weeks, our courtship was short (5 months!?!), there was no over-the-top proposal and our married life has been modest to say the least.  There have been times where I have questioned my sanity and even questioned my ability to be the wife I envisioned myself to be..."not everything is perfect" I say, to which he always replies "if this isn't perfect, I don't know what is!".
So today, I want to say to my husband of NINE years that I have LOVED every second next to you and that you are my rock, my north, the half of my heart that beats outside of my body and there's no other man (and definitely no other way) that I would have chosen to live this life with.
9 years is NOTHING...because not even a lifetime would be enough to enjoy your company and the ever shinning light that you bring to my life.  I thank God every day for choosing YOU for me.. for choosing US for me and for helping me find that one person who always brings out the best of me, even in the ugly days!
Happy Anniversary, my forever love.  If God is with us, who can be against us?
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH and I am so honored to call you my husband! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Movie Review: "Big Hero 6"

"Big Hero 6" is the latest Disney movie and even though I would argue that it wasn't advertised as much, it created enough commotion to be #1 at the box office this weekend.
I'm going to start by saying that this movie isn't as big as Frozen was around this time last year and even though it's a good one (with a great message too), it isn't as endearing as other kids' movies. Also, I don't think I would recommend this one for kids under 5 because the plot is a bit too complex for the very young ones.
The story revolves around Hiro Hamada, who is a very smart 13 year old kid with mad skills in robotics and other mechanical areas; in the beginning of the movie he is into "Bot Fighting" but his older brother Tadashi lures him into doing something "better" with his skill and convinces him to apply to a very well known robotics university. Once he decides to go for it, tragedy strikes and his life path changes drastically (I won't tell you exactly what happens as to not spoilt it!).  Along the way he meets Baymax, who is a "healthcare assistant" created by his brother; this character turns out to be the one who teaches him a valuable life lesson and also the one that brings him close to the other characters (which are great and very creative, by the way!).
Many twists and turns happen during the movie and Hiro becomes a robotics-genius-turned-superhero who develops a strong bond with the fluffy and lovable Baymax.
The movie features some wonderfully created digital images of my favorite city (San Francisco) along with some incredible animation and special effects.
I will warn you that it has many sad parts and my girls ended up crying for several moments and that is why I wouldn't recommend jumping into it with kids who are younger than 5.  Also, I think this movie is more appealing to boys because of the super hero component but it's definitely a good family movie too!
This one gets 3 out 4 stars from me! ;)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Super Hero" week

Last week was Olivia's "super hero" week in her class; every week they pick a student to be the special person of the week and they get to bring items and tells stories about themselves during that week. At the end of the week, parents are invited to come to the class to read a letter to their child, where they can say anything that comes to mind.  The letter is intended to tell stories to your child and also about your child to her fellow classmates.
Needless to say Olivia was VERY excited for me to come to her class; she was eager to hear what I had to say but she made a specific request...."mommy, please don't cry when you read my letter"... She doesn't understand WHY I cry when I talk about her and even though she's a fairly sensitive child, she hasn't made the connection between warm fussy feelings and tears so this was definitely a great experience for both of us.....
So..because I LOVE to talk about my children (I mean..what mother doesn't?) I am going to post a copy of the letter I wrote for Olivia just so when I print this blog to give to her, she will remember that letter I wrote to her during her "Super Hero" week in the 2nd grade!


Hello Olivia!
When you told me I had to write a letter for you and read it in your class, I got very excited because there are so many things I want to share with you and about you!
You are such a wonderful girl and I know I tell you that I LOVE YOU every day, as many times as I can..and you always tell me… “Mommy...I know!!!!”... Well… I’m sure you know that I love you but I am also sure that you have NO IDEA how MUCH I love you and that’s why I say it a million times a day.. in hopes that one day you will understand how intoxicating a mother’s love can be… So, Olivia.. I LOVE YOU…yes.. I said again!
You also asked me not to cry when I was reading this letter to you… I guess you know I’m a “crier” and you make me so proud and happy that I can’t help but shed my tears...but please know, Olivia..these are tears of joy because I feel so blessed that God chose me to be your mother and I have so much fun teaching you what the world is all about… I get so excited to think that there are still so many things left to show you and teach you…
You are such a happy little girl and a great daughter and sister. I admire your positive attitude and your faith in God and I love that you follow along with the readings at mass every Sunday and that you always remind me about everything because you have such a great memory!
Also, congratulations on your amazing report card that I got today.  You did such a great job in every subject and you make us very proud.  
Don’t forget to always take care of your little sister and to be nice to her all the time.  She looks up to you and you should always try to be the best version of yourself so that God and your family are proud of you.  
For those of you who don’t know Olivia very well, I will say a few fun things about her…
Olivia LOVES traveling (just like her mama!) and her favorite cities are Paris and New York.  The farthest destination Olivia has been to is Helsinki, Finland where we spent our last Spring Break.  During that trip, Olivia also visited Barcelona and Paris and she loved all three cities.  Olivia loves taking pictures and she took so many during our trip to Europe.  
Olivia is a great artist! She loves drawing, coloring, painting and everything that has to do with the arts. She also dances Flamenco and is learning to play the piano and has a very good ear for music.  
Olivia plays tennis and golf and she is a very athletic little girl.  Her dad put her in tennis lessons when she was only 2 and she has been playing ever since.  I am sure Olivia will be a great tennis player..
Olivia has 3 cats and she is an animal lover; her youngest cat is the most playful and whenever Olivia goes out in the yard, Stella follows her and even plays ball with her… right Olivia? For Halloween, Olivia plans to dress up as a cat! :)
Olivia is very excited about her upcoming first communion and she has been looking at some cute dresses online.  She already chose her favorite dress and her mommy will buy it for her.  Olivia’s favorite store is Justice and she loves colorful clothing, especially the ones with sparkles and animal prints…
Olivia also loves to change her earrings all the time and she really likes it when everything matches because she enjoys fashion very much.  
She is a great friend and she recently joined the Girl Scouts and is very happy to be making even more friends with those girls. 
Olivia please stay sweet and remember that God loves you and you are VERY unique.  Never lose your smile and positive attitude and remember that the world is at your feet as long as you work hard for what you want!

Love, 
Mama!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween Photo Dump

I hope everyone had an amazing Halloween! Here are some of our Halloween pictures... We all had a blast! ;)

Sofia the First: "Holiday in Enchancia" giveaway

Hello readers! It's time for another great giveaway so if your child is a Sofia fan be sure to enter this amazing one.
"Sofia the First: Holiday in Enchancia" will be out in stores tomorrow and you have the chance to win it by simply entering your name and email address in the comment section.

This episode is one of my favorites; it first aired last December and it quickly became a favorite; it is a Christmas themed episode that features a special appearance by Sleeping Beauty.  My girls and I really enjoyed it because it brings the Christmas spirit alive and puts everyone in that warm and sweet holiday mood that we all love so much!

The DVD features 4 additional episodes and it includes a light-up ornament inside!

Entries for this giveaway will be accepted until tomorrow 11/04 at 11:59pm and the winner will be contacted the next morning.   Please be sure to provide your name and email to enter the contest.

Good luck!