Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"Penny Spelling Game"

I'm a stickler for spelling and as such I always try to find fun ways to teach my kids how to spell correctly. I think spelling and grammar should be a priority at any age, but the issues gets very serious after 3rd or 4th grade (at least for me!).
I've said it before and I'll say it again.. in our family, Gaby is the "challenging" one so we always have to find ways to "spice it up" for her.
I recently came across a cute spelling game called "Penny Spelling Game" on a great website called education.com which offers a lot of educational resources for all grades up to high school.... it is truly fascinating and such a great way for parents to help their kids learn through games and fun activities.
So the "Penny Spelling Game" is very simple and even though this one in particular might appeal to children younger than mine, I assure you there are tons of resources that could fit everyone's needs. For now, let's just play with some pennies...

What You Need:
50 or more pennies
What You Do:
Have your child arrange the pennies in the shape of letters and spell out words. Practice vocabulary words, spelling words, or (best of all) words related to Presidents like "Abe", "red", “blue", or “USA” with your child.
Turn the spelling game into a quick history lesson by pausing a moment to look at one of the pennies with your child. Show her the president on the face side and the memorial on the other side of the penny. Ask your child what year the penny was made. What else does it say?
You can also expand this activity into an English lesson by discussing phrases and idioms in the English language that use the word “penny". Example phrases include “a pretty penny,” “a penny saved is a penny earned,” “without two pennies to rub together,” “a penny for your thoughts,” “a penny to my name,” and “penny wise and pound foolish.” Has your child heard these phrases before? What do they mean?

Monday, September 25, 2017

This is 2!

Our little buddy is 2 today! What a happy day! He is growing before our eyes and we are loving every minute of it! What a sweet little boy he is!
Oliver is nothing short of amazing; he's the typical "mama's boy" and I am soaking in his cuddles and love as much as I can.  He loves giving kisses and hugs and everyone just loves him!
He stands tall at almost 36 inches and 34 lbs, a chunky buddy that wears size 3T and steals everyone's heart with a simple smile. 
Oliver has got quite the personality; he's self-driven, a fast learner and very observant.  His language skills are pretty amazing as he fends for himself in two languages and definitely makes his voice be heard.  He loves playing with his sisters and his dad is the center of his universe. 
Oliver loves Legos, Mickey and might be slightly obsessed with Sesame Street at the moment; he knows all the characters' names and can sing all the songs; it's so sweet to watch him sing and dance all the time. He also loves going to Disney and going on all the rides!
He also loves dinosaurs and is especially good at imitating roaring sounds.  He has recently moved himself to a full size bed so the crib days might be over soon since he has refused to sleep in it for the past two weeks.  How did this happen so fast?!?
He's not potty trained yet but seems to be more aware and is becoming better at alerting us of poopie diapers and such; I will probably give potty training another go in the beginning of next year...fingers crossed!
Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for sending us this beautiful gift but on the day of his birthday, I thank Him a million times more!

Happy Birthday, little buddy! We love you so much! Enjoy the "terrible twos" that cannot possibly be so "terrible" with your beautiful smile and sweet soul!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Strong Opinions

**Disclaimer: This post isn't directed towards anyone in particular, just a bunch of thoughts that I wanted to get out and right now seems to be the right time to do so**

Today's post is about "Strong Opinions" and the consequences associated with having them. 
When I think of opinions, a classic scene from the movie "Inside Out" comes to mind; in this scene Joy knocks down two boxes containing facts and opinions and while she desperately tries to clean up the mess, she exclaims "Oh no! These facts and opinions look so similar" and Bing Bong replies: "Ah, don't worry. Happens all the time!" I love that scene for so many reasons and every time I talk about opinions I bring it up because it illustrates my point so well. 
Often times I've been called "opinionated" by many people; some have told me nicely and some not so nicely..but I guess calling me opinionated is also an opinion, right?...oh, the irony! The truth is that YES, I have a lot of opinions, but who doesn't? I frequently voice some of those opinions in this blog, which is my personal platform and my safe space.  I am aware that some of my opinions ruffle some feathers and I am also aware that the problem with strong opinions is that they elicit strong reactions and once something is said, it's pretty much out there forever.
The official definition of the word opinions goes as follows: "a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge" so clearly opinions are NOT facts but rather someone's personal beliefs about any given subject. 
I have recently gotten notes from people saying my opinions are "too strong" or that I'm "harsh"; I also know for a fact that some people visit my blog to purposely get annoyed at what I write, a fact that I find incredibly baffling and a bit masochistic but it happens and I can't prevent anyone from reading this blog since it's public.  The point is that I am aware that some of the things I say don't sit well with some people but I am of the believe that "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything" so I write, and I opine and I own up to what I say and while stating my opinions is never intended to hurt or offend anyone that's something I can't possible change because I don't have control over people's reactions. 
While many people claim to be "tolerant" and "understanding" the truth is that people can't stand it when others disagree with them and they tend to gravitate towards like-minded people because it's just easier to hang out with people that agree with them. Of course there are exceptions where people enjoy a good, healthy debate and don't mind taking the time to back up their opinions with facts... or at least try.  I personally don't mind being challenged and have actually learned a lot from people with opinions different than mine...debating is good..arguing isn't.
Coincidentally, on my last post I wrote an opinion about a comment a friend made regarding hurricane evacuations; this person reached out to me and we both agreed that our differences in opinions are not stronger than our friendship so we said our peace, apologized and moved on, no harm done! I am thankful for friends like him who take the time to approach me individually and delve deeper into my arguments... it's actually refreshing!
So my advice to anyone who gets annoyed by what I write is very simple "Don't read it!" but if you must then please don't confuse my opinions with facts; they might be facts to ME but I'm ok with them not being so for others.  To me, writing is therapeutic and I don't plan on stopping any time soon so if you've ever been offended by any of my posts... oh well...it is what it is! 
People don't have to agree on everything to be able to love each other... heck, I rarely agree with my own mother and we love each other to death!
So keep on opining and keep on rocking!
Happy Blogging!



Saturday, September 16, 2017

Haters gonna hate!

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you've probably heard about Irma, a category 5 hurricane that pummeled the state of Florida and wreaked havoc in a bunch of cities, all while forcing thousands and thousands of people to evacuate...
The predicted path of Irma was as terrifying as they come; some people say that Florida got "lucky" but I'm not sure "luck" is the right word to use in a situation where many people ended up homeless and cities were destroyed. Some Caribbean islands were not as "lucky", with many being completely washed out by the wrath of Irma and the forceful winds and rains that came with it. 
Some of the evacuees (us included) took the chance to make "lemonade out of lemons" by turning the unwelcome evacuation into an unexpected vacation; some people drove as far as Boston in their attempts to escape the hurricane and naturally enjoyed their time away despite the given circumstances. 
In our particular case, we were blessed to spend a few days with some dear friends in their North Carolina cabin, we visited Iggy's alma mater  in Tennessee and caught up with some friends there and also spent a few days in Savannah, which is a wonderful city.  All the while I was worried about my family members that stayed behind, the possible damages to our house and our city and the overall risks this monster hurricane posed for our entire community... this was no joke!
Once the hurricane passed, it was time to assess the damages, both local and worldwide and to get ready to help all the victims however possible.  Many of our friends organized food/supply drives and coordinated ways in which to help through different channels...and the efforts haven't stopped.
It was also time to thank God for keeping us safe and for allowing us to, well, make lemonade out of lemons and enjoy the said "hurrication". 
Now... everything was fine and dandy until I was scrolling through my FB feed and saw this comment by a "friend" (direct quote, copy and past). I suppose I could have responded to him in his own wall, but I'm not up for confrontations with a hater. 

"Amigos y Amigas; if you left Florida because of Hurricane Irma, it was NOT a vacation, or "hurrication". People lost valuables, others died, it was a stressful week. Have some compassion. Ironically the ones doing this also thank God for keeping THEM safe, cause you know, screw everyone else. So go somewhere else with those pictures of your "hurrication". AdiĆ³s ."

(The comment wasn't directed towards ME, but it might as well could have)
While I understand the sentiment behind the comment, I also wonder, why are people such haters? Why can't they see the silver lining within a tragedy, and if they don't, why can't they let others do such, then?  I find it incredibly ridiculous that someone would assume that because people decide to make the best of a bad situation, then they're not concerned about others; or that because people thank God for their safety, they're indirectly saying "screw everyone else".  Are we supposed to sit and cry over how miserable the world is?  Are we supposed to stop living life because there's a natural disaster?  Are we supposed to stay at home during a hurricane because other people decide to "ride out" the storm? 
I am not one to post a million pictures of my "hurrication", or boast about how much "fun" I had while evacuating, but I am for people making the best of things and dealing the cards they've been given. There is nothing wrong with someone saying they "enjoyed" their time away;  in my humble opinion, it doesn't make anyone inconsiderate, insensitive or less empathetic, it just makes them positive and grateful. 
I have many friends that evacuated, many of those also posted pictures of their "hurrication", and many admittedly enjoyed their time away and feel blessed to have been safe during the storm.  These same friends are also some of the most empathetic, sweet and helpful people I know, people that would do anything in their power to help anyone they can, ones that were worried sick about what the hurricane could do, people that spent hours on the road trying to keep their families safe, etc..so assuming they don't care about others is plain stupid. So all my "friend's" comment shows is ignorance and hate on his part...maybe a bit of jealousy too?. 
So people, keep enjoying your "hurrications" with no shame...and if "Maria" makes her way around the Atlantic, get ready for more hate and envy if you do decide to evacuate! Because Haters gonna hate.. and we can't change that! As for me, I will continue to see the silver lining and let hate roll.. 
Happy blogging!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Death is "simple" but a loss is never "easy"

Last Wednesday, in the middle of an ordinary week, we lost a loved one.  I received the awful news that aunt Graciela had suddenly passed very early in the morning of August 23rd... I was shocked, sad, terrified and down in the dumps within a few short seconds when I heard that she had died of a sudden heart attack next to her husband of more than 40 years.. what an awful heartbreak. Iggy happened to be away on business so I know he took it especially hard because his aunt Graciela was very dear to him and he didn't have anyone to hug him through such pain.  
See, death is simple but a loss is never easy and the ones that stay behind are the ones who suffer the most. When a loved one dies we tend to think a lot of things, we reflect on the meaning of life, the purpose of our existence and I particularly spend time evaluating how much of my time is spent doing quality things with my loved ones or questioning how many times I tell them how much they mean to me...the answer is usually not enough times.. and I hate that.. I hate the fact that something tragic has to happen to make me realize that at times I don't give enough of myself to others, but things like this help me understand  that even the sad stuff happens for a reason. 
In the midst of her death, one of our cousins and aunt Graciela's 2nd daughter posted a beautiful picture of her and her mom and she wrote these nice words "I will soon find the words, mom. I promise you. But right now I am speechless; silence comforts me. I love you. And I am happy to have told you so a million times".  I read those words and broke down in tears... how beautiful is the fact that in the middle of such a tragic loss, a daughter can find comfort in the thought that she told her mom she loved her over and over....

Last time I saw aunt Graciela was in April; we attended the wedding of her 2nd to youngest son (she has 6 wonderful children) and she was radiant, looking beautiful and happy as ever, I am happy about that being my last memory of her.  We spent a lot of time with her and she made remarks about how dear her family was to her and how she was soaking in all the love during the time spent with 5 of her children and her 8 grandchildren (a new grandchild was born since so now it's 9 of them). She had this special vibe, a beautiful aura and contagious energy and even though we didn't get to see her often since she lived in Venezuela, she was always so special to me and I will miss her and her Instagram feed and all her happy family updates and such. 

So as "simple" as death is, we must acknowledge that a loss is never "easy" and the void that it leaves cannot be ignored.  It takes time to heal and even more time to accept that those loved ones that die are forever gone in their physical form but always present in their spiritual one. 

I will forever remember aunt Graciela as a kind and faithful woman that always made the world a better place; someone who spent their time loving her family and making a difference in everyone's lives, a woman with strong convictions and a huge heart and one whose memory will never be forgotten. 
To her husband and children, we will pray for you; please know that we feel your pain and we hope you can find comfort on the idea that she went straight to heaven and will always be with you. 

Rest in Peace, aunt Graciela! We love you very much....


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Back to School

Back to school week is always a hectic and eventful one, especially for us parents with multiple children; between finishing up last minute shopping, getting uniforms and school supplies ready and going back to the routine we tend to feel overwhelmed and often exhausted...
Well.. this year wasn't any different and it was especially challenging for us since Iggy was away on business and I was left to tend to three kids alone during a week where their needs seem to be twice as many and my energy is almost non-existent. 
Oliver started back on Monday and cried at drop off for the first 3 days, which wasn't so bad. He slowly remembered his classroom, teachers and school playground. He had a hard time waking up in the mornings and I had an even harder time shortening our morning cuddle sessions. I am confident, however, that Oliver loves his school and is already learning so much from his daily interactions with other kids his age. I really love watching him grow up before my eyes and I enjoy how much he learns on a daily basis.  Such a smart little boy!


Because there was a solar eclipse on Monday, the girls got an extra day off and kicked off the week on Tuesday instead.  They were equally anxious and excited to start 3rd and 5th grade;they were up really early and ready to go way before I was which definitely isn't the norm. 
I am thankful that my girls are mature beyond their years and they are always the ones that calm me down and reassure me whenever I'm feeling sad. 
Surprisingly enough, I was feeling a little "blue" on this back to school week partly because I realize that time is precious and that even though these moments are forever imprinted in my memory, they are definitely ephemeral and intangible.
As Gaby starts 3rd grade I can only see success ahead of her; she is such a strong minded girl who always achieves whatever she envisions.  But just like I see success, I also see many challenges because Gaby can be very lazy at times and I know that this year's expectations are higher than other years. It's hard to let go sometimes, it's hard to let your kids fail so they can learn from their mistakes but I know this year I will be faced with such choices and I'm going to have to push Gaby to give more than she feels comfortable with... God help me be strong for this little one!


Olivia started 5th grade, which is her last year of elementary school. This year she was invited to participate in an advanced math program where she will attend math class with 6th graders; I reluctantly accepted because I know she needs the challenge and she has worked so hard for it but I will admit to being really nervous about the pressure this will put on her.  This school year Olivia will be responsible for carrying an iPad and doing most of her work electronically; she will also have her own school email address and won't be getting constant reminders about tests, homework and projects and instead she will be on her own when it comes to schedules. It will also be the year when most kids get "mean" and "cliquish" (we already saw some of that last year) and the year where she gets to try out for sports despite the fear of being turned down for something she really wants to do. 
She has been very vocal about her anxiety about middle school (next year) and about how she will handle all of her new responsibilities, social pressure and emotional challenges.  She's the kind of kid that wants to do it all and wants to be great at everything (overachiever much?) but she is also very sensitive and that's what makes me really nervous about this year. 
I am praying for wisdom and humbleness for both of us. 


So this year I'm feeling the "blues" and experiencing all kinds of emotions about my kids being back in school. I can't believe Olivia is closer to high school than she is to kindergarten and I also can't believe that all my kids are already in school.  
I feel blessed to be able to send them to Catholic school and I am confident that this year will be a great one despite the challenges ahead!
God please continue to light my children's path as you see fitting!


Happy Back to School week!


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer...that's a wrap!

It's always bittersweet when summer comes to an end.. One one hand, I get very excited for a new school year and for some "me" time but then I start thinking of how much I'll miss the kids and our fun days and I get a little sad.. 
But such is life and here we are at the end of yet another fun summer, nothing short of great anecdotes and tons of awesome memories!
Let's start with June... it was such a fun month... the kids were so glad to be out of school at last so they made sure to start taking advantage of their time off right away...


The first important event of the summer was Mariana's baptism on June 11th. We had a great gathering with friends and family to celebrate this cutie's special day.  She looked so adorable with her baptism gown and the day was just filled with love and faith.  Iggy is her godfather so the event was extra special.


We spent lots of time at the pool so the kids got extra tanned... including "ghostly" Oliver.. ha!


In mid June we traveled to the Dominican Republic for a couple of weeks.  We spent some time with family including Iggy's uncle Javi and my aunt Laurita who flew in from Venezuela.  It's always great to spend time with loved ones and even better while on vacation.  


We celebrated Father's Day in DR even though they don't celebrate it until July...here's a family picture from our celebration...


My sister also joined us in DR and we all had a great time together...

 

Right after we came back from Dominican Republic we headed to Ohio to visit my brother in law and his family.  The girls had an amazing time with their cousins and it was great to see our family. 
While in Ohio, I met up with my good friend Jenn, attended a great firework display on the 4th (Red, White and Boom! in Columbus, OH), celebrated Iggy's (and Sebastian's) birthday and just relaxed while soaking in all the family time that was possible.  It was really a great trip.


On the day we got back from Ohio, I took my dad to the Paul McCartney concert and that was definitely one of the highlights of my summer.. What a great show and spending time with my dad was even better! Unforgettable memories!


We spent some time with baby Mariana, who's growing like a weed...


Lots of time in the water, including the beach and pool...


My friend Jenn and her son Maddox came to visit from Ohio (they just couldn't stay away... ha!) and we had an amazing time with them.  I love it when people visit us!


At the end of July, we headed to Orlando to meet up with some of my cyber friends from my pregnancy forum (Oliver's friends). We had such a blast and I was so happy to finally meet some of these wonderful mommies who I've been chatting with for almost 2.5 years! (Only people with cyber friends can really understand how special this was)


Mommy friends!!!!

Iggy took the girls to Universal Studios while I was "mommying" with my friends! <3 p="">

In early August, we went to the GunsNRoses concert with some friends.  Even though I'm not much of a "rocker", I had a blast and it was a great night!


My cousin Ana and her kids came to visit from Colombia.. we had a great time.. 


During our last full week of summer, we went back to Orlando to spend some time at Disney. Everyone who knows us is aware that we are self proclaimed Disney "junkies" so we just HAD to squeeze in one last visit to the mouse.  Of course the kids had a blast and we were happy to spend a few days with our great friends Elle and Lia. Here are some pictures...


The BEST firework show EVER!


When we got back from Orlando, I went to Field of Flowers with some of the school moms for a last minute "back to school" celebration.  We made some cute arrangements and had a great time. 


And we sealed our summer with some shopping. The kids had a great time picking last minute stuff and taking pictures with the #targetdog


All in all, summer 2017 was another one for the books.  I hope that when my kids get a chance to read this blog in their older years they know how lucky they are and how many blessings they are able to enjoy on a daily basis. 
Now to start another wonderful school year!
Happy end of summer, y'all!