Saturday, December 23, 2017

Life without you...

The day after I turned 17 I lost my sister Erika...she was 20 years old and her death is the most painful experience I have ever been through.
Erika wasn't just "any" sister, she was truly special...literally! Her special needs made her very vulnerable and in turn we protected her and treasured her like a gem..and that she was!
She was the most innocent and gentle soul I have ever met and her whole existence was a blessing to everyone who met her...she had a radiance that could change the world..
The day she died our lives were forever changed; our family was shattered because we lost the most valuable piece and today, 19 years later, I can still feel that unspeakable pain that only someone who has lost a loved one can truly understand.
Despite her limitations, Erika taught everyone a lesson...that you don't need to be "normal" to love and be loved and sometimes the most "abnormal" of people are the ones who touch us the most.
When I think of my sister I try not to be sad because she doesn't represent sadness; her life was full of joy, her laughter was contagious and her presence was so powerful...that's how I like to remember her and that's how I want people to know her....
So today I say "Erika: life without you is not the same and your memory lives in everything I do, in everything our family does. You are my biggest treasure, my angel in heaven, the one that inspires my compassion every day, the one that taught me to love and accept diversity, the one I think of every day and every night. I will never forget your smile and whenever I am sad I think of you and picture you looking at me with that innocence that made you so unique. Life without you is hard and many days it feels empty but it comforts me to know that you are in heaven because that's where angels belong...you bring a smile to my face every day!"
December 23 will always be a sad day for our family because it's the day when God called you home and the day we learned what pain really was...but because we knew you, we are who we are and the time we had you was the best of our lives...
We love you forever!

Movie Review: "Jumanji"

When I first saw the "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" movie trailer, I was intrigued... even though it looked a bit "cheesy" I couldn't help but wonder what kind of sequel the original Jumanji could have and considering the 1995 version is one of my all time favorites, I decided to give it a chance.
My expectations for the new version of Jumanji were not high, I think it was more of a sentimental thing than anything else although the cast did look very promising.
I finally got to see it today and I have to say that I haven't enjoyed a movie that much in a while.. it was great!  Not only was it incredibly funny and entertaining but it was also so well produced in every aspect.
The story was enticing, the pace was perfect, the lines were funny, the scenery was beautiful and the actors and their roles were simply amazing... I could not have asked for a better movie.
The plot revolves around 4 high schoolers that somehow end up in detention together and out of boredom wound up trapped in a video version of the old game Jumanji. Once inside the game they realize they are in the bodies of the characters they chose and they have a big mission of undoing a curse that has afflicted the jungle. In completing their mission, they unveil the strengths and weaknesses each character has and through some serious (and fun!) team work they ultimately accomplish their mission and are able to get out of the game.
I really enjoyed the funny one liners and puns throughout the movie; it is packed with jokes for both kids and adults and it brings out the best in each of the characters. There isn't a dull moment in the movie; the story is really easy to follow and the movie has the perfect pace and the perfect length.
I strongly recommend this one; it gets 4 out of 4 stars in my book!

36...

I remember getting very excited about my birthday when I was little girl; the prospect of getting tons of presents and eating tons of cake always made me happy, especially since my birthday is around Christmas time and everyone just seems happier than usual. 
With the passing of time, my birthday just became "another day" and presents and cake stopped being at the top of my list; it's not that I didn't care but for some reason birthdays just weren't that exciting anymore.
Then more time passed and I realized that birthdays ARE a big deal because they're the ONLY day of the year where you're just a little more special than the rest, it's the day where your loved ones take an extra minute to think of you, a time for everyone to remind you just how much you mean to them and a day to cherish and appreciate all that extra love that everyone throws your way. 
Birthdays are also the best time to count blessings and to reminisce, a time to set new goals and renew hope for a new personal year... I really LOVE my birthday nos, more than I did when I was a little girl but also in a completely differently way....my birthday is always special...
Yesterday was no different! As I turned a year older (yay 36!), I celebrated with my loved ones and soaked in all the love they gave me, enjoyed their company and thanked God for another blessed year in this wonderful life!
Thanks to everyone in my life that makes it special, thanks for all the birthday wishes via calls, text messages, FB posts, IG comments.. I loved it all and I love you all!
Here's to many more birthdays in great company, birthdays where presents and cake still matter but not nearly as much as a warm hug or a sweet message!




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!