entering a new decade

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my twenties consisted of college, graduation, marriage, and having our baby girl, izabella. that decade will always be special for those reasons. alot happened in those ten years–mostly sweet memories but also some bitter moments too. growing pains, struggles and  heartbreak just to name a few. there were big milestones but also big disappointments. sometimes it felt like i was taking five steps forward and two steps back [gasp]. nonetheless, i’m here. i made it to the big 3-0, thanks to my loved ones and God’s mercy. you know that saying “you live and you learn”?  i’d like to think the learning part, is what you do while transitioning into your thirties. don’t get me wrong, my troubles are far from over and my flaws are a sight for sore eyes. despite my weaknesses, i’ve matured through the years.

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her kisses melt my heart. it’s exactly what i needed on such a cold, snowy day. i wish i could keep them in my back pocket whenever we’re apart. which i hope is never, but surely she’ll need to fly out of the nest. someday ;-)

i recently embarked on a journey of self-discovery. it’s been liberating but also quite scary. losing sight of that shore can be intimating. yet when i explored beyond the horizon, i expanded my perspective. i become more informed about myself, the people in and out of life and those things which float somewhere in between. it hasn’t been smooth sailing, if you know what i mean. not everything i discovered was lovely. i’m still working on accepting those realities–those things which i can’t change. the ugly truth is still ugly, even with the rosiest colored-glasses. it’s a part of the risk of exploring unknown territory. it’s probably why some people may never leave their comfort zone. yes, i’d agree…ignorance is bliss, but you can’t disagree that knowledge is power. when you know better, you do better. i’m feeling wiser and more confident about my decisions. a little more book smart and hopefully, more street smart too.

goodbye twenty-nine! it was nice knowing you.

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^^^ these two kids over here. they love to play. all the time. supergirl izzie pretends she has super-duper strength and can defeat even the world’s strongest man. they also enjoying “rarr-ing” at each other while playing catch and hide-and-go-seek. the latest is the over-dramatic, fake cough to get daddy’s attention.

hello thirty!

you came to me with a bang blizzard, a northeastern snow storm on the exact date of my birthday. what are the odds of that?! even weirder, was the name. ‘nemo’, as in the clown fish from the disney animated movie, ‘ finding nemo’ (at least that’s what comes to my mind). i couldn’t help but ponder of the symbolism of this, because that’s what i do–think and over-think things. i blame my anxiety and attention to detail [big sigh]. so anyway…before getting carried away into another direction, (i may also have slight ADD <—- the downfall of being a creative) i wanted to share the words of dory:

“when life gets you down, you know whatcha got do? just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming.”

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if only you could hear that laugh. it’s the type of laugh, a parent would do anything for. even the most embarrassing things. this is not one of them. thankfully!

even though dory was the fun, forgetful, care-free fish in the film, her sayings were meaningful. i know this is a silly kid’s movie, but there’s something more substantial and identifiable, especially for me. it’s hard! life, that is. it’s really, really hard sometimes. like unbearable-knock-you-off-your-feet, sort of hard. there’s loss and life threatening situations. like the kind Marlin had when his son, nemo was taken away from him. the majority of the movie is a loving father overcoming obstacles, conquering the sea and his fears in order to rescue his child. which he does, by the way (sorry–spoiler alert!) but not without feeling hopeless and defeated in the process. a caring friend (dory) reminds him to continue forward and have faith. she even gives (the above quote) a catchy, slightly annoying ring to it (almost a song), as she swims by his side. that is the same tune which played in my head, every time i heard about the storm. i also added my own words, “i must keep moving. i must push forward. i have to. i need to”.

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if it seems like my locks got (even) shorter, that’s because it did! i figured my big birthday storm should be paired with an extreme haircut to match.

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^^^ this is how you spell L-O-V-E <3

 i’ve been telling myself this for a really long time actually. these past ten months (especially) have been a grueling boot camp. it wasn’t about finishing first, but about raw, hard-core survival. i gave it all i had and stayed focused, even when i had my moments of despair. i had that initial adrenaline rush, but then it wore off. perhaps, my pace slowed down. maybe i had to take breaks every now and then. perhaps i needed extra support when i did fall. i’m human. i’m not a robot and i’m surely not superwoman (although that would be fantastic). i may have trouble catching up with others, mostly because i’ve been injured and i’m still recovering. i have my limitations and perhaps that’s due to the muddy paths and dangerous terrain i’ve encountered. i’m not as fast or feeling as strong as i used to, but i still have determination. slow and steady…slow and steady wins the race.

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note to self: baby should have a snow suit on, even if it’s just for a couple minutes. i’m paying dearly for this mommy fail. poor izzie has been sick since then :(

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i was told that “noo” is a delicious, refreshing snack.

so there i was, snowed-in and reminiscing on my special day. i’d gotten this far with a massive blizzard to mark the entrance into my thirties. to tell you the truth, i was feeling a little down in the morning. i’m not a fan of cold weather or the snow. what can i say– i’m a winter baby stuck in a summer baby’s birth date. there i was, sipping coffee watching the snow fall. i was thinking back to the whirlwind of my twenties, while also going seventy-five miles ahead. my poor brain was hurting! my heart was hurting too, because i was getting emotional. i saw a parallel with the unexpected, unpleasant times of my life with this storm. it reminded me of the hardships. when it snows, it snows….or something along those lines, right?

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izabella is a july baby who loves the snow! …and i’m a february baby who isn’t the biggest fan :-/

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^^^ that’s a film camera my hubby is using. yes, you read correctly….film! it’s a vintage 1981 canon. we can’t wait to see the developed prints!

it also made me think about the big production of this day. it wasn’t a regular ‘ol friday. no, it was news-worthy and memorable. it was nothing short of  dramatic and eventful. it made me think even harder and deeper. sometimes storms push us forward, if we dare to go with the current. sometimes we go off course, because we try to avoid it all together. i’m no surfer (or swimmer for that matter), but i know one basic rule: if you don’t want to be swallowed and spit out by a gigantic wave, you need to surrender to it. i hope this birthday storm of mine is a sign. a foreshadowing of this new chapter of my life: it will be big and bold in the most positive way. i can’t say “adieu” to my umbrella or my snow boots. i know storms come and go with each passing season. what i am hoping, believing and praying, is that better days are in the forecast.

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my sweethearts. i love them to the moon and back!

so what’s a beach lovin’ girl to do a very wintry day? why, she cuddles with her husband and daughter and plays with the fluffy white stuff. “if you can’t beat them, join them”…is what i say.

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okay, so i had a little fun too :)

despite it all, boy–i’m a lucky girl! i really do count my blessings and seeing these pictures, makes me all the more thankful. watching the wonder in my daughter’s eyes, the love she shared with us and the extra hugs and kisses made my day special. birthday calls from family, facebook wishes, yummy cake and beautiful roses were the perfect ending to the beginning of a new and exciting decade.

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these were the most cheery, orange-hued flowers for such a wintery occasion. just gorgeous!

how did you spend winter storm memo? hopefully it was safe and warm surrounded by the ones you love.

raquel

meet my niece

isn’t she beautiful?

i can’t believe it’s been four weeks since she made her debut! even more, that it’s taken me this long to post pictures of the newest addition of our family. although i did share some of these on my instagram.

still– it’s not quite an official announcement, until i blog about it.

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on the very day of my sister’s baby shower, she went into early labor. i think my niece was anxious to be apart of the celebration. six hours after entering the hospital, ester bought this little bundle of joy into the world.

..and so i’m happy to introduce

Emani Hope

November 5, 2012

5lbs 15oz | 18.5″

she joins big brother, ezekiel and her proud parents

*birthed naturally and welcomed with love

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these are just a few pics from our very first visit. she’s gotten so much bigger (and can you believe –more beautiful since then?). izabella is in love with her cousins. snapshots can be seen here and here.

also, i’d like to point out that my hubby is mostly responsible for these great black and whites. check out this website to view his amazing portfolio.

ohhh and TGIF!

R

sistas

The trio. The three musketeers. Big sister, middle sister and baby sister.

Let me just point out the obvious. Yes, my hair used to be orange-ish. Glad we’ve gotten that out of the way. Also, there’s a toddler and two teenagers who tower over her by four feet. Ester and I are three years apart. We practically grew up as playmates. Then there’s Joanna, she’s (literally) the baby of the family. We’re 15 years and 11 months apart. Even with our age differences, we’re managed to bond throughout the years.

 We are sisters. Best friends for life. We couldn’t be more unique, yet our love for each other is the same.

Here we are bonding over curly frizzes on a humid summer day, about to sing annoying car tunes during a family road trip and posing pretty with the obligatory printed pjs on christmas morning.

There’s the artist and the thinker. Has a sensitive heart and a quiet soul by nature. She’s gentle. Another is the athletic. She’s a free-spirit. Quick on her feet. Graceful with her hands. A giver, not a taker. She’s strong. Then there’s the dancer. Always moving to the beat. A bubbly personality with quirky mannerisms. Has a thing for baking desserts and being sweet. She’s witty.

Sister, open your heart, fling your hopes high, and set your dreams aloft. I am here to hold your hand. – Maya Angelou

We’ve laughed until our stomaches hurt (and almost peed our pants). Fought over borrowed clothes that weren’t returned in it’s original condition. We’ve been each other’s makeup artist and hair stylist. Cried our eyes out together, and even wiped the runniest of noses. We’re guilty at yelling at one another. Used the silent treatment. Apologized, made up and hugged too many times too count. Stood up to bullies. We’ve been each other’s best shopping buddy. Shared secrets and stories. Built forts together and endless memories. We’ve gone through bad hair days, fashion disasters and life’s growing pains.

Sisterhood is more than just being born from the same parents. It’s about belonging to one another. The responsibility to have each other’s back. To accept and love unconditionally.

If you have a sister (or lucky to have more than one), tell her how much she means to you today. I know I will.

R