Monthly Archives: January 2012

More birthdays!!

January is a big month for my family. There are birthdays just about every week! For those that don’t believe me, here’s the evidence:

There were times in my childhood when I felt a little left out being the only non-January birthday in my family, but then I also loved being the special one that got my own birthday month :) Now that January is coming to a close, it’s time to celebrate the birthdays of both my mom and my grandpa.

My mom is a remarkable woman and I am so thankful for all she has taught me through her words and actions. She is one of the most patient people I know and puts this trait of hers to good use everyday from tolerating the antics of my dad, my brother and myself to her twelve hours shifts as a labor and delivery nurse. She’s great at what she does and puts 100% into every aspect of her job at the hospital. It’s no surprise to me at all that patients will send my mom thank you cards for being such an attentive, calm and encouraging nurse. My mom is also one of the most selfless people I know, always thinking of others first before even considering her own needs. I am also thankful that while growing up, my mom always placed such emphasis on the importance of education, from making sure my brother and I did well in school to completing her own education and going to nursing school while my brother and I were very young. Thanks, mom, for showing us the value of hard work, for showing us the importance of working with integrity, for being cheesy and using emoticons at the end of every email :), for spoiling us with our favorite meals whenever we come home to Tucson, for your endless help during our year of wedding planning, for always being a ready ear and adviser and for being one of the best shopping buddies I could have asked for (hello, Anthropologie!!). Now, similarly to the post for my brother’s and dad’s birthdays, here are some of my favorite pictures of my mom! Happy birthday, momma bear!!

In Peru!

Macchu Picchu!

My parents on their 20th anniversary five years ago

With momma bear

My mom helping me get ready for my wedding

Today is extra special in that it is also my maternal grandfather’s birthday. He’s the only grandfather I’ve known and has been a part of so many childhood memories of mine. I’ll always remember going over to their house everyday growing up and being able to count on his afternoon habit of making Cuban coffee (in the same little espresso maker he’s had my whole life). There would always be the sound of dominoes on a table at family events with my Tata being particular about the way the dominoes were shuffled between games. My grandparents always had Cookie Crisp cereal for us at their house and my Tata loved nothing more than to offer us this with ice cream for breakfast (super nutritious, right?). Growing up, we could always count on my grandpa to give us any needed batteries for toys as he had quite the collection in his office closet. Most recently, my grandpa was a part of our wedding. During the lighting of our unity candle during our wedding ceremony, he sang the Ave Maria just like he had at my older cousin’s wedding several years ago and at my parent’s wedding 25 years ago. It was such a special moment and one I’ll always treasure. Here are a few of my favorite pictures with my Tata from our wedding day. Happy birthday, Tata!!

Singing the Ave Maria at our wedding

Salsa dancing with my grandpa at our wedding :)

Five years ago…

Five years ago, I met this guy named Chip. It was January 27, 2007 and we were on the side of the highway picking up trash. No worries, we weren’t on probation or anything! :) We were actually participating in an event with Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed national service fraternity at Trinity we were both members of during undergrad. As a service fraternity, one of the mandatory events for every semester was to participate in Adopt a Highway. There were usually two instances to get these hours done over the course of the semester and Chip and I happened to choose the same one to volunteer at. While the turnout for each semester’s first Adopt a Highway was usually low, in this instance we had more people than normal so we were asked to team up while collecting trash as there weren’t enough gloves to go around for everyone to wear. So the person with the glove would be in charge of picking up the trash while the other person would carry the trash bag. I had gone to Adopt a Highway that morning with some friends, but somehow ended up walking with Chip at some point. Like a true gentleman, he without question started carrying my garbage bag whenever it would get too heavy. Romantic, right? :) I thought he was a bit of a showoff at first; while carrying the garbage bag he would also pick up trash with a stick he had found along the way, showing he was too cool to use a glove to pick up trash. Who did this guy think he was, spearing trash into a bag? haha Once we introduced ourselves to each other, it was clear we had a fair amount in common – we were both business majors, both had younger brothers, both grew up Catholic and were both very big fans of baseball. Our morning of picking up trash together soon led to having lunches in Mabee Dining Hall, going to church together and by Valentine’s Day we were out on our first date together. Now, we’ve been married for a little over eight months now… time sure has flown by! :)

Technically, this is our very first picture together. So flattering...

Happy birthday, Dad!!

This post is in honor of my dad’s 50th birthday. Happy birthday, Dad! As I mentioned in my last post, we were fortunately able to celebrate this milestone birthday together in California with all of my dad’s family.

Family time in California

I love my dad. I am so thankful for the relationship I have with him. He’s been such a great example of what fatherly love is and has always shown me how a husband should love his wife in the relationship he has with my mom. My dad is one of the most lively, animated people I know and I admire his zest for life and for relationships. We joke that my dad makes friends everywhere he goes, but I think that’s just a reflection of my his jolly personality and people skills. Thanks, dad, for always being someone I could always be honest with, someone who taught me how to drive a car and handle all road situations (like throwing the emergency break on me while driving through a parking lot to see how I react… haha), seeing the importance in being respected and not settling for less, for always being there to make me laugh through the good and the bad, encouraging me to better control my emotions (still working on that one…) and teaching me to appreciate a classic Tom & Jerry cartoon as well as an old, mint blue Bel Air. In honor of his 50th birthday, here are a few of my favorite recent pictures with my Daddoo.

My dad and Alex in a gift shop in Alaska

Before Alex’s high school graduation

Goofy picture before Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago

With my parents after Chip proposed

My parents’ picture from our wedding photobooth

With my dad right before the wedding ceremony

Happy birthday, Papa Bear!

Hello, California!!

In honor of my dad’s 50th birthday, my parents planned a trip to California to spend some time with his family. My dad’s mother as well as all five of his younger siblings live in and around the greater L.A. area. Since my parents live in Arizona, it’s not often that my dad’s entire family is in the same place at the same time and it had been a while since my dad had seen some of them. Now this week not only marked my dad’s 50th birthday, but my grandmother had also turned 70 earlier this month so there were big reasons for the entire family to celebrate together. Unbeknownst to everyone in our family, my mother had devised a sneaky plan that involved Chip and I flying in for the weekend to surprise everyone. My mom and I had been working on this plan for a few weeks, scanning different flight options, emailing and texting plans while making sure no one else found out the surprise. It would have been terrible if my dad and grandmother found out about this surprise prematurely! Luckily, everything went smoothly (actually, one of the biggest surprises was that my brother Alex managed to not spill the beans! Thanks, Alex :))

Chip and I got into L.A. around 1:30 this past Saturday and took a cab to my grandmother’s place where my mom was trying to stall for extra time before the three of them headed out to Newport Beach for a celebratory family dinner (we had hit a little bit of traffic during our cab ride and were running a little behind in the plan). I’m glad my dad and grandmother weren’t too suspicious about what my mom was up to; my dad was starting to get a feeling she had something up her sleeve but wasn’t expecting anything more than a birthday cake. So while my dad was trying to see if he could get the secret out of my mom, Chip and I were walking up to my grandmother’s neighborhood, having the cab driver drop us off at the end of the street so we could approach the house quietly (and also recover from the somewhat crazy ride). In the end, our entrance went a little something like this:

Me: Knocking on the door.

Tita (my grandmother) while opening the door: OH, MY GOD!!!

Dad (simultaneously as my grandmother) while catching a glimpse of Chip walking up the steps to the door: What?! You’ve got to be kidding me!!!

Me once the door is open: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Needless to say, my grandmother and dad were both extremely surprised and excited by their unexpected guests’ arrival! I’m pretty sure I heard my mother breathe a sigh of relief after we walked in, she no longer had this burning secret to keep :) We spent a little bit of time there catching up while my dad tried retracing all of the times my mom thought she had come so close to letting the secret out. We soon all got in the car to drive over to Newport Beach where we would meet the rest of the family for dinner.

Balboa Island

We made great time getting over to Newport Beach, with our anticipated hour and a half drive taking closer to 40 minutes. Since it was only a little after 3:00 and dinner wouldn’t be until 5:00, we drove to nearby Balboa Island where we spent some time walking around and looking at all of the little shops. The weather was sunny and brisk, a great change from the rainy morning my family had experienced. What can I say, Chip and I brought the sunshine with us :)

After walking the main shopping street of Balboa Island for a bit, we drove over to the coast and admired some of the cute (and very pricey) homes that have an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. Between the view and the weather, we quickly assimilated into our roles as cheesy tourists and took lots of pictures!

With Chip on Balboa Island

With Chip, my parents and my grandmother on Balboa Island

By the time we finished taking pictures, it was time to head over to dinner (we needed to be there a little early so my mom could make sure everything was ready to go!). Dinner was at Sol Cocina in Newport Beach, a place we recommend to anyone. Now that we had successfully surprised my dad and grandmother, Chip and I were really looking forward to dinner. Not all of my dad’s siblings could make it out to our wedding in Texas this past May, so there was a good amount of people Chip met for the first time while I saw them for the first time in over four years. Everyone was extremely surprised to see us there, but perhaps my favorite reaction was when my Tia Sonia came in.

With my Tia Sonia, Jamie and Jolene

The last time I saw her was a little over four years ago and only for a short afternoon; my dad and I had come into L.A. for a day to get my Chile student visa taken care of so I could spend the fall semester of my junior year of college abroad in Valparaiso. So while we were in L.A. for that day we made a quick visit to her house while we waited for the consulate to process all of my paperwork.

After saying hello to the family on one side of the room, my Tia Sonia finally turned around and saw Chip and I standing there in the front of the restaurant. It was so sweet to see her so happy we were there, she even got a bit teary eyed :) I was extremely happy to see Sonia and my uncle Rick’s two daughters Jolene and Jamie. Jolene was about 6 the last time I saw her (now an extremely bright 10 year old) and Jamie was just a newborn baby (now a very spunky 4 year old). It was so great catching up with them and finally  getting to know Miss Jamie!

With my youngest cousins, Jolene and Jamie

Silly faces

Now I wouldn’t be doing our great dinner justice without mentioning how delicious the food was. Really, it was one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in quite some time. There were several appetizers for us to choose from so of course we had a little bit of everything :) The guacamole had so much flavor, the ceviche tasted so fresh and the cheese empanadas were delicious and perfectly melted. When it came to the actual meal, everyone loved what they chose to order. Both Chip and I each ordered the pork carnitas plate that made some extremely tasty tacos. Once everyone had eaten their food, it was back to taking lots of pictures. My grandmother was so excited to have all of her kids and grandkids together (except for my brother who couldn’t make the trip from Omaha) so everyone’s camera was out lighting up the room (Alex, we missed you!!).


My parents at dinner

With Chip at dinner

All of the grandkids! Just missing my brother...

With my Tia Alma for breakfast

On Sunday morning, we made plans to visit one of our favorite places for breakfast – The Good Stuff in Hermosa Beach. We’ve been here a few times before as a family and love the food and the chance it gives us to spend some time walking along the coast afterwards. I was so glad that almost all of my dad’s siblings were able to meet us for breakfast! After another hearty meal, we all walked down the nearest pier and watched the waves crashing onto the shore and even enjoyed seeing surfers in action.

My dad with four of his younger siblings on the pier :)

My goofy dad suggested this pose

With Chip at Hermosa Beach

With my new friend, Jamie :)

It soon came time for Chip and I to head over to the LAX airport to make our way back to San Antonio. We are so grateful that we got to spend a quick weekend with my dad’s family. It meant a lot getting to see them again and to have Chip now know who all of my aunts and uncles are. Thanks, mom, for planning this wonderful surprise! :)

My little brother is not so little anymore

One of my favorite childhood pictures

I love my brother, Alejandro (Alex). I’m so grateful that he’s been one of my oldest childhood friends, a brother I have always been able to count on to make me laugh and always feel encouraged. I was three years old when he was born and was so excited to have a baby brother. According to my parents, I thought this newborn (whom I had dubbed “el gordo”) was my baby. I thought he was the coolest little boy and wanted to be with him at all times. While my brother had his own made up language of different grunts at first, I was always able to understand him.

I do have to admit that my brother did have a bit of a bratty phase for part of his early childhood (Alex, you know what I’m talking about and it definitely has something to do with my NSYNC CD’s ending up in the trash…). Luckily it  was short lived and we were able to get past that obnoxious period :) I have a lot of great memories of growing up with my brother and in honor of his 21st birthday today, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Playing our made up bowling game “Knocking Down Toys”
  • Trying to teach him NSYNC choreography and getting frustrated along the way
  • Making obstacle courses for him in our backyard on our childhood swing set

    Swing set time!

  • Playing “the quiet game,” just so he would stop talking for a few minutes :)
  • His creative imagination growing up; one minute he would be Brett Favre in his Green Bay Packers uniform (complete with jersey, yellow pants and helmet) and the next minute he would be a ninja in the backyard

    Power Ranger Time

  • Alex being a trooper and coming to all of my piano recitals (he did fall asleep during some of the first recitals)
  • Playing baseball in the backyard together and going to Arizona Diamondback games in the summer

    Diamondbacks Game

  • Coming along on the family trip to go visit Trinity my sophomore year in high school; my mom made him wear brand new jeans and with the day of constant rain, the dye rubbed off on him and gave his legs a blue tint
  • Alex jokingly getting mad at me for getting married before he turned 21, meaning he couldn’t drink at our wedding (ha!)

As I said, today is my brother’s 21st birthday. Ever since his 13th birthday, I’ve been in denial about my baby brother growing up and it took me a while to stop seeing him as a 12 year old, even while he turned 16, 18 and now 21 while in his junior year at Creighton University. Alex, consider it a success that I will now just think of you as my younger brother, instead of my baby brother :) I love you, hermano! Happy 21st birthday!!!

Happy birthday, Wrigley!!

Today was our little Wrigley’s second birthday! Well, this is our best guess at his birthday. Since he was found as a stray, we don’t know his official date of birth, but January 15th is our vet’s best guess. And because we love dogs and have a special place in our hearts for this terrible canine, we have this date marked on our calendars so we can celebrate. Unfortunately for Wrigley, we didn’t get to do much for his first birthday (we had a bit on our plate planning a wedding!) so we definitely wanted to do something for him this time around. So I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen yesterday baking him his favorite peanut butter biscuit treats. It may sound strange, but I’m convinced that he knows these biscuits are for him whenever I bake them. He always sits or lays in the kitchen a little more attentively while I bake these!

Birthday treats for Wrigley!

Now for those that know Wrigley, you know that he is an absolute sucker for food. He’ll eat anything, and that’s not an exaggeration. In his two years of living, he’s eaten everything from bell peppers to asparagus, crackers to chocolate cookies (that was a fun evening at the vet…), Cheerios to chicken. Some of his favorite foods are breakfast foods so for his birthday we gave him a little something extra in his morning bowl of dog food – scrambled eggs, bacon and his beloved peanut butter treats. Let’s just say he ate his food very quickly this morning! :) This may explain why he was so lethargic and ready to nap this afternoon!

Birthday breakfast

Wrigley also got a few gifts from his cousins, Jake and Penny, from back in Arizona (I’m sure some people think we’re pretty strange right about now, doing so much for a dog’s birthday! But dogs really are like family to us :)). He’s now obsessed with his new frisbee he got today and carries it around like this…

New frisbee

… which means he  bumped into a few things today!

Happy birthday to our little buddy, Wrigley!! Having a constantly loving, friendly and warm companion impacts our marriage in such a positive way. We are so thankful for our dog and how much joy he bring to both of us. Here’s to hoping for a year without any emergency vet trips :)

Hello, 2012!!!

This is technically my second post of 2012, but I still feel like it’s my “New Year’s” post nonetheless. Now that a couple of weeks of the new year have passed, I’ve had some time to think of what my (and ours as a couple!) resolutions will be for 2012, the first being to blog more, which I’m already doing a poor job of as I’ve been meaning to write this short post for about a week now… I can only improve on that, right? I hope so! As of now, I’ve been blogging more about “big” events, like birthdays, house projects and holidays. But it’s the little day-to-day things and random tidbits that matter, too, right? I think so and I believe my close friends and family would agree. :)

Another goal that’s somewhat tied to the goal of blogging more is that Chip and I will start to travel more. We have friends and family spread out across the country, from my parents in Arizona, my brother in Omaha, family in California and New York and good friends in Chicago, Washington D.C. and Honduras. I don’t know if we’ll be able to reach all of these places this year (got to keep our budget in mind!), but I do hope we get to see these loved ones sometime in the near-ish future. Rest assured that all of these trips will be featured on this blog!

Here’s to a wonderful 2012 for everyone!!