… And a Happy New Year!

As the clock ticks by, another year has come and gone, and sitting here by a pool, enjoying a quiet morning, I can’t help but reflect on the past 365 days that seemed to have flown by. New Year’s resolutions are hard to make without stopping to contemplate what I accomplished this past year.

2014 was an interesting year. As 2013 ended, I looked forward to figuring out what I wanted to do now that we were settled in a new city and almost used to being back in the States, after leaving our expat lives behind. I remember writing a very loose list of things I wanted to do and possibilities I wanted to explore. That’s how my year came to be divided in 3 parts.

January to April

What a way to star the year! Surrounded by family, making memories and helping our new house feel more like a home. Friends traveling from far, far away places, bringing laughs and hugs and love to taper the empty feeling left in our hearts after saying goodbye a few months before. Michín coming back to our home, to annoy Nathan and to keep me company during those long Winter days when very little could take my mind away from the lack of sun and low temperatures. New skills. Learning how to sew, landscape, and ballroom dance. Home decorating, project making, and countless trips to Lowe’s and Joann’s Fabrics. Making new friends, getting healthier, being an active member at our church. Busy months, filled with all things new!

May – June – July

Visitors, visitors, and more visitors, and we loved every minute of it! I believe that there were only two weeks (when adding the days together) when Nathan and I were alone at home! After four summers traveling around the world, staying put in one place was a welcome change. Instead of empty spaces, we now had beds, and tables, and chairs, and comfy rooms for our friends and family to come and visit. And they did. From Florida, from Ohio, from Michigan and South Carolina, from Colombia, and from Saudi Arabia, loved ones flew and drove to spend time with us. We were engulfed by love and friendship and happy memories. Hiking excursions to the Smoky Mountains, walks around downtown, shopping sprees, movie marathons, firefly catching adventures, belly-aching laughter sessions, eye-cleansing movie watching, and of course, yummy foods filled those three months, and there isn’t a minute of summer I would have changed.

August to December

Back to work. After much debate, I decided I needed to be back in the classroom, and God blessed me with a position 5 minutes away from home. It’s been a hard semester, with a steep learning curve, but in spite of all the ups and downs a new job brings along, I’ve enjoyed working with a (mostly) lovely group of children and being part of a dedicated team of educators. Teaching truly is my passion, and even though I hope next semester I’ll able to make more time to continue with projects, and exercise plans, and travel, nothing really provides me the same fulfillment as teaching and making a special connection with children. I love what I do.

In August, we lost Grammy, and she was dearly missed during this holiday season. A reminder that life is ephemeral, and that what matters is what you do today because tomorrow is uncertain. But, as life goes, when someone leaves us, someone else comes along, and I am eagerly waiting for Spring to meet the newest additions to the crazy loving group I call my family! Two little boys will be joining this world, and I’m looking forward to holding those bundles of joy – my nephews – in my arms!

2014 was a good year. As we welcome 2015, I thank God for all His blessings and wish you all to be as blessed as I was this past year.

…And a Happy New Year!!!

As the clock ticks by, another year has come and gone, and sitting here by a pool, enjoying a quiet morning, I can’t help but reflect on the past 365 days that seemed to have flown by. New Year’s resolutions are hard to make without stopping to contemplate what I accomplished this past year.

2014 was an interesting year. As 2013 ended, I looked forward to figuring out what I wanted to do now that we were settled in a new city and almost used to being back in the States, after leaving our expat lives behind. I remember writing a very loose list of things I wanted to do and possibilities I wanted to explore. That’s how my year came to be divided in 3 parts.

January to April

What a way to star the year! Surrounded by family, making memories and helping our new house feel more like a home. Friends traveling from far, far away places, bringing laughs and hugs and love to taper the empty feeling left in our hearts after saying goodbye a few months before. Michín coming back to our home, to annoy Nathan and to keep me company during those long Winter days when very little could take my mind away from the lack of sun and low temperatures. New skills. Learning how to sew, landscape, and ballroom dance. Home decorating, project making, and countless trips to Lowe’s and Joann’s Fabrics. Making new friends, getting healthier, being an active member at our church. Busy months, filled with all things new!

May – June – July

Visitors, visitors, and more visitors, and we loved every minute of it! I believe that there were only two weeks (when adding the days together) when Nathan and I were alone at home! After four summers traveling around the world, staying put in one place was a welcome change. Instead of empty spaces, we now had beds, and tables, and chairs, and comfy rooms for our friends and family to come and visit. And they did. From Florida, from Ohio, from Michigan and South Carolina, from Colombia, and from Saudi Arabia, loved ones flew and drove to spend time with us. We were engulfed by love and friendship and happy memories. Hiking excursions to the Smoky Mountains, walks around downtown, shopping sprees, movie marathons, firefly catching adventures, belly-aching laughter sessions, eye-cleansing movie watching, and of course, yummy foods filled those three months, and there isn’t a minute of summer I would have changed.

August to December

Back to work. After much debate, I decided I needed to be back in the classroom, and God blessed me with a position 5 minutes away from home. It’s been a hard semester, with a steep learning curve, but in spite of all the ups and downs a new job brings along, I’ve enjoyed working with a (mostly) lovely group of children and being part of a dedicated team of educators. Teaching truly is my passion, and even though I hope next semester I’ll able to make more time to continue with projects, and exercise plans, and travel, nothing really provides me the same fulfillment as teaching and making a special connection with children. I love what I do.

In August, we lost Grammy, and she was dearly missed during this holiday season. A reminder that life is ephemeral, and that what matters is what you do today because tomorrow is uncertain. But, as life goes, when someone leaves us, someone else comes along, and I am eagerly waiting for Spring to meet the newest additions to the crazy loving group I call my family! Two little boys will be joining this world, and I’m looking forward to holding those bundles of joy – my nephews – in my arms!

2014 was a good year. As we welcome 2015, I thank God for all His blessings and wish you all to be as blessed as I was this past year.

By popular demand!

Parties are fun – going to a party, planning a party, talking about a party… Parties are just happy occasions, and I love to celebrate! I blame my aunt for my obsession with parties. Growing up, she outdid herself throwing us birthday parties – some of my favorite memories from growing up, for sure! 

Since most of my friends got married after me and have had children by now, I can’t recall how many bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties, and graduation parties I’ve attended and/or have hosted. And this started way before Pinterest! While living at KAUST, I didn’t throw any real parties – I didn’t have access to many stores and all my serving dishes and cool entertaining kitchen toys were stored in Tampa – so, I had been eager to celebrate something in our new home.  A lovely young woman at church graduated from High School today, and Nathan and I decided we would love to throw her a graduation reception at our home.  

Everyone was extremely complimentary of the decorations and the food, and since so many asked me for the recipes, I thought I’d share them here with all of you 🙂 Didn’t get enough pictures of all the decorations around the house, but, I did find that balloon sticks, with fresh flowers in recycled glass jars make for easy and beautiful table arrangements!

 Enjoy!!!

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ImageYou could make your own hummus, but, I was running out of time, so, I just bought the store-made type. It was still really good, I thought! 

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Again, short on time, so, I bought a box of toasted bagel bites to replace the baguette! 

ImageI prefer the dark chocolate syrup! You could just swirl the syrup instead of mixing it, but, I like to mix it well. 

ImageYou could also add fresh chopped basil to the sauce. My marinara sauce had basil already in it, so, a few more minutes saved!

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Getting hungry already!!! Yum!

Feliz Día de la Mujer – International Women’s Day

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He estado desempacando y organizando cajas, y en el proceso, he encontrado muchísimos recuerdos y tesoros. Entre esos, encontré esta tarjeta. Cuando estabamos en el grado 10, nuestra clase tenía 15 hombres y 5 mujeres. Para celebrar este día, nuestros compañeros escribieron un poema, nos dieron flores, y nos trataron como princesas todo el día – que buenos recuerdos!!!

I have been unpacking and organizing boxes, and in the process, I’ve unearthed a myriad of memories and treasures. When I was in the 10th grade, our class had 15 men and 5 women. To celebrate this day, our male classmates wrote us each a poem, gave us flowers, and treated us like princesses the whole day! Such great memories!

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Words

Words

Maybe I’m nostalgic because reading letters from 17 years ago, well, brings back many memories, but, I miss getting letters in the mail. I remember the anticipation of walking to the mailbox and hoping to receive news from my family and friends. None of us had email, and my parents didn’t even have a phone when I first moved away from home. So, the main means of communication was sitting down and writing a letter, putting it in an envelope, licking it, taking it to the post office to get the seal or a stamp, and then hoping/waiting for the mail to arrive to its intended recipient. The wait usually took a couple of weeks, but the happiness the letters brought would last much longer!
Don’t take me wrong – I love how technology has revolutionized communications! Pretty much every morning I simultaneously chat with my mom – same time zone but different continent – and with friends who live 8 time zones away! And if I’m missing any of them more than usual, I log on to Skype and we can enjoy our smiles via video chat.

But today, when I sat down to unpack one more box, I time traveled to a different era – an era where a love letter was actually a letter, something tangible you could put under your pillow to feel close to the one you were missing. An era where letters from siblings included drawings and sketches and not smileys and emoticons. An era where the words not only transmitted thoughts but also smells transferred from the hands that wrote it.

Friend, don’t be surprised then, if you walk to your mailbox and find a letter from me – I’m just a bit nostalgic.

14 Years and Counting!

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One of my greatest blessings! It’s hard to believe that our new life started already 14 years ago. Our wedding day was one of the craziest days ever! In spite of everything that went wrong on that day, the most important part took place, and if our story ended today, the books could accurately write, “…and they lived happily ever after!”

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Airports and history

Since moving to Arabia, Nathan and I have had the amazing blessing of traveling to many different places around the globe. We’ve enjoyed the newest cities and the oldest cities in the world. We’ve seen castles, luxury hotels, mud houses, cardboard houses and everything in between.  And it’s impossible for me not to think of the history each place brings along and the people who have walked the same streets we visit and stroll around during each of our trips. 

Something I always notice is the energy each place has. In some places, I wish the walls could talk and tell all of the history that has transpired under their watch. In other places, the walls not only talk but scream what they have witnessed! 

One place, however, that always amazes me is the airport. Any airport. All airports.  In most instances, airports are sterile venues – hard workers are always walking around, almost unnoticed, making sure that the airport is clean. Security is always on the look-out to make sure nothing worth of making the history books or the night news happens during their watch.  After your plane takes off, there’s no physical proof that you were even there. So, it’s hard to think of history when visiting an airport, but as I sit and observe the people coming and going, I think of airports as history in the making.  Think about all of the people who have passed by or sat on the same uncomfortable seat I occupy for a few minutes or hours.  Sometimes I wonder if anybody has written a dissertation just on people and traveling, and how much one can learn about others by observing them as they pass by.

To keep myself entertained and awake, I like to try to figure out where people are from by the way the dress, carry themselves, or the places to where they are heading.  I attempt to figure out the relationship of those traveling together, and whether they’re happy, sad, excited, afraid or hopeful.  It’s also entertaining to see the different levels of travel experience and ease people have – a bit frustrating if the people with the least experience happen to be in front of me while going through security, but as everything with travel, taking it easy and with a smile on your face is the best policy! 

Even though, I can’t say airports are my favorite place, they are definitely toward the top of my list when it comes to people watching. You never know who you’re going to meet, or run into, or see, or what you’re going to witness while being there.