Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My First Christmas Flan

Being married to a half Cuban Christmas Eve brings with it a whole new set of traditions. One of which is Noche Buena. I don't know much about it other than that Christmas Eve we get together for the big celebration of Christmas. We try to "dress up" and eat traditional Cuban food. There might be something more to it than that. In any case, this is my first time attempting to make Flan and I am so relieved and happy that it turned out. ( I made banana bread with my kids on Sunday and somehow forgot to add more than half of the mashed bananas). Anyway, I haven't eaten it yet, but it sure looks like Flan!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


The kids got more interested in Halloween this year. Millie changed her mind about what she wanted to be every day leading up to it, but when it came time to get ready she was very committed to be a ballerina. What? That wasn't really one of the options. Joseph, as you can see was Buzz Light Year like his best friend Hunter. "I'm the real Buzz!" "No, I am!" They were very cute and didn't really seem to mind they had the same costume on.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sandbox- A Huge Accomplishment

My wonderful husband flexed his muscles as he built this sandbox from scratch! The first segment of the project took the better part of a saturday. He had help from our great friend Walmir- to whom we are so grateful for the tools and the labor. They got the frame of the box built and in place. It sat empty for a few days- while I and the children grew impatient. I foolishly made a trip to Home Depot to buy the Sandbox sand when I realized that it wasn't the best night to make Joe unload 1,200 pounds of sand: Wednesday (I will be at church) and the next morning we would be leaving for a trip. So we waited another week and were so happy when it was filled.

We are a match made in heaven for many reasons. One of the less glamorous being that we both sweat like crazy in this balmy peninsula.

He continued working and created an original design of folding doors to protect the interior of the box from any passing cats (which I have never seen in our neighborhood) or leaves or what have you...

As you can see the children love to make a stop in the sandbox in their circuit of destruction in the backyard. It has been really nice weather this week and we love to go outside, sit in the shade and play in the sand. The tricky part is getting Millie to keep her clothes on.

Even though Joe did all the work I felt accomplished when he was done. I was so proud of all that he did- the sweating, the hours outside and in the garage, cutting, painting, hammering. I didn't mind doing all my indoor mommy tasks as much. He made the comment that he could have bought three sandboxes for the price and time that he had spent on ours. Creating something is worth so much more than just the thing you create. I've started talking about his next project- but I don't think he appreciates that very much. Whenever you are ready- I love you- thank you!


She is looking very depressed as we pull gum from her hair. Joseph took this picture.
She loves suitcases and strapping herself inside them!
I promise she thought of this on her own- there is no way she has ever seen me vacuum in heels and a dress.
My sister took this picture. It captures her beauty and her passion for sweet treats.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I wanted to dedicate this post to my son. It is his birth month and who knows if I will find the time to write between now and the actual day so here goes... I'm sure my two readers already know the story of his rocky start, but just in case... he was born with something called Transposition of the Great Arteries. His body was getting blood that was only 32% oxygen saturated due to a major heart defect. He was taken from my arms almost immediately after birth, intubated and examined by various doctors and specialists. The day after he was born he was flown to Miami Children's Hospital where genius Doctor Redmond Burke performed a surgery to correct his defect. He had open heart surgery at 6 days old. It was a wild, emotional roller coaster to say the least.

These pictures were taken in rare but much appreciated moments of peace.
He quickly grew as strong and healthy as any average baby...
See if you can pick him out here (Hunter is in this picture as well!)

Me and Joseph, my sister Lillie and Sophia, and my sister-in-law Jeannette and baby Ryon
We each had babies within the time span of two months. It was and continues to be so fun to get together with our kids that are the same age! Don't we look tired!
I think that if you asked him, this would be one of the highlights of Joseph's life. Driving a go-cart with his dad. What could be better. He really loves everything about his daddy and loves spending time with him any time he can. They are also very similar in interests and personal strengths.

When I found him like this the other day I had to work to keep from gagging. I was raised in a family that kept butter out on the counter so it would be soft and spreadable when one wanted toast. At first Joe thought he was going to get sick from it but he quickly caught on and gives me a hard time if I forget to put a new stick out for his toast the next morning. Anyway, Joseph apparently could not wait to get his finger into it and chow down.  He is usually very dependent on me to get his snacks so I guess I was a little proud that he just went for it while I was out of the room.
Joseph has been really interested in lizards for awhile but this was the first time he caught one and made friends with it. He was very sweet with it and kept talking to it like it was a little friend. I am also proud to say he did not end up killing it on accident or anything. He let the little guy down and we told him he went home to his family.
Joseph will be 4 at the end of this month and this is my favorite age, I think. He is so lovable and so loving. So compassionate and while he maintains his strong will and PASSION for life he is more reasonable and responsive to gentle prodding by mom and dad to do things a little differently.  Tonight he got so excited at the prospect of earning a quarter by cleaning the toy room and saving it in his piggy bank. While I know that cleaning up after himself should not require cash reward, I am excited to teach him the value of money and hard work and reaping what you sow. He is saving up for some jacks that he saw at the grocery store.  I really am so lucky to have this little boy in my life and my family. I love you Joseph!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

John and Semra are Back...

...and as you can see they have a fun effect on us!  We are so glad they are back in the good old USA! 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Joseph's Joy School Graduation

Joseph graduated from Joy School this weekend and it was a small milestone in our lives.  We are so grateful for the program- for the wholesome values that it reinforced or sometimes taught to our sweet son. It is truly a joy to have a family and see things through their little eyes for the first time.  I would like to thank his teachers, Miss Angela and Miss Lisa for loving my son, showing interest in his future happiness and for your patience. You are both great examples of the things you taught him. He seemed to especially like the songs, the toys at free play time, the little toads, the friends that he made and the exercises that you taught him. Every once in a while I would be stretching and he would show me some of his moves, very impressive.

Joseph loves babies and continually reminds me that he wants a baby to hold.  This baby is Hunter's little brother.  Mima and Papa were able to come and watch Joseph "graduate". They are so supportive.
Miss Angela and Miss Lisa have done such a great job. They love Joseph and are interested in his life. They frequently shared with me the entertaining antics that Joseph was involved in at Joy School that make him unique- because he is definitely unique.
He has grown up so much this year. Even though he looks like he cannot sit or stand still he can take direction so much better than he could a year ago.

We were able to make a family flag for the graduation. Joseph's contribution to the flag was the family portrait. Two funny things about it: 1) when he was drawing himself he drew a huge head and then he said, "And this is me with a big friendly smile," and he drew a huge smile across his huge face. Then he drew a tiny Millie and then he wanted to draw himself again...  Millie's contribution were various scribbles as she said things like, "My California, My Florida, circle, circle, Joef's (Joseph's) Joy School, Mee (Millie's) music class."

 It was so fun to see him participating in the program with his class. He got to sing a special song titled "Talk, Talk, Talk" with his best friend Hunter, a very appropriate choice if you ask me or Alicia. The chorus says, "Talk, talk, talk. Don't fight or shout! Talk, talk, talk till it's all worked out!" 

Monday, May 25, 2009


We went to Cracker Barrel on two different occasions on this trip!
I am so in love with her curls!
Amber just looks like one of the little ones!
A beautiful paved trail we were able to "hike" with our kids in a stroller!
Adorable boy in a hollow tree- what fun!
The Boys and their little guys!
Carter was such an easy guy to get along with!
Evan looking as handsome as ever!
We were so cold- but happy to take a drive to the top of one of the mountains! Amber and Kira were so much fun. I love to see them as mothers and watch how they parent. I am so glad that Joe's closest friends from college married women that I can get along with so well!

You should be aware of the difference between the smog/pollution and the natural blue mist that the Smokey Mountains produce that give them their name.
The kids helped me wake Joe up one morning!

My kids being cute and throwing rocks in the river.
We had an awesome trip to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee last weekend. We met up with two of Joe's closest friends from college and their wives and sons. We stayed in a cabin together- each had our own bedrooms and bathrooms. We bought groceries and had a nice little place to live for a few days.  It was 100 times more fun than staying in hotels.  The kids were wild but safe and we were able to either pack up and run around the foothills and small mountains or just lounge about the cabin.  A highlight of the weekend for me: the "church meeting" we held in the cabin on sunday. It was very spiritual and made me even more grateful for friends that place their relationship with Heavenly Father at the top.  There is something about seeing guys that are so at home cracking jokes and doing silly things all the time that aren't afraid to show their sensitive/spiritual side.

We saw a bear, lots of deer, a Scottish Yak looking thing and other more common wildlife.  I also got to meet Joe's mission president and his wife. We were not smart enough to take a picture but it was a very nice visit and delicious food. I love you guys and I can't wait to get together in two years!! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Small Victory

Today I had one of those moments where you feel like, "This is why I stay home with my kids. This makes all the tough stuff worth it."  

As of yesterday I thought it would take months for Joseph to warm back up to the pool. As of yesterday he would not practice any of his former swimming skills. We've been swimming off and on for a month already but he would not jump in the pool from the side- even where he could touch. He would not put his face or head in the water and if there was a float around he begged to be in it and "swim" on top of the water. He would not let me hold him in the water.  He would not try to swim anywhere, to me, from me, or by himself. Even though he took lessons and swam well last summer, he insisted that he could not do any of those things. That he was too scared and there was no way. He would not listen to bribes or reason or playful attempts to get him in the water.  We left the pool feeling discouraged to say the least.

I don't know if it was the heat and nice temperature of the pool, or the fact that it was just the three of us, or if it was Millie swimming that looked so fun, but today he swam.  He started out sitting on the steps but he quickly began putting his face in the water and laughing, swimming in place over the steps, and gradually swimming farther and farther distances under water from the steps to the wall.  It was fantastic. He even started experimenting with a new skill: picking up his head mid-swim and taking a few breaths or continuing with the doggy paddle.  All he required of me was attention and lots and lots of praise. Now, that I can do.

The best part of the whole thing is how pleased he was with himself.  How the fear was gone and replaced by confidence and joy at having tackled that fear.  He did not want to leave the pool- he was having so much fun.  I actually looked around and thought, "What better thing could I be doing with my time?"

I do have those moments, frequently. I should write them down more often so I remember how amazing it is to be a mother.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Millie Turns 2!!!

Yesterday was Millie's birthday and I could not be more proud of my little girl. Despite occasional tantrums and irrational arguments with her brother she is everything I have ever wanted in a daughter. I am truly so lucky to be her mom.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

Picking Strawberries at Rogers Farm

Over the weekend we went as a family to pick strawberries. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. Just a bit of the trademark humidity in the air that Floridians know so well, rain clouds threatening but not giving anything up and a nice strong breeze. It was beautiful. The kids were great. At one point Millie said she wanted to kiss a strawberry. So after picking one she slowly put it to her lips to kiss, she couldn't contain herself and bit right in. It was adorable. As a family we collected about 10 pounds of strawberries. 10 pounds for $10. Not too bad. Later that day Joe made strawberry jam so we have a nice little stash. It was great fun.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My friend just sent me these pictures of Joseph and I think I am going to have to go kiss him in his sleep. He is so lovable and endlessly loving and affectionate. What would I do without him?