Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rooting for the Other

Hang on to your seats. It's a double-feature night!

Natalie Portman's in a new movie titled, "The Other Woman". The trailer depicts her character as a sweet ingenue who falls for and sleeps with a married guy. Awwww look at that! In the blink of an eye she gets the guy divorced, gets pregnant and married!! And double-aww! She works soooo hard to earn his son's affection. Life's awesome!

Wow. I think I have an issue with that. Then again it's Hollywood. *shrug*


American Idol Greats

Random alert.........

I was just going through an entertainment website's "Top American Idol performances", and out of 20 these were the ones that I had to look up to watch, just because they're so memorable:

- Allison Iraheta's "Cry Baby" (Exit performance)
Yes, she botched a note or two on this one; this was, however, her exit performance and she was literally singing through tears. Her passion on every word, every syllable is palpable. If only she would've sang this way the night before:




- Kris Allen's "Heartless"
This guy was in trouble before this performance; the judges hammered on the idea of a Danny Gokey/Adam Lambert showdown, but no amount of persuasion was able to take him out of the competition (or the AI victory, ultimately). The arrangement was fearless and so much more attractive than the original. Above all, it just takes guts to rearrange and perform a song that had been sung not long before on the same stage, by Kanye:

- Kelly Clarkson's "Stuff like That There"
It's amazing to me that this girl was a nobody when she sang this; to this day she's my favorite AI winner not only because of her talent, but her charisma as well. This was Big Band week and let's face it: there have been very very few performers on this show who have been able to pull it off on similarly-themed weeks. Kelly not only pulled it off, she freakin' nailed it:


Sunday, December 19, 2010

No Sweeter Sound

One of my favorite sounds ever is hearing Sam sing Christian hymns at church. He was musically trained as a little boy so he hits the notes just right; his voice is very deep yet has a softness that I can't explain... above all, there is an amazing passion when he sings. Amazing music to my ears, amazing love for our Creator... it brings tears to my eyes every now and then. Tonight once again, I thanked God for the man He put in my path.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finally Feeling the Christmas Spirit!

As I adopt more responsibilities and write increasingly long to-do lists in life, it seems like every year it takes me a little longer to get into the Christmas spirit. Which makes me a little sad. This year though, I'm just happy that I'm finally feeling it. And it's amazing! :)

In light of so many holiday photo cards we have received from friends and family, I decided to experiment a little and come up with a couple of designs for cards of our own. Granted, we don't have too many peeps to send them to but it's just a fun Photoshop project and well... let's face it, I LOVE Photoshop. :)

So here they are! I think we'll end up printing the one with our photo on it because it seems more personal. Yes I know: they all look like generic store-ordered cards. I'm still proud of them, especially because that picture of us with Mr. Snowman is actually a merge of TWO photos! It was only the two of us out in the snow so we took pictures of each other. Ahhhh I love having the time to create :)

In case I don't post before then, MERRY CHRISTMAS! :D




Friday, November 12, 2010

Surprising Developments?

So after pounding my head over the decision to continue with grad school applications or not (as if whatever happens is up to ME, duh), Sam and I sat together one night and talked about every possible route we could take; we wrote a good ol' "pros and cons" list for each option and surprise! Once we were done the decision was staring at us, all full of lead and clear as crystal, from the piece of paper. We finally decided that grad school should not be in our minds for 2011, since we're not where we need to be financially speaking (there were other reasons behind the decision but if I started talking about them all, I'd end up writing the equivalent of a 20-page paper, single-spaced). It was hard to imagine where I'd want to be professionally in 5, 10 years, but after giving it some thought I realized that I wouldn't mind being a licensed architect once our kiddos are old enough to be in school. So ever since then, I've moved forward with GRE and portfolio prep; if I get accepted to start on the Fall of 2011, I'll defer for one year and continue working full-time until I do go back.

Took the dreaded GRE today... I got a better score than I thought! To be honest I didn't know if I'd even pass given the questions I saw on practice tests. But I did, and I think the score is good enough to be a serious candidate for the M.Arch program. Now I need to work on my portfolio; I've got a couple of months to make it as good as I can make it. And I have to say...

...I'll take working on portfolio over taking the GRE any day!!!

Whoop for no more GRE! :D

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Slowly Pulling Toward a Better Life

Just working on my portfolio and grad school application papers is driving me crazy. I don't have time to clean the house, or take care of my yard, or have much fun with Sam. I don't care what people say, if I don't take care of my husband and my house I feel miserable. I know that some people thrive under pressure, but I'm not one of them. I love admiring architecture and working at an architecture firm, but I don't have a thirst for architectural design.

I have a thirst for being a dang good wife. And having children. And raising a good, God-loving family. I feel strongly passionate about this. Why does society look down on this? Because I don't want to earn more money I should be termed a lazy person? Taking care of our own kids and making time for LIVING, yeah that IS lazy. When was this notion established? We still have debt from undergrad, and here we are considering incurring more debt. And what will I get out of the degree? A raise in pay yes, but from what I hear not a great one. And extra hours at the office. Weekends. Stress. Abandonment of house-related work. And less time with my husband. *whispers* oh guess what: the divorce rate in the architecture field is super high. Let's go for it yea!! *sigh*. I want to have a job that does not become my life. I have better and more important things to do.

A few weeks ago, the priest during Mass was talking about how we (i.e. a lot of college students) are so eager to go to grad school and become more knowledgeable in a certain field, yet so few of us want to pursue a deeper knowledge of the Bible. This has stayed in me since then. I become terrified at the thought of having to face God and tell Him, "yeah I didn't have time for you or Your Word. I was too busy architecting".


As I write this I'm getting to realize that I've made up my mind about Architecture: it's not for me. Not yet, at least. Maybe in a few years. Family comes first, that's what Mimi and Papito taught me. Well, riiight after God. I'm setting the priorities straight. Sam and I have been talking about possibilities and what me not going to grad school could possibly mean; we've contemplated a number of situations including myself working part-time eventually. This sounds SO appealing. It'll sound like heaven when we have kids, I'm sure. I saw too many moms at the daycare miss their babies' "firsts" because they were working and their babies were with us. I refuse to let that happen.

So... no more GRE. No more portfolio. WEEEEEE! Who CARES what "profligate" means anyway?? (Not me.)

I'll let this simmer for a few nights, but I think I'm pretty much done thinking about this. In the meantime, enjoy this hysterical video a coworker shared with me (it's got some bad words but it's fuuunny if you can get past that):

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different


I'm honestly AMAZED at what this pretty girl can accomplish with just makeup and a wig; at the end of the video she's virtually a carbon copy of Jared Leto. The music works so well with the transformation; it's just so well done:


I think some people would be surprised to know the kinds of things that I like. This is one of those, I think; I'm not into the whole makeup thing, but if I'm in the right mood I'm all for a dark atmosphere, music, mood.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Master Doodles

To say that thinking about grad school has been troubling is a heck of an understatement.



See what I mean?

The truth is, I worry about putting myself through it again. I worry about neglecting Sam and my responsibilities as a wife to work on projects. Lord knows, once I put my mind to something it HAS to come out right. More than anything, I worry that life will for two years become one mindless all-nighter after another, where nothing else happens in my life except for what gets or doesn't get done. I worry that I will neglect my relationship with God. What if I happen to die in the midst of all that? What would I be able to tell God I did with my life and with the gifts he blessed me with?

Tonight we prayed about this. We pray that God will leads us toward the path that He wants us to follow.. whether we take the path slowly or at a frenetic pace, only He knows. The ONE thing I feel truly, madly, deeply passionate about is starting a family with Sam, being a good wife to him. If God decides to bless us with this event, this would be the biggest trump card of all, as far as grad school goes. It would take me years to get the degree, but I probably wouldn't care because we'd be parents.

I just need to stop worrying.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rest in Peace

I just found out in a weird sort of way that a girl I went to high school and graduated with in Venezuela is dead. To say that I'm shaken up is a heck of an understatement.

I didn't know her very well; she was part of the "cool crowd" and I wasn't. She was one of the pretty girls who could at times be nice and joke around with us, but most of the time it seemed like her bubble was just too little to let anyone who wasn't popular (or rich) in. Our graduating class was made of less then 65 people though; so everybody knew everybody, popular or not. We used to make fun of her last name (it was Salvisberg).

According to news reports from two years ago, she was attending a private university in Mexico, and during her free time she was a female escort for rich men. She was addicted to cocaine. She met with a few friends at a large get-together; then disappeared. Two months later, her body was found in a remote area in Mexico. She'd been tortured and strangled.

An old friend of hers wrote in this online forum and defended her, saying that those who knew her didn't believe any of the things reported on the news because she wasn't like that. I didn't know her well enough, but I feel such a big urge to pray for her. And for her family.

Rest in Peace, Maria Jose.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gettin' it Done

** Baby bird update: the baby bird that we put back in the nest a few weeks ago survived!! All of the babies have learned how to fly and are long gone now actually. Woohoo! :D **

This past Friday I decided to go to Texas A&M and photograph it, since I'd been wanting to do this for over two years now (!). It was amazing to be back on campus! I spent about three hours walking all over, from the Pavilion to SBISA to the clock tower, right by the MSC all the way back to where I started. I can't believe I waited this long to do this; after a couple of hours walking it was hot and humid, but so worth it :)

So I'm taking a cue from Nathan and making a list of things I (a) need to finish, and (b) have been wanting to do for a long time. The list of things to finish doesn't sound so fun, but I'm particularly bad at starting projects and getting bored, so I don't finish. The problem is not only the inability to garner interest in finishing, but also having new ideas sprout in my head. And just like the butterfly metamorphosis we learned about in grade school, my vicious cycle goes on and on.

Some of my favorite shots from Friday's Aggieland fun:








Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Still Hate Fire Ants

It got worse today. Sheesh. I took Benadryl last night, and today I put some Benadryl spray AND Neosporin, and it still looks so bad.. the redness actually spread.




Monday, July 12, 2010

I Hate Fire Ants



About two inches in diameter and raised about 1/3 of an inch. Fire ants stink. Enough said.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trust

During the past couple of years, I have come to realize that two of my biggest shortcomings are 1) I'm way too impatient, and 2) I often say things I should not say out loud (as I mentioned in my previous entry). I've been thinking that God is giving me an amazing opportunity to develop my patience.

I never thought it would be as cliche as it's depicted in movies and TV, but when the "I want to be a mom" bug hits a woman, it is ON. It's been in me for about a year now; that's why Sam and I got off the contraceptive pill and began using Natural Family Planning, to get my body off synthetic hormones and eventually begin the family process. Through the use of the Creighton model's charts and an evaluation of my family history, we have learned that I may have some problems. Nothing has been diagnosed, but there is a chance that I may either have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Endometriosis. I need to get some testing and procedures done to be officially diagnosed and hopefully treated successfully. I have been very much dreading all of this. Sometimes I have even thought, "why not try to have a baby first and see what happens?". I've been willing to do this, even though there is a somewhat extensive history of miscarriages in my family.

Today when I came home I found a baby bird dead right in front of our door. Another baby was lying on the concrete, barely moving. We have a nest very close to our front door; the mom and dad birds had babies about a week ago. We think that maybe the runt died and the parents tried to get the body off the nest, and in the process the second baby fell off. We were able to get the alive baby back in the nest; hopefully the parents will nurse it back to health.

It sounds so silly, but I was so affected by the scene I saw when I first got home. We'd seen the parent birds work hard on the nest and have another brood previously, even got to see them teach the first set of babies how to fly. When we noticed that mom and dad were about to have a second brood we actually got excited: we've become attached to this little bird family.

Seeing the dead baby bird made me really sad. All of a sudden I thought, "if I'm getting so sad by the death of a baby bird, what would it be like if I was pregnant, and I lost the baby?". I have absolutely no idea what that would be like; it scares me to think that it could happen. So I'm opening myself up to the idea of those procedures... and testing. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if the scenario above happened. I have talked about it with my aunt Ana from Mexico (who's a doctor), and she said the procedures sound like a good idea. This means waiting possibly up to a year before we can try to have a baby. It's so painful to think about this..! We've been married for two and a half wonderful years, and the eagerness to become a mom has been so powerful for a while now.

But... God guides our every step, and HE has us exactly where we need to be. His Plan is way above and beyond our understanding, and trust is just about all we need to feel peace. This is what I'm praying for now: trust and peace in us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Amazing Fourth

This past weekend has been amazing. We got to spend some quality time with Sam's sister Amanda, her boyfriend Tim and his family, and Sam's parents; and got to learn a bit about hockey. I have to admit it was funner than I'd expected it to be, and it doesn't hurt that Tim's good at hockey, too..! Then last night we drove a couple of minutes to a nearby parking lot to watch fireworks and went to bed late watching a TV show.

We're now gearing up for Sam's Birthday and it's all very exciting. Today was a particularly calm day; I decided to spoil him some and try out a new kind of chicken (Baked Parmesan Chicken, which was AMAZING), then baked some brownies for him in the afternoon and tonight I'll be baking his all-time favorite cake: butterscotch cake with butterscotch frosting :D The living room painting is almost done so it feels quite homey here! Somehow the dark color (Sherwin Williams' Aurora Brown, SW2837) manages to still welcome and work well with natural sunlight coming in through the windows; it's AWESOME to spend a lazy day here :)

We are so very blessed, so very fortunate to have what we have but above all, to have each other.

Friday, July 2, 2010

(Peace = God) > Casting the First Stone

A few nights ago I dreamed that he let me talk to the girls again. Ever since the whole thing happened, the entire set of events that began unfolding during our trip to Venezuela keeps coming back to me. And it makes me cry every once in a while because as a family we all have failed. For some reason I suddenly thought, "Jesus died on the cross to save us, to give us eternal life. And this is how we repay him: by having egos too big to forgive and move on." Jesus lowered himself to the lowest level possible in front of sinners' eyes, yet humankind goes on in its merry way ignoring our Savior's sacrifice.

Right after the whole argument happened, I spent a good bit of time wondering how anyone could become so enraged and banish family from contacting each other, for no valid reason. After a few days, several seemingly unrelated events made me realize that one of my biggest flaws is speaking impulsively without thinking things through. Now, I'm not one to sit down and take it from someone who's being unfair: I just don't like being a pushover. But I also tend to let my emotions drive too many things out of my mind, when they should stay in. Like Mimi always says, "the best word is the one that's left unsaid". You may not agree with the way someone else is doing something, but every once in a while it's best to keep your opinions to yourself.

After tortuously dissecting what led to this family fallout, I became to realize that my inability to leave an argument at the right time led this mess to happen. A part of me still firmly believes that I was right in telling him off. After all, he was insulting my mother. But I should've left it at, "please don't include me in this mess, I'm not a part of it". I shouldn't have written that email.

I'm now praying that God help me be an instrument of peace. My tongue can be a fierce ally, and sometimes an unwitting foe. This is not what God wants of me. I also pray for him. We are no different from each other: we're both sinners and should not be so willing and eager to throw the first rock at the other.

In her last blog post Amanda mentioned being grateful to God for giving her trials that in the process make her closer to Him; this is exactly what I've been thinking, too. I'd rather live a life full of difficult trials which draw me closer to our Father, than an easy life where everything's handed off to me.

I love this song, "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace":

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.

Chorus:
Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness, ever joy.

Chorus

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we're born to eternal
life.

Chorus

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hey! Those are MY roses!

I think I've mentioned before that I've taken a liking for our knockout roses lately, because they're low-maintenance, grow like crazy and are pretty hardy. Considering everything I've been going through to get rid of the mealy bugs on my other plants, I've come to REALLY appreciate the knockout roses, especially when they're in full bloom!

WELL..! This afternoon after I came back from work, Sam and I went to our little side garden, only to see... that one of my knockout rose bushes had every single leaf full of little holes! We got closer to take a careful look, and saw these awful-looking and -moving bugs:


See the knockout rose bush cemetery on the second image??? The madness!!

Sam did a little research and found out they're some kind of caterpillars, some very hungry caterpillars (and as you can see in the pic, NOT as cute as the star of the "Very Hungry Caterpillar" book by Mr. Eric Carle). Gah! So we had to start cutting all the bushes and spray pesticide to kill these things.

Mimi told me not long ago that there's an old saying (I guess in Venezuela, not sure) that goes, "Plants and gardens can kill you", because in order to keep up a garden looking pretty, you have to do the work and keep a constant eye on them to prevent disease from spreading. SO true! But worth it.. :)

P.S.: Mimi loves plants and still has a lot in her terraces, so she's fully aware of how much work it takes to keep plants looking pretty and healthy :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Maracaibo, Mi Tierra

Last night we got back from Venezuela; we spent a little over a week in my hometown Maracaibo and I must say, I feel renewed! I feel just a little more alive :) I needed to be back so badly. I'm sure it sounds silly, but I was feeling like I was losing my identity a little, I was thirsty for the unforgiving heat, the sounds of the car horns as the drivers made their way through the city, the hustle and bustle, the people. There is so much passion in Maracaibo. I absolutely loved every minute of it :)

Thankfully Sam enjoyed it quite a bit as well; he got to try nearly every type of traditional foods we have, and also got to visit the majority of our landmarks we "Maracuchos" are so proud of. I was a little afraid because he would surely stand out quite a bit, what with his red hair and white skin. And we were in a 3+ million-people city after all, so you've got to be careful and watch your surroundings at all times. But we really never felt threatened by anything, we actually got to enjoy every sighting 100 percent :) Mi Maracaibo, mi gente!

Most of all, I deeply enjoyed spending time with Mimi and Papito. The first night in their apartment was just a little sad though: their home is full of photos of Diana everywhere; I could genuinely feel Mimi's sadness and loneliness all around. There are also a lot more photos and small statues of Mary, Jesus and saints than I remembered. It was just another piece of evidence of how much Mimi has had to hold on to her faith to make it through life without Diana.

Mimi was so wonderful; that first night, she was so eager to show us the "honeymoon suite", as she called the room she had diligently worked on making nice for us. Prior to our arrival, she'd changed the sheets of the beds, washed the curtains, dusted the furniture, and had the carpet professionally cleaned. I truly feel her and Papito's spirits were lifted with our visit. I'm committed to go back and visit soon; nothing compares to making them happy. Their love, there's nothing like it...

Papito one day told us, "Let me do that for you; I feel bad that you're doing it because we should be treating you like kings, you're the guests!" He'd bought a bunch of ice cream cakes and other goodies so we'd get to try them all; he also showed up several mornings with empanadas and tequenos (he loves to spoil his kids ;) ) I can't help but tear up when I think of how happy our visit made them. It hurts that they're so far away. It makes me feel better that Sam enjoyed the visit so much, that he's told me he'd be more than happy to go back either for Christmas or early next year to be with them again. My husband's so wonderful! :)

This vacation was absolutely amazing; I'm truly grateful to Mimi and Papito for making us feel like we were at home. Thank GOODNESS for Vonage: now that we've been there and shared so much with them, I know I'll feel like listening to their voices a lot more often than before :)

(Oh yeah.. Translation for the title: Maracaibo, My Land :) )


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring

The past few weeks have been particularly rough. Before we leave on our wonderful trip, I need to get a lot done at work and our fire station projects.

Tonight I left work around 7:00pm and went to 3-4 stores to buy a few things for my grandparents. I ended up getting home at almost 9:00pm, dead tired and hungry. Sam had started fixing dinner (he's been doing it quite often lately, actually. And he's GOOD at it too!), and with a smile was quick to tell me, "you should check your camera's memory card in your computer".

He happened to go outside while these 4 little guys were in our yard, so he took a few photos. It made me smile :) I love spring!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Feels like Forever

I can't believe I haven't blogged in over a month. What can I say, it's been a rollercoaster month..!

I read in the news today that Sandra Bullock filed for divorce. I cannot say that I was surprised given her husband's extracurricular activities that the media has been so happy to report on lately... but it does make me sad. Call me a sap, but every time I hear that a marriage ends it makes me a little sad. It doesn't matter if I know the couple or not. How can all those beautiful and hopeful feelings you have when you get married, that excitement about the beginning of life as husband and wife, ever leave you?? I just don't get it. The easy answer is, "people change". And yes, of course people change. I just... cannot understand why those sacred vows that one says when getting married, in front of GOD, become any less important for some people. Sam's my first family; no one on this Earth comes before him. And I absolutely love dedicating my life to making him happy.

When Sam first started working for the company he currently works for, he had to travel quite a bit. I think the longest he's ever been gone is four days, and I about lost my mind. Not that I depend on him so much that I cannot function properly when he's not around... it's just that, the bed is empty so I can't snuggle with him. And there's no one to talk to when I get home. He's not there to randomly visit when he's playing video games, and he's not there to make silly sounds and faces at me... it's no fun!!

I consider distance dangerous in a marriage. I have relatives who on a regular basis travel away from their families for up to a week or two for work reasons, and I pray that we never have to do that. I just think that the distance slowly eats away at that intimate connection between husband and wife; you become used to not being around your spouse, so the seemingly insignificant things between the two can potentially disappear. I know this doesn't happen to all married couples, I just don't like to be away from Sam for too long. When we're apart I miss his embrace, I miss his smile, I miss his funny and corny jokes.

Supposedly Sandra's husband cheated on her while she was away filming "The Blind Side". In this case it doesn't seem that staying together would've made a difference as far as the cheating goes... *sigh*. I guess all I can do is pray for them, and for all married couples too. Marriage is no piece of cake, that's for sure. It's also a beautiful blessing, an incredible way to learn about patience and selflessness. He's the best gift that God has given me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Plans Schzmans

I absolutely LOVE the chorus to Switchfoot's "Your Love is a Song":

"Your love is a symphony
All around me
Running through me
Your love is a melody
Underneath me
Running to me

Oh, your love is a song"

Our plans have indeed changed. It was an exceptionally stressful day full of multiple trips in Houston, the city we cringe at the mere thought of getting near it. Thankfully we survived it all.

Yes, our plans changed. It must be God's will. Somehow there's peace of mind now, I'm smiling.

Your Love is indeed a Song. Thank You Lord.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nothing Better than Faith

That's pretty much my thought right now. I'm sitting here thinking about possible changes of plans because of variables we don't have control of; and two things are keeping me pretty relaxed despite what's going on: my loving hubby Sam, and my trust in God. I keep thinking that whatever happens, it's all a part of God's plan, so we need to trust in Him.

What a wonderful feeling!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Enjoying the Little Things

This weekend we went to Palacios to spend some time with Sam's grandparents. It was such a humbling reminder of simpler times and above all, beautiful love. Putting the brakes on life every once in a while can be so therapeutic! We loved hearing Grandpa tell us stories from when he was young, and when he and Grandma were a young couple and had virtually nothing. Kinda made us realize that we've had it pretty easy in life..! We know they enjoyed having us over, too. Grandma was so excited: she had a great big lunch ready for us when we first got in, and had thoroughly planned every meal we had after that to make sure everything was perfect.

Before going to Palacios we finally mulched our front yard, woohoo! Everything outside is starting to bloom, I'm very excited :)


Even though taking care of knock-out roses is NOT my favorite thing to do, the roses really ARE pretty!


My hands did suffer a bit... great times though :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Today's ideal Sunday

Cannot get any better than listening to Mr. John Coltrane while getting the living room ready for painting, with all the blinds open to let the cloudy-day sunlight in :) It's a rare calm day, and it's perfect! (Don't know that Sam would say the same since he's working on taxes..) Funny enough, a part of me can't wait to continue watching "Quarantine" later this afternoon. Oh yeah, it's a GREAT day :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Diana

Last night my aunt Ana and I spoke for a long time about my aunt Diana. I’ve been thinking of her a lot since then. Been writing this on and off since last night; not sure how to define it because I don’t know the rules for poems or songs and I’m sure this doesn’t follow any particular rhythm. It feels right, though.


Maybe God decided she needed to rest.
Maybe she had fulfilled her purpose here.
All I know is that her memory lives on
And inspires us all to be better.


To be more kind, to show our love,
To work hard, to smile no matter what.
Her kindness still lives with us,
God, help us not forget.


Thank you for this angel you sent,
We were the chosen ones to witness:


The passion in her heart,
The strength of her will.
Right up until the end,
Diana's love knew no limits.


Now, nearly four years since she left,
Dear God, we pray that we never forget.


The passion in her heart,
The strength of her will.
God, in your infinite Glory I pray
Watch over her daughters,
Help them feel their mother’s love.


Even though we miss her so,
You must’ve needed her with you.
Forever and for always, God,
Thy Will be done.


Thank you, for this angel you sent.
Thank you, for letting her rest.


She was so beautiful. I particularly love this picture of her. She didn’t even have to do much to look this way; this picture is unposed, she's not aware the camera's there and yet she is gorgeous. I miss her... sometimes so much that it becomes just a little hard to breathe...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Unleashing his passion

Sam once received a note from his maternal grandmother—who passed away little over three years ago—which among other things said, “You and Andrea read the Bible together.” This phrase stayed with me ever since, and I’ve been longing for us to do just that. But oh, so many worldly distractions! We’ve been married for over two years and haven’t quite made a habit out of reading the Bible together.

Tonight was our second night this week dedicating some time to read and discuss Bible passages. I find it hilarious that I sometimes complain that Sam doesn’t tell me much about his day; in fact, over the years I’ve had to come up with reporter-like probing questions to get him to tell me a little more about his daily work.

(Brief pause for some fun Photoshop work...)

However, a very curious thing has happened during these two nights: the second we read a passage, he cannot wait to talk about his thoughts on it! And as he explains the background of the passage I see this amazing passion in his eyes. I almost got a little teary-eyed listening to my husband explain the Word of God.

I am so very blessed. Sam will make an excellent father, and I cannot wait to see him teach our children about God’s love for us.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lent and the Beauty of Sacrifice

One of the many things I have come to truly appreciate about my relationship with Sam is that since he was raised Baptist and I grew up Catholic, we often talk about the beliefs, traditions, views, etc. we were taught while growing up that make us “different” from one another. Many times we end up picking up the Bible or doing a little Internet research on the meaning of a certain festivity or tradition, and try to understand it as much as possible. Ironically enough, I have come to understand the Catholic faith more because of these talks. You see, Sam is the kind of person who wants to understand the “how” and “why” of things, and I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes when he’s asked me why Catholics follow certain traditions, I don’t know what to say. Unfortunately this is the case for many Catholics around the world: initial meanings and intentions are with time forgotten, and eventually traditions become chores. With Sam I’m getting to understand, little by little, what it means to love God. The point of our conversations is, of course, to be able to find unity in our beliefs so we can ultimately provide our children a unified view of what it is like to live with God and for God, regardless of religion.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Lent season, so naturally the topic of Lent, repentance and sacrifice came up. We talked about how a sacrifice or “giving something up for Lent” can easily become something automatic, almost robotic, that Catholics do every year for the sake of getting’ it done, do good and move on. In reality, sacrifice has the potential to mean so much more..!

Yesterday’s reading, Joel 2:12-13, explains the origins of this tradition:

"Yet even now," says the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil.

I’m coming to understand that sacrifice means not only stripping yourself from material commodities; it doesn’t only mean giving up something you like to eat, or not doing something you like to do for 40 days. Sacrifice means finding oneself humbled by our weakness as human beings. When we realize how attached we have become to earthly things, we realize how much we need God right beside us, because only He can keep us from being seduced by distractions that will prove utterly insignificant when our time here on Earth ends. The detachment from a material life has the potential to lead us to a deeper spiritual life… if a sacrifice is done with the right intentions in mind.

One of my many vices? The Internet. I seriously doubt that God will care, at all, when I try to explain that “I’m sorry I didn’t care to read Your Word. I was too busy Facebooking. And watching American Idol. Oh and watching Lady Gaga’s latest performance.” Hmmm. There’s something seriously wrong with this picture. Sometimes it hurts so badly to think that because of all these distractions, we have turned our backs to our Creator the way we have, for so long. Imagine a married couple who are expecting a baby. They are excited and cannot wait to see the fruit of their love; the baby is born, and the parents bestow their love and wisdom on their beautiful son. They watch him grow into a toddler, a pre-teen, a teenager... and at some point the son tells his parents: “I will forget about you now. It doesn’t matter that you gave me life. I want to do with my life anything I want. I will forget about your advice, and I will forget about the love that you gave me.”

And then we wonder why our quality of life is so poor. We wonder why our children are having sex and killing before they enter into their teenage years. We wonder why there are people who are willing to kill their unborn child. We wonder why as a society we are so miserable.

But hold it! Above all, THE most amazing thing about God is that He DOES NOT give up on us. He is always waiting. There are no limits to His mercy; He always waits for us to return to Him. And in this, I find solace and joy. This is the best reason I can think of for the Lent season. I once thought that God could never forgive me for my sins; I found it hard to live with myself knowing I’d failed Him so badly. Then He sent Sam in my direction, and I came to understand that God’s grace knows no limits. All it takes is a WILL and a DESIRE to be SAVED.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Learning about Patience through Gardening

Just got done pruning our plants outside, pulling weeds and spraying RoundUp all over our patio. Man! I'm VERY glad that our introduction to gardening and lawn care consists of our tiny little yard; this is tough work! The pressure has been on, especially because the previous owner owns a landscaping company so needless to say the yard was impeccable when we first moved in.


See what I mean?

Now that the experienced lawn care crew has been replaced by a completely clueless (but eager and hopeful) gardening foreigner, the lawn's not looking nearly as pretty as it used to :O Add to this the effect that winter's freezing temps have on plants, and you've got one sad gardening newbie!

But... I feel like I'm fighting the good fight. I'm keeping an eye on my plants a little more often to avoid evil diseases from making a killing (thanks a LOT, powdery mildew!), and I'm learning more about pruning, weeding, mulching (is this a word?), and just taking care of the plants a little more. When it comes to gardening, I'm getting to learn that at times you may not see visible results for a while, but you've got to keep at it. Of course, no fight would be complete without a trusted ally: Sam! He just helped me fight against the powerful wind out there and bag all the pruned plant remnants. And this is one of my very favorite perks of all this work: we get to work together to keep our little house looking they way it should. :)

Blog Changes A Comin'

It's a little embarrassing to realize that I'm behind when it comes to designing blog layouts and being aware of the plethora of free Blogger backgrounds out there. So... I'm gonna try a few to see if I like 'em or not. So far I like this one okay, though I kinda miss the white letters against dark background.

The madness has (possibly) begun. You've been warned.

Happy Valentine's Day :)


We celebrated Valentine's Day for the first time in years..! Well, more than anything we celebrated the 6th Anniversary of our first date, and the 3rd Anniversary of our engagement. It was sooo great! It started off Friday, when Sam had flowers delivered to the office: a perfect-size arrangement of red roses and carnations! Beautiful isn't it? I'm a sucker for red roses :) Then on Saturday, he made reservations at a restaurant we'd been wanting to go to for a while now (perfect because reservation = no 2-hour wait!), which was delicious. Then we came home, I baked him a goody (featured on Bakerella's website), and then we watched "Up". Very cute movie! and Venezuela's featured front and center, which naturally made me appreciate the movie so much more :)

And of course the other picture shown here is the goody I baked for Sam, mmmmm. Perfectly decadent, Sam giggled when he first tasted it ;) I've come to eagerly wait for the giggles when I bake him something special! That means it's goooood :) Though, the credit doesn't go to me all the way... a friend at work mentioned that she'd made a cheesecake for her boyfriend for Valentine's Day (so admirable!), because she felt that "guys get gypped" on Valentine's Day. True words! So I found the recipe and decided to spoil my hubby back some ;)

I'm gonna cap off the weekend by making Sam arepas :) Yes I make them every weekend, but in no way should I leave off such a great weekend. I know he LOVES them!
Have a great and happy day, everybody! :)


Sunday, January 31, 2010

(Cranking Out Music + Doing Chores) -(Lappy Time) = 2 x (Quality Time)?

So I haven't figured out the exact formula yet, but it's fun to go through the process and try out different variables to the equation.

I thought I'd done it right. I actually worked out over the Christmas-New Year's break, thinking that doing so would keep me from getting off-schedule and gaining a lot of weight. Well, I'm not sure if it's a combination of being cold outside and having to work late every few days, but it's been SO darn hard to start working out again! I'm grateful that I didn't gain much weight over the break, but I know that I need to keep working out and eating healthy to "keep it up" (and let's forget about the Domino's pizza we ordered on Friday night...)

So my new plan is: do NOT turn the laptop on until 9-10:00pm. Many times when I get home I turn it on right away because I like to have noise in the background while I do things around the house. The noise is usually a TV show like "Friends", "Golden Girls", (yes I LOVE that show), or "The Office"; or every once in a while it's one of my guilty-pleasure movies, like "The Mist". So after Sam and I have dinner, I find myself sitting in front of this beautiful, fun box until it's time to go to bed. Surfing the Net is SUCH an addicting thing to do!

But.. gotta break the routine already. There are so many things that I keep thinking about lately that I'd like to get done, but haven't. These are not necessarily chores that I want to do; I've also wanted to finish decorating our bathroom and begin looking into buying paint to do our bedroom. So after about three weeks of going, "oh yeah... I need to do that" I decided it was time to change some things.

Wish me luck! **off to work out**

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Help Me See Through Your Eyes

**wow, tonight I really needed to talk. Two postings in one night!**

This past Sunday I went to church by myself because Sam was having severe allergy problems. I sat all the way in the back, at a pew with one other girl who was sitting at the end. About 10 minutes into Mass, a messy-looking guy came in and sat between the other girl and me. The first thing I noticed was the body odor. This man must've not taken a shower in days; the odor was so strong that it truly made it challenging to concentrate on anything else. Next, I noticed his clothes: ragged t-shirt, torn up jeans, dirty sneakers. Messy, uncombed hair. If I may be brutally honest, I was repulsed. I couldn't understand why anyone would come to church like this. He also took big, disrespectful steps when he walked, looked around a lot and squirmed around as if he didn't care about anything. I couldn't pay attention at all, I was truly befuddled.

Next, I noticed how fervently he repeated every prayer. What I initially thought was disrespect toward Mass now seemed to be ADD, or at least actions/movements he didn't intend to do. When we prayed the Lord's prayer and held hands, he held my hand tightly and stared at the hands for a long time. The more I saw this man, the more I realized that he was like a lost little kid. He sang every Hymn fervently, he knelt and prayed. I felt so embarrassed at my uppity attitude. I judged this man, basing my judgment on his physical appearance and my initial perception of his behavior.

Toward the end of Mass the words, "Help me see others and everything around me through Your eyes" came to mind. I'm listening to Jon Foreman's "Spring" album: in one of his songs he sings, "Baptize my Mind! Baptize my Eyes!"

How flawed I am! Through Your eyes God, help me see everything through Your eyes!


The Challenge: Wearing Multiple Hats

Today three of us at work left at 8:30am to hold two meetings related to our latest fire station project in Sugar Land. We ended up getting back around 6:00pm, which I have to say is considered "early" given that some of my coworkers don't come back from out-of-town meetings until 9, 10 o'clock at night. Today's meetings were particularly important as far as the design goes, so it took a little more preparation than usual. I came in to work on Saturday and Sunday to print out our consultants' part of their work. The project in itself is a fast-paced one, so in more than one occasion I've felt the need to stay working an extra hour or so.

Sometimes it amazes me what a single hour's worth of extra work a couple of times a week will do to you. You become worn down, don't feel like doing anything when you get home. And I absolutely love my job, so I really can't complain. But then there are other responsibilities outside of work: being a good wife to Sam, taking care of the house, cooking meals, making sure I stay in touch with Mimi and Papito (my grandparents who raised me, and who live in Venezuela), doing laundry... we're not even parents yet!

Tonight I called Mimi, and the first thing she says is, "I kept waiting for your call on Sunday night, but you never called..." followed by, "Cecilia tells me that she hasn't seen you since December, is this true?" *sigh*. I try. It's not particularly easy to wear all the hats at once without having one tip over. I can only admire the people who seem to do what I do and SO much more, and they always have a smile on their face. Take my boss, Ray: that man stayed up until 3:00am this morning working on a proposal, and when he came in to work at 8:30am he was smiling. I truly respect him.

If there's one thing Sam reminds me every day (whether he realizes it or not), is that life NEEDS to be simple. I read in "The Purpose-Driven Life" that it's impossible to do everything people want you to do, and that a simpler lifestyle is more conducive to God. I try to simplify life, but it seems that when I do so, it comes at a cost. Maybe I'm not doing it right, yet. Between work, family, home, keeping up with people's birthdays, remembering and meeting deadlines, visiting with those who are close... time just seems to fly. And there's always someone who's not happy.

Lord, please help me discern what is truly important. Give me the wisdom and patience to... know how to wear these hats.




Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A True Gentleman

Today was one of those days. Sam and I met at the post office to turn in our applications for passports; I stayed at work for an extra 45 minutes or so; and I ran a few errands after leaving work. I ended up getting home around 7:15pm which is late for me: I was hungry and really tired. Sam and I sat down to enjoy the second half of a "Lois and Clark" episode (we had maybe 25 minutes left), and couldn't get through it until about an hour and a half later because my phone kept ringing.

Noticing how tired I was, Sam said, "why don't you try out the hot tub in our bathroom? We haven't used it yet, that might help you feel better!". So he got the tub started, played with the water-shooting things until he got 'em right, and adjusted the water temperature so it wouldn't be too hot or too cold. I feel great now!!

Now, I truly see this blog as a diary of sorts, so when I tell stories like this I'm not trying to impress or make anyone gag. ;) I'm just incredibly lucky to have an amazing, thoughtful husband and I can't help but write about how great he is. The End! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Different Take on "Why Me?"

I'm not sure if this is something I picked up from watching television or reading; but do you know that moment when someone is going through a difficult or painful situation, and they ask themselves, "why me?"?

"Why me?". It's so easy to fall into this thought when things don't happen exactly the way we wished. Even if we don't think these exact words, we often fall into the "why did that have to happen?" mentality. It doesn't even have to be a terribly catastrophic event: running late to work and finding yourself stuck in traffic because of a wreck: "Dangit! Perfect timing!". Going to the grocery store and meeting all checkout lanes filled with people whose carts are about to erupt: "Man! Now I have to wait forever!". Having to work late because the consultant didn't pay good enough attention to what they were supposed to do: "Great! Now I can't go home for a while." It's all some version of the same essential, "Why me?".

Lately I have found myself asking this question repeatedly. Tonight I spent some time watching videos of the destruction that a powerful earthquake left in Haiti; I watched videos and read articles describing the piles of human bodies lining up the Port Au Prince streets... as I cuddled with a warm soft blanket, comfortably. I look around me, and I see a beautiful home that's keeping me from getting wet and cold from the rain. I open the refrigerator, and it's full of food. We both have more than enough clothes for any type of weather, and if--God forbid--we were to be harmed or hurt, we have readily available medical services at local hospitals.

"Why me?". Why has God blessed me with so, so many blessings? I could've been one of those people in Haiti. I could've been a homeless orphan halfway around the world. I could've been a drug addict. A victim of physical violence. A war refugee, a victim of religious persecution. I'm no better than anyone else. God happened to place me here. Why me?

Luke 12:48: "...from everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more."

This is the best reason I have come up with, so far.

I feel very humbled tonight. Lord, please listen to your faithful. Keep the tens of thousands of people who died in Haiti in Your Glory.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fear

Today I received an email forward from Sam's mom which asked a series of questions so other people can get to know you better. One of the questions was, "What are you most afraid of?". My official response to the question was losing Sam and/or family. But it left me thinking.

Seeing people lose their loved ones, witnessing their pain makes me quite afraid of losing Sam. I honestly cannot imagine what life would be like without him. I find myself happiest when I'm with him; I think I'd forgotten what it was like to laugh openly and without reservations before I met him. Life is simply amazing with Sam. I'd like to think that if "that" ever happened, that my faith in God and in His ways would get me through my darkest moments. But of course, I'm sure this is one of those "easier said than done" things. I'd like to trust in my faith, but I can't help being afraid when I think of the possibility.

My one other very, very strong fear is to die and to face God with "not much". When He asks me, "What did you do with the gifts that I gave you? Were you kind to others at all times? Did you love everyone else that you met while on Earth, just as much as I love you?", will I be happy to tell Him, "YES God, I did!", or will I look down knowing that I failed? Of course, I know that believing in God, his Son Jesus and accepting his Salvation while following His way saves me. But sometimes I can't help but ask, "Am I doing enough?".

I guess that's the "Catholic" in me thinking about this, and feeling guilt. I believe that some of this is good because it helps me think about my life and encourages me to practice my faith even when my selfish self doesn't want to. After all, there are plenty of so-called "Christians" (and among these, some so-called "Catholics") who are just that: a name. Believing is not enough. Because if one truly believes, one would put God's teachings into practice, and take it one, two, a thousand steps further and transform faith into action. And sometimes I truly feel that I'm lacking this kind of action. I'm talking about the kind of action that we should exercise EVERY DAY and that we sometimes forget about: loving everyone around you, no matter who it is. Accepting and loving them exactly as they are, without reservations.

Now, some people are hard to love. Some people push others away. I can't help but ask myself how I can keep showing my love for someone who feels like an emotional roller coaster: sometimes you're up, up, and happy; and sometimes you're down and dragging whoever's around down with you. I'm coming to realize that this is one of the biggest and hardest challenges for me: to show love and compassion regardless of this roller coaster. It's so easy to compare how my relationships with others hold up against my relationship with Sam, because life with him is wonderfully simple: no roller coasters, no ups and downs. And I absolutely love the peace that I find when I come home.

I need inner peace. I need God's hand here. My resolution is to seek Him more often. I want to read His word with Sam. I fear being too proud to show love.