Happy New Year 2017!!!

Hello friends!

Happy New Year 2017!!!

"It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, and I'm feeling good" taking from Nina Simone's Feeling Good awesome lyrics. Can you believe I just started listening to Nina Simone this past November!. I can't even. Thanks Spotify for changing my life and filling it up with new and interesting music.

I'm really excited to share a wonderful adventure my family and I had the opportunity to experience on New Year's Eve in Times Square.

New York City has always been in my heart since I was a little girl, so as you can imagine getting to call myself a resident here, is surreal to say the least. I don't take it for granted, no, no. As we invested the holidays with family coming to visit us in NYC, then going to PA to celebrate  Christmas, a seemingly crazy little idea crossed our minds. What if... what if we decided to go to Times Square on New Year's Eve and see the ball drop?

I say crazy because everyone I have polled regarding this exact question said that it's just too crowded and stressful. But something in my gut said: "psst, try it". My husband was not completely sold nor against about the idea, until finally we decided just to go for it. Friends, it was an absolutely blast! So glad we did it!!!.

It has probably been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I don't know, it's something that you just watch on tv for years and finding myself there with my beloved family  was just like: "is this real life?" Remember that you tube video of the kid saying that?

I wanted to pinch myself, ok maybe slap my face too. It wasn't only about been there, or that one of my childhood favorite singers was about to sing right in front of my very eyes, but also about been amongst a crowd of people so happy to be there and with a palpable sense of hope about their futures. The lights, the music, Times Square what else can I say. 

I hope you enjoy the little video we made...

Grateful!

Our Friendsgiving 2015

Hello Friends!

I hope your Thanksgiving was a great one this year. We decided on a Friendsgiving celebration that took place at my husband's workplace. We knew the kids would love running around in a larger space and that the big kitchen would be an added bonus. Though we love apartment living, it definitely has it's limits regarding celebrations with a bigger group of people. The space chosen proved to be a really good one for us this year.

We invited several friends and their beautiful kids. Mark Jacinto and Dominika couldn't be happier! Look at that beautiful turkey! It was top notch delish, meat was falling apart from tenderness and juiciness! Thanks to Mark Walter:-)

This year I tried a different stuffing that had cranberries, apples and sausage and it was just so so good. Maybe I'll stick to this one next year. All recipes is my favorite site for when I'm in the mood to try something new but with the added bonus of having hundreds if not thousand of reviews backing my risky food experiments. Here's the link to it.

I call it risky because somehow I always end up making my own version of the recipe anyhow, its just one of those habits of mine; I enjoy putting my spin on things. Mark Walter chose the flowers for the little arrangements we made^.^

Oooo ham! You know to be honest I have not been a fan of ham but this ham was great. I realize this one wasn't cured so it didn't have the extra saltiness that I have not preferred in the past. 

I have learned from some really smart women in my life to try to not do everything but delegate. Having the guests bring a side dish to share made things so much easier and fun this year. Well, they asked first so I thought, you know what ? yes!!! 

In the group we have Spanish friends who naturally adore Manchego cheese so that's what we had along some smoked gouda. Oh yes! Above also an awesome salad made by my friend Lidia.

Our beloved friends Lidia and Victor. Victor is Dominika's superhero, that girl has a huge crush on him.

Mon amour et moi. Mark Walter you did such an awesome job with the ham and turkey! Thanks lidia for the pic=-)

Above my neighbor and sister friend Elvira and her gorgeous daughter Chanel. Elvira has been family here in SF<3 So glad you could come!

The kids were just in paradise inventing games, eating lots and lots of food and running around in freedom.

Two beautiful girls! They have learned to make peace with their differences haha. No, seriously they love each other!

I love this group and the privilege of sharing Thanksgiving together! It was a first one for our Spanish friends. How cool to be a part of their first Thanksgiving experience!

Oh, yes! take pride on that turkey hon, it was great!

After turkey faces, haha.

We had so many special moments with wonderful friends. Ruth and her husband Jesus brought a turkey they had cooked as well and it was such a treat to have Jessica celebrating with us. 

I want to remember this Friendsgiving forever.

Grateful

Happy 5th birthday Mark Jacinto!!!

What can I say, our Mark Jacinto recently turned 5 and it would be a short bit before he starts ranking up the double-digit numbers on his birthday cake. I'm a big believer that birthdays are a blessing, it reminds us of our limited time here on earth and that we must make the very best of it; have fun!!

I got all teary eye of joy because his birthday was truly beautiful. We had grandma and grandpa Kropf coming to town for a few days for the sole purpose of his birthday, and dear friends came to celebrate our boy with us as well. It was a very simple celebration, some well received party staples, homemade guacamole and chips, hummus, pita chips and veggies, hot dogs, cake and  ice cream. Gary, my father in love(law) made a killer guac.

It was, as everything I seek, a very meaningful event. I was so happy and grateful for these dear people in our lives that you can tell genuinely care about our boy Mark Jacinto and we care very much for them as well. The reciprocity of love, I guess is what got me. Our Spanish friends just came from a well-deserved long vacation in Spain and we missed them so much. Absence does make the heart grow fonder!

A corky combination of flowers and Star Wars. Totally intentional, of course;-)

We got a chocolate cake from Whole Foods. Grandpa made it a point to decorate the cake with some Star Wars since that was the theme of the party and he ended up getting this super cute miniature Star Wars characters^.^

Serving, prepping.

He's the best.

I probably would have not be able to attend and talk to the guests if it wasn't for the in-loves help. We celebrated up in the roof of our building and brought some bubbles, cars, toys, basketball hoop.

Caught in the moment. Mi reina<3

Lovely neighbors!

Always in the mood for sunflowers.

Friends^.^

We had several friends that recently gave birth come to the party, so it was very meaningful that they made the effort to come. My goodness what's up with these ladies that pop up kids and they look fabulous soon after? =-)

Her face says it all, these two adore each other.

High five, dad!

For Mark Jacinto, this was paradise. The equation of his favorite people on the planet( well most of them we are missing cousins, uncles, teachers and other friends), presents plus yummy foods made up for a very merry Mark Jacinto.

With his friend Alexander.

His friend Alexander thought it was his birthday party , the kid lived every moment as if it was his own and  loved it!! His mother told me that he indeed thought it was his party and that's why he was so eager to blow the candle and open his presents, haha. The point is, he had fun! He was too tired by the time they left to realize what was truly going on, so cute haha.

Our beloved Spanish friends<3

Dominika the water drinker, you know...it helps the skin;-)

My friend Jess and Isaac=-)

We had some recently made friends come to the party but that Mark Jacinto talks about them all the time. I think there is magic in newness, of friends, of places, of everything!

Mommy and daughter.

They were pretending to be knights.

Whaaat? No way, girl. I can't believe that... ( i just made it up, I don't remember the conversation).

Maria Jose, baby Eliana and I>

Adorable!

He laughs even at battle=-)

Happy birthday to you, la la la la la la.

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you... This was such a highlighted moment for little Mark. The birthday party was just was Mark Jacinto has been looking forward for many months. From planning what food he wanted to have, to his ever-growing bday wishlist, to his close friends and grandparents being a part of it, it was a significant moment in his young life. 

Cut that cake!

Awesome gift from the grandparents, his watch allows Mark Jacinto to take pictures and videos. It's been adorable to see what catches his eye. From flowers to animals, his interest in photography is being fostered and enabled by his grandparents.

kids were in toy paradise...for a hot 20 seconds;-)

Mark Jacinto's love for life and for people continues to inspire us, his family members and friends. I can truly say, we are blessed to have him in our lives. God bless you son. 

Happy 2nd Birthday Dominika!!!

Hello Friends!

Last week we celebrated Dominika's birthday while visiting family in Ohio. The theme was her favorite character Minnie Mouse. She was so excited about her party, but to be more specific she was thrilled about the cake and the gifts. At 2 years young you kind of focus a lot on those things. Our family members came to celebrate our girl with us, cousins, uncles, aunts and some friends.

The previous night aunt Michelle hosted the kids at her home while Mark Walter and I went to a dear friend's wedding. They made this clever Mickey/Minnie Mouse cupcakes by using Oreos. We shipped a bunch of party decorations from our home in Cali and grandma helped with getting the cake, cookies and a bunch of other stuff. So thankful for my family's help! 

While singing happy birthday. Papi wanted to get to her level^.^

Those cookies looked so pretty i didn't want to eat them!

 Somehow the N and the I letters got lost. No problem, we adapt ;-)

Somehow the N and the I letters got lost. No problem, we adapt ;-)

 Thanks to these ladies for all of their help&lt;3

Thanks to these ladies for all of their help<3

 Cousins&nbsp;and their babies!

Cousins and their babies!

Cousins already having babies hubba what?? It is a weird but good feeling seeing how life just goes so fast. My little nieces are growing up rapidly, every time I see them they've grown a couple of inches. These two precious new members of the family are a big source of joy for everyone. Baby L and baby M we love you!

Food was delicious. 

 Ava holding baby M &lt;3

Ava holding baby M <3

My father in love(law) made fresh pico de gallo and guacamole. Dominika is a big fan of mexican cuisine. I cooked her favorite black bean dish with rice + hot dogs at Mark Jacinto's request.

opening her gifts

 Open it, girl!

Open it, girl!

 books are always nice

books are always nice

Ta da! amazing dresses=)

Ok, so I must mention this amazing gift Dominika got from her grandma. A chest full of dresses to play dress up till her little heart tires out. I can't wait to share them with you (most likely through Instagram). It couldn't come at a more perfect time because "Minnie" as we sometimes call our daughter, is very much into playing dress up. She was over the moon about it, not to mention mom. Wink.

 My family&lt;3

My family<3

 First time in heels.

First time in heels.

She got an owl from grandma as well, which believe it or not, has been her quest to find the perfect owl. First thing Dominika did was dress the owl up. Soo cute, so Dominika. 

As soon as she saw heels in the chest she took them out and put them on. Boy, this girl is a natural! No lessons, nothing. She just new what to do with them and kept saying "lookie, lookie" Show off, haha. 

Photo towards the end of the party of grandma and Dominika. Their faces say it all, happiness and tiredness after partying well. 

Thanks for reading! 

Hot Dog Party: Mark Jacinto the party planner

I'm so excited to share the story of this hotdog party. While sitting on the couch writing, Mark Jacinto( my son) came to talk to me about something, and it look pretty important. He said he wanted a hot dog party. He started to go on and on about it while I was jotting down his ideas. Hot dogs, balloons, brocoli, fruit, friends, crafts and cake were on his list. He communicated his vision with passion and conviction; so I followed.

Next thing we know it's the hotdog party day and he wakes up extra early because as he said it himself: " we got to get ready, mom. I'm gonna help you". This kid you guys, I can't even...

We had a blast with the kids, it really does melt my heart seeing children so happy. So grateful for the wonderful mother/friends that came and for those littles and their limitless imaginations and joie de vivre that I find so contagious. 

It was mid afternoon and our guests started to arrive. Everyone started to greet each other and kids started to play. For a while, I thought I was at a preschool or something. 

There was flow to the party and who doesn't like hot dogs anyways? Toys here, toys there, toys everywhere! 

The kids started to get hungry so when I said the word "hot dog" everyone was so excited. I think there is much to be learned from children, most of the time they are grateful for anything and so happy to be alive! I know I feel I'm being thought everyday^.^

Beautiful friends always make the day=)

kids munching, it was pretty silent for a second ;-)

After eating and playing some more we went outside to blow bubbles. Everyone chose a bottle in their favorite color( kids are always elated to have choice).

Ah! look at that face^.^

Bubbles!

Hermanos (Siblings)<3

They invented their own games, pretty fun to watch.

Happy birthday hot dog, haha. 

It was time for the cake and the kids sang happy birthday to the hot dog. It's hard for Mark Jacinto to understand that party and birthdays can be mutually exclusive, so we just went ahead and pay mr. hot dog his homage. 

May I just say this event was a cause of great happiness for us. We, as humans, tend to forget to celebrate the everyday, being alive and our friends. This reminded me that we need more parties in our life. Thanks Mark Jacinto for your great ideas. You are a light and a joy hijo (son). Te amo.