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!

A Fall afternoon in Central park

This past Saturday our family headed to Central park for some exploration and yummy food. Mark is always the one in charge of finding a satisfying eatery and he has never let me down. I guess the element of surprise, which i love, is one of the most exciting things in life for me. The "not knowing" and then oh, surprise!!. My two children got that gene two, give it to Ecuadoreans, I guess. 

Anyways, I've been itching to get the family together and take some formal "family pics" for my mantel by the dinning room table. I'm in this kick of wanting to add more detail to our cozy little home.

On our way to Central park, Mark took us for lunch at the Smith which happened to be across Lincoln center and, since I've always been a lover of opera and ballet, I was just very content to be there. The weather was nice enough to eat outside, sun shinning on my face, Dominika napping in her stroller (rare occasion), short 10 minute waiting time for our table. Yes, yes! 

The food was pretty darn tasty and that mac and cheese was divine! I love mac and cheese!! Our weekends have been pretty indulgent lately so we gotta stop and introduce more greens on the table. Seriously.

Once we finished our meal, Mark Walter bought us coffee since it started to get a little chilly and that's when the race began...

No, it wasn't the nyc marathon race yet, since it was Saturday ( marathon happened on Sunday). It was the race going on in my heart... and I'm not trying to be poetic here. Ever since I had Dominika, I'm randomly sensitive to caffeine. It seldom happens but oh well. My heart was beating faaasssst!

In spite of the "little horse running in my heart" we had a very good time together. I just love love being with my family, getting to enjoy this gorgeous city and just living the moment. Autumn is such a special season, I just can't get over it; its so beautiful! I love that my husband is pretty ocd about his seasonal candles and is the one buying pumpkin candles and  puts cider on a crockpot so our home smells wonderful. 

The kids got to run around and just be kids and we just took it all in, the sights, the smells, the people watching and the wind touching my skin gently. 

Grateful.

Happy Halloween at Bronx Zoo!

Hi guys!

It's been a while since I have written my last post, I've kind of missed writing! I've been very involved here in our new city with making new friendships, sticking to a school schedule, various responsibilities among other things. On Saturday, we went to the Bronx Zoo, our first time together there! The place is so big that we were there hours and still did not see half of the animals living there!

As always, is my biggest pleasure to have our family outings were we are experiencing new things together. I absolutely love that we get to make new memories and, in New York city, there is plenty of room for that to happen. 

hello, gorgeous!

They were seriously amazed.

I loved seeing my kids curious, learning and engaged. I think as a parent, one of biggest joys is seeing them discover new things. Even better when you discover things with them, then is a jackpot! I have plenty of that going on and definitely feel like I'm being schooled by them. What I mean is not in the academic sense, but mostly in the life and character growth kind of way. They teach me to slow down and savor the moments a lot more. To live with more expectation and joy.

We had lunch at the Zoo's cafe and right beside our table there was a gorgeous peacock. Dominika was smitten. Mark Jacinto enjoyed the hay maze.

High five Marky, you did it!

My sweet boy<3

They had some pumpkin carving masters that were doing their thing right in the open, can't wait to pumpkin carve tomorrow.

I'm so glad we finally made it to the Bronx Zoo. The summer in nyc is very hot so I'm glad we waited because the weather was just perfect.

One of our favorite parts about the zoo was definitely the lion section. Usually, when we have visited zoo's the lions are always asleep but not this time. This time around the lions were fully awake, hungry and growling. You could feel the vibrations of their big chesty sound.

I don't know, there was something powerful to that, seeing them fully awake and ready to get what they want.

I loved our outing and getting to enjoy this wonderful zoo in our first fall together as a family in nyc. New York, I love you.

Governors Island

This Summer has brought many adventures for our family. One of them was Governors Island. This happened many weeks ago. It was fun to explore an island, learn some history behind it and take the Ferry.

The day started gloomy, like it could rain anytime sort of day. I just wanted to head out since I don't mind getting wet. It was one of those days that you wanted a change of scenery; that was me and my crew. But where? I heard from a friend that she had a really good time at Governors Island recently, and since she has a good track record of giving good advise I went with it.

Here are some photos of our adventure:

We headed to Pier 6 to take the Ferry! We loved that place got to see new restaurants and shops we have never seen before.

I love getting pictures with the kids, they make me giggle!

Hola guapo!!!

Dominika and her signature WINK.

This was pretty hilarious. So that was around the time that the Pokemon app came out. Well, everywhere we went people of all size, colors and languages were playing it. As we walked, we kept hearing and seeing people glued to their phones playing it. I got to be honest, I wasn't thrilled. 

I want family time to be our safe haven, time were we focus on each other. I didn't realize though, that you could learn many neat things about history and why things are there. So, they played a little bit as in the picture above. Both Marks were completely absorbed.

I'm learning that love is giving space and respect for people to be who they are and explore their interests and what makes them happy. A couple of minutes of Pokemon app is not bad as we took a break from walking. Both boys were energized by their new game and we kept going about our day after that. There are things I can compromise on and others I won't, like cell phones at dinner time, that is a big no-no! 

Te amo princesa<3

Mark Jacinto was in a reflective mood that day. Was it the cloudiness?

I love seeing them have these experiences. Is kind of like a double rainbow, or quadruple shall I say. So they are having fun and I'm having fun. Motherhood is really a gift.

When we got to the Island, Dominika decided she didn't want to walk anymore. We are getting rid of the need for a stroller slowly but surely and this change is bringing a little resistance from a certain little señorita.

Each kid is so different. Mark Jacinto was doing hour long hikes with me before age three, while Dominika prefers her stroller. We are doing what we call stroller interval separation training...I just made that up;-)

One of my favorite parts was renting the little family bikes and go around the island! 

The kids favorite part was probably the food truck waffles, mine was the Ferry and Mark Walter's was probably the bicycle. 

Brooklyn Children's Museum

Hi!

This week we made it to the Brooklyn Children's Museum, so excited to have shared that with Mark Jacinto since last time I was there, he was at school. My awesome friend Nora, (my respects to that sister who I consider her to be a great mother), gave us our first introduction to this amazing museum!

After lunch and some much needed apartment cleaning, we headed to our museum adventure. You have no idea how much I'm enjoying this summer with them! We are getting to have leisured breakfasts ( my favorites) and have a wonder approach to what we do each day. We do have a certain level of structure but given that it is summer, we are doing things in a more relaxed manner. We are starting to get free from the stroller as well, taking little steps of freedom each day. 

As we arrived to the museum, Mark Jacinto spotted giant and colorful paper flowers at the museum's entrance. He was fascinated since he says that he loves art and wants to be a "game artist" when he grows up. Miss Dominika went a step further and asked to take them home, haha.

As soon as we entered, I saw the glow in their eyes. I knew it would be a fun time. But first, a potty break. 

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We have only explored the lower levels of this museum, because it has that much to offer. Below is the sensory room in which they let groups of people for a set time and no shoes allowed policy.

The kids got to jump on top of a giant bean bag over and over again at the sensory room, can they make this for adults please!?

Learning about insects and plants.

The museum also has a nice area to eat. You can eat at their indoors"food truck" or bring your own. 

Learning about dough, and the steps to make bread. 

One of my favorite things at the museum was their around the world markets and areas were the pretend play is at full bloom. They could have stayed there for hours. I specially enjoyed seeing older kids enjoy themselves and working together for the greater purpose of the grocery store.  

 I heard things like" I'll take the register, you please answer the phone!" "I have a customer waiting". I love that.

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Our second favorite was the pizza place were they got to make pizzas, eat gelato. I got into the role and started answering the phone and saying: " No, sir, sorry for the delay we'll get you a refund immediately" I guess I liked it that much. 

I think what I'm understanding about this pretend play childhood thing is that sometimes as adults we stop using our imaginations and that is quite sad. Our imaginations are powerful agents of change, and if we just live in the practical and pragmatic 24/7 then we are robbing ourselves of a much richer life experience. 

Because yes, we must be doers and be active participants of our beliefs, but the permission to imagine of what could be and is not, is just too good to pass.

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After much play and me starting to actually believe we were in a pizza place, the time when the museum was closing came up. Kids were sad.

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We headed to the gift shop to let each child pick something they like. And what was the result? Dominika picking up a herd of stuffed animals;-) Needless to say, she had to pick one.

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Mark Jacinto has been talking about pizza for the last couple of days so we decided visit our local pizza place.

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I love that as such tender age Dominika enjoys flowers and stops to smell them and touch them, admire their color and comment on their beauty. I pray my children's eyes are trained to always seek the beauty and goodness of all living things even if at times may seem very difficult to do.

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And to seal the day with fun, we went to our local coffee shop for an iced dirty chai and heart cookies.

Au revoir!

Children's museum of the Arts

Hi hi!

The the other day we went to visit a museum we have heard lots of good things about from other parents in my neighborhood. Mamma's usually share this kind of awesome information about museums, parks, cool places to eat and such. I was very excited when I heard this place has a clay bar! You can pretty much make a bar with any theme nowadays so a bar that serves clay sounded pretty interesting.

The Children's Museum of the Arts happened to be a great place to spend a couple of hours as a family, it reminded me a lot to the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco, which we use to visit quite often! 

After a beautiful church service in Downtown.

My boy

The are so goofy lately its hard to take a picture of them doing normal facial expressions. My silly kids!

This guy makes things continually interesting. There was a bumblebee by the flowers and he got so excited since he has recently learned about them at school. He asked lots of questions as always.

At a restaurant on our way to the museum. I don't know if this picture captures the passionate faces she makes when eating. It's hilarious! Papi says she got that from me;) I also got reminded to make more milanesas de pollo( basically very thin breaded chicken)  So good!

Once we got to the museum, the kids got plugged in right away. My favorite thing about our visit was the clay bar!! So much fun!! I actually got this book from amazon that I highly recommend for making clay animals with your kids, It's super simple and guides you step by step. 

I'm always so amazed at people that can draw and make sculptures since it's not a strong talent of mine but that I appretiate in others. The "barista" guy guided us through the process of making dolphins; it was pretty cool!

The museum itself was not huge but it offered many areas that were very cool. One of my favorites was the room full of printed fabric that visitors were welcomed to paint on. Alicia Keys greatest hits were the background music of their choice and since I love her and her music, it just made me love the room all the more.

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Papi and Mark Jacinto had so much fun painting a couple of the cartoons. Mark did the one above.

Dominika just kept prancing around the room and playing with the other girls. It surprised e because she'd been on a scribbling paint anything kick lately.

My two Mark's making a little film, Mark son was specially proud of his work.

The kids and I. They were so excited about their clay creations, I honestly couldn't wait to do one myself.

Little tummies get hungry fast and after a couple hours of doing art we headed to midtown to a restaurant called Horchata. The way they season their tacos is exquisite (if you are into a bit of spice). My favorite drink is the traditional horchata, seriously so good and healthy!

I know when I find a good restaurant because afterwards I remember their name and location. It's a must while in new York if you love Mexican food. I really appretiate their restaurant decor, its inviting, a bit cozy and the right mix of traditional and contemporary! 

It was a lovely family day, can't wait to share more of our little adventures in New York City! Thanks for tuning in.

Our visit to Toca Boca!

It all started in San Francisco. Every time that we passed by the Toca Boca office on Folsom street, Mark and Dominika will sing the intro song Toca Boca!!! They specifically requested to go visit their cool office. Toca Boca is a company that makes awesome apps and media for children, fostering creativity and imagination. 

So a mother had to do what a mother had to do. I contacted them not really expecting a reply. Before I knew it, my children's enthusiasm got their attention because they invited us over to their offices. I was so excited since I knew what it would mean for them, and who am I kidding for me too! ( I love visiting software companies!). Anyways, the week that we exchanged emails, happened to be the week before we were moving to New York. Yes, sometimes I'm a bit crazy. The day our visit was arranged, happened to be the day that we were flying to our new home, so I told them I was moving to New York City. They said, "oh that's no problem we have offices in Brooklyn!". I said: "Awesome, lets meet!"

Mark Jacinto started school and loving his neighborhood and one day I picked him up at school saying: "I've got a surprise for you!". He is my son so he loves surprises as much as I do. When I mentioned Toca Boca, the kid's face lighted up with a huge smile. 

It took me a while to find the place, but when we did, I felt butterflies in my stomach. I'm so silly sometimes!! 

As we say in Spanish "sin más preámbulo" here are some photos:

They celebrated 5 years as a company!

Excited kids^.^

Choosing their favorite characters.

Dominika having fun around the office.

These kids were in heavenlandia, apps, ipads and kids toys. To be honest, we don't use a lot of apps and electronics but when we fly, doctors appointments and situations of that nature come by, apps are life savers.

John was super nice with the kids as well as the staff, I thought it was so sweet of them to ask the kids' opinions regarding their products and future projects. Is kind of how they ask kids to design and ask for what they want in a playground nowadays, is the same concept. They are humans too, with less experience and at a different cognitive level but deserving of respect and dignity. Is the "for us by us" kind of philosophy I totally support!!

The kids got stickers and non-permanent tattoos and I got an amazon gift card card! Thank you Toca Boca!!!

On the way out, by the gorgeous Manhattan Bridge.

When I took this picture, I couldn't help but notice how fast time is flying.We had pizza for dinner and on our way out of the restaurant a beautiful lady opens the door and Mark looked super surprised and  whispered to me: "Mom, she's the cutest thing I have ever seen!! She's the cutest, mom!!!" 

This is the same kid that wants to "marry a girl and have a family" I love this kids so very much. His heart is a constant reminder to me of being present and grateful for life. He loves and cares for people so much.

They are such a great team already<3

Thanks to Toca Boca for the wonderful experience, it was one to remember!!

It's been fun San Francisco!!!

Hi guys!

So this post has been long due. Thanks to those who have reached out and have asked, so did you moved to New York City? Yes, we did! (more about that on a later post ) This post is about our two and a half years of adventures in San Francisco. 

We moved to SF when Dominika was just shy of four months old. I remember vividly how tiny she was, the crazy amount of containers we moved in with, all the new and more new. My neural connections most have been overloaded with all the changes; and I had fun. It was awesome, hard (logistics of transportation and trying not to get lost) and full of the unknown (my favorite part). 

People danced at a different beat there, and the cultural values were much different than Ohio( my previous home). We started to meet people, create connections and after couple of months we found our Epic church community

As I reflect on our time in the fabulous city that San Francisco is, the one thing that seems to stand out the most in my mind are the faces of people. Friends, neighbors, mentors, soul-sisters, playdates and  meet ups with very special human beings. San francisco, it was so much fun to have lived within your chambers in Soma, walking distance from the  Embarcadero, to have been able to visit the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate park ad libitum. But do you wanna know what I treasure the most of my time there? The people!

As time went by, new challenges arose and my husband started traveling a lot for work, and through that experience God taught me so many lessons I'm very grateful for.

Within your territory, dear San Francisco, I learned to embrace motherhood in a way that I had not known before. With its challenges and joys, God taught me to magnify the good and live more deeply in the present moment. I began to see more beauty in the messes and became more optimistic than ever. My children began to grow, and I with them.

In your land, San Francisco, I grew closer to God. I learned to seek Him more for the sheer pleasure and privilege of his divine presence rather than for what He could give me or protect me from. 

I began to understand more of what His calling is for my life and make more sense of the seemingly disconnected pieces.

We grew closer as a family unit despite the distance, and made sure to have as much quality time as possible.

I watched my children love others with a tender and giving heart.

I overcame some  fears and grew bolder in the areas that needed it.

I'm tremendously grateful for my time there. It has been fun San Francisco, you have a very special place in my heart.

And now on to new adventures,

Thank you Lord.

New York City: Some Brooklyn, some Manhattan

I found this pictures that warmed my heart as I scrolled through them. Adventures with my family wherever that is, is always endearing to me. On that particular day of December, we wanted to check out a part of New York city that I have never been to,  but that I have heard lots of good things about: Brooklyn! 

I mean I know Madewell makes cool t-shirts and sweaters with the name Brooklyn on it, lots of really creative businesses come out of there, as well as having a home run record for artists and musicians that live there. Mark Walter mentioned that I would love the food there and he knows me so well, he was spot on.

We woke up relatively early for a vacation, grabbed some good coffee and pastries for breakfast and headed to Park Slope, Brooklyn. Such a beautiful neighborhood indeed. The vibe of Brooklyn was a beautiful marriage of urban living and nature. Was it the gorgeous brownstone houses? Was it the parks? Who knows. All I know is that, I left with a sense that Brooklyn is a great place to live; as many other places in New York city really. 

 the market at union square

the market at union square

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 Oh, hello Prospect Park!

Oh, hello Prospect Park!

I find it very thrilling to experience new places with my family. Back in my single lady years, exploring the new was always fun but now I can say is way more fun!

Kids have a way to bring freshness to everything, and yes yes there are the occasional tantrums too; but oh well tell me something new!

My kids are getting to a fun age were they are pretty independent; I specially love watching them take initiative. It makes a mama happy.

Morning faces^.^

They love to figure out maps, that they didn't get from me;-)

We walked around Prospect Park, which was designed by the same guys that built Central Park, pretty cool! There were lots of people outside, it had the same city feeling but much more calm. 

I read some nice reviews about the Barnes and Noble on 7th avenue. I gotta say that, in general, book stores in New York City are pretty awesome. We were there a good hour, it was a bit chilly outside. 

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Brownstones are so cool! My brain kept spinning with all the possible stories that must have come from the people that have lived in them; so much history for sure!

We headed to a nice tapas restaurant on 5th avenue called Juventino. You know with Mark Walter we visit a tapas restaurant pretty often.

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I had to take a picture of the most amazing meatballs my mouth has ever had the privilege of tatsing. Wow! it had like 5 different types of meat, I can't remember what all they were but so so good. The decor of the restaurant was very artistic, which I appretiated.

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So as in any good restaurant, they always offer crayons and paper or something to keep the kids occupied while waiting for their food. Well, Mark Jacinto drew this awesome cartoon-like story of what Dominika did to him that morning. Oh, men! Is so hard not to laugh with these kids!! They are so funny and silly to me. I find it quite a challenge to juggle enjoying them(which i do very much) and disciplining them. There is definitely a fine line there. I'm the parent first!

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After our knockout meal, we went to a very creative store called the Superhero store. They had a kid's cape section a book section and more. 

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I bought and awesome book there about writing and composition with some very out of the box ideas! Afterwards, we decided to head to the hotel since it was getting quite dark.

Next day, we had brunch at Boquería in Midtown Manhattan. Ok, I didn't think i would like it but was so wrong. Top 5 best brunch of the year; I keep record of these stuff you know;-)

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We went to Rockefeller Square; everything feels so grand in Manhattan. I loved going back to a place that had a romantic connotation for me, since Mark Walter surprised me with a romantic getaway weekend trip almost a decade ago. It has been over a decade of marriage already, can't believe how fast time goes!! I love my baby!

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Finally, we made it! December in Manhattan was quite crowded but we managed to have fun and earn our little spot for a quick family selfie.

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Such a beautiful place, so much history behind it! I have a surprise for you on my next post...

Keep reading

Chelsea: Highline + Market

Hi!

Meanwhile some family members played a new card game, I decided to write this post. Going to Chelsea for the first time and walking along the Highline was pretty special. Last time I visited New York City ,I was five months pregnant with Mark Jacinto. It's amazing how fast time goes!

Dominika fell asleep as soon as we got to the Highline, so Mark Jacinto and I got to have a little bit of a date. We had fun snapping pictures of anything and everything such as wall murals, buildings, leaves, flowers and people.

It was an amazing feeling to visit the Highline for the first time with my two children and just getting to explore and enjoy it. Pictures below.

My giggly guy

He was specially charming that day^.^ 

Is never a dull day with my kids.

Ok, so Mark Jacinto plays director sometimes and he had fun telling me what poses to make( like the one above). He literally says: " Mom, do like this( while showing me the pose)".

He, for some reason, enjoyed taking pictures of me and giggled like crazy throughout the process. 

Right before this, he got a haircut by a guy that was warm and generous enough to give him a puppet ring. How cute is that! 

A chopped head picture proof my son's amateur but delightful efforts. 

She was out. ZZzz..

The place was so beautiful. A landscape, a beautiful cross between the urban and natural. The new buildings that surround the Chelsea Highline add to the overall beauty and uniqueness of this place.

Where are you heading my darling?

The afternoon sun had started to say good bye and it was time for a snack anyway, so with a heart full we headed to the Chelsea Market.

The Venezuelan woman that attended L'Arte del gelato was a true sweetheart. Marky ended up picking a strawberry ice cream which I think is so cute that that's his favorite ice cream flavor^.^

Dominika picked the raspberry one and I a ice cream flavor that started with S and that tasted like a cross between tiramisu, butter pecan and chocolate; a delight for the senses!

Dominika is a girl after my own heart. She loves flowers, pearls, accesories, lipstick and all things girly. Naturally she headed to the flower shop.

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I have heard so much about Sarabeth's from other New Yorkers that i had to try it. Let's just say that the experience wasn't extraordinary.

My favorite part probably was their bookstore. An wonderful selection of books, in particular children's books. We were there about an hour plus, the kids couldn't get enough! 

We ended up buying some really cute and unique toys for our cousins, until my husband came to see us.

Ay mi niña! She cracks me up sometimes with her personality. Full of zest, full 0f cheekiness, full of zeal.

We four headed out to Artichoke's Basille Pizza, seriously good and highly recommended for Chelsea visitors. 

My boys<3

The place was lovely and with a wonderful view of the Highline. I think Chelsea is now among my top 5 favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan.

See you soon!

A beautiful day!!!

Hi! 

Super happy new year to you!! I hope this year brings lots of peace, health and happiness to every person taking the time to read this blog. Today was such a beautiful day. I got so excited browsing through my pictures that I had to share! We are currently watching Mr. Peabody and Sherman with the family, so I get to multitask a little and blog. 

The day started with all of us girls: Dominika, grandma, auntie, mami plus a boy, getting ready for our first collective experience at Dragonfly Tea Room. Ok, I can't even tell you how much I loved this beautiful place! If you live in Northeast Ohio, it's a must to visit! So much fun!

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 Dominika and her say "cheeeese" face;-)

Dominika and her say "cheeeese" face;-)

Grandma has witness how Dominika grabs my tea every time I drink it so she invited us to this gorgeous place. Dominika, grandma and auntie had Vanilla Chai while I had Christmas tea. Mark Jacinto and a lemonade served in the cutest Santa Claus tea pot:-) 

 Tea lover to the core

Tea lover to the core

 The sweetheart salad, soo good! 

The sweetheart salad, soo good! 

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 She loved it! 

She loved it! 

 Very delicious blueberry lemon cake

Very delicious blueberry lemon cake

I loved all of the details that they used throughout their decor. Beautiful and intricate vintage tea pots of all kinds. My favorite one was the candy cane tea pot. 

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 Melt my heart&lt;3

Melt my heart<3

 Decorating his special treat^.^ 

Decorating his special treat^.^ 

 So if the place wasn't cool enough already, they had a children's room in the back with lovely dress up gear and a beautiful wall mural. Their boutique has some beautiful stuff as well.  

So if the place wasn't cool enough already, they had a children's room in the back with lovely dress up gear and a beautiful wall mural. Their boutique has some beautiful stuff as well.  

 Madame

Madame

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Dominika cracks me up, she's very much into dress up these days and I can see the transformation in her eyes when she changes customes. She walks so regal when she is a princess and adds a deep voice to her character when she's a knight.  

Later in the afternoon, we met with the cousins for a family hike up in the Wilderness Center in Wilmot.  

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 Cooking, making pasta, cookies and cake.  

Cooking, making pasta, cookies and cake.  

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 I absolutely love this picture of all the cousins together. 

I absolutely love this picture of all the cousins together. 

 My sweety. 

My sweety. 

 Beautiful people

Beautiful people

 End of our hike

End of our hike

The adults felt relaxed, the children energized. It a truly beautiful time with family today and I don't want to forget it. 

grateful

On our way to Central Park Zoo

Hi there! 

I can't sleep due to a cold and runny nose so I'm stopping by to write this post and share some pics from our way to the Central Park zoo last week. 

 Their favorite Disney characters as of now^.^

Their favorite Disney characters as of now^.^

 love these huge Christmas lights!

love these huge Christmas lights!

The day started with us getting lost! My morning brain must have been foggy because I intended to go uptown and ended up downtown in Soho, lol!  

Honestly, I'm thankful for my patient children. Once in a while I know I'll end up lost somewhere and find my way back.  

Anyways, one thing I did learn and I'm very grateful for it: New Yorkers are very nice!!! 

One grace after another, people pointing me in the right direction, offering to help carry my stroller, buying the kids treats. I couldn't have been more grateful! 

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 Mis chicos &lt;3&nbsp;

Mis chicos <3 

Finally we made it uptown closer to Central Park but as Paul the New Yorker said: "you guys should stop here, then the kids will get to see the lights and tons of Christmas stuff" 

This is how Paul, the stranger and I met at the subway.   I approached him and asked: "sir, are you a New Yorker?" Paul: "no one has ever asked me that but I like it, yes I am!" (proud with a smile)

Paul made sure we got off at the right stop, carry our stroller upstairs and waved good bye with a smile while blessing my children. I felt so welcomed in this city!! Thank you, Lord!!! 

 Got a dry leaf and played with it for a few blocks

Got a dry leaf and played with it for a few blocks

I stopped by a Starbucks for a hot drink and some snacks for the kids. The picture below shows them at their best behavior, quite and eating their snacks.  

Motherhood is full of these sort of juxtaposed moments. At this time they were completely well behaved and a few blocks later I was having a hard time convincing Dominika that when the white man in the light shows up, you should keep walking! We were crossing the street!

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The kids were anxious to get to the Zoo, they were waiting for that grand moment. We all enjoyed getting to Central Park surrounded by the skyscrapers, beautiful horses, lovely weather and colorful people. 

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I say beautiful weather because though it was a bit gloomy, the air was so crisp and perfect.  

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Papi was taking care of business so we met later that day but in the meantime I had my photographer in tow, my five year old Mark Jacinto:-)

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Once we got to the zoo, we all did a sigh of relief that we have made it to our intended destination.

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Mark Jacinto and Dominika were seriously captivated by the animals. Dominika's face lighted up while feeding the llama and sheep; I can't forget the beautiful expression on her face! 

 Bro &amp; sis

Bro & sis

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My little girl really enjoyed the petting zoo. It as so endearing watching her so full of joy<3 it was giggles😍

 She could have stayed there the entire day!

She could have stayed there the entire day!

 Look at that beauty, thanks for posing sweety! 

Look at that beauty, thanks for posing sweety! 

 Mark Jacinto was delighted.

Mark Jacinto was delighted.

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The entire zoo can be toured in about an hour or so. By the end of our zoo visit it was time for the sea lion show! So cute you guys. It's  definitely a must! 

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Afterwards, my friend Joy from west side to west side blog, hosted us at her beautiful apartment in the upper west side. She so kindly had food waiting for us, cookies and all! So grateful for awesome friends. Mark Jacinto and bebé Cash hit it off right away. Dominika woke up a bit later while napping in her stroller. It was so nice to see Joy and baby and to have had that cozy brake in our day.  

I hope you are keeping warm and surrounded by loved ones this holiday! 

Grateful

Museum of Natural History plus some more!

One of the days of our family vacation in New York was very rainy. We all got wet head to toe. It was the perfect day to visit the museum of natural history located at the Upper West Side. We were so excited to explore it! 

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We started our day with awesome donuts and milk at Dough in Flatiron. Seriously good, I wanted to have breakfast there everyday!

 "Cinto let's goooo!" &nbsp;

"Cinto let's goooo!"  

The kids were very stimulated and excited about the museum. We started our exploration on the 4th floor, which proved to be their favorite of all. 

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Dinosaurs, bones and showing how things have evolved over the past hundreds of years really fascinated Mark Jacinto and Dominika.  

 A quick little selfie of the kiddos and I

A quick little selfie of the kiddos and I

 Dominika's favorite animal currently  

Dominika's favorite animal currently  

We missed Papi since he was getting some things done at the office before the big holiday brake! 

 They warm my heart😍

They warm my heart😍

We spent hours at this place! 

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It was lunch time and headed out to the nearby shake shake that was right behind the museum! 

 Rainy day

Rainy day

The museum lets you come back if you want to head out and return. Shake shack was packed but the kids were great and had the patience to endure the long line. It was worth it.

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A kind stranger, Daniel from Portugal, shared his table with us. How nice!!!

Mark Jacinto pretended that the museum was "his office" he said that he will be the teacher and show us around his offices, haha. This kid cracks me up!

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I loved the pictured above! Eucharisteo, I aspire to a lifestyle of continual thanksgiving no matter the circumstances. 

 

 

 My Minnie and I&lt;3

My Minnie and I<3

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The kids and their curiosity, I'm constantly inspired by them. 

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Lots of great exhibitions .going on at every floor

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My personal favorite was the Central America and South America exhibitions showcasing their folkloric instruments and overall history. I love South American folklore music!

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 Wooooah mom!

Wooooah mom!

Check this tree out! It's all origami handmade decorations. It's giving me lots of ideas for the coming year since my family loves origami:-)

 Look at the details, enamoured^.^

Look at the details, enamoured^.^

 Lincoln Center, I'm coming back! 

Lincoln Center, I'm coming back! 

We walked from the upper west side to almost midtown and checked out this cultural jewels on our way! 

 Times Square

Times Square

Mark Jacinto asked: " mom, why are there so many tv's here?" I asked him what he thought of Times Square and he said: "it's just something else" hehe. 

 The best spaghetti I have ever tried

The best spaghetti I have ever tried

 

A day in New York is an intense day and even if you use uber and the train you end up walking a ton like we did. We were spent and ended up ordering room service at the W hotel,  Union Square. After a delicious dinner we were ready for bed because our bodies needed it.

Grateful for a beautiful time in New York full of kind people that made us feel welcomed in the big apple. So fun! 

Reflections: Giving Thanks & some pics

Hi there!

Last week was quite stressful with Dominika going to the emergency room while papi was out of town. The tension from having Mark Walter, my husband, arrive from Paris just two days before the attacks happened there and all the horrible things that go through one's mind with the what ifs. I knew I was tense because my breath gets shallow and I tend to hold it. Does anyone else out there experiences this?! I think this is so silly, haha.

Today I wanted to share a happy list of things that give me joy and that I'm grateful for lately plus some pictures from a little outing with friends at the SF Botanical Gardens at Golden Gate Park. You guys already know I love this place very much. Bliss!

  • When I see a friend growing as a person
  • When my son cuddles with me and I can see his sweet eyes sparkling with love
  • My daughter Dominika and her mix of a goofy, corky and sassy nature. She says the funniest things! 
  • Hard boiled eggs fresh and warm with salt and pepper
  • My husband bringing me my favorite chocolate from Trader Joes. Score!
  • A recently acquired selfie stick for family selfies! Woot, woot!
  • For having a Friendsgiving to look forward to tomorrow
  • The sensuous smell of pumpkin pie in the oven, like right now;-)
  • crafting with my kids
  • Fresh flower arrangements that the hubs picked out
  • For my canon camera that I enjoy using and preserving family memories
  • For all the beautiful dreams God has placed in my heart
  • For having a Papa in heaven that cares and loves me
  • For realizing that I am still a child on the inside
  • For water in my home
  • For a lovely neighbor and friend that has become like family to me
  • For living in this gorgeous city
  • For the promise of the future

There is so much to be thankful for, the fact that we are alive and breathing, is a cause for celebration. Let's make each day count and create memories we are proud to look back to.

A few pics: San Francisco Botanical Gardens and Alamo Square park

Nature is ever inspiring. I have never been at the Botanical Gardens before this outing and I was amazed. From the front of the entrance, it looks sort of attractive but not so much as to have pulled me there in the past. Well, I was wrong! It happens to be such a gorgeous place! 

kids chasing the geese.

My friend and I took the kids out for a little outing a couple weeks ago, for Columbus day. I have been terrible at posting our outings and adventures lately but somehow I always come back to it because I like blogging. Anyways, the kids had so much fun that they pretty much played with sticks and leaves and ran around chasing the geese, that we didn't even see half of the place in the couple of hours we were there!

Mark and mami <3

I love the above picture of Mark Jacinto and I so much! He is wearing an Ohio State sweater because that boy's heart is close to Ohio, were his grandparents live. My camera lenses had the stabilizer off, so I ended up with very few usable pictures but fortunately my friend Mei sent some pics she took that day. All her photos are marked with an ** and you can find more of her beautiful photos on her Instagram account

**this pic is hilarious. can't remember what they were saying..

We had a picnic in the middle of a bright and beautiful day, the kids literally played in nature for hours. Below, Mark and his friend were building a house together. Their conversations were pretty hilarious.

**Love this pic so much^.^

Are you watching Emma?

She loves water

Dominika had lots of fun watching the lake and chasing squirrels, picking rocks and getting dirty. After us moms were tired of being there for hours, while the kids could have happily stayed there for a lot longer, we got coffee and headed to Alamo Square park for a little extra adventure before our journey for the day was over. Needless to say these kids ended up exhausted but somehow wanted more! Endless energy, I'll tell ya.

My friend Mei and my daughter Dominika.

**

sand angels^.^

View from the park, remember Full House? 

It was a lovely outing in the gorgeous city of San Francisco.  Thankful. 

Have an awesome weekend!

Glimpses of Sunday

A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.
— Internet anonymous

Hi!

I wanted to share glimpses of our Sunday fun day. Our day started with early service at our beloved Epic Church of San Francisco. The sermon today was really good and very focused on marriage. You can check it out here, if you'll like. We headed to the Mission to hang out and get some drinks before meeting our friends for a tapas lunch. Description of photos below:

  1. A goofie son.
  2. Papi's iced coffee
  3. A sneaky little girl.
  4. Mark Jacinto kissing Eliana<3
  5. two cutie pies in dresses.
  6. Manchego cheese, patatas bravas deliciousness and more at Picaro tapas restaurant.
  7. Sautéed veggies. I have been craving lots of them!
  8. 2 families joined together in the name of friendship, despite tired toddlers.

This day was wonderful, it had the right combo for a Sunday: church community, awesome friends, delicious food, rest, running endorphins and a laid back evening. 

Grateful!

 

A pumpkin patch in the city!

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul
— Proverbs 27:9

Hello amigos!

I just came from an awesome date my husband and I had tonight, mouth watering duck and sea bass dinner, great conversations while watering the plant of our marriage. Her name is Lolita; she was named over ten years ago when we started dating. 

Today, more than I have felt in a while, I feel very blessed to build sweet friendships and lasting relationships with really great people. While we don't have family living in San Francisco, we have wonderful friends that have become like family, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers.

I'm giddy to share a little outing we had with some great mama friends and their cubs. 

The gang.

He was so excited to find different looking pumpkins.

It was Friday afternoon, the goal was to enjoy time at the pumpkin patch, grab some pumpkins and then go for pizza on Irving street. It was my friend Lidia and her girl's first time experiencing a pumkin patch; they loved it! 

Beautiful amigas<3.

The kids spent  significant  time grabbing, grouping, categorizing and organizing pumpkins according to size and color, while giving us mamas a chance to talk and catch up. I find that nature always allows for this sort of break because the kids always end up inventing their own games with the "natural toys" available. As a results, mothers become observers and kids explore their environment in a very engaged manner. There a camping trips and nature walks in the near future for the Kropf family.

Pumpkin nirvana!

I love these kiddos<2

I was so excited to find out there is a pumpkin patch in the city! I mean, it is quite the accomplishment for Clancy's Pumpkin Patch to achieve this sort of thing. They offered hay rides and pony rides. The staff was really nice and attentive as well.

What are you sayin'...?

Look at Emma's face...priceless, haha.

Pumpkinssss!

On a mission

She fell in love with that rabbit( part of the patch decor).

There were carts available so the kids could push their own pumkins but instead they decided to carry each other, except miss Dominika wanted to carry her baby bunny everywhere. It was hard for her to leave Mr. Bunny there.

Playing hide and seek.

Dominika is such a nurturer<3

Lidia and her girl

Nuestras amigas lindas<3

We did the hay ride and the kids had a blast. When we got home there was hay everywhere, in their tummies, in their armpits in their..

Hey,  ride!

The start of the hay ride.

After the hay ride, we decided it was time to go have dinner on Irving street. Emma's mom always has great suggestions for food. She recommended Park Chow so we all met there. Park Chow is a very family friendly restaurant. Due to the size of our party, we ended up going to the second floor which had a delightful atmosphere. If you  are in San Francisco and hungry while strolling your family at Golden Gate park, I highly recommend this restaurant.

Emma feeding Mark Jacinto; a very functional relationship;-)

We had a great time with our friends, specially Mark Jacinto, who after having dinner suggested Emma fed him too;-)

These kids, I'll tell ya...

Till next time.

Trip to Napa

Hola! 

I wanted to share a special trip to wine country we took with the Kropf grandparents. We visited Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley. This beautiful winery was pretty kid friendly since it had a little farm( no cows lived there). The kids loved checking out the animals and Mark Jacinto specially enjoyed taking pictures of the sheep with his camera watch( the one he got for his bday) 

do these grapes make juice?

snapping photos of sheep ^.^

This trip was all about family connexion and embracing the time we had been given together. The grandparents live in Ohio, so coming together despite different work schedules and engagements, always makes us want to squeeze the most value out of our time. 

One of the things that fascinates me about Mark Jacinto and Dominika, is that they are beauty seekers, always hungry and hunting for the beautiful things in life. I enjoyed observing my son snapping pictures of animals, flowers, insects and little details that captured his attention. Dominika loved being showered with kisses and lots of attention by her grandparents.

grandma Kropf and Dominika

Hola mi galan!

Daddy and his girl<3

The castle itself was full of amazing and intricate details. They have kept the medieval theme and style very consistent throughout the entire winery. The owner's passion for medieval architecture shows; my favorite room above called the Great Hall. 

My esposo bonito and I.

We love family pictures whenever possible, so took a moment there to get a picture or two together with my man. The rest was taking it all in since we decided to do a self-guided tour.

happy kiddos.

highschool sweethearts ^.^

lots of wine

We did the wine tasting, taking turns and teaming up with the grandparents. While we did the tasting, they had the kids coloring on the little kiddy table area they had available and then traded spots. Their store is full of wonderful books that make me want to live the simple farm life someday. Those italian homemade meals in a farm kitchen and the slow life full of simple things seem attractive to me but then again, I'm loving the urban lifestyle. The store also offers eclectic foods, kitchen ware and just all out beautiful things. 

My little niño. You will always be my little boy.

interesting medieval potties. 

Ok, look at the bathroom, ha! The whole place was visually very appealing. Loved the armor below and the kids couldn't stop staring at it. Incredible to think that humans wore that sort of thing, specially for battle. How can you really move wearing that? 

medieval armor.

brindis!

hey you, giggly boy.

This scenery, ah!.

The whole scenery of Napa and the place we were at was just breathtaking, it felt like you were transported to a different time. Mark Walter aka Wally, took a photo of me in which I couldn't figure out what emotion I was in. I looked somewhat upset but then again, maybe I needed to use the medieval potty? I can't remember.

Just loved the castle and specially this angle/view of it.

Mi princesita<3

We went to Bottega for lunch and it was a very delicious experience. I ordered ravioli with an egg inside, just heavenly! If you go there, do order their cheese plate, its quality I'm telling you.

My girl.

She loves flowers=-)

We almost stayed there for more activities, but it proved to be a wise choice to go home after that. By the time we got home, we had some Cream before dinner;-), did the littles night night routine and were able to smoothly pull it off. We have found it's much better to do a bit less but more quality than cram everything in one day(as we tend to when family/friends visit) and have the kids overtired. 

It was a beautiful family outing and I'm grateful for it<3

I Lava you & our Hawaii experience at De Young

The other day, while at the park with Dominika, a little gift from heaven was given to us. We were playing in the sand while a cute little boy entered the area we were playing at. He was very charismatic and playful and it reminded me of Mark Jacinto, my son. My boy is about to turn five in a couple of days and  started attending TKindergarten, spending a longer time in school than last year.

The little boy's dad entered the picture and he seemed pleasant in demeanor. We started talking about our kids and I noticed a string instrument inside his bag. I asked if he played the instrument and he said that it's been an on and off pursuit but that he enjoys playing the ukelele very much. 

I thought, how cool is that! "Would you play some music for us?" , I asked. The father nodded in affirmation and said "yes". 

He started playing and singing and all the sudden realized that it was the "I lava you" song!! ( If you haven't seen it it, is the short film that Pixar releases right before the Inside Out movie starts at the movie theater) That very day, I was experiencing disappointment and was a bit discouraged about a certain something I have been working towards that seems to test my patience but God always have ways to say " It's ok, I've got you". I truly take this sort of things as little kisses from God, the very unique and personalized ways that he knows will make my heart happy again. I love string instruments and live music!

I got reminded that not one day is ordinary, that even when you are feeling blue, there are fun and beautiful things around you.. if you open your heart to see it. Dominika started crying because she was hungry so we said good bye to the father and son. After that, my day was energized in a new sort of way and some wonderful things happened after that.

Going along the Hawaiian topic, I wanted to share some pics from this past weekend were we attended the De Young museum's opening of the Royal Hawaiian exhibition. 

Dominika and her friend Leo.

Hawaiian singer with a lovely voice!

We met with friends there and after some art viewing, we went outside for some snacks and visit the dome which the kids love. 

Leooooooo!

Oh, that smile!

Inside the dome

Munching

So my husband Mark pretty much brings his speakers wherever we go. While in the dome, around two dads and their kids entered the dome and were a little restless, running around circles over and over again. Well, Mark cleverly played the Star Wars music and all of the sudden the kids started playing with a "sword" and were in battle, in slow motion too! haha. 

Mark Walter has this knowledge how much music affects people( he used to dj in Europe) that irritates me sometimes but it works! For example if I'm a bit cranky or something and we are about to have dinner he plays bossanova music, usually some Joao Gilberto or Elis Regina and, since he knows that it soothes me, I immediately float. My children got the same gene because Dominika can be really upset about something but if music is played then she can help but move her bootie. That girl has got moves.

I have never been attracted to Hawaii for some reason but after this exhibition and the lava song it's on my travel bucket list now. Love the picture of Mark Walter below, I think it captures his essence.

Hey, guapo!

Wonderful performance!

What are eating now, girl?

Love the dancers performance, although there were so many people there, we were able to get a peak. One thing is bringing kids to a museum but another thing is having a playdate at the museum, that's when things get a bit complicated. We kept it short and sweet and then headed to the park to run off some steam. The kids had fun!

Brother & sister love

I absolutely love the picture above of my little ones. They truly love each other and look after each other. 

Loving that swing.

De Young Museum

It never ceases to amaze and inspire me these children's ability to find beauty and excitement in their surroundings. Mark Jacinto was quite for a while. I found him by this trunk and he said: " Look, mom, Aren't they so cute? They are so little!" He is such an animal lover, I'll tell ya. 

Loving the ants

I'm humbled by this journey of being a parent, they have and continue to teach me so much. I'm constantly learning from them their ability to trust, to have and express joy, to love so freely. Humbled, humbled by their fascination of their world, their insatiable curiosity and fierce desire for living. It's contagious!

Off the Grid Sundays

Hola!

This past Sunday was glorious. Mother weather was in a good mood giving us a sunny, breezy and beautiful day. After church or as Snoop Dog calls it chuuch, we went to the presidio for an amazing sensorial experience. Our friend Abby kindly invited us to experience Off the Grid

Sometimes you can get spoiled with all the wonderful food San Francisco has to offer but oh man, oh man, how delicious was this!. I particularly loved their wide range of choices available anything from Vietnamese, Lebanese, vegetarian to classic American food.

Dominika and I enjoyed a shawarma hummus bowl with rice, freshly fried falafel , beef, spicy pickles and a sensuous cucumber and watercress salad. I think I'm in love with watercress now. Needless to say, Dominika and I devoured it. She's so food adventurous, love it!

We just arrived, it's a beautiful day=)

She gets happy after a good meal^.^

Mango snowball, so refreshing!

Below, Mark Jacinto playing with Nico! My boy gets a thrill of meeting new friends. Nico is such a happy boy! They both clicked well and of course Dominika fitted well in the pack. 

Launching a toy rocket.

Mark played some music through his speakers, he has always a way to make everything better and has amazing taste in music. So with his dj abilities, great company, food and scenery the day was amazing! 

All the lovely people... One of the things that catched my attention was the cocktail carts they had around, call me naive but I have not seen them before. Not that I drink much but I thought, how thoughtful is that! People just having bloody Mary's at one side and other enjoying coconut water in the other side. Some people playing, some people dancing, others tanning under the sun and some kissing. I just loved taking it all in and watching the wide range of diversity. 

Took a quick picture before it will disappear,haha. 

Selfies, selfies...I'm making it a conscious point to be more present in my children's photos. I know even though is not a natural thing for me, that it will be fun looking back. 

Ah! papi and son.

Grateful for this day with family and friends by the bay. 

Thank you Lord.