Jetty Boy

It was at almost this exact time last year that I got a  picture in a group text from Chaney. She and Morgan were smiling as she laid in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and wearing a gown. It was captioned, “We’re having a baby today!”

She was 37 weeks along and I had talked to Mom earlier that day who told me Chaney might go into labor that day because of some complications.

We were all on the edge of our seats for the rest of the evening and I was trying my hardest to stay awake for as long as it took to celebrate Jett’s arrival with the rest of my family. It got later and later in the evening and I put Damian to bed. The last time I looked at the clock was around 11:45 and then I knocked out without realizing.

I should add that Damian shared a room with us, and about two weeks earlier he started a phase where he would sleep in his crib until 2 AM and wake up crying and just lay on his back and cry until we came. He did not like his crib one bit. So when I woke up just before 2 am to the sound of him giggling, I thought I must be dreaming.

He was holding onto the bars to help him stand up for the first time in the middle of the night, and on top of that he was bouncing up and down like he was very excited about something! I have no idea how long he was awake before that. I brought him over to our bed so he could help me stay awake, and he kept giggling, rolling all over the place, and acting very silly.

It was just then that I got a text saying that Jetty had arrived!

It was also then that I realized Damian had been trying to tell me that the whole time.

I had such a strong feeling at that time and I believe with my whole heart that our boys know and love each other. Damian was celebrating Jetty’s arrival.

The next couple days were filled with beautiful pictures of Jett as I tried to find a way to get to Utah and continued to help M pack the apartment because we were moving that weekend. During one of those days, I packed Damian’s baby blessing suit. But on the way out the door the morning I flew out to meet Jett, I saw the little white tie from his suit that I was sure I packed sitting on the counter next to the door. Unsure why, I grabbed it and headed out.

Mom met me at the airport. We made our way to the ICU. We used the ultra-sanitizing hand sponges before heading back to Jetty’s curtain.

There, I found my angel sister holding the most perfect baby in the world.

I cried and hugged her and cried and admired them both. She was strong, soft, and radiant. He was gentle, calm, and delicate. Unlike any of us would have guessed, Jett was born with blonde, gently curly hair, blue eyes, and absolutely porcelain skin. One big toe from his dad and the other from his mom. Chaney had to get up for a minute, so I was lucky to hold him. He fussed at first until I gave him a little pat on the bum. He settled down so softly, but he definitely preferred his mom.

Every time I have met a newborn baby in the hospital, I have cried. Life is an absolute miracle, and meeting a baby is the beginning of a lifelong love that changes us forever. This time was different than others, though, because everything was magnified ten-fold with Jett Tomás Ventura. We got to know him, we learned so much from him, we saw how well he knew us, and we were asked to let him go all in the beautiful and eternally edifying week we were privileged to hold him.

Jett brought us together as a family in unexplainable ways.

Members of the family were traveling to Utah from all sides of the country, and Jett held on to make sure every one of us was there before he said goodbye. I felt numerous times during the trip that he was helping to calm the situation and telling even me that it was going to be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day before the funeral, Mom, Jess, Kendra, and I wanted to get Chaney a pearl necklace because that is Jetty’s birth stone and she would be able to keep him with her. We also thought it would be nice to have something wrapping around the stone as a symbol of Chaney protecting him. Store after store did not have anything that stood out to us. We visited literally every jewelry store in the entire city and were down to our last shop and had decided we would probably have to special order it online. As soon as we walked in, the sweet woman who greeted us had a necklace with a round pendant on it with a pearl in the middle.

We were immediately drawn to it and asked where we could find something similar, and it turned out that she made it herself. She listened to us, grabbed a piece of paper, and drew a picture of exactly what we were thinking. The next morning, we picked up a delicate little pearl cradled in the arms of a loving mother.

 

 

Before the funeral, I mentioned to Mom that I brought a white bow tie with me and wasn’t sure why. She gasped because they had white clothes for Jetty but had realized they had forgotten a tie. Now, a token from Damian gets to stay with his best friend. That was no accident.

 

 

 

Miracle after miracle.

That’s what Jetty shows us. It was only after saying goodbye that I could look back and recognize just how clearly and directly he communicated with us. His wisdom and strength filled the room like a blanket for us to share.

When I think of him, all of the emotions from that week flood back. I think of the moments we had together. I think of how much I love my family and how important it was to him that we be together. I think of how much I wish he were here, and about how none of us will ever understand even a fraction of the depth of emotion his beautiful, wise, and selfless parents feel.

Jetty, we love you so, so much. Happy first birthday, sweetheart!

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Amsterdam & The Rhine ’17

As I mentioned in the last post, this was my and Damian’s first trip across the Atlantic! It was completely magical.

We visited AMSTERDAM (which I had been dreaming about for years), then took the train to visit some great friends who are living and working on the Rhine River in Germany at the moment, and then headed back to Amsterdam for the last couple days. Damian was a champ through it all! Buuut he had definitely had enough fun by the time it was over. Ha. Still, I think he enjoyed it overall!

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Even more charming than I imagined!
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During the river cruise
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We kept wandering around, enjoying, and expecting it to get dark, but this picture wasn’t taken until about 10:30 pm!

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Ride a bike in Amsterdam. Check.
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Fun fact: bikes outnumber cars 4 to 1 here.
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My loves.

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I packed for weather like this day. It was supposed to be in the 40’s – 50’s and rainy, so I came prepared for anything! Anything, that is, except for the 85 degree weather we ran into toward the end of our stay. You’ll recognize the day when you see the pictures. Hint: he isn’t wearing pants.
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This face. ❤

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My boys! They are my greatest adventure. And they don’t make bad travel buddies, either.
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M found my dream houseboat on Airbnb! It was incredible and so much fun!
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Full disclosure – we caught Keukenhof on the tail end of tulip season, so these were some of the valiant few that held out for us. Few is a relative term though, because the gardens still looked spectacular!!

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Knocked out on my shoulder after having what might have been the gnarliest tantrum of his little life. Exhausted and disoriented in a world much bigger than he realized. I know, it’s a lot to take in, hunny bunny!

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“d” for damian
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“e” for e v e r y t h i n g

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That dude with the backpack is so fine.
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German countryside!
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We went on a bike ride through a couple little towns along the Rhine, and I straight up felt like I was in a storybook. I was ready for Hansel and Gretel to pop out at any moment.
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And there’s their gingerbread house.
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Jaime was the best guide! She’s always so full of fun ideas and it was fascinating to see these little towns up close rather than just driving past. The streets got me every time. So gorgeous, and I love imagining the people who laid down the cobblestones back in who knows when. Many of the homes we visited were labeled with the year they were built, and we saw one that was built in 1365….. Um…. THE YEAR THIRTEEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE. My American brain can’t even begin to wrap its mind around that. That’s insane. Like, people lived in that time and built structures that – with some upkeep and a little help – we can enjoy today. TODAY. And for many more generations. I can’t get over it.
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I’m in love.

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I love how they prune these trees!
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Oh, hey. 🙂

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I hardly ever give this kid sugar and even limit his fruit. Sooo, this was a pretty big day for him lol.
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Jaime and Donovan took us to Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany and in addition to being absolutely gorgeous and having the most delicious döner kebabs, they also had a gondola lift that took us to a new perspective on the city and the Rhine. We could look out and see the majesty of the river. It was unforgettable.
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At the top of the gondola ride was a lookout point with this gazebo-like thing. I especially love this picture because Joaquín and Damian are only a month apart in age, and we took a similar picture with all four of them when our babies were just 3 and 4 months old. Now, our babies are gone and we have little boys!

Yellow Tulips from Amsterdam

It’s Damian and mine’s first time crossing the Atlantic!

M participated in a transatlantic relations conference in Berlin, and we found a miracle ticket to Amsterdam! So, we’re meeting him there and I have butterflies all up in my heart. I’m writing this from the plane while I should actually be sleeping.

This is seriously a bucket list item of mine. The flowers and the bike friendly canals and the house boats – it just sounds too charming!

On top of that, I had the sweetest experience while working as a Counter Manager for Lancôme that made me want to go even more.
It was a slow day with hardly any customers, and a tall, thin, older man who was probably in his late 70s walked in. He wanted to buy perfume – Tresor – our classic scent for women. I asked if he wanted it gift wrapped, and he said that would not be necessary.

He told me it was his wife’s favorite perfume, and, commenting on my ring, asked if I was married. I told him “Yes, very happily!” To which he smiled and began telling me how important it is to let him know how happy I am with him and how important it is to not let time slip away from us. He spent the next 20-30 minutes telling me about the five big adventures they went on together. One was to Eastern Europe, another was to see the pyramids in Egypt, and their last was to Amsterdam. I honestly don’t remember the other two.

His wife had always wanted to go there because she loves flowers, but they kept putting it off because they weren’t sure they should spend the money. When she was diagnosed with cancer, they realized they may not have much time left and they decided to go.

While they were there, the man’s wife ordered 200 yellow tulip bulbs to their house in the states (that was her favorite color). They took several weeks to arrive, and she passed away before the flowers got there.

The man’s eyes glistened as he said that the delivery came the day after her funeral. I teared up with him as he described how he planted the flowers all around her grave and in other places they both loved to visit.

He bought the perfume for himself – so he could feel a little closer to his sweetheart.

I felt so heartbroken for him for the loss of his love and also just in awe at the love they built and tenderness with which he spoke of his wife and their relationship. I had such a strong feeling that their life together was incredibly rich and beautiful.

He reminded me to cherish my spouse and go on adventures with him.

I promised I would.

Tiny Living in D.C. 

300 sq ft is pretty cozy with a toddler.

Our apartment in D.C. is about 1/3 of the size of the apartment we had in Atlanta, and we pay a couple hundred more per month for it 😂. And believe it or not, we’re sad we have to move!

We decided to embrace the Tiny Living movement so we could live in the gorgeous area right by Georgetown University, and here are a couple reasons why it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

1) Simplicity

We had too much crap. I’d venture to say that most people have too much crap. It was so freeing to listen to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up while packing for this move, and everything I wanted to bring miraculously fit nicely in our new apartment.

2) #CarFreeDC

This is such a walkable city! It makes me so happy because driving and parking here stresses me out, so I convinced bae that we should sell our car! I guess that’s part of the downsizing, but I always love the walking lifestyle and E V E R Y T H I N G we need is right outside our door. Or even inside our door because I’ve been buying things on Amazon that I don’t enjoy piling on top of an already loaded stroller. But anyway, the National Mall and the zoo are each a nice little 25 minute jog away, church is a 20 minute bus ride, Georgetown campus is a 15 minute walk, and tons of restaurants, grocery stores, thrift shops, pharmacies, parks, embassies, and walking trails are literally within 5 minutes of us. Because I love walking everywhere, getting places has become part of the destination.

3) Togetherness Time!

I think the predicament we find ourselves in right now – Mahonri’s a graduate student and I’m working part time from home – has clearly forced us to be physically close in our little space, but it has also acted as one big team building project that we continually work together on. We found creative, space saving furniture like this table at Ikea and this raised bed frame on Amazon, secret drawers for hiding toys when they’re not in use, this amazing foldable tricycle, and a roll out container that we store under the bed for Damian’s closet. We have felt pretty proud of ourselves, if I may say so!

Film Festival!

I am just so proud of Mahonri.

Always, but this semester especially!

He is the President of the Latin American Council, which is an organization for graduate students that encourages learning about and discussing Latin American culture, history, and current affairs. Their main event for the semester was the Georgetown Latin American Film Festival and it was awesome.

After MUCH fund raising, planning, and poster distribution (ahem, designed by yours truly 😉), the event came together. I loved every one of the 3 films, and each one was followed by a fascinating panel discussion.

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I ended up as the event’s officially unofficial photographer, so here are some shots from the 3 nights!

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Ixcanul

A film about a girl in a very rural, impoverished town in Guatemala who faces radically different trials than I ever will in this life. It covered some very heavy topics that I think are so important to address for the purposes of expanding understanding, empathy, and global citizenship.

Que Horas Ela Volta?

A Brazilian film about “second mothers,” or caregivers who participate greatly in raising others’ children. I loved the message it sent about equality, because the modern world does not see a nanny as inferior to the employer. Made me laugh, made me cry, and made me miss Brazil like crazy.

El Silencio de los Fusiles

This was the perfect film to end on. It was a documentary following the peace negotiations in Colombia, and Mahonri was able to fly the film’s director, Natalia Orozco, from Colombia to attend the event and participate in the panel. The film was just finalized last month and hasn’t even officially premiered yet!

Dandelions Fly

This is the first limerick I’ve written in over 10 years. I just sat down one night and started writing, and it all just kind of fell out onto the page. It must have been writing itself for a while now.

See first: http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/weed?s=t

 

 

 

“Dandelions Fly”

 

Get out! She cried as the seedling emerged

Yellow petals wrung tight like a hive-

I’ve no room for you,

And no room for two

And no room for three, four, or five!

 

I know your kind is unlike the rest

You’ve no grace nor beauty like these,

Your stature is tiny

Your smell – rather piny

And you multiply with far too much ease.

 

She’s right, thought the bud, in a terrible fret

There’s no place for me around here

Had I known before

That my welcome was sore

I’d have given more heed to my fear.

 

Before my landing, I was caught in the wind

Flowing to and fro without pause

Tossing and turning

All the while yearning

For a safe place to grow; and a cause.

 

What I wanted, I found – or so I thought,

The fertile ground helping me grow.

I felt safe and alive;

Like I would survive

And support other flowers I know.

 

In time I would learn that not everyone sees

My dream of life as ideal

In fact, it’s true –

That some believe

A Dandelion Flower isn’t real.

 

Dandelions are weeds! she tells me each day,

An unwanted menace, that’s certain.

She had a plan

She declared a ban

In her yard, my kind can’t assert in.

 

I was sure in that instant – my time had run out,

She charged toward me with her shovel

Petals held high

I decided to spy

In that moment, my courage did double.

 

I AM A FLOWER! I repeated inside

As she dug at my roots, which did woe me

I know my worth

As does the earth

Other flowers neither above nor below me!

 

Uprooted was I, right up into that sky

Where so long ago I had floated

That was a dream

Far from the gleam

Of fire in her eye as she gloated.

 

I caught you early! she exclaimed with delight

Before you infected my garden

But seeing her face

Ended this chase

For my thoughts did transpose and not harden.

 

I looked at her closely and sighed with the wind,

Gave a slight nod to offer a greeting

I saw her toil,

Long hours in soil

Constant love for her yard, never fleeting.

 

My intention was never to cause you more pain,

I whispered sincerely, with fervor.

Spite in her mind

Hid that she’s kind

In her heart, no destroyer – but a preserver.

 

What peculiar petals! She observed right out loud.

Never before had I noticed!

Expression soft,

She still shrugged and scoffed

I prayed she’d look closer — as I did.

 

Away to the dumpster, she carried me off

Roots dangling; heart refusing to close

Making our way,

She started to sway

And speak aloud – then she froze.

 

I wonder what little girls see inside you

You’re ugly, you’re different, you’re bad

But then again,

I remember when

As a child, I loved you a tad.

 

What my own mother saw as a menacing plague

Were magical wishes in my view

Fields of flowers

Gave me hours

To laugh, play, and dream; love and prize you.

 

I wove you with others to wear as a crown

Your presence did always feel royal.

Easily found,

Dandelions abound.

Back then, you were dependable and loyal.

 

From yellow to white and from flower to flight

My wishes you carried too freely

A house, a yard,

Landscape unmarred

By foreigners – you gave me this; really.

 

Now what does one do in a quibble; a mess

When a heart and a mind are discordant?

Toss you to your doom?

Allow you to bloom?

Love? Hate? Ignore? Unimportant?

Halloween costuming

In case you haven’t noticed, there are only so many Halloween costumes available for brown couples. I mean really, the options are:

a) Aladdin and Jasmine

b) Zorro and Elena

c) generic pirates, chefs, 80’s workout video crashers, etc.

Because the options are so limited and because I love Halloween so much, I wanted to make sure we did Aladdin and Jasmine right! I’ve been planning this one for a couple years now because we wouldn’t have been complete without our own little monkey. Dreams do come true, people! Dreams really do come true. (And a special shout out to my husband for being such a good sport!)

 Outside the Halloween Party at Church
That belly!! ❤ We bought the jammies, and I made the rest of his costume out of felt.

Savannah

There’s no way to live in Georgia without visiting Savannah, and it was our turn to make the rounds. It is the most charming little gem of the South!

We spent the first day chasing Forrest Gump through Chippewa Square (there is an actual impersonator with a suitcase and a brisk walking pace) and taking pictures around the historic downtown area.

    Quite possibly my favorite picture of them ever.
  We went to the museum and fulfilled one of Tony’s dreams by eating at Paula Deen’s restaurant. I’d say it was more for the experience than the food, but watching this man try to contain his excitement was worth the trip on its own!

The next day, we went to Wormsloe Historic Site to see that gorgeous tree tunnel. We took advantage of all that natural beauty and snuck in some family pictures! Tony set up the tripod and did a whole lot of running to get our family shots. I was beyond impressed that he could both take and be in such great pictures at the same time. Now THAT’s multitasking!


  
 Them cheeks! :)))


  Another highlight of the trip was finding out that Savannah is apparently the most haunted city in th US! After visiting, I definitely believe it. We took a ghost tour and visited Bonaventure Cemetery. It was amazing to see how quickly the Spanish moss hanging from the trees went from breathtakingly beautiful during the day to ghostly and grim at night. 
  Sunrise over Tybee Island. I will take no credit for this picture because I was sound asleep when it was taken! I used to be the one to get up for sunrises, but that has all changed since Damian came along. Tony was wonderful and didn’t wake me up until he got back. Hallelujah.

We ate at a little hidden crab shack and spent a couple of hours at the beach before heading home.
  
  It’s so great to have two favorite travel buddies!

Morning Smiles

My little mister absolutely LOVES to wake up in the morning and after every nap, and I think we could all take a lesson or two from that! He is smiley and talkative and makes my heart melt every time. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to stay home with him and witness magical moments like these!