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Nol-GradWell this clever lad just graduated (by “just,” I mean in July, but you know…) so now we are officially a family with a doctor in the family, and isn’t that pretty great? Sadly no amount of persuasion could convince him to become the plastic surgeon kind of doctor, but we’re pretty proud of him nonetheless. We got to go celebrate at a VERY fancy and fun graduation party courtesy of the many rich parents of this year’s graduates from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, amen. A party which, I would like to point out, I reluctantly left at 3am… along with my nearly 80 year old Grandma (because apparently I can’t party like I used to, and she can party like never before).

IMG_5574I mean I don’t know if I’m overstating this, but it was probably the best party I’ve ever been to: next to a lake, at Monterrey’s Parque Fundidora, dancing to the best band I’ve ever heard/watched at a party (for 6 hours with no break! they were incredible). And the food was even good. Aaaand the weather was amazing, which I didn’t fully appreciate until later in our trip when I realized what the weather could have been like (HOT!! so hot.).

We were pretty terrible about taking pictures of the rest of our trip, but it mostly involved eating our way through Monterrey of course. Other highlights: a boat ride through Paseo Santa Lucía, a visit to the Museo de Historia Mexicana, and a visit to the cuuuutest little town of Santiago, NL, where Josh had his first taste of the area’s famous goat meat and we all almost died of heat stroke (seriously, I live in Phoenix but I was sweating from places I didn’t even know you could sweat, like my eyebrows and my forearms…).

As vacations go, this was one of the greatest.

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Remando en el lago de Central Park :)

¡Señores y señoras! A continuación les presento algunas fotos de nuestro viaje tradicional de mayo. Este año se nos juntaron las razones por la ida: en un solo fin de semana, celebramos el aniversario de bodas #40 de mis suegros,  el cumpleaños de mi suegro y la graduación de mi cuñado Mario. Desafortunadamente no tengo ninguna foto de la fiesta de aniversario porque soy re-mala fotógrafa de eventos, pero mi prima Kristy anduvo de fotógrafa oficial esa noche así que tal vez al rato aparezca una foto por aquí.

Hablando de: teníamos todo un super plan para que Kristy y su esposo Devin vinieran a la fiesta en New Jersey y se quedaran a dormir con nosotros en casa de mis suegros, pero el día de la fiesta Devin amaneció enfermo. Cuando Kristy nos mandó el mensajito de que Devin había estado vomitando, pero que si quería ir a la fiesta (“I think I can go, what if I just sit in the corner?”) por el WhatsApp familiar, mi prima Carol no tardó en observar:

-Uyyy con eso convences a Vanessa… con el vómito.

Lo cual me causó mucha gracia porque ES TAN CIERTO. No hay nada en este mundo que me provoque mas miedo que el vómito, propio o ajeno. Así que Kristy vino sola a la fiesta y después se regresó con Devin para que no estuviera solito. Y como pueden ver, si los pudimos ver un par de días después en NYC :) (en la foto de abajo estamos en frente de Strand Bookstore, y el señor que nos tomó la foto era un Dominicano que después participó en nuestro taste-test de dos galletas que ya ni me acuerdo de dónde eran, pero si me acuerdo que yo me comí casi toda la galleta perdedora (parece que mis gustos galleteros no son muy refinados…)).

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¡Felicidades, Mario!

¡Los queremos, familia! Nos dio mucho gusto poder compartir con ustedes tantos logros ese fin de semana.

 

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Mama and me 2013So my mom came to visit last week. She stayed for six days and we did all of the usual things: got a pedicure, went shopping (she procured a fabulous dress to wear to my brother’s graduation in July but I, sadly, did not), went to the Easter Pageant at the Mesa temple, and stuffed ourselves with ALL OF THE FOOD. I loved having someone to pal around with all day and it was pretty much wonderful.

But then she left, and all of a sudden, things were terrible! I was lonely! Food was no fun with nobody here to invent strange and delicious combinations, and there was nobody who would spontaneously decide that we NEEDED a root beer float, immediately right now! I had piles of work to do and no motivation to do any of it! It was getting to be altogether too much.

So after a couple of days of moping around and generally being very unproductive, I decided that this was no time to be stoic and pulled out the big guns: the Nora Ephron guns. 1/4 of the way through Sleepless in Seattle, I began to feel a tiny bit better.

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, what women are looking for: pecs and a cute butt.”
“What, you mean like, ‘He has the cutest butt?'”
“Yeah.”
“Where did I hear that recently?”
“Everywhere.”

You should also know that I have Dance with Me ready to play at a moment’s notice, so don’t be too concerned.

“He can pick me up any time he wants to.”
“Take a number, sister.”

I mean, if 1990’s Chayanne and Vanessa Williams don’t cheer you up, nothing will.

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Blossoms-3.14Well, hello there! So… I disappeared right after I resolved to post more frequently… my bad. It’s just been an odd and fast few months since I was last here. I mean, we did stuff and went places—I even took pictures!—but for whatever reason I never made it back to this space. I think the main problem was the uncertainty I felt, in January and February in particular. We were anticipating some life changes, but couldn’t really control what was going to happen or when.

To be perfectly honest, it still kind of feels that way. We did decide to renew our lease on our apartment, which means that by the end of this lease we’ll have lived here three times as long as we’ve ever lived anywhere else, hooray! However, both Josh and I started new jobs (and during the transition I’m working two jobs; I’ve realized I can’t complain about not having enough free time, because at this point it’s met by responses like “you do this to yourself, friend” and “well, whose fault is that?” (um… mine. oops.)). The new job makes me happy, but also crazy, and all of the quality time I’ve been spending on my computer definitely isn’t translating to time on MY blog. So there’s that.

Just imagine, as you do with all bloggers, that in my bloggy breaks I’m busy being happy, being afraid, being in love, fighting, redecorating my house, hanging out with Josh and learning. This will make me feel ok about the fact that the images I share here and, especially, what I write here, constitute a very small, very edited piece of my life- partly because I don’t have time for more and partly, let’s be real, because apparently I only blog when I feel 100% on top of life. Ha!

Of course it hasn’t all been uncertainty and stress, not even close. Helloooo, it was winter in Phoenix, which means citrus, sunny days, desert flowers and gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous weather. Now that we’re officially into spring, allow me to unload my camera for a minute in the spirit of spring cleaning, with (as always) the best of intentions to show up here more often. :)

Tombstone^^^We finally made it to Tombstone, AZ! ^^^

It's all fun and games until you turn into a hostage situation.

It’s all fun and games until you turn into a hostage situation.

We also went to visit my parents to run in a charity 5k my mom organized with her students, and were lucky enough to catch the peach blossoms. We coordinated well enough that all seven of us were able to be there on the same weekend, which was pretty awesome indeed. (I can’t figure out a way to write that so it doesn’t make it seem like there are seven kids– no. Only five of us including spouses!).

We’re accidentally developing a little collection of pictures in this exact same pose.

Probably my favorite recent picture, because Sebastián Rulli. :)

Probably my favorite recent picture, because Sebastián Rulli. :)

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They are so wonderfully photogenic

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la maestra

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A algunas personas no les gusta hacer la lista de resoluciones, metas y cambios que se acostumbra hacer en año nuevo. ¿A mí? Me encanta. Me apasiona la idea de mejorarme poco a poco, y soy feliz haciendo miles de metas e inventando formas de medir mi cambio.

Sin embargo, el año pasado hice una sola resolución: terminar mi tesis. La idea era enfocarme completamente en ese proyecto, porque la mera verdad pensar en escribir lo que terminó siendo un libro me causaba angustia y estrés. Ya estando aquí, del otro lado del año, últimamente he dicho cosas como «Fue muy difícil pero nunca se me ocurrió dejar la tesis sin terminar» y «Si, ¡me encantaría empezar un doctorado!»; pero luego me acuerdo de las noches de sufrimiento y no dudo que una sola resolución de esas fue bastante.

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En la segunda ceremonia de mi graduación, el presidente de la universidad comentó en su discurso que solamente el 8% de estadounidenses han terminado una maestría (y sólo el 3% un doctorado). Ya de eso hace casi un mes, pero sigo pensando en esa observación. Me acuerdo haber pensado en ese momento que no estaría ahí sentada con mi toga y mi birrete sin antes haber aprendido, vez tras vez en el 2013, qué tan ciertos son estos dos dichos:

“I can do hard things.”

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«El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta».

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A las personas que me apoyaron (en persona o a la distancia) el día de mi graduación y durante los dos años y medio del programa de maestría, se los agradezco de todo corazón. No les puedo decir cuánto me alegró la existencia el tener a tantas personas que quiero ahí cerquita por un par de días. Si prometen volver a visitarme en Phoenix, ¡renuncio a las listas de mil metas y me dedico a un proyecto enorme y espantoso todos los años! Los adoro.

The picture on the right pretty much sums up our whole household dynamic during the fall of 2013: I was tired.

The picture on the right pretty much sums up our whole household dynamic during the fall of 2013: I was tired.

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The “real” bloggers (you know, the professionals) are so good at faithfully chronicling their activities on their blog in a timely manner. I… am not (obviously). In typical fashion, now that everyone else is sharing their Christmas recap, I’m only just getting around to posting these pictures taken at the Arizona Balloon Classic a couple of weeks ago. I really wanted to go last year, but we had other plans and couldn’t make it. Happily, this year my in-laws (who were visiting) and Josh were good sports and let me drag them up at zero dark thirty to catch the sunrise launch. A hearty thanks to all the enablers that allow me to feed my hot air balloon obsession.

As far as recaps go, oddly enough, I didn’t take ANY holiday pictures this year—not at Thanksgiving (which we spent in Chihuahua with my parents) and not at Christmas (which we spent in Jersey City with my in-laws)—because we kept forgetting the camera at home. Oops. So! One short graduation recap to come and we shall be perfectly posed to keep that annual resolution: “Blog about things less than one month after they happen.” Wish me luck, y’all.

 

en Europa: Roma

 

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we spent a lot of time looking at maps on this trip.

we spent a lot of time looking at maps on this trip.

Because all roads lead to Rome and stuff, here we are at last, at the end of this very extensive vacation recap. Huzzah! This is kind of how I felt by the time we got to Rome, too; like “Well, it’s been fun, but I’m pretty much ready for it to be the end.” The last time I went to Rome was also in November, but it must have been later in the month because whereas last time it was pretty chill and empty, this time it was PACKED with tourists. This is probably because we were there for All Saints’ Day on November 1st (a national holiday), but I’m positive the unseasonably fabulous weather also contributed.

We visited the Vatican on Ognissanti (All Saints’ Day) knowing it would either be crazy and amazing, or crazy and horrible. I’m happy to report that for us it was the former: we attended mass at Saint Peter’s (I’m not Catholic but I absolutely cried during the procession- so beautiful), and we were exiting the Basilica at the exact moment that Pope Francis, who I love, waved from his apartment window to the huge crowd in St. Peter’s Square! We didn’t see the wave, but the crowd’s reaction was exciting enough.

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Our last full day in Rome we went to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, where we once again waited in a long line with many tourists. Worth it, obviously. :) That day, Josh also fulfilled his lifelong dream of getting a shave (ciao, barba!) at a barber shop conveniently located right next to the famous San Crispino’s (which does have the best gelato, in case you were wondering).

The next day we packed our treasures, sighed wistfully as we prepared to give up our diet of French bread, pastries, gelato and pasta, and embarked on the longlonglong flight(s) home (via Newark airport, where we met up with Josh’s family on our layover). Not to idealize twelve days in which we had our share of blisters, stomach aches, and sleep-deprivation-induced grouchiness, but this really was a dream vacation. We feel so blessed and grateful to have gone.

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Arrivederci, Roma! Ci vediamo!

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en Europa: Firenze

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Mini-post about Florence! Here we go!

So here’s how our Florence day went down: the night before, Josh and I were sitting in our Venice hotel room wondering where we should go next. I crowd-sourced among my family members and friends who had been to Italy, and the overwhelming response was that we couldn’t miss Florence. So we marched ourselves over to the train station, got a couple of tickets, and that was that. We were only there for about a day, which I thought was just enough time. Enough to see the David, do a quick tour through the Uffizi Gallery, and eat at Trattoria Mario’s (tiny, cheap and goooood; we split a table with two guys who had come from Napoli to watch the Florence-Naples soccer game).

And while we’re on the subject of food, Florence is supposed to have some of the best gelato in Italy. Did we sample three offerings in a 24-hour time period? Well, yes. Yes we did.

en Europa: Venezia

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THE STREET LAMPS ARE PINK!

THE STREET LIGHTS ARE PINK!

Three more cities to go, faithful readers of my vacation recap! So, Venice. I mentioned before that I planned the Paris part of our trip to my little heart’s content, but Josh’s one request before we left Phoenix was that I allow for, you know, spontaneity and stuff. So with that in mind, we adopted a very loose planning policy for the Italy portion of our trip: It Will All Work out Somehow. At the very end of our stay in Paris all we knew was that we had a hotel in Venice for one night and that we were flying out of Rome a week later. So we boarded our overnight Paris –> Venice train and prepared to have an adventure. That train ride was pretty great, by the way– we shared a compartment with two Russians who spoke no English/Spanish/French/Portuguese, so all we could do was sit and smile at each other. Only they were not that friendly, so basically I was the only one smiling. Let’s just say we all went to bed reeeeally early.

The first thing we did in Venice was get separated from each other when I got off the vaporetto to validate our tickets (I had read lots of horror stories of crazy fines for not validating and all of a sudden realized that… oops… we hadn’t). The boat left with Josh on it and I was stranded with no money and no idea where our hotel was, while Josh was on the water bus with no ticket and potentially about to receive the very fine that I had tried so hard to avoid. Ha! We totally kept our cool though, it’s a small island and we found each other eventually. Thank goodness we were backpacking is all I can say—the Italy part of our trip included lots of schlepping our bags around!

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venice-murano-glassAnd after alllll those words, what I really want to say about Venice is that it is so lovely it made up for the heartbreak of leaving Paris, which in my world is the highest compliment a city can get. The combination of beauty and decay is absolutely breathtaking, and the awesome part is that the thing to see in Venice… is Venice. We stayed a couple of nights and did lots of walking, took too many pictures, went to Murano to see the blown glass and ate LOTS of pasta/seafood. We even tried the spaghetti nero (squid ink pasta) at Trattoria alla Madonna, which came highly recommended and was delicious (though really kind of gross to look at—I couldn’t think about it too much as I was eating).

I think some people complain about the way Venice is touristy and smells questionable at times, but to me? It’s a dream city. If you’re going to Italy, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Venice by night, with all those lights shining into the water, is breathtakingly beautiful.

Venice by night, with all those lights shining into the water, is breathtakingly beautiful.

en Europa: Paris (segunda parte)

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IMG_4526Ya habiendo estado algunos días en Paris, se nos antojó salir de la ciudad y fuimos a Versailles. Al parecer mis gustos no han cambiado mucho porque igual que la última vez, mi parte favorita fue el Hameau de la Reine, un pueblito con un molino en donde Marie Antoinette se hacía la granjera. Siempre me han gustado mas los jardines de Versailles que sus cuartos.

Hameau de la Reine

Hameau de la Reine

Y siguiendo con el tema, que interesante cómo las cosas sensillas suelen provocar más placer que las espectaculares. Por ejemplo, aunque me encantó estar en el Louvre y todo eso, una de mis experiencias favoritas fue cuando estábamos en Rue Montorgueil y se soltó un aguacero. Como no traíamos el paraguas (de milagro porque lo llevábamos cargando tooooda la semana), nos metimos rápido a un restaurante tailandés que ni siguiera vi cómo se llamaba. ¡Y no que esa comida fue de las mas ricas de todo el viaje! Igual casi terminando la semana, fuimos a lavar ropa cerca del hotel y mientras esperábamos afuera en un parquesito (comiéndonos un pan por supuesto), salió una señora mayor con su perrita gorda. A pesar de que los parisinos tienen fama de geniosos, era la señora más alegre que he conocido en la vida, y yo creo nosotros también le caímos bien porque platicamos un buen rato y terminamos super amigos.

Moraleja, todos vayan a Paris. :) (Y si van, no se pierdan ir a donde van los enamorados, el Pont des Arts. De pasada buscan nuestro candado— ya se que es una cursilería, pero no me importa porque fue una noche tan romántica que casi muero de la emoción.)

 

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end of week = we were kinda broke = in Josh's words, "Big love... little lock." (the lock salesman was NOT impressed)

End of week = we were kinda broke = in Josh’s words, “Big love… little lock.” (The lock salesman was NOT impressed.)

P.D. Algunas recomendaciones por si les interesa / Some Paris recommendations in case you’re interested:

  • Bateaux-Mouches your first evening there—Paris is gorgeous from the Seine and it gives a good introduction to the layout of the city
  • Paris Museum Pass (worth every penny)
  • Rue Montorgueil (the whole street. I loved every shop.)
  • Musee Rodin + museum café for lunch
  • Crepe stands at Trocadero (touristy but they’re the best + the view ain’t bad either)
  • L’As du Fallafel in the Marais
  • Merci is an awesome little store, and the café is really good too