Andrew and I were blessed to be in California for a whole 10 days. The first part of our trip focused on Jacob and Danika's wedding. The latter part of the vacation was a compilation of various activities and purposes. Here are the highlights:
Andrew and I were able to go to Laguna Beach for a little 3-day anniversary celebration. Officially, on November 28th we will have been married one whole year! Can you believe it?! Time has flown by, and I have enjoyed every minute of it with my love. Andrew is an incredible husband and I feel so blessed to be his wife. (More splurging on this topic later this week).
We got a hotel right on the beach and walked around the main street on our first night there. Then the next day we went to the San Diego Zoo. It was short and sweet, but just perfect for us. We love exploring new places and having fun experiences together. I sure do love that boy.
I am so grateful for my family and the fun traiditions we have.
With only 14 people in attendance, Thanksgiving was "smaller" this year than it normally has been. Howeverm there was no shortage on the food. We of course had the Thanksgiving staples (turkey, mashed potatos and gravy, stuffing, etc.) but we also had the good-ol' Cuban part of it too (full pig, Congri - which is rice and beans, and Cuban bread). It was all delicious.
And then, of course, we all rolled over to the family room to snuggle in blankets of the comfy couch and watch a Christmas movie to welcome in the next holiday. Good way to spend the holiday.
Universal Studios with the Fam
Let's be honest, our purpose in going to Universal Studios was to explore Harry Potter World. And I can sincerely say: it was AMAZING! It was so fun to walk to Honeydukes town and then be able to see a variety of fun details included while we walked though Hogwarts castle. There were only a few rides (I hear there are twice as many in the Orlando, Floriday Harry Potter World, so we might have to go explore over there some time), but they were all very fun. Beware of the "broomstick" ride. It is 3D and made me and most of my family feel a little woozy. Of course while we were there we had to buy wands. $90 later for Andrew and me, we were waving these coveted sticks at eachother and screaming fake enchantments while in line for rides.
Yes, it was a jam packed week. I love going home and being able to spend so much time with my family. It is hard not living close by, but Andrew and I are grateful that we can see my family fairly often. Since we were down in California for Thanksgiving, we will be staying in Utah and spending Christmas with Andrew's family. However, my family will be driving up to Utah a few days after Christmas to enjoy the snow and a Utah New Years celebration. I am so grateful that both Andrew and I have great family to love and with whome to create memories.
My little brother, Jacob, was sealed for time and all eternity to the most wonderful young woman ever. Danika is wonderful ray of sunlight in our family. She is so kind and fun-loving, and we are so thrilled that she and Jacob fell in love.
They were married on November 19 in the San Diego LDS temple. They met on their missions in Romania, so now occasionally they will talk in Romanian together and giggle at their own sweet nothings. It's totally ridiculous, but I can't help but think it's pretty cute too. Haha. Now they are honeymooning in Kauai.
Their wedding day was beautiful. I had a few key moments that were really special for me. One was when we were all sitting in the sealing room. As I sat by my husband, and Ben sat by his wife, and Jacob sat by his soon wife-to-be, and my parents sat there witnessing it all, I was so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my family. We all have married such wonderful people who add so much to our family, and we are all worthy to participate in making sacred covenants in God's holy temples. It just felt like a mile-stone moment, and I felt so blessed.
The sealer was wonderful and taught some really profound yet simple concepts. He talked a lot about service being a key part of a happy marriage (this reminded me a lot of what President Greene had taught at my own sealing). He explained that the 3 responsibilities of the man of the house are to Preside, Protect, and Provide (both spiritually and temporally). He ended with talking about the Book of Mormon story where the people gather to hear King Benjamin speak. They each set up their own tent for their family to hear their leader, and the sealer explained that today Jacob and Danika were creating their own tent. They were a new union and would be able to establish their own family within their marriage. It was all really neat to learn.
Another great moment was when we were outside taking pictures. There was nothing super special about taking pictures, but again I was struck by how much I love my family. Sarah, Vi, and I had taken a fun picture with our bouquets for my wedding a year ago, and we decided to take a similar picture at this wedding. I love my sisters so much, and I am so excited to have gained a new sister this past weekend.
Finally, the last moment that really stuck out to me from Jacob and Danika's wedding day was at the reception. I loved the toasts given by the maid of honor (Danika's sister, Chelsea) and the best man (my brother, Ben). They were so heartfelt and helped me get to know both Jacob and Danika at a deeper level. Then seeing the bride and groom take their first dance, I lost it. I was bawling like a baby. I think it was because in that moment I was able to see how much Jacob had grown into an impressive man. Growing up, I'd always see him as my obnoxious ADHD brother. Through the years, we both have matured and changed, but it wasn't until this key moment that I was able to really see how proud I really am of my little brother. He has made some amazing choices in his life and has gone through some really tough trials, but it has all led to this key moment where he made the decision to marry the right girl in the right place. I am so so so happy for both of them.
Ok, I just posted about my little brother's wedding this past week, and it was WONDERFUL.
However, the week leading up to that moment was not one I would like to relive. Here are a few "low-lights" to the week.
3. Forgetting the Essentials
Andrew and I left for California on Thursday right after work. We had tried to prepare and pack the night before, but of course there are always things you forget. However, I've always taken the approach of, "Don't worry about it. If you leave something behind, you can go to the store and get it later."
But that philosophy doesn't work when the thing you have left behind is your temple recommend.
Yup, 2 hours into our journey Andrew and I were chatting and something we said reminded me of the temple. Suddenly I gasped and searched frantically through my wallet to hopefully find my temple recommend nestled between credit cards and receipts. Nope. Not there. My stomach dropped. I couldn't believe I had forgotten the one vital thing to allow me to see my little brother get married.
Long story short. I have wonderful family and friends who were able to come to my rescue. We were able to call our apartment complex and have them let in my sister-in-law, Olivia. She found my temple bag and snatched the recommend. Then she and her family drove about 30 minutes south to meet one of Jacob's friends who was going to be driving to California the next day for the wedding. Heaven bless all of them!
In the end....
I'm slowly getting better from my bronchitis.
The blisters on my hand are healing.
I was able to go into the temple to see my brother get married.
Everything worked out in the end.
This week we had the Presidential Elections and Trump was officially voted in as the 45th president of the United States of America, and I want to add my 2 cents into the discussion.
Mind you, I despise the turmoil and hate that has already plagued the internet these last few days since Trump was elected president, and I have no intention of adding to the obnoxious chatter on social media. Still, this blog is like my journal, and I would like to record some of my feelings about what has happened to our country.
First, I need to state that I love America. I feel blessed to live in this land that affords freedoms, rights, and opportunities to all. My dad and his family came from Cuba when he was just 8 years old. I have heard the terrible stories of oppression from the communist government. I have also heard of the backbreaking hard work that my dad's family diligently pushed through to make a home in American and find success. It really is inspiring that the American dream can be an actuality here. Through the ups and downs and imperfections of this country and its people, I feel that the American people as a whole have always striven to improve ourselves and make our country great.
That being said, I am rather disappointed in the 2 political parties right now.
In this entire presidential race, I have felt disenchanted with the options we have set before us to act as leaders of our country. Hilary Clinton's deceitful actions make me feel unsafe. Donald Trump's grotesque words make me feel disgusted. Both of them are not what I ever imagined as good options for our country's leadership. To be honest, I didn't vote for either one of them.
However, the votes have been cast and the decision has been made and President-elect Donald Trump will be filling his role soon enough. So that is the end of the story, right?
Nope....I still continue to be disgusted with both parties, but now I am disappointed in the American citizens who make up these 2 parties.
Hilary supporters now rally up in protest around the country. Entire freeways have been shut down due to their massive parades of protest. They shout terrible things and hold up vulgar signs. They have even gone so low as to burn our nation's flag! No! That is unacceptable. Hilary supporters need to stop acting like a whiney child who didn't get the toy they wanted for their birthday. They need to grow up and stop acting so entitled.
Trump supporters are just as bad. There have been several reports of terrible racist and sexist acts. As a teacher, I am horrified to hear of increased bullying that some children find acceptable after Trump has been elected (Mind you, I also think that parents are responsible for teaching their children right or wrong, not the president or media.). These people need to stop the hate and start living the principles we declare in the Pledge of Allegiance: "One nation, under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL." That means we are a country for all people: whites, blacks, men, women, gay, straight, all.
Now, I am fully aware that there are good, level-headed people on both sides that are not participating in this juvenile and pathetic actions. Thank goodness for that :)
But as a whole, my heart hurts when I see these events unfolding.
I am hopeful and optimistic for President Trump. I believe in supporting our elected official in leading our country in righteousness. I hope President Trump is able to come through with many of his proposed improvements for our country. As Andrew and I consider starting a family, we hope that we will be able to raise our children in a peaceful, righteous country. The United States of America is a place we should be proud of; let's act accordingly.
Andrew and Maichael
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