A look back at the best (and not so best) of 2013

With just two days left in 2013, I thought I would take a minute to reflect back on the year. It was a whirlwind for me. This year brought lots of new and different into my life, but as promised it was all for the best.

We rang in the New Year with samba-style with our family in Brazil. It was the second time that we had been there, the first being our wedding. There is something magical about family, even family that you have only met a couple times. We ate too much, laughed a lot, and spent the kind of quality time together that families rarely get to spend these days. I would say it was the perfect new beginning.

New Years Eve Brazil

We had barely settled our feet firmly on American soil before we were off again. This time it was a more permanent move. With the help of many friends and family members, we loaded up the moving van and set out of for a 14-hour trip to place we know call home: San Antonio. Moving across country is scary, and I have learned to appreciate what it must be like for military families that get relocated every couple of years. It’s one of those things that require planning, patience, and above all…faith. Another thing that I acquired in 2013.

Driving through Nebraska

Moving to a new city, brought lots of new experiences. It took longer than I thought it would to find a new teaching position, but I made the most of the “time off” by starting this blog!, meeting up with other amazing bloggers and their amazing kiddos, and spending quality time with my family that was long overdue. I was lucky to be able to stay home with my youngest. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that opportunity again, and I cherished creativity I was able to bring to his learning. We raced through letters, did an Alphabet Scavenger Hunt, and spent time in the pool playing word games with beach balls.

2013 Kids Collage

We enjoyed visits from many friends and family this year (and look forward to all of the friends and family that have yet to visit!) This summer my friends Kate and Jeanne-Marie came up this summer and spent several days. We were able to hit all of the landmarks: the Alamo, the Riverwalk, Enchanted Rock. We also spent some quality time by the pool.

Alamo Riverwalk

We were fortunate have my husband’s parents and sister from Brazil. The kids are lucky to have such a loving family spread out of over the world! While they were here, we enjoyed some Pho that we accidentally discovered thanks to one of our neighbors.

2013 Pho

I also found a some time to sneak in a couple crafting projects and try out some new recipes. I made a couple cute teachers gifts, like coffee cozies and lanyards. (I’m busy making more lanyards for teachers over Christmas break!) My daughter has been wearing this adorable dress ever since I revamped it. I’m lucky to have a wonderfully, crafty mother in law that shows me all of the tricks of the trade when she comes to visit. We always end up with an array of handmade goodies!

2013 Crafts

I could say that I spent more time in the kitchen in 2013 than years past. I always have the goal of learning how to really cook. T’his year I think I came closer than I ever have in the past! I found some great recipe and even created a few of my own. Blogging does wonders for your follow through. So does Pinterest. You could say that 2013 was the Year of the Quinoa and the Greek Yogurt. Looking at all of this delicious food is making me hungry! Yum!

2013 Food

A year and a half after selling our old house, we finally landed in a new one! Apartment living has its perks, like less space to keep clean and somebody else to fix things when they break, but I’m so happy to finally have a place to really call “home” (and a backyard to send the kids when they need to get rid of energy!)


In the middle of it all, I took a trip back home to celebrate my brothers wedding. It was a whirlwind trip, but I was able to meet up with several friends that I hadn’t seen since the move and spend a morning enjoying coffee at my favorite coffee place, The Mill, and spend some quality time with my dad!

Phil and Laurens Wedding

The Mill

In spite of all of the positive things that happened over the past year, there were some milestones that I wasn’t so excited to have celebrated. It has been five years since I lost my mom to cancer. It was a tough mark to gauge on the wall of life, but I try to celebrate her everyday through my children, my work and my commitment to being a good person. Also, this happened….

Car accident…but life is all about how you handle the ups AND the downs. Life takes grit, perseverance, and creativity.

I know that 2014 will bring new challenges and new adventures. I can’t wait to take them on!

Here’s to hoping that everyone had an equally eventful year, and wishing everyone the best of adventures in 2014!



Walking around Brazil


In 2012, we spent Christmas and New Year’s in Poxoréu, Brazil. I was in love with the bright colors, especially being from the land of greens and browns. I also loved the lack of commercial organization. Any structure that existed was purely out of necessity. There was overall disregard for photogenic beauty which allowed the natural beauty of the environment to come to the surface.

Walking around Poxoreu Collage

The pace of the city was slow. There seemed to be plenty of time for people-watching. There was also this interesting sign painted on the street next to the river that said “VOTE LIMPO” which means “VOTE CLEAN”. My cousins explained that was an election taking place and this was part of the campaign. Seemed a little permanent for campaign propaganda!

Walking around Poxoreu Collage 2

This recycling center seems thoroughly out of place, especially it seems to cower behind the heap of bricks and discarded cardboard box in front of it. Skeletons of abandoned buildings and scenes of disrepair were around every corner, but so were perfectly manicured store-fronts and residences. They existed in perfect juxtaposition of each other.

Walking around Poxoreu Collage 3

So many fascinating spaces. I love the hot dog stand and the street artist. Motorcycles and scooters were more common than cars.

Walking around Poxoreu Collage 4

The best part of Brazil is, was and always will be the wonderful people who live there!

The best part of Brazil

Boy looking into the camera

Remembering Brazil

A year ago we were spending our Christmas/New Year’s Eve with our family in Brazil. It was a life-changing trip in more ways that one. I wanted to share some of the beautiful experiences that we had while we were there.

One of the most memorable experiences of the entire trip was handing out soccer balls and soccer shorts to kids around Poxoréu on Christmas Day. My husband’s grandfather used to pass out toys to the kids around town, many of them hand-crafted wooden toys that he had made himself. Most of the kids told us that our gift was the only present they had received. I’m not sure my own kids fully appreciated the experience, but it is a tradition that I hope we can continue as we are able.

Handing out gifts in Brazil

There was one boy that caught my attention as we were distributing gifts. He had amazing energy that clearly comes across in this photo that I took of him. I’m always curious about where people acquire their inner “spirit” and how they maintain it through difficult circumstances. I would like to know this boy in 10 years.

Boy looking into the camera

I was also taken by the spirit of these three boys who all told us that our gift was the only one that they had received this year. I learned what it means to be grateful, and what it feels like to do something really good for someone else.

Three amigos

I accomplished something more personal on our trip, also. There is a natural land form outside of Poxoréu known as “Morro de Mesa”. It was a personal accomplishment for me to make it to the top because the climb was steep and I’m not fond of heights. There were several points along the way that I wanted to quit, but my husband pushed me to keep going. It was important for both of us to make it to the top together.

Morro de Mesa Collage

Climbing Morro de Mesa

Click here to see the pictures I took while walking around the small town of Poxoréu in Brazil.