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Things I Would Change About My Wedding

We all have moments in life where we kick ourselves. Had we known what we know now we would’ve done some things differently. Well I have that but with my wedding. Just to clarify this is only for our beach wedding. Our private catholic ceremony had some hiccups but I wasn’t so hung up on them I guess. Here is what I would change from my wedding, looking back on it after 2 years.

Packing

I wish I would have packed less. Way less. Not only did I have to slug my wedding dress through the airport (it’s ok I considered it a last-minute workout) and find a seat for it on the plane, but I packed two very large suitcases just for myself and one large suitcase full of wedding supplies. Guys, it was only two weeks! I overdid it. I could’ve survive with one large suitcase for myself and one for wedding supplies but I got caught up in “what if’s” and ended up bringing enough clothes for the entire resort to wear. If it wasn’t for my mother offering to take two bags home with her I would’ve been stuck with all these bags on my honeymoon. Such a bad call on my end.

Diet

I had lost about 10-15 pounds before my wedding. Mainly from stress. There was some drama going on and I would skip meals or have popcorn for dinner; it wasn’t the healthy thing to do. In terms of fitness I just sort of made sure I hit my 10,000 steps each day and I was good. My husband knows what I look like so I wasn’t really worried about that part of it. It just sort of happened on its own. Now fast forward to wedding week. We get to the resort 5 days before the actual wedding, no stress, unlimited drinks, all my friends and family and barely walking 2,000 steps a day. The bloat was so real! My dress before I left fit me loose and by the time the wedding came I was so bloated it was hard to breathe. I wish I would have slowed down on the drinking and kept a better eye on my food and salt intake just for that week. It was a bit of a blow to my ego to feel so uncomfortable the day of the wedding.

Nails

This is a pretty minor one but I hated my nail color. After about 2 days my nails became translucent and it just wasn’t flattering. Looking back I should’ve just done all my nails gold. Welp!

Hair

Ugh. I’m actually pretty upset about this one. Since I was doing my own hair for the wedding I had constructed this cute braided up-do that would keep the frizz in check in case it was super humid out. Enter my husband and alllll of his opinions. He really had his heart set on my hair being down. I think he had an image of what he wanted our wedding to look like and I wanted to make him happy. This began a month’s long search into the best option; wigs, weave, extensions, etc. I finally settled on getting keratin extensions. These extensions go on one by one so you can still style your hair in multiple ways and put your hair up. You’re not as limited as you would be with a weave or a wig. Well after a pretty ridiculous experience to get these things in and a lot of money later, I was off to my wedding. It rained day of and my real hair started to get frizzy while the extensions pretty much stayed straight. I didn’t like the way my hair came out (I did it myself so whatever) and if given the chance again I would have probably stuck with my first option.

Make up

Not trying to make myself sound prettier than I am but I think I look alright without so much make up. But when it comes to weddings the pressure is on to look fucking flawless. My step-mother in law even gave me a gift card to go get a trail at Mac before the wedding. So of course here I come with a duffel bag full of make up. I must have applied ten coats of this shit. I swear I was a different person. The sucky part was that my tan from the 5 days before the wedding was darker than my foundation. It rained the whole morning the day of the wedding and then again after the ceremony. So I ended up looking kind of soupy in the face. My eyebrows melted off in the car ride from the hotel to the beach. I think that’s what I’m most upset about. RIP my eyebrows.

Pictures

So there is this awesome picture of my grandparents on their wedding night. Making silly faces, shoes in hand on a staircase. I always wanted to recreate that picture on my wedding day but when it came time to discuss pictures I just didn’t bring it up. Taking pictures the day of the wedding is also really annoying. You don’t want to take pictures, its muggy, you’re bloated in your dress, nervous, and the last thing you want to do is be away from the party. We had a package with the pictures so we got about 70 pictures in our package. We really had to narrow down what we wanted and what was most important to keep. Honestly I wish I would’ve stood my ground and just begged my husband to spend the extra $500 (I think it was that much, I don’t really remember) to get all the picture of our wedding instead of what was included in the package. Then sprinkle in some shots that I really wanted. Don’t even get me started about how we don’t have a video of our first dance or the hora.

Jewelry

This is a really big regret of mine. The day of the wedding Matt gifted me his late mothers heart-shaped necklace. And being the cold-hearted shrew that I am did not wear it. To be honest I was worried about if it would match. All of my jewelry was gold and the necklace was white gold. That’s it, nothing crazy. Looking back I really wish I had the necklace on when he saw me for the first time. Not having a mother-in-law kind of sucks and it would’ve been nice to have a piece of her with me that day.

Cake

Dominican’s (and other culture do this too) have a tradition of saving the top-tier of your wedding cake, freezing it and then eating a piece for good luck on your one year anniversary. Well our wedding planner was kind of a ditz and after we cut our cake for pictures she didn’t actually serve it to our guest. It turned into a sort of fend for yourself moment and next thing we know our top tier is already eaten. My grandmother had a fit! To keep with tradition we ask the wedding planner to wrap up a piece so we can take it home. GURRRLLLL! When we met with her the next day she had boxed up the entire bottom tier! I have to give my mother all the credit in the world here, she took that cake home and put it straight in the freezer. The problem was a year later it was too big to cut into to defrost a piece so we never actually ate it. A lot of hard work for nothing really.

Mom

Speaking of my mom, I honestly regret not taking a second to just spend with my mother on my wedding day. There was a bit of drama when my uncle, her brother, missed his flight the day before the wedding. My mother took it upon herself to wait for him and make sure he knew where to go for the wedding. He arrived about an hour before the ceremony and once my mother got dressed she was off with the groomsmen to the beach. By the time I saw her again she was heckling me at the ceremony and then after that we were all pretty drunk. I didn’t even get to give her her gift until the next day.

Officiant

Last but not least I wish we would have asked a friend to officiate our wedding. Technically we were already married the week before in Jersey so we didn’t really need an ordained priest or anything. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a local Rabbi in St. Lucia. (They didn’t even know what a Rabbi was when we asked.) So we settled for the packaged officiant. We specifically asked for a non-denominational wedding, for no specific prayers to be said and no specific faith to be highlighted. This was an inter-faith marriage and we didn’t want to offend anyone. In comes holy Jesus lover #1, an evangelical priest who not only forgot my name but called me Renee three times. He tsked at Matt when he mentioned that we lived together before marriage. It just felt very impersonal for such a personal milestones.

Don’t let this article fool you, I loved every bit of my wedding and I had a damn good time partying the night away. Shit, we had fire dancers!

What wedding mishaps have you witnessed?

Besos! xoxo

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What It’s Really Like Planning A Destination Wedding

In celebration of our two-year anniversary I’ve decided this week will be wedding week! First up all the things I’ve learned planning our destination wedding in St.Lucia. Planning a destination wedding is very different from planning a wedding here in the states. Things that I was not prepared for.

How we decided on a location:

I always knew my husband wanted a destination wedding and for a while he threw out places like Hawaii and Mexico. Then one day he saw a beautiful picture of the Piton mountains and decided right then and there that it had to be St. Lucia. If you’ve ever met my husband you know that once he’s put his mind to something he is unstoppable.

How we decided on a resort:

Once we knew for sure we wanted to do it in St. Lucia we had to find a resort to host our guest and have the wedding. If you ever google top wedding locations in St. Lucia you’ll see that all the locations there are beyond beautiful. So, you’re good no matter what you pick. You can literally throw darts at a list and be guaranteed an unforgettable wedding. We had to narrow down our search to the following:

1. All inclusive resort – we knew that some of our guest would be saving up and spending the last of their paychecks to come to our wedding. Which we were so grateful to have such supportive family and friends. We didn’t want the trip to have the extra added stress of having to worry about who would pick up the bar tab or pay for dinner. We knew right away that the best chance we had of having a worry free wedding and vacation was to find an all-inclusive resort.

2. Close to the airport – if you’ve ever been to St. Lucia there are two sides of the island. One is very close to the airports and the other is closer to the mountains but can be up to an hour ride through the mountains. We wanted our family and friends to get off the plane and be greeted almost immediately by the vacation of our dreams.

3. Accommodating all of our guests – the tricky thing about all-inclusive resorts are that some of them, Sandal’s for example, are 18 and older. My sisters are under 18. It was a non-starter if they could not come to the wedding. And while Sandal’s did offer to accommodate them for the day, they would have had to leave the resort by a certain time after the wedding. Who wants to be kicked out of their big sisters wedding?! The resort we ended up booking our wedding had an adults only side which was a great compromised. We could still spend time with my sisters and the older guests could get their peace and quiet away from any children.

Once we had these thing in mind we selected the Coconut Bay resort. Another added bonus is that they let us come for a weekend to see the hotel and the venue. If we booked the wedding there that trip was free (minus flights of course). Which we did end up doing.

How we picked the date:

A lot of picking the date is usually what is available. The resort had three time slots each day. An early afternoon, a 4 pm and an 8 pm slot. Each with the choice of the beach or the gazebo. We were hell-bent on the beach so that was simple, it was just a matter of when it was available. We didn’t really have a month or day in mind for getting married so when we found out that there was a 4 pm on Memorial day weekend we jumped at it. It worked out in a way that anyone who couldn’t get days off from work could still come for an extended weekend without losing their jobs. Also, its super easy to remember!

Trickiest part of planning the wedding:

Unlike a regular wedding, you have very little options when it comes to a destination wedding. You pick the colors you want and the resort will use whatever they have to decorate. You pick the type of flowers from a list they can offer and it’s not usually a long list. If you want a flower, like sunflowers, that don’t grown on the island you’re out of luck. You do get the choice of the color of the flower though. Centerpieces are the same. If you want anything special or unique you’re out of luck. The trickiest part of all of this is that you don’t see any of it ahead of time. Normal weddings you go to a trail with the florist and the hairdresser. You have a tasting for your menu. You scout the DJ ahead of time. A lot of planning a destination wedding is putting your hands up and saying I hope this works.

The invitations will have to go out right away, until normal weddings where you would send them 3 months ahead of time. You will have some people who do not book their rooms through the appropriate channels and might messed up the deal you have with the hotel. A lot of people will not be able to come. Which kind of sucks. We ended up with about 41 guest and we were so thrilled to have each and every one of them in attendance.

A little tip for anyone who gets very anal about everything matching. Ask for all white. Our colors were white, gold, and navy. I ask for all white flowers and table linens with gold and navy accents. This allowed me to not obsess too much about how things looked and still be confident that all my pictures would be just how I wanted them. Anything you absolutely can’t compromise on; bring it yourself. I bought wooden table numbers and lanterns for my bridesmaids to carry down the isle, which later doubled as centerpieces. I did my own hair and makeup so that I wouldn’t be upset if someone else messed up.

The Wedding Planner:

Here’s where things are kind of sticky. We went and saw Coconut Bay for a walk through in September. Once we gave our deposit, selected our date, and were popping champagne the resort assigned us a wedding planner. This person acted as a middle man (or in this case woman) to help us select our package, flowers, ceremony, and so on. This way the wonderful people on the resort could do their jobs day-to-day with each wedding and we had someone to answer all of our questions. Even better we eventually found out that the woman helping us plan our wedding was the wife of my baby cousins softball coach! I know that’s a lot to take it; just read it one more time for clarity. The tricky part, we learned, is that you form a relationship with one person and then show up for your wedding and deal with someone you’ve never spoken to before. Another tricky part was that our wedding planner was located in Florida, had no pictures for reference, and had only visited the resort once or twice. Any information she could give us came from other couples she had help and not many chose to have a wedding as large as ours.

The Wedding:

The bonus to having a wedding out of a package is that everything is all set up. You don’t have to spend months going over different colors and textures to figure out which works best. It’s all part of the package. There were a couple of things we did get to decide on our own. 1. the cake. I found an image of the cake on Pinterest, sent it to our wedding planner who then sent it to our chef and once he confirmed he could do it we were in business. 2. Our signature drink. It was as easy as sending our wedding planner the recipe for watermelon margaritas and Boom! we were in business.

Our wedding went off with few hitches (it was a wedding after all). My husband got his beach wedding and I got my fire dancers! You can check out our wedding video here and our wedding week vlog here.

Comment below if you’ve had or been to a destination wedding, what was your favorite part? Or comment below and let me know if there are any questions you have about our destination wedding.

Besos! xoxo

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To My Husband

Hey Baby,

I was thinking today about one of the first nights we ever spent together. We didn’t watch TV to go to sleep back then. You used to play music on Pandora on your laptop next to the bed. I remember you always falling asleep before me and I would be laying there, wide awake, not wanting to miss anything. Trying to control my breathing. Trying not to wake you. So self-conscious and  nervous I was going to mess something up. (Oh how the times have changed!)

But this one night we were up and talking. There was a cover song playing of the Grease song “you’re the one that I want”. You started singing along, not very well, to it; making me laugh. And I remember just feeling so happy. The type of happiness that doesn’t want or need anything else. I’m pretty sure I slipped up and said something along the lines of “I love this so much” and you immediately turned to me and asked “you love me?” I got defensive “I didn’t say that exactly”. And you told me that it was OK that I said it first because you love me too. We stayed up a little later  than usual that night and you held my hand while we slept.

Thinking back on this, I am astonished at how many other significant moments you’ve been there to hold my hand through. Some of them really sucked. Like being in the emergency room having asthma attacks, or coming out of surgery. But then there were other moments that were so monumental. Like adopting Izzy; then Simba. Holding hands at the altar. Guiding me through our home. Holding my hand while we took off for the Bahamas, or Saint Lucia, or Cuba, or London. During all the scary and gory parts in all the movies we see every single week.

There was a moment this past year, where I was at my lowest point. I remember telling you that I was not strong enough. And you held me and told me that it was all going to be OK. You got me. What continues to astound me about you is that through every struggle we face, through all the unknowns, you always take care of me first. To say you are my family would be an insult to all we’ve been through.

You’ve raised me up, held me down, and helped me out in every way you possibly could. Your hands have been my home for 4 years. These hands have prayed with me through times of trouble or thanksgiving. Have pushed me to become better and braver and stronger. Have reassured me time and time again.

I am your rib and you are my reason. 

Two years is just a drop in the bucket for us but they have been breathtaking. Two amazing years I’ve spent being your wife. Just the two of us against the world. I pray that God continues to bless us with a happy and healthy home. With a life full of adventure. With love to spare.

Happy Anniversary!

Love,

Your Wife xoxo♥

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London 2018 – Day 2

Am I the only one still pretending to be a princess in my bathrobe at home? Yeah? Ok then!  London Day 2! Let’s jump right in:

So like I said before it was hard to get to sleep straight away but eventually I did. Hard. I’ve never experienced a sleep so deep without anesthesia in my life. Our big mistake? Not setting an alarm. We hadn’t heard our phones going off and all the text messages being exchanged in the group chat. We slept through it all.  At around 10:15 ish my dad comes knocking at the door. They had already eaten breakfast and were ready to go; we barely had our eyes open. After deciding to meet them at the palace (because as I said in the first post Mom wasn’t missing this), we raced through getting dressed and hopped in a Uber.

It’s Good Friday in London so the crowds were out. By the time we arrived at the palace we had missed the changing of the guards. For those of you who have never been to Buckingham Palace, you don’t just arrive at the front steps. There is The Mall.  This is about a half mile walk from the street to the palace. Luckily because it was a holiday there was no traffic being allowed in, unluckily this meant our Uber had to drop us off on the sidewalk. We called my sister and found out that they were already on their way back from seeing the palace and we agreed to meet somewhere in the middle.

Once we met up they told us how they only saw the changing of the guards through their phones really because it was very crowded. They said we could meet up later if Matt and I wanted to go see it for ourselves. I don’t know if it was the rain, the FOMO, or the fact that I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet but I relented and we decided to just stay with my family. Looking back I absolutely regret not going to see the palace. Hopefully, I’ll get to go back one day.

Here is where not having a plan really worked against us. By the time we made it back onto the street we didn’t really know where to go. And it was raining. We all agreed to stop and get food for those of us who didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast and to regroup and come up with a plan. I honestly don’t remember where we ate but it was raining I was hungry and it did the trick. Here’s a picture of what my, dique not hungry, Dad got to eat:

The regrouping didn’t work. Now we were full but still had no idea where to go from here. As we’re standing out in the cold rainy day, Diana (my brothers fiance) offers my mother her gloves which she had lent to Amanda (my sister). Only problem was that Amanda couldn’t find them. I’ve never realized that it was possible to have so many pockets on one girls body. We checked them all. At one point there were three of us searching each pocket, each zipper, inside and outside of her bag and pants. We couldn’t find them anywhere. Amanda was getting so upset because she has a reputation for misplacing things and she was convinced she didn’t lose these gloves. Diana was getting upset because they were her gloves. All the bills were paid at this point, we were all outside ready to move on but we couldn’t leave. Someone went in to check the table for a third time, asking the waitress if she’d seen these rouge gloves but no luck. My father, who was sitting watching the whole thing speaks up “Amanda what are you looking for?” and we all reply telling him about the gloves and our search. “You mean these gloves?” He pulls them out of his pocket like a freaking lottery ticket. Smiling the whole time. Apparently he wanted to teach her a lesson or something. Dude could’ve saved us a good 15 minutes by not doing that.

Seeing as we didn’t have an actual plan we kept walking. Matt had broken his first umbrella at this point and when I saw a newsstand that sold umbrella’s I pointed them out. He stopped and bought one of those larger umbrellas with the wooden handles that can cover two or three people. Because logically this one will last a lot longer than the small one he bought the day before. (He broke it very quickly after buying it unfortunately).  While my father and my cousin Boobie also stopped to buy a couple things from the newsstand we had a great view of the show going on across the street.

I was actually very very excited that they were putting on the stations of the cross on Good Friday in London. It’s one of those things I didn’t know I wanted to experience until I came across it. What was so impressive is that it was freezing and raining and here these people are committing to this show! Amazing! This was in Trafalgar Square. Since we were there we ended up wandering into the National Gallery. It was pretty packed.  I guess because it was raining and the museum is free. It was very beautiful inside though. We didn’t see the entire museum before a new plan arose. We would go shopping down by Charing Cross Road. This is the street JK Rowling based Diagon Alley off of. Being the huge Harry Potter fan that I am, I was sold. Also a quick google search told us that there were book store on this street. Now I’m excited. Luckily by the time we had made it back out again the rain was not as forceful.

I’m going to keep my disappointment short and to the point. We never actually went down Charing Cross Road. We saw it in passing and I was promised we would come back around. We did however come across a comic book store. After that we made our way through to some thrift shops and I did get a chance to buy tea in a London tea shop. Win!

This part of the day is not that interesting, we walked around, shopped, and tried to stay as dry as we could. I only bought one thing. A pair of socks. I changed them in the dressing room of a thrift store because the ones I was wearing were soaked through.

My Godfather Luis and his wife Lizanne kept talking about the Temple Church. How they saw a documentary on the Knights Templar who built it and how fascinating it was. We were all on board to go see this church and a bit tired. We made the plan to go see the church and then head back to the hotel and relax a bit before dinner. We grab a couple Uber’s and head off. Only when we get there we can’t find it. I know what you’re thinking. How hard could it be to find a church? Well apparently pretty hard. We’re arguing on the street walking in one direction. Some of us were convinced that we had to go around the block to get to the church. Others (the ones with google maps) insisted that we just had to walk in the opposite direction. I’m gonna let this subtle shade let you know which side I was on.

The half of us that agreed with Google maps made our way in the other direction. Good news is we were right and we found the church. Bad new; it was closed due to the holiday weekend. The reason we didn’t initially find it is because its sort of hidden on the street. There is a large iron doorway (which was closed) and beyond that was a passage that took you to the front of the church.

Later that night after admitting defeat and heading back to rub our sore feet we reconvened for dinner. We were able to find an Italian restaurant that was a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Carluccio‘s.  Knowing it was our last night in London we feasted. Straight pasta and bread dipped in olive oil. A bottle of wine. We really enjoyed it.

Once we were adequately stuffed we reasoned that it being our last night in London we should have one last drink. We stopped at the same bar we were in the night before since it was right around the corner from out hotel. For the life of me I cannot remember the name but I do remember that coming down from the bathroom there was a giant portrait of the battle of Yorktown but instead of guns all the soldiers had light sabers.

All in all it was a great end to the night. A little tidbit I learned on this trip: on the street we were on we could see windows boarded up by bricks. These were remnants of the window tax from the 18th and 19th centuries, when they taxed citizens for extra windows in their homes.

Decidedly we all went to bed fairly early that night seeing as we had an early train to Brussels to catch in the morning. I for one will never forget our short time in London and I hope to go back and experience more of it soon. Hopefully with some real Londoners this time!

Where would you like to go back to?

Besos! xoxo

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London 2018 – Day 1

IMG_9329With the royal wedding tomorrow England is at the center of everyone’s minds. Well, Prince Harry is, but for the sake of this post lets go with England.

Luckily, we recently took a trip to London and now I have the perfect excuse to tell you every last detail! Buckle your seat belts you’re in for a wild ride.

London was the beginning of our 4 country trip, over the course of 9 days, with 11 family members. Light work. It was easiest for Matt and I to travel out of JFK with my cousin Boobie, while the rest of the group flew out of Newark airport the Wednesday before Easter. We booked a red eye in hopes that we could get some sleep on the plane and wake up ready to take on the day. We get to the airport, check our bags and, as per our tradition, find food and a drink before our flight.

I’m sitting at the bar texting my cousin Boobie making sure he knows where to meet us once he’s past security while Matt is buying our drinks. A young man and his girlfriend end up sitting at the table next to ours. I think nothing of it as the woman gets up and goes to the bathroom. I am completely engaged in my Instagram feed when I hear “So where are you traveling to?” It takes me a moment to realize that the man who just sat down was talking to me. I told him my husband and I were traveling with family to London. He proceeds to tell me that he is traveling to Paris for his girlfriends birthday. He never actually called her his girlfriend but for the sake of this story lets just give her the title.

So I again start scrolling through Instagram when I hear, “My bad I’m just nosy. How long are you in London? I have a boy whose throwing a party out there on Saturday.” Awe shucks we were leaving Saturday morning so we couldn’t go to shady man’s party. Thank sweet baby Jesus Matt shows up right then with our drinks. “Sorry I’m just being nosy. I was telling her we are flying to Paris.” I don’t know how this man kept our ear but every time we tried to get out of the conversation he kept on going “sorry I’m just being nosy.” Now, we’re giving the man fashion advice on how not to dress at a destination wedding (he wanted to go full on olive suit and we pretty much told him he would die of heat stroke) when Boobie walks up.  The guys is. still. talking. Boobie shakes his hand, introduces himself, jumps into the conversation. That’s when the girlfriend returns looking out of place; Boobie introduces himself to the girlfriend. About 5 minutes later their flight to Paris is boarding and their off. I immediately give Matt a look and he starts laughing and tells Boobie we didn’t even know the couple. Boobie was shocked because he thought they were friends of mine since the man was so comfortable. “Look at you Reenie bagging shorties.”

Guys we haven’t even left the airport yet!

The flight was one of the most uncomfortable flights I’ve ever taken. We were on a red eye which meant that we left at 11 pm New York time and landed at 11 am London time. The flight itself ended up being about 6 and a half hours but the seats were so small you spent 6.25 of them trying to get comfortable. The airplane food was also not very appetizing, although I was impressed with the fact that there was a vegan option. Thank goodness i had the sense to have some vegan dumplings at the bar before we boarded. Also, I have never flown Norwegian before but they have this option on their TV’s were you can open a tab with your card and just keep ordering stuff without having to keep swiping. Matt and I both ordered two drinks before take off thinking they were the small little bottles. Once we were in the air and served the drinks we realized how wrong we were. Needless to say getting completely drunk did not help us get anymore sleep on this flight. Oh well! We tried. 

Once we landed and met our driver it took us a little over an hour from the airport to our hotel. P.s. – I spotted three Dominican barbershops in London! Mi gente! I see you!  On the way to the hotel we get these messages that my brother, Mo, had been sick the entire flight! I felt so bad for him, imagine being actively sick for 6.5 hours?

Side note: This trip was a birthday gift to me from my mother. We didn’t pay for the rooms or the airfare and we are so incredibly grateful. My mother planned the entire trip and organized the trains and the hotels and most of the activities. So I cannot take any credit for any of it. Thanks Momma!

image1In London we stayed at the St. Athan’s Hotel which is this cute little dorm room styled hotel with small rooms and shared bathrooms. The bathrooms were in between each landing on the staircase which made it pretty awkward to shower but I showered late at night when no one was around so I had no issues. Mornings were a little harder but there was a sink in our room to brush our teeth. There is also a cafe downstairs that gave us a discount because we were staying at the hotel.

Two things we effed up because we forgot we were in London.

  1. 1st floor in London means 2nd floor in US. My entire family was roomed on the first floor, which was convenient because this hotel did not have an elevator and no one wanted to drag their bags up the stairs. So when we arrived my mother requested that Matt and I be put on the first floor as well. Only to promptly be directed to the second floor, dragging our bags the whole way. In London the first floor is referred to as the ground floor. – Well duh!
  2. Room service. When a woman came knocking on my door with a smile on her face and a bag in hand saying “room service” I politely declined as we did not order anything. Thinking she must have gotten the wrong room. Only to realize 15 minutes later that the hotel doesn’t offer room service. Matt was the one who said it may be that they wanted to clean the room. So on our way out we had to ask them to please clean our room because we misunderstood. And when the woman asked me what I thought she meant. “I thought you were delivering food to the room” to which she laughed heartily and said she usually gets that mix up with first floor and ground floor. #faceplant

By the time we had our things dropped off and quickly refreshed ourselves, it was late afternoon. We had a reservation for the London Eye at 5 pm and decided that we would grab something to eat by there and then hop on. My mother announced that it was a 15 minute walk, so we all grabbed our umbrellas and started off. I say this as lovingly as I can: mom was wrong. 20 minutes into our 15 minute walk and I think the jetlag and hunger got the best of us. There was a bit of yelling on the streets of London before we eventually Uber’d it over to the London Eye with no time to eat.

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The London Eye is massive and so are the lines. Thankful a good friend of mine tipped me off to the VIP package they offer – The Champane Experience – you get to wait in their exclusive bar and have a drink before hand, you get a guide who comes on with you and serves you champagne and best of all you get to skip the line at your appointed time. So we checked in – there is a chicken shop inside the building you check in so some people went to get something to eat quickly while the rest of us headed to the VIP bar.

The bar was beautiful and empty! There was this massive chandelier with these palm sized dome/bubble things on them. Large white couches and dark wood panel walls. It was place at the corner of the building so you could see the London Eye from every window. We nestled in and enjoyed our first drink glad to be out of the rain for a bit.

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IMG_0252Enter Giovanni! This dude comes barreling in, Italian accent and all. Now his hype is getting me hype and I’m like “we about to have some fun!” I literally told him he was going to be my best friend. Guys I’m in London with my family and an Italian! The situation was hyped! My family instantly goes into the little bits of Italian we know (Boobie knows a lot actually) and start to take up all the attention of our guide Giovanni.

He ushers us into the moving London Eye and so we begin the 30 minute journey all the way around. And by moving I don’t mean we were all in awe of its beauty, I mean they literally rush you onto this thing as its in motion.

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I’ll admit at first its not too bad you’re not going around super fast and there is really a spectacular view. I would say the minute you get to the peak you go “oh shit! we’re really up here,” and you actually start to feel the movement. We’re snapping pictures, singing Happy Birthday to some girl in the bubble with us, cheers-ing champagne. (Although this was the VIP experience they managed to fit another 6 people in there with us, but it didn’t make a huge difference to us.) You also have a view of other people in their pods and at one point they were taking pictures of us so we were posing! Hamming it up all the way!

At some point, my mom is looking at Matt and goes “so do you want to tell her?” both of them with these grins on their faces.

Side note: I am both amazed and terrified at the ability of my husband and my mother to get together and keep a secret from me. I love them both so much.

My mother hands me an envelope with my name written on it. What’s in the envelope Reena? GURLLLLLL!!! There were two tickets to see Hamilton! In London! That night! I literally screamed and scared the poor people in the bubble who didn’t know me. Then I started crying. Then Matt tells my sister Amanda that she’s going with me! So now we’re both freaking out!

I’m not sure if I was speaking to my mother in Spanish or her to me but Giovanni over heard us and revealed his mother is from Spain. “Son Dominicano’s?!” So now we love him even more! Chopping it up in Spanish and our barely recognizable Italian. (Really just dad yelling “Ciao Bella!” and things of that nature over and over.) I’m pretty sure my dad tried to adopt him.

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Once we got off the London Eye the search was on to get some food before we had to go to the show. Also since no one had time to actually eat anything substantial before, we were all pretty hungry. When you walk out of the London Eye, to the left is the main line and to the right are a couple of attractions before you get to the bridge towards Big Ben. We almost missed the restaurant because it was nestled in between the attractions (Shrek, Sea Life, etc.). The restaurant is called Bao Fa Garden Chinese Restaurant and it ended up being one of my favorite places on the entire trip.

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At this point we’re all in pretty rough shape and almost falling asleep at the table.

My poor brother! This man lasted a 6.5 hour flight being sick the entire time and then trooped through the next 6-7 hours of our London Eye adventure like a champ. It was at this point that he was done. We were all ordering our food and my brother had his head laid on the table. When the waiter noticed that Mo didn’t order any food and we told him that my brother was not feeling well, he sprang into action.

I don’t even know how best to describe the next series of events. This older Asian man began to message my brothers head and neck right there at the table! My brother looked like he was melting into the table from the relief of it all. Right when Mo went to lift his head to thank the man, he switched arms and went in again. It was like watching a snake attacking its prey. Once the waiter left to put in our order it was like a switch flipped in my brother. He excused himself and left to go back to the hotel. By the end of the night he was as good as new. I don’t know what pressure points this man hit but we were all convinced he had the magic touch. And here goes my family telling him all their ailments at dinner!

When the time came, Amanda and I quickly scarfed down as much food and Redbull as we could and hopped in an Uber to Victoria Palace Theatre.

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Amanda and I made it with minutes to spare. To reduce scalping they make you show the credit card you purchased the tickets with at the door. Luckily my mother knew this and had the thought to give us her card before we left. What’s even more amazing is that we were in the second row! Close enough to see them sweat!!

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Its important to note both Amanda and I are running on fumes at this point. However the excitement was real ya’ll! It was at this point that I’m kind of glad Amanda came with me and not Matt. Matt would’ve probably told me to calm down where as Amanda was like “I wish I knew the words so I can sing it with you.” Suffice to say I made a damn fool of myself and completely enjoyed it the entire time! At one point there was an actor right in front of us and we could tell that he could see me rapping along with him. Which obviously made us more hyped. The show was amazing and despite our best efforts it was very hard to hear a British accent among the actors. Although it should be noted that the actor who played Hercules Mulligan had the best New York accent by far. There was also moments where we realized we were in London because when the king came out in the play these people went crazy! They loved him! While me and Amanda are laughing at New York/New Jersey jokes by ourselves. You could tell they changed a couple lines for the crowd too.

Somewhere in the second act I could feel Amanda’s head start to nod and eventually she was finishing the show with it perched on my shoulders. My redbull was wearing off too but I was too busy singing along to let my jetlag get the best of me. All in all it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and my favorite moment of the entire trip!

On our way out, I get a text from my husband to meet them at the hotel because they have been out drinking. Getting out of the show was a bit of a mess. We didn’t really know where to go, we were half asleep and it was so crowded we couldn’t get an Uber so we had to hop in a cab.

Side note: cabs are soooo expensive in London compared to Uber’s. What would have been a 7 pound ride was 20. Again, lucky that Matt had thought to give me some cash before we left. I’m pretty much useless without my husband and my mother sometimes. (Thanks guys!)

We get back to the hotel and we meet up with Matt, Boobie and Diana who were standing outside of the hotel talking to two of the employees. Amanda went to bed and we went to a bar around the corner. About 30 minutes later my brother shows up pretty much fully recovered. We stayed out until maybe 2 am – to be honest its all a blur at this point because of the jetlag. What I do remember is that we had plans to wake up and catch the changing of the guards the next morning at Buckingham Palace. My mom was super hyped for this so it was one of those things that were gonna happen with or without us. So we went to bed. Matt fell asleep pretty much right away but it took me forever to finally go to sleep.

Our first day in London was crazy but one thing we noticed is how few British accents we found on our first day. Everyone we met was from a Spanish or an Asian country. I don’t know if its just us who attract Spanish people or if we just weren’t in the posh places but it was interesting to note.

Day 2 to be continued next week, but in the meantime leave me a comment below if you’ve ever been to England, if you want to go, or if you have a favorite Hamilton lyric.

Until then I’ll be waiting on the couch, with my plastic tiara, for Harry and Meghan ❤

Besos! xoxo

Welcome!

Good Morning!!!!!

I’d like you to imagine that I am sitting in my home office, a cup of chai tea warm by my side, as I type this first welcome post to you. That this is my day to day job and I get the privilege of sharing my life and experiences with you each and every day. Realistically, I am writing this to you on a free Sunday morning, while my dogs go absolutely bonkers over something they’ve seen out the window and my husband tries to coax me back into bed. Not exactly the perfect imagine for some, but it’s my life, and I love it. So, here I am sharing it with you!

So, where to begin?

Let me introduce you to the  crew:

img_7784.jpgSimba is our youngest rescue. He’ll be two in September and this baby boy is quite a handful. We rescued him on Christmas Eve and every since then we’ve been in love. He is a pitbull mix who has grown to be very cuddly and a bit needy, with a skill for getting hurt or in trouble. Link to his collar here.

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Izzy is our first rescue. Our first piece of starting this beautiful family we’ve built. She’s three years old and she’s the easy going, regulating, older sister. She has pretty bad anxiety but has over come it over the years and since we’ve move to our house in the suburbs and out of the city she’s really strived.

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Matt is my husband. My world. My Everything. He is also the person who points out when I am exaggerating, tells me I complain about him complaining, and convinces me to skip the gym. I couldn’t go through this crazy life without him. I mean, look at that face!!!

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Last but not least. ME!  Reena. I like to write, I like wine, and I like books. I’m oversimplifying myself, I admit, but its only day one. Stick around for a bit.

It’s my hope that through out the course of this blog I’ll be able to share more stories and experiences that we have as a family. For you all to get to know us and all our quirks.

I want to thank you again for stopping by and reading my very first blog post. Check in daily for new post, special content, tons of pictures and more! Comment below if there is anything you’re interesting in seeing from this page, if you have any advice you’d like to pass on, or if you just want to say hi!

I hope to see you again soon!

Besos! xoxo