I'm home, enjoying my last day before flying to Liberia for my friend's wedding. Since we arrived on Thursday, time has been flying so fast that I can't even keep track of the days. As soon as we arrived to my in-laws home in Columbia, MD, I had to drive to Washington DC to apply for a Liberian Visa. The drive to DC took me about 45 minutes and I enjoyed every single minute of it. I was able to browse through my favorite radio stations and listen to familiar voices and my favorite part was listening to Go-Go music loudly in my car. Go-Go music is a type of music that I grew up loving, and it's mainly a regional DC metropolitan music style that transports me to so many childhood memories of walking in DC, and listening to street performers play Go-Go, or childhood friends talking about the latest Go-Go band performance they attended, or dancing away at a party that knew Go-Go would get everyone on the dance floor. The sounds are anchored by instruments like: the bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, rototoms, and cowbells.
On Friday, I enjoyed a fun trip to Sky Zone with my daughter and jumped around for a full hour. Jumping around with her and seeing her run around made me so grateful for vacation days, and the opportunity to focus on myself and my family. The following day, Saturday, I was able to meet up with a college friend for Coffee in Bethesda, MD (it was actually a green smoothie), and talk about our experiences with blogging, share best practices, and to lend our support to each other along our blogging journey. After my meet-up, I drove to City Center in DC to take some pictures with a photographer, who is my brother-in law's friend. He was able to take these amazing pictures and I am very grateful for him and his willingness to take pictures of me on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the holidays. He was the best!
After my photo shoot, I went back to my in-law's home for our annual cookie baking event, which is hosted my mother in law. This is a tradition that she hosts every year, (very well I might I might add) and I even remember cookie baking with her as early as when I started dating Mario. It really serves as a special time to hang out with family and friends. A few of my closest friends, who are also traveling to Liberia, came over for cookie-baking and brought their children. It's surreal to see all of us as parents and to watch our kids have fun with each other. The majority of the time we talked about our preparations for our trip to Liberia and how we were all very excited about our upcoming adventure.
On Sunday, Mario and I spent the whole day shopping for Christmas gifts and it was a great time for Mario and I to spend extended alone time together. We probably shopped for 5 hours, and by the end of it we were exhausted. But we had to keep our energies up because my sister was hosting our Noche Buena party. Noche Buena is when my Panamañian family gets together and Celebrates Christmas. We wait until midnight on Christmas eve to eat a big dinner of traditional Panamañian dishes. After we eat, we exchange gifts and then we dance and talk until we fall asleep. Then, we wake up to Abuela's ojalda's (it's kind of like funnel cake without the powedered sugar), and we eat it with ham, turkey, or cheese. This year she also made platano frito (fried plantains) with crema (it's like a corn-based oatmeal). I love waking up on Christmas morning and eating our traditional foods, and having an opportunity to talk with my family about what was funny the night before or random stories about eat other that make us laugh uncontrollably.
Around noonish we drove back to Mario's parents house and fell asleep for a much needed nap. When we woke up, we wrapped gifts and got ready for Christmas dinner. Milan was able to get amazing toys, clothes, and the joy of opening many gifts. We ate an awesome dinner, enjoyed each other's company and helped Milan play with all of her new stuff.
And now it's Tuesday, and I feel like the past few days have been a full whirl-wind of seeing our closest friends, spending time with family, and eating too much food. My goal was to exercise and to watch what I ate because I am going to be on the beach in a few days, but I haven't been able to say no to all of these good holiday dishes nor have I had the time or energy to go to the gym. To be honest, I am ok with letting myself relax and giving myself permission to enjoy myself. I work hard throughout the year and this is a time where I can throw out all of the rules and to celebrate.
My heart is filled with joy about all of the moments that I was able to experience. I know how precious these moments are, and in an instant they pass you by. But I am thankful for how beautiful the last few days have been. They serve as a great reminder about what means the most to us and how much we need to savor the essence of our loved ones, the warmth of their hugs, and the beautiful smile that beams across their faces.
Outfit Time: I found this jacket at Nordstrom and now that it's cold outside, I love wearing a cute fashionable jacket. I paired this Varsity jacket with a white top, black jeans, and my black over the knee boots. I felt warm, fashionable, and I fit the metro area vibe. Below are the links for the coat, top, boots, and jeans. Happy Holidays!