Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend fun with our Familia

Our weekends have lately been consisting of cleaning, unpacking, more cleaning, and organizing, however, this weekend we finally finished up with Brad's mancave and took a break to spend the weekend with familia. My parents and grandparents made the treck from Dallas to College Station to see us, our new house, spend quality time with their nieto and bis-nieto, and celebrate my birthday.

Our Saturday was filled with lunching at Grub (our favoritest burger joint in town)...

If you ever find yourself in Aggieland I would definitely suggest you stop by and sample their awesome menu (especially the Hippie Chic burger)

Afterwards we drove around campus amid the crazy construction and headed back to the house

Once home we introduced the familia to the world of Wii...

Needless to say after some extreme dancing with Just Dance 2 and an all around sports shmorgesbourg with Wii Tennis, Bowling, Boxing, and Golf, we made a fan out of my mom and dad.

And of course, Little Manolito got to spend some quality time with his favorite grandparents and great grandparents...

The rest of the weekend we spent some quality time together laughing, catching up on everything from the cruise to my birthday, and just enjoying spending time together. Sadly, our familia couldn't stay but we look forward to seeing them again soon, si dios quiere.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Turning the Flirty 30--working in the forever 24 world of Student Affairs (Part 3 of 3 Milestone celebration)

I'll start this post with a quote from my good friend Heather, "So aren't you just the overachiever, getting all of the grown up stuff done in what...2 months!!" And we laughed...and then I shrugged and said, "Well, when in Rome..."

I think that this conversation is very telling when thinking about my reaction to turning 30. Unlike many people when they turn the big 3-0 I didn't freak out or begin a mid-life crisis. I had just accomplished two other incredible feats without breaking a sweat (well, there were some almost schvitzing moments, so not completely sweat proof, but pretty close.) After buying a house and getting married, turning 30 seemed like a piece of cake (which I now have to be even more weary of- damn metabolism-lol). I'm looking forward to maintaing my status as a flirty and fun 30 year old and plan to continue to Carpe Diem as often as possible.

Now, some of you may be wondering how I am maintaining this attitude. It is very simple...
a) Amazing friends and family to keep me grounded
b) Great genes
c) Working in a field that keeps you young or at least that's what I keep telling myself

In my world I have the great fortune to be able to walk into a room, and depending on the day, completely fit in.What I mean by this is everyday I get to work with undergrads whom for the most part upon meeting me always assume that I'm only a few years older than them (if they only knew...maniacal laugh). But seriously, I can't tell you how many times I've walked in a room sat down and had a student say to me, "Hey, when do you think the presenter is going to show up?" Unbeknownst to them, I am said presenter. More times than not when my students find out my real age they are in shock (or at least play it off that way--you can bet that I will never ask them if they're just trying to be nice).

I would be remiss if I didn't also say that having amazing co-workers definitely helps. This year we celebrated my birthday along with two of our other friends in an unforgettable way. Before I go into the story, I have to share this picture first so that you can truly appreciate the awesomeness of this experience.

To celebrate our birthday's Katy and Amber took out to lunch at Lupe's Tortilla. While at lunch we talked about everything from family, friends, work, and even how Lyndon wouldn't mind owning a Lupe's Tortilla. After that comment, Lyndon's name was officially changed to Lupita. We also had a debate over the likeablilty of Nacho Libre, unfortunately Lyndon and I lost that battle. After lunch came, Katy and Amber decided that it would be a brilliant idea to tell the waiter that it was our birthdays after seeing the celebratory spectacle at the table next to us. Let's just say it included predominately gringos/non-Latinos singing Las Mananitas, oversized sombreros, and dessert with candles. Why wouldn't this be a good idea for us?? About 10 minutes later it was our turn. They place two ginormous sombreros on mine and Andrew's heads (after both he and Lyndon reminding the waiter that it was my birthday today) and an itty bitty sombrerito on Lyndon. They sang, we laughed, and tried to avoid being mortified. The pièce de résistance however was when the waiter, a college student, asked in total seriousness, "So, are you all related?" and of course, me without missing a beat, replied "Yes." He answered "Cool, I hope you guys have a great birthday." We just looked at each other and busted out laughing. Seriously? Look at the picture and you tell me if you think there is a chance in hell that we're related. This has now become our running joke, "I mean, yeah, of course we're related, the resemblance is uncanny."

Once we got back to the office to celebrate some more with our other co-workers, we retold the events of the lunch and not surprisingly, laughter ensued. I mean if we're related it's truly amazing how we not only changed race, but religion, and ethnicity. What a hell of a gene pool! So, I'll leave you with our family portrait...
Long live the Birthday triplets, Ignacio, Chiquita, and Lupita Banana!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nuestra Luna de Miel: Our honeymoon in the Western Caribe (Part 2 of 3 Milestone celebration)

In the days after our wedding we did a lot of unpacking, organizing, shuffling, and most difficultly, tried to stay focused at work. With that being said, after a whirlwind wedding weekend and a super hectic year of planning, we were definitely in need of a vacay.

This trip was not only special because it was our honeymoon, but it was also a big deal because it was our first trip together as a couple. So after dropping off the munchkin at his grandparents we were ready!

On Sunday morning we left Cstat bright and early and headed to Galveston. For those of you not as familiar with Texas geography, Galveston is about 2 hours and 45 minutes ( 2 hours and a half-when I'm driving) from us, so when you're cruising, it's really convinient.

We ended up beating the rain that was coming as a result of the impending tropical storm on the horizon and arrived in Galveston two hours early. To pass the time we drove around admiring the awesome restored victorian houses, the improvements made since Katrina hit, and the brand new Boardwalk adventure.

Aside being $10 per person to just walk around, it's a great step in the right direction for this gulf city, so we're excited to see what's coming next.

After a quick trip to CVS, we headed to the pier to start the dreaded embarkation process. After about an hour we were on the boat and ready to go.

In the following days, we spent some time lying by the pool, relaxing on our private balcony, and exploring the boat. While the boat wasn't quite what we had expected, we were determined to have a great time. Some of the coolest features included the Swim up Cinema, where they turned the Lido deck into a huge movie theater. Our favorite movie of course was Harry Potter.
Lido during the day

Why Harry, what are you doing in the middle of the ocean?

After a few days at sea, our first stop was Montego Bay, Jamaica. Seeing as we were both newbies to Montego Bay we opted for an excursion through the boat that included touring a haunted estate and of course, shopping. Our tour guide was in one word, awesome! On the way to the estate she pointed out really interesting facts about the island, really cool facts about her family and friends, and some conversational creole.

A brief history of Rose Hall Great House and the legend...

The story states that the White Witch was Annie Palmer, who was born in England to an English mother and Irish father. She spent most of her life, however, in Haiti. After her parents died of yellow fever she was adopted by her nanny who regularly practiced voodoo and taught her witchcraft. She later moved to Jamaica, where she was married to John Palmer in 1820. John was the owner of Rose Hall Plantation, east of Montego Bay. Annie's husband (and two subsequent husbands as well) died suspiciously, and it is speculated that Annie herself brought about their demise. Annie became known as a mistress of voodoo, using it to terrorize the plantation, and taking male slaves into her bed at night and often murdering them. Annie supposedly murdered her lovers because she was bored of them. The legend has her being murdered in her bed during the slave uprisings of the 1830s by one of her slave lovers named Takoo, who also practiced voodoo and became one of Annie's lovers. Annie was said to be killed by Takoo because she was in love with the husband of Takoo's granddaughter. When Annie found she could not have him, she conjured a voodoo curse on Takoo's granddaughter who died a week later. When Takoo found this out, he killed Annie. Takoo ran into the forest to hide after murdering Annie, but was quickly caught by an overseer (another of Annie's lovers) and killed. It is said that a family who owned the property after the Palmers had a housekeeper who was "pushed" by Annie off of Annie's favorite balcony, subsequently breaking her neck and dying.

Rose Hall is a Georgian mansion with a stone base and a plastered upper story, high on the hillside, with a panorama view over the coast. It is considered to be a visually impressive house and one of the most famous of the great houses in Jamaica. Built in the 1770s, it was restored in the 1960s to its former splendor, with mahogany floors, interior windows and doorways, paneling and wooden ceilings. It is decorated with silk wallpaper printed with palms and birds, ornamented with chandeliers, furnished with mostly European antiques, and features a downstairs bar and restaurant.

Rose Hall was bought in 1977 by former Miss USA Michele Rollins and her entrepreneur husband John Rollins. They refurbished it at great personal expense and conceptualised a tour and museum that showcase Rose Hall's slave history, antique splendor and original fittings. Rose Hall also offers night tours that focus on the "Annie Palmer" legend: supposed locations of underground tunnels, bloodstains,hauntings and murders. Seances are also held on the property in an attempt to conjure Annie's spirit.

We personally felt some definite chills and goosebumps walking around but we weren't necessarily convinced that it was from Annie's spirit, but more so from those who had died in the house. Regardless of if it is truth or fiction it is a beautiful house and the countryside is breathtaking.

Our tour finished up with some "touristy" shopping after which I asked our new friend and tour guide to take us to the "real shopping." Hey-my grandparents taught me well. You always shop, eat, and beach where the locals go. She took us down to the Hip Strip to do some shopping and walk around in the 150 degree heat. After picking up some great souvenirs and Brad being offered weed twice-they didn't offer it to me, I guess they assumed he had the money ;) we headed back to the ship and spent some more time with our new friend Phyll Darling.

Looking back we really wish that we had gotten a picture with her but we will definitely get one the next time we visit her in Montego Bay. Since leaving, we've been e-mailing back and forth and making plans to come back and visit in the future. If you're planning on taking a trip to Montego Bay let me know and I'll send you her contact information.

Every night we dined in the dining room and spent some quality "us" time at our own table.

One night they even serenaded us with "Happy Honeymoon to You."

Our next excursion took us to the beautiful Grand Cayman where we took in the sights at the pier and jumped on an amphibious bus ride through the city and snorkeled in the bay.

 The water was absolutely stunning and we saw more tropical fish than we could count. After wrapping up the tour, we stopped at Bikini Beach and took some pics.

Yes please!!!

Our last excursion was in Conzumel, Mexico. Where I was totally in my element! I took over as tour guide and grabbed us a taxi to Playa San Francisco. Unfortunately I don't have any pics to post of Mexico because I forgot my camera on the boat. We did however have an intersting adventure...

I took over most of the conversation and guiding because although Brad understands Spanish, he doesn't speak. After visiting Cozumel before I had initially thought about Playa del Carmen, however because we had limited time we wanted to make the most of the time we had. I then asked for suggestions and was pointed toward Playa San Francisco.

The beach itself is part of several beach clubs along the coast that offer swimming, food, water sports, and shopping. Since we didn't want to do anything touristy it was the best place for us. The water was relatively clear and the temperature was amazing. And...we were treated like royalty because we were on our Luna de Miel (Honeymoon). I also made friends with some of the merchants and got a killer deal on a silver and turquoise bracelet, a silver chain for Brad, and a calavera (decorative skull) for our house. Plus we walked away with an engraved shot glass for Brad and an evil eye bracelet for me.

We spent the day lounging and swimming and ate some delicious pescado al mojo (fish with garlic sauce).

Another highlight were the super cute towel formations we came back to in our room, not to be outdone, Miguel and Mel even got in on the action:

Overall, we had a great time, we were just ready to be back with our munchkin.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Milestones....and all in two months part 1

Long time no blog, I know...However, in my defense, I have been slightly busy...So here's what you've missed...

June Milestones:

June 1st: We moved into our house!!! At 10am we said our goodbyes to the Apartment from Hell and said hello to our nueva casa.
It took awhile for it to sink in but the minute we realized one (or three) very important things...
1) We finally have somewhere that is OURS
2) It's sooo quiet here!!
and 3) Manny is hilarious running around on tile floors

That same week and part of the week after we tried to unpack as much as possible because our wedding would be here before we knew it and we would be leaving soon after we got back for our honeymoon.

June 6th I left for Dallas for my final fitting and to help my mom with everything for the weekend

June 7th Brad and I picked up our friends from the airport and kicked off the wedding weekend with a Shabbat dinner hosted by my grandparents

The Gang minus 1

Followed by my Bachelorette Fiesta planned by our amazing MOH, Mindy. The evening included some fun props, a trip to Dueling Pete's Piano Bar, Salsa Dancing with the boys at Gloria's, and Girl time at the hotel

June 9th the day started out early at 8am with a trip to synaggogue for our Auf Ruf which is:
Aufruf ("call up" in Yiddish) is the ceremony in which the groom is called up to recite the blessing over the Torah in synagogue.

Ashkenazic Jews generally have this ceremony on the Sabbath before the wedding, and Sephardic Jews often have it on the Sabbath after the wedding.

After the Torah reading, members of the congregation traditionally sing "Mazal Tov" and to throw soft candies at the groom or couple-to-be as an expression of the community's wishes for a sweet start.

Some say that the Aufruf ceremony evolved from an ancient practice in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Talmud, King Solomon built a special gate in the Temple that grooms would go through on the Sabbath to be greeted by family and friends.
Followed by some shopping with my girls, while Brad went back to the hotel to take a nap, and getting ready for the Rehearsal dinner hosted by Brad's parents that evening.

The Rehearsal Dinner, just as the shabbat dinner, was wonderful and we felt so loved by all whom attended. Brad presented our parents and grandparents with roses to thank them for all that they had done in preparation for the weekend and for their love and support of us as a couple.

One of the highlights of the weekend, however, was much to Brad's and my surprise, our friends were already scheming of something to do afterwards. It was so amazing how our the majority of the group were complete strangers on Friday and now had created these awesome friendships in such a short amount of time.

Afterwards, we all headed to a local dive bar for Karoke. The kicker though was that my mom, aunt, and my mom's other best friend came with! The moms sang "I will survive," I sang "You got it" by Bonnie Rait, and there was most definitely some other awesomeness in there as well. The damper to the evening was when the manager came over to us and in a matter of choice words said, "You need to leave unless you order some drinks." After basically feeling completely disrespected we took our business elsewhere and said our goodbyes for the evening. Brad and I had strict instructions from my aunt that after 11:30pm we weren't allowed to see each other so the evening was pretty much done anyway.

June 10th!! The big day was finally here. Ro, Judy, and I headed to the hotel to check into the room and get settled until our hair appointments later on that afternoon. Unbeknownst to me however was that Brad was sitting in the lobby talking to some family members and because I didn't want him to see me until I walked down the aisle. I made a mad dash, in flip flops, to the elevator. Thankfully he didn't see me.

Once upstairs I made the call that has been a source of laughter ever since. I called Brad and said, "Hey babe, you know how normally I don't really care where you go or what you do?" He answered, "Um..yeah." I said..."Well, today I need to know what you're every minute! When you're leaving, when you're coming, etc so we don't bump into each other." He laughed, agreed, and we set the plan in motion. Luckily, we didn't have any issues.

The rest of the day flew by and before I knew it I was walking down the aisle arm in arm with my parents. I swore that I wasn't going to cry but well, that didn't really happen as to plan.

The ceremony was a little long or at least it seemed it to be especially because it was like a sauna underneathe my veil. Our rabbi was absolutely amazing and I couldn't have imagined being married by anyone else. After some wine sipping, presenting the ketubah, and trying to keep the tallit wrapped around us (which was very comical), the end finally came when Brad would smash the glass and we'd be pronounced man and wife.

Then the real party began!!!

We spent the next couple of hours dancing, laughing, some eating, dancing some more, and posing for lots of pictures! And before we knew it our fairy tale evening came to and end...

We're so thankful to our amazing friends and family that made this evening a true affair to remember!

About Mariam

Life is sweet

Life is sweet

And they lived happily ever after

And they lived happily ever after

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

About Me

For those of you who know me, writing has always been one of my passions, with the exception of my Masters or any ridiculously long testament within the wide world of Academia. I've only had the pleasure of blogging a couple of times, mostly for a few classes in graduate school, but figured it was time to organize my numerous thoughts and musings with all of you out there in cyber land. I created this page because my mind is always running and often times my thoughts get lost in the hubub. Plus, my friends have always said that I'm a great storyteller, so I'd love to share them now with you. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this... Throughout the past 33 years of my life I've seen, heard, and experienced so many different things as well as had many adventures and dream of so many possibilities. But in short, what it comes down to is this..I'm just a little Jubana trying to make a difference in the world. Everyday I live my life to the fullest and have fun doing it. Life can't always be about work or how much money you make. There's so much more to life than that.