2019 Recap!

I thought it would be fun to write up a recap post of 2019 before the decade is over! Even writing "decade" out seems unbelievable. This last decade has been so incredibly life-changing for me, because it was the one in which I graduated from undergrad, attended graduate school, got married, had our three children and said goodbye to our unborn bebe, among many other moments. But I'd say, those were the most transformative, growth-inducing, healing and significant for me. Not to mention that during this time B also attended medical school, anesthesia residency (graduated both with flying colors) and is now finishing off fellowship in critical care medicine-- say that three times fast 😜 for a total of nine years!

 B's anesthesia training was a little longer than the average specialty training, but I have friends whose significant others train (including medical school) for more than twelve years! His medical training was the reason we moved to Milwaukee as newlyweds in the first place, and so much of our life has been shaped by this time of training. We never expected to fully fall in love with this area, and all of the friends that have become like family have made all the difference too. If I'm being honest, we never expected to have the joy of growing our family and have three amazing children during this time as well! Growing a family during medical training is still rare because of all of the stressors, changes and expectations that happen during this time. Looking back now, we wouldn't do it any other way! Now that we are finally at the end of B's medical training journey and are able to decide where we want to live for longer term (the place we grow roots and buy our dream homeπŸŽ‰), and he can work as an attending (the goal he's worked so incredibly hard to train for), we have decided to stay in the Milwaukee area! We feel so incredibly blessed to have a choice in all of this, trust that we know it doesn't always work out that way for different specialities. 

 I feel so incredibly grateful that during these extremely intense years of growth and learning, we worked tirelessly together to build a strong foundation for our marriage and our family. I love B more now than when we said "I do"and doing life with him has been the absolute most amazing thing that ever happened to me-- I found my soulmate. Like my mami always says: Dios es bueno. I have to also add that in the in-between moments of marriage, parenting and this medical journey, I created this online space as a way to stay creative, that was almost seven years ago! In the process I made some pretty incredible connections with folks online that often translated to offline, and I don't take any of it for granted. Now that we are entering a new decade, I spent some serious time offline for many reasons, and in that time I was able to make a decision of what to do with this online space. I have decided that moving forward I will continue blogging about our journey, family, home decor, those things that I love (keep me active and creative)-- all that brings me joy! I've only had short spurts of time where I have been consistent with posts, but now you can expect 3-4 weekly posts from me, so get ready for lots of fun content in 2020! Also, writing it all out helps me stay accountable too πŸ˜†

It's been interesting journaling about this past decade in my quiet time and being able to understand that my past experiences (whether or not they were positive or negative) helped support my highest good. All of these experiences are proof that I have been held. I have always felt loved and protected by something much bigger than me. Now I can see it all for what it is, like a veil has been lifted, and it's a beautiful experience that often leaves me at a loss for words. It was a knowing. Life is meant to be lived with joy, and every day I am grateful to be alive and exist in this body here on earth. We all have a purpose, and it's time to live in it! And friends, I'm not talking about your online life (although that's a part of it because it is the era in which we exist), I'm talking about all of the being-ness that you are in every waking moment of your life. You matter, and you have a purpose here on earth too! 

I think that's a great place to start this re-cap. Here we go, amores!πŸ’–
This was a really fun photo shoot! For those that don't know, Benjamin has always taken my photos, even when he was super busy and exhausted post- call!😍 You can still buy this sweater here and these jeans here. That's what I love about buying more key wardrobe pieces, you can find them available longer! I started off 2020 on the ground running. And I had this big idea that I would be merging all of my online content into one source, which would turn out to be the most not-so-good idea haha!😁 But I made it out alive with more joy and a new song on my heart. I learned a lot from all of my online and offline experiences, but especially that I define who I am, and how incredibly liberating that is. I get to write my story! I am worthy! I don't know who needs to hear this but, this applies to you too! I think there are different points in our lives where we're faced with an opportunity to push forward and evolve, even if fear wants to accompany us. But I believe many folks get stuck on that part, because they allow fear to take over.  No judgement here, I've done that too. Yet, it is only when we choose to push forward despite the internal shifts that we can fully awaken to embrace the miracle that life is!

No one could make me realize this, and I'm not trying to sound like some sort of guru here.  But for a long while I felt like I was on a precipice-- on the verge of something big. I had glimpses of this understanding in the past, but it wasn't until I experienced one of the most inward facing and shadow-work moments of my life that I finally chose to let go. And to my surprise, I did not die off that precipice. Instead, when I jumped off, I ended up expanding my wings (that were always there) and I flew πŸ•Š

And just like Snoop Dogg said, I want to thank me for doing all this hard work, I want to thank me for having no days off, I want to thank me for never quitting, I want to thank me for always being a giver and trying to give more than I receive. [Keila], you a bad mother#%@^&*!" πŸ˜‚πŸ™In that same month, I wrote two posts that were the most read in the history of my blog, which I know will change with my 2020 content, ha! I deleted them all, and it felt good. That whole experience was also a part of my growth. I'm also so happy I snapped these photos of LucΓ­a and me in the room we brought her home to from the hospital. Did I mention that we're at the point where we're buying our dream home?😜 Yas, and I'm so excited to share the process with you all here!πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ I will always cherish these snapshots!

It was around February that I decided to begin switching out more of my health and beauty products to more sustainable and non-toxic options. I began this non-toxic journey when I stopped chemically straightening my hair about nine years ago, which is one of those really transformative moments of the decade that I didn't mention earlier. But also, I cannot begin to explain how amazing it is to finally find a natural deodorant that works! I am looking forward to sharing more in 2020 😊
This dramatically glamorous photo was taken by my friend Calie over at MKE with Kids! It was taken in February in one of the bitter cold winter days, but I love dressing up even if it's only to grab tacos at our local restaurant. 
The kiddos have grown so much this year too! This photo was taken before we realized Gabriel needed glasses, and now he's rocking the cutest red pair that he never leaves home without. It's so wild looking at how he had a wiggly front tooth here, and now he has an almost full mouth of adult teeth. Gabriel was also in his second semester of Kindergarten here and learning to fully write his name, and now at the end of his first semester of first grade, he can read!
 Not suprised Cristian is wearing a dino -suit. He is my future self-proclaimed paleontologist, and knows more than any of us about dinosaurs!
 LucΓ­a has has grown by leaps and bounds! I think the biggest change has been that now she talks. When she turned three this summer, I was feeling a bit nervous because she knew a few words but wasn't actually stringing sentences together. It was really hard watching other children her age (or younger!) having full convo's, but I'm glad that we waited until she was ready. Now she is talking full sentences, and she's taken on painting and is a budding artist!
 Also, wild to see all this snow! Right now we're experiencing record highs (50's!) and have been taking family walks outside as if it were spring.
I can't with these photos of LucΓ­a and those cheeks! We spent a lot of time playing in the snow early in the year, and it was a welcome event for the kids because they LOVE the snow. We also like to do as much as we can! We're planning on a ski trip once they're bit older.
I've become addicted to watching clips of the Manitowoc Minute, and I end up laughing till my side hurts! Anyway, they're parodies of Wisconsinites and midwest life, and omg, I think they're so accurate πŸ˜‚ One running joke is that all we talk about is the weather, and it's true because it affects everything we do. If you didn't know, Wisconsin is a huge agricultural state, and it's very country! I love it here now, and can never imagine living anywhere else now. Back to the weather, it feels like in March is when we're all itching for Spring to start even though we know that winter will be here till May lol!
I spent countless hours on my Instastories and social media trying to explain and validate myself. That's not happening anymore.  Also, did you know, you don't have to do that either! It is now a time for me to focus on only those things that support my highest good (mental health, overall wellness and joy)! And what I have discovered is that when you decide to do what is best for you, some folks might try to dissect that, others won't get it. Boundaries, y'all. They might even feel offended! But trust that all of that mess has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with them and where they are on their journey. You just need to wish them well, always hoping for their highest good too,  then do your own thing on your own terms. 
I also participated in my first blogger-type/entrepeneur panel, even though I wasn't blogging regularly at this point, but it was a really fun experience and I am so grateful for Patty of Latina's Connect for making space for me to share my experience! I also taught a course at one of our local school, and I never imagined I'd add teacher to my resume lol! 
Did I mention I am really looking forward to blogging consistently in 2020?!?! πŸ˜‚πŸŽ‰ 

I'm running out of things to write so, here are a string of Spring and early summer photos!
Interrupting my lack of writing on Gabriel's 6th Birthday party in April! He is so compassionate, loving and loves to use his hands to make things! I am so proud of how far he's come.

And not only was it a super important day celebrating our first born, but it was also the day Vida Botanicals was born in my consciousness. We always try to have a small celebration for the kids on their birthday, and this year we had friends over and tie-dyed tee shirts! I shared it all on my Instagram stories  when one of my online mama friends asked me if I had ever experimented with natural dyes. To be completely honest with all of you, I had never thought of natural dyes. Additionally, I had never thought about the effects of non-natural dyes on the environment! That's when I began making a top for me and LucΓ­a, then dyed them in avocado stones. The results completely blew me away, and I was instantly hooked!  I started sharing what I was making on my stories, and so many of your messaged me saying how much you liked them and if I was planning to sell. I hadn't thought about it, but I had time on my hands and started to make scrunchies then naturally dyeing them. i have learned so much about this medium, and I am thrilled to continue on. The rest is history, as they say, and now I'm making pillowcases and other small goods! And in 2020, I will begin teaching natural dyeing workshops, and I am pumped! πŸ˜€ 

The other day I was daydreaming and I felt something tell me, "you're not dreaming big enough!" And that really got me envisioning bigger things for Vida Botanicals and our Milwaukee community. Stay tuned!
A few other fun style photo shoots! You can still find LucΓ­as dress here, shoes here my jeans here, sandals here (size up!), bag here! 
This was also the year that Gabriel gave up eating peanut butter to be able to sit next to a friend who has peanut allergies at lunch πŸ˜­πŸ’— I would have never known, had he not stop asking me to make him pb & j sandwiches for lunch!
Grandma bought a bubble machine, and lots of fun was had!
Mother's Day!
My sister came to visit!
Lucía turned three on June 14th (how did that happen?!?😭) She is so kind, funny and a budding artist! She loves to paint and loves to speak Spanglish!
Benjamin also finished his Anesthesia residency in June and graduated! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ He is the most kind and compassionate person I know, and that has always translated to his medical practice. We have received so many thank you's from patients that have had him on their anesthesia team, and it's brought me to tears reading their stories. During this time he was resident-of-the-year two years in a row and received several other awards from his colleagues and mentors. I am so incredibly proud of him and all his hard work! After six years of undergrad and graduate school, four years of medical school, four (loooong) years of anesthesia residency-- we did it. And we were able to grow our family in the process. Although he has a few months left of fellowship (he wanted to train for an additional year of critical care medicine), we can see the finish line of this marathon!
There were lots of graduation celebrations, including a Brewers game from one of those private boxes (courtesy of one of B's colleagues)!
 We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary! It's been an amazing eight years, and every day I am grateful to do life with him by my side. We have grown so much and have learned from each other a great deal too. One thing is for sure, he makes me a better person--all around! I found my soulmate, and it's a beautiful thing. πŸ’ž
It just so happens that on our anniversary we ended up marching in the center of downtown Milwaukee with hundreds of other Puerto Rican's and supporters that live in the area. We marched in solidarity with everyone on the island, and I was in tears knowing that the diaspora across the globe was united in wanting justice and a strong future for Puerto Rico. I will never forget this summer, and I am so glad that my children could experience it too!
We made lots of visits to Mercado Magic, local museums and parks with friends!
Puerto Rican festival felt like an even more triumphant experience! 
 They spent a lot of time on our tiny splash pad! 
The next few months were some of the hardest, and yet most joyful and healing of my life. It took me a long while to decide if I would share the news with you all on my Instagram, after only sharing the news with our family. But after some discussion with B, I decided to do it, especially after so many years of sharing each and every one of my pregnancies and joyous moments with you all. If my story could help one of you feel less alone and heal too, then it was worth sharing. 
We found out we were expecting our fourth bebe this summer, and we were so incredibly thrilled. I was already planning how we would be moving to our future home with four in tow, the moment we found out I was pregnant. We had been trying, and I've always followed my natural cycle and that's how I knew I was expecting, and then a test confirmed it all. Looking back now, it feels so silly that I didn't share our happy news sooner! We were overjoyed, and I felt so bloated and sick, which I would later find out was because I was retaining so much fluid in my womb. I gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of hair during and postpartum too. 

Around the beginning of my second trimester, we found out something was terribly wrong. After a visit to my OB's office it was confirmed that our baby was only partially there, and I needed a D&C. If there was ever a time that I wanted B to be anonymous at the hospital, it would've been then. All I wanted was to be an unknown face for the sake of my privacy, but B is anesthesia and he literally knows folks from every service, including all of the Anesthesiologist that were assigned to my case. Of course, they were all so incredibly kind, professional and loving, but it was hard knowing these were the same people I would see at the Holiday party... It's definitely a very strange position to be in, but all-in-all, I am grateful I was so well-taken care of and I was safe during and after the procedure. Ultimately, that's what was most important.

This was only the beginning of making sure that I didn't have any further complications with monthly blood work until next year. And I would be lying if my heart did not manage to break further when my OB told me the sex was female, and we may have had another girl. But I've got to say,  I have so much to be grateful for and despite the pain, I have made it out alive with so much more gratitude and joy than ever before. 

Summer came and went and Fall was upon us! We now have a first grader, a pre-schooler (4K) and a tiny dancer πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–
 and we started doing all of the things haha! This is one of my favorite seasons to celebrate our traditional happenings as a family 😊 It was a wacky one with the weather too, because we experienced so much snow! I also took a much needed break from social media. 

We also celebrated B's 37th trip around the sun! He is such an amazing partner and father, and we're so grateful for him and all he does for our familia. 

We also celebrated Cristianito's 5th birthday! πŸ’”πŸ˜­ Y'all, he is my talker and always has some interesting fact to share. He loves dino's and quite the block builder too!

December arrived and I felt such a huge relief all over my being. It felt like I got all the rest that I needed, and I decided to come back to my online spaces. Just like the fall, have taken advantage of the season and done as much as we can together! B's schedule as a fellow fluctuates a lot and between 30 hour call and busy weekends, we make the most of the time we have together. 
Lots of blurry Iphone pics, but that's all I've got for y'all πŸ˜‚ but I'm glad I captured them even if only on my phone. Cristian had his first winter concert too, and it was the sweetest thing ever!
And on the 19th was my 35th birthday! All keep this short, I am so grateful for these 35 years of health, love and life-- and here's to many more! 
My friends are the best, and we have literally been celebrating almost all month long lol!
We decided to take our Christmas photos in our living room this year to mark the last Christmas we celebrate in this home. We will cherish all of the memories we have made here! But we are so ready to move on.
 blurry but a goodie!
I wish you all an amazing 2020, and new decade! 


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