Sunday, November 22, 2015

our lola girl.

a few months after we got our cuzco bear, we realized that something wasn't quite right. whenever he would realize we were getting dressed to leave for the day, he'd stick his head underneath the desk or hide in the corner...  he wouldn't even accept any treats from us! 
obviously this separation anxiety was not okay with us, and with a pending trip to peru and mateo starting school, we just couldn't keep leaving him. it hurt my momma heart too much. 

so one day, mateo goes, "what if we get another dog?" 
at first, i thought the idea was preposterous. but then somehow mateo's suddenly searching the internet for puppies and i'm falling in love with all of them, and we're driving up to northern maryland to get another one. 

enter: lola. 
we obviously really wanted a dog that got along with cuzco, so we brought him along with us. it was a little bit difficult to initially pick cuzco out from all of the other pups in his little, so i was worried we'd have a hard time choosing the second one, especially because lola's litter was much more diverse (pups with spots and all sorts of fun little markings!), but it was actually the easiest selection process in the whole wide world.

before we could even shut the gate of the play pen, our lola raaaaced out and started playing with cuzc. i don't think he knew what hit him! she pounced right on him and just wouldn't stay away. and that was that; we were sold on cuzco's little twin sister (wife).

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lola is also half yorkie, but she's also half maltese. the designer dog people of the world would call her a "morkie," but i call her my honey bunny. she was initially super obsessed with cuzco and shy with all humans, but once she realized who gives her the treats (she's the treat queen!), she's pretty attached to us too. so attached, in fact, that her new favorite place to sleep is on my pillow, curled right around my head! 

good thing we all love her so much.

welcome to the family, little one! XO.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

on doing the best you can.

this is something that has been on my mind for a while, and while i may not be able to articulate my feelings perfectly, i figure... if i've been thinking about it for this long, i might as well jot it down and throw it out to the universe. so, let's see how it goes! 

last week, i almost had a full-blown breakdown in costco (that saturday shopping zoo after an exhausting week isn't worth the samples... it just isn't). and today, i couldn't get out of bed all day. we didn't make it to the grocery store this weekend (apparently should've spent a little more time in that costco on the bulk goods), so i munched on stale trader joe's tortilla chips and white chocolate chips all afternoon, and my husband made us some eggs for sunday dinner. the clean laundry is still sitting in the laundry basket, waiting to get folded (i did laundry last monday). i've wanted to paint my nails for a good six weeks now, but they're still as plain as ever. and you know what? that's okay. it's all okay. 

i used to live in this tight little "type a" world, where i lamented over ninety-two percents for test scores and got stressed when i got dirt spots on my shoes. and while i have a shiny diploma with the phrase "magna cum laude" about .5 inches tall on it and had a few nice pair of shoes in my closet, it's not everything. and it doesn't make me any better of a person. i have come to realize something-- that it's okay to not be perfect. it's okay to have faults and struggles and leave it all on your sleeve for the world to see sometimes. it's okay to deal with tough stuff and to let details fall to the wayside sometimes. it's all right to let your hair down, to let out a good cry, and to just let yourself be real for a second. 

we're all human-- vulnerably and perfectly imperfect human. and as the seasons in our lives change, we all experience trials and triumphs. but it's those peaks and valleys that keep us going; they make the beautiful times in life even sweeter. and i think, as we're in this fast-paced world with the ever-growing influence of social media all around us, it's so easy to feel pressured to live a "perfect" life. to compare ourselves to others and to think about all of the things we don't have that we see our friends and acquaintances possessing. and while it's absolutely fine to yearn for a beautiful, pinterest-inspired life, it's also okay to let yourself feel-- to let yourself get messy, take things a step at a time, and just do the best you can

whenever i sit and reflect on the last seven years of my life, all of these emotions rise up out of my stomach and i want to smile and cry and laugh at the same time. it has been a beautiful ride. but it has been oh, so hard. at some point during my freshman year of college, i became labeled "the sick kid." i was always sick, or so they said. and seven years and a second bachelor's degree later, and the title has stuck. i have gone through what feels like some twisted version of groundhog day, where i wake up and experience the same illnesses and mystery diagnoses and diagnostic tests over and over and over again. like i am always saying, "it will get better when they just figure out what's going on and can get me a treatment," "it will get better after this semester when i'm less stressed," "it will get better when..." i don't really remember what it feels like to wake up after eight hours of sleep and feel energized and ready for a new day.

and although i have suffered in some ways, i have learned so much and been blessed immensely. i feel overwhelmingly grateful for the incredible experiences that i have had during this time frame-- the people that i have connected with, the places i have explored, and the lessons that i have learned. i've loved it. but i believe that part of the reason i have been able to love it is because i have been able to let go. to let go of some of my perfectionist tendencies and to just let myself live. to try my hardest, but to cut myself some slack. to take comfort in knowing that i'm doing the best i can and pray that others can see that and be okay with that and to take comfort in knowing that God knows my heart, my capabilities, and my intentions. and he knows that i am doing the best i can. and to learn to loosen up and cut others some slack too. because i don't know what they're going through. i don't know their secret battles or what their past seven years have looked like. and they'll surely appreciate extra support along the way. 

 i'll say it again: we're all human. and we're all part of this same exciting, messy world. life comes at us too fast sometimes, so let's be kind to each other. let's acknowledge people's efforts and try to gain insight on their circumstances. let's throw out enough good vibes and support to keep those around us afloat. and if you ever find someone crying in a costco, put your arm around them and buy them a frozen yogurt.

thank you to all of you people in my life who have supported me. who take me as i am and love me unconditionally, messy-haired and all. i know it hasn't been an easy road to follow along with my illness(es) over the past few years, but i really appreciate it. i earnestly and honestly mean that i couldn't have gotten through it without you. i have needed you and continue to need you. and i am grateful that you've been okay with me just doing the best that i could and helped me enjoy all of the good that is still around.

to all of you out there who are dealing with something: you're doing great. you're okay. you'll get through it; just keep doing the best you can. 

and if you need a pick-me-up, i've got some chocolate chips on my nightstand calling your name.

((photo from the one time i cooked mateo a "fancy" breakfast, even if it was the only time i cooked during that week of school...!))

p.s. speaking of "doing the best i can"... i'm actually too tired to proof-read this soooo.. please forgive/laugh at any mistakes. besos. 

Monday, August 24, 2015


so earlier this month, i was sitting in an airport, going... somewhere (it's been one of those months!), and i had to take one of those "two-minute surveys" to be able to access the airport's wifi. as part of this quick survey, i was asked which age group i fell into. i hesitated for a few seconds before clicking "25-34 years old."

twenty-five to thirty-four. i'm now one of those people. i've suddenly been thrown into this adult age group, you guys. 

and although i'm not suffering any sort of existential crisis or anything of the like, it is a bit of an adjustment for me. when i think of twenty-five year olds, i think of all sorts of societal norms and expectations. you know, people who have reached their mid twenties are supposed to be able to wake up before ten a.m. without any sense of resentment. they're supposed to have these budding careers and wear socks that match and maybe even have a mortgage. and a few babies! that's what society tells me i should be doing. and while i still fall short on a few (read: all) of these fronts, i also feel like i wouldn't have it any other way. the free spirit in me loves the unconventionality of this life... even if it's only for a season. i'm sure this twenty-five year old will have to grow up sometime, but for now, i'm just enjoying the ride. 

my birthday this year was a bit wild and ridiculously fun. it fell perfectly during the weekend of a sweet friend's wedding. so when she asked us to come out to orange county, california, to shoot the event, we were thrilled. we started the adventure off the night before my birthday, with a late-night transcontinental flight to LAX and four a.m. check-in time at our hotel in orange county... with a little bit of car dancing and an ice cream bar along the way. we spent the weekend pal-ing around with our super cool friends, kirsten + ryan, and the afternoon of my birthday was spent eating the best gluten-free pizza (holler!!!) and then shooting meredith's bridals on the beach. she was a perfect angel bride, and i love friends and creativity and mateo, so naturally it was ideal for me. aaand we finished the night off with a trip to in-n-out and sprinkles ice cream (i can't live without gluten-free cake on my birthday guys; i just can't.) ryan was a gem and drove us all around the whole dang county to get me that ice cream cupcake-- red velvet with vanilla bean ice cream, to be exact. 

after an insanely beautiful wedding on saturday, we headed to the beach to watch the sun set and feel that pacific breeze and talk about important things, like netflix series. we forced our husbands into last-minute, spur-of-the-moment ten-minute portrait sessions on the beach, and i'm really overly thrilled with how they all turned out. thank you, knw photo!!! you know how amazing i think you are. we will love these photos forever and ever.


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i wish i could say something excellent or profound about the world and life at this stage of my life. but really, what i can tell you about this beautiful life, is that people matter. it's the joy of human connection and the love that it brings that inspires me, makes me happy, and keeps me going. i feel the best when i am showing love to those around me. similarly, i feel such joy and get such strength from the support and love of my family and friends. on my birthday, i was overwhelmed by the sweet and thoughtful texts i received and by the generous gifts i received. i wish i could've celebrated with you all!

and a special thanks to my mateo for being as sweet as ever in putting forth all efforts to make my birthday magical.

thank you for making my life a pretty wonderful place. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

to baltimore.

oh, baltimore.
as many of you know, we've shared a bit of a love-hate relationship for the past thirteen months. 
we initially moved to the city and were really excited about it all-- ready to explore and adventure and enjoy everything that the city had to offer. 
but as school heated up, the weather heated up (oh, this miserable east coast heat!!), and then suddenly it was the coldest, gloomiest winter. and we found ourselves itching to leave baltimore. 

spring rolled around, and with it came the blossoms and riots, and we were torn between the beauty of all of the trees and the unnerving feeling of your neighborhood being looted and seeing smoke from car fires outside your windows. we were itching to move to d.c.
but then something kind of crazy happened. we spent some time in the community-- helping patch things up a bit and distributing food in some of the areas the rioting affected the worst. and we suddenly felt this new kind of ownership and love for the city we couldn't wait to leave. 
i have loved getting to know so many community members as i work in the hospital, and we have both thoroughly enjoyed building friendships with so many lovely church members here. 

our fate in the city is currently a bit unclear, as well. since mateo was recently accepted to the university of maryland and george washington university (!!!), he'll be spending much more of his time closer to d.c. i will still be working or attending school at hopkins here in baltimore, so we've still got some planning to do. but there is a possibility of change in the air, and thus, we want to take advantage of every last second of baltimore we can this summer! 

and since we've found ourselves thirteen-months into a city we feel like we don't even know incredibly well, we've created a bucket list of sorts-- things we must accomplish while calling ourselves baltimoreans. and the good news is, we're going to share as much of it as we can with you all! so without further ado...


the baltimore bucket list: 

1. aquarium, and a lot!
2. visionary art museum
3. woodberry kitchen
4. ft. mchenry
5. orioles game
6. walk the jones fall trail
7. patapsco state park
8. explore fells point 
9. locust point ferry
10. find the best greek food in greek town
11. paddleboats in the harbor
12. baltimore art museum
13. shake shack
14. tapas at la tasca
15. crab cakes
16. pitango gelato
17. find the best gluten-free pasta in little italy
18. eat as many papusas as humanly possible
19. baltimore ship tours
20. baltimore science center 
21. pirate tour of the harbor
22. fed hill park (okay, disclaimer: this photo was taken from fed hill park after a photo shoot, so obviously we've already been there/done that. but we love the view so much that we really will just have to do it again and again!) 

and no doubt, this little list is just going to keep growing. which is why i call upon YOU, baltimoreans. tell us what we're missing on this list!!! please keep in mind that i currently have a bit of an insane school schedule and the immune system of a goldfish (?), so we're opting for more of the slow-paced, toddler-friendly activities ;) 

we can't wait to share a million and a half adventures with you. 

p.s. we got another puppy. can you believe we got another puppy?! she's the cutest ever and merits her own blog post; don't you worry. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

our wedding: the fiesta!

when i went with my aunt to the wholesale florist warehouse the day before our wedding to pick up our flower orders, i was brought to tears by how exquisitely beautiful they were. the combination of colors and scents and textures was so lovely; i felt like it couldn't be real, like they couldn't be mine. 
and looking back on my wedding photographs fourteen months later, i feel that exact same way about our wedding. so many emotions. 

our wedding was so beautiful. i know i've already talked about how i just bawled through the whole day because i was so, so happy, and you better bet that i cried my way through my reception (happy tears, guys! happy tears). although i'm not usually one for attention, i distinctly remember looking out the temple windows, ready for our exit, and seeing so many of the faces that i love so dearly. 
i just wanted to get out and party with them! 

i think that is overall my feeling when i remember our wedding reception. so much love and joy and just this feeling of warmth. getting to celebrate with so many of the people that i love most made our day perfect. it was so humbling to see such support from our loved ones.

we had our reception a few hours after our sealing at the joseph smith memorial building, formerly hotel utah, in downtown salt lake city. i loved how pretty the building is on the outside and the beautiful lobby, and it was really convenient for all of our out-of-town guests. plus, the view of the temple is unmatched. for both of us, but especially mateo, who never thought he'd see the salt lake temple in his life (much less marry in it!), it was this beautiful reminder of the importance of what we'd just done. 

i wanted our wedding to have this relaxed romance, a comfortable, subtle sophistication. i loved the idea of an intimate, evening, winter wedding reception with a lot of candles glowing and beautiful views of the city at night. and when i walked into my reception that night, my heart might as well have skipped a beat. it was absolutely perfect. as always, i couldn't have done it without the support and incredible talents of my fairygodmother aunt + lovely cousins, who dressed the tables so beautifully and bridesmaids who helped with the place cards and last-minute errand running. and my parents who put up with me during the planning of it all! 

i really wanted it to be a special occasion, and so i planned a few special touches. because we had such a small wedding, we were very close with everyone there. i'm a sentimental mushball at heart, so i wanted everyone there to know how much we cared about them. so on each person's place setting, there was a little (read: lengthy) love note for each person. i also have this insanely talented family (wait, did i already mention that?) who offered up their musical talents. so my incredible cousin, spenser, played his violin as guests entered. and my cousins emily + rylee sang songs with their uke and with my uncle jeff accompanying on his guitar. jeff + spenser played and sang "edelweiss" during the father-daughter dance because it's one of my favorite songs and reminds me of my time in the alps with my padre, and it was just the best thing. my dad and i share this really special bond and blubbered our way through the dance, and now i get to think of that moment every time i hear the song.

i am extremely close to my grandparents, who couldn't make the trip from arizona, but i wanted to include them in some way. so in talking to them about their wedding as i was planning mine, i learned that the nat king cole serenaded them at their wedding dinner in vegas. can you believe it?! so my sweet and talented cousins franny + emma played and sang "l-o-v-e" as a tribute to them. i felt really close to them right then, and always, i cried my eyes out.

another family that we missed dearly was my sweet mateo's. it just wasn't feasible for them to make the trip from peru, but we wanted to include them as much as we could. so my awesome family members and mateo's mission friends passed the ipad around during the reception (with barb translating to spanish during the toasts), so that they could be a part of it too. we're heading back to peru in a few months to have a little belated wedding celebration with all of them! mateo's amazing mission president and his wife took over as mateo's padres for the day, and we are so grateful to have had their presence there.

we were overwhelmed by the kindness of the toasts and the love that was present at our reception. we loved saying quick hellos to everyone, and danced to one of our songs, "volver a nacer" by carlos vives, as our first dance. and ate the greatest gluten-free coconut cake, then had the best time dancing the night away with all our people!

looking back on these images brings back all of this happiness and goodness and mushy feelings. so i'll stop writing while i'm ahead. 

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i wish that i had a photo of every person who was there so i could share it everywhere and say thank you for coming! but alas, i do not. so...

thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou to everyone who made our february 28th the greatest. i i love this mateo guy more than ever and love you all.

anna + mateo
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