Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Letter 2011

2011 Holiday Season

After the 2010 we had it was hard to imagine that 2011 could be better, but this year has been filled with just as much excitement as the last one. We both could barely keep up with everything happening.

This year started slow until our first anniversary in April. We enjoyed a piano concert by Jim Brickman at the Van Wezel in Sarasota. He spoke of celebrating anniversaries since he had just celebrated 15 years of writing and performing in December. It was a perfect concert to celebrate the occasion. I made Kris an album keepsake that highlighted our early years together and our first year of marriage. It was a wonderful weekend of romance and reminiscing.

The most exciting highlight of 2011 was learning we were expecting our first baby in January 2012. I had suspected for some time that we might be pregnant but was too nervous to test. After two weeks of waiting, we decided to take a home pregnancy test on my 37th birthday. Even though the line was faint, we were both excited to learn that we were, in fact, pregnant. It was the best present that I could have ever received.

The past couple of months have been quite busy trying to prepare for the baby’s arrival. Thankfully the pregnancy has been uneventful. I did not have much more than slight morning sickness and fatigue the first trimester. It had me out for the count on some days. The second trimester I had more energy and felt like I could get more things done. I tried to take advantage of these bursts of energy to get some cooking done ahead of time. During the third trimester we have been busily trying to get the house and nursery ready. It has been a slow process as fatigue has set in again.

Early in the pregnancy we referred to our little one as Special K since we did not know the gender. Everyone wondered whether our Special K had strawberries or blueberries (girl or boy). Kris had been hoping for a girl while I was hoping for a boy, so one of us was going to be right. We both would have been happy either way. In August, right around 20 weeks, we were happy to learn that we were having a GIRL. We have chosen the name Felicity after my 92-year-old grandmother, Felicidad, who went home to the Philippines shortly before we were married.

This year we enjoyed a babymoon vacation in September. We took a tour of Florida beginning in Naples with the baby shower of our friends Gary and Christine Huber. I was excited for our baby bumps to meet for the first time.  The rest of our vacation consisted of a visit to Mom and Dad Mendoza in Fort Pierce, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in Daytona, the hot spots in St. Augustine and a quick lunch with a good friend in Orlando. Kris climbed all 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse while Mommy and baby visited the different museums on the campus. While in St. Augustine, we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche and Potter’s Wax Museum. It was nice to have one last getaway before baby girl arrives.

Other family highlights this year include celebrating my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary, my Mom’s 65th birthday and the 12th birthday of my oldest niece Lexy in November. Mom and Dad hosted a nice dinner for family and friends to celebrate. We also welcomed Izabella Anna, the daughter of Kris’ brother Paul and his wife Nicole. Izabella is the 9th niece and nephew between the both of us. It was wonderful to share the pregnancy experience with Nikki and we are looking forward to the two cousins meeting.

Here we are now at the end of 2011 and the new year is fast approaching. We both are looking forward to meeting our daughter and the many adventures 2012 has in store for us. We cannot wait to share with you all our exciting news of the upcoming year.

We would like to send you and your family the love and blessings of our Lord this holiday season. We hope you find the joy of the Lord this new year and many years to come.

Sending love, joy and peace from our family to yours this holiday season. May the new year bring good health, happiness and prosperity.

With lots of love,
Kris, Eileen Mae and, coming soon, Felicity

Our Christmas 2011 photo

8 1/2 months pregnant

Christmas 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Living Saints

On November 1st we celebrate All Saints Day. We celebrate and remember the lives of all the saints who lived before as a true example of how to live as Christ did. Some lived many centuries ago while others lived not so long ago. We could see their examples first hand. We are still touched by the miracles that occur through their intercessions for us.

Sometimes we are are very lucky to have very saintly people touch our lives in the right here and right now. They are people we know. They are people we pray and worship with. They are our friends and family. Although we are all called to be saints, there a few who really take that call to a whole new level.

I have been touched by one such couple. We have been so blessed to have met Terry and Julie Dorr. When I first saw them there was something that got my attention. I am not sure if it was the similarities I could see or if it was something deeper. Over time I really got to know them both. I was welcomed into their hearts, home and family. I saw more and more similarities between us. I also saw something very familiar. They both reminded me a lot of my parents. Terry is very simple. He does not have as he puts it much "toity." He is very caring, generous and giving. He is gentle and kind. All traits I recognized from my own father and now in my husband. Julie comes from a very strong Guamanian background which is very similar to the strong Filipino background I grew up in. There were many of the same rich traditions which made me feel right at home with them. Everything from the foods to the way of life remind me of home.

Not only do Terry and Julie have many similarities to us and my family but they have a marriage that I see us having when we have been married for forty years. You can see that they are as much in love today as they were nearly forty years ago when they first married. They still laugh, joke and tease one another. He brings out the best in her and she the best in him. He is still a gentlemen and opens and closes the car door for her. She still likes to hold his hand and smothers him with hugs and kisses. You can see their love is real and genuine. It is truly a place I want us to be forty years from now.

All of this had helped draw me closer and closer to Terry and Julie but the one thing that has drawn me even closer is their friendship. They have both gone out of their way to help us out. Not just in our marriage but in my personal faith journey as well. They both have prayed along side of me as we have struggled through some tough times in our marriage. They have cried and laughed with us through good times and bad. They have been prayer warriors with me through personal struggle. They have offered their assistance whenever it has been needed. Whether it was a ride someplace even if it was out of their way they were there. They even let me be a guest in their home.

Terry and Julie have truly been saints living among us. We are so honored to have them along side of us as Felicity's Godparents. We know she will have a great example on how to live a good Catholic way of life. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives.

Thank you Terry and Julie for being such wonderful examples and extending more than just your hand to help us. Thank you for letting us into your hearts, home and lives. We are truly blessed and grateful. Thank you for being living saints.

Happy Birthday Izabella Anna

We became Aunt Eileen and Uncle Kris for the ninth time on November 2, 2011 at 2:47pm. Kris' brother Paul and his wife Nicole became the parents of Izabella Anna today. We do not have many details except she weighed 6lbs 4oz. This makes six nieces and three nephews between the two of us. We cannot wait for our Felicity to join this happy bunch!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Job: The Frugal Lifestyle

fru·gal [froo-guhl]

1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful
2. entaliling little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty

Frugal is not just an adjective that describes us but it has become a way of life. It is a lifestyle that we have chosen to live out in our marriage. It is a lifestyle that has not always been easy for me to live.

Growing up living a frugal lifestyle had always been a part of our family household. I grew up with two relatively frugal parents especially my father. Growing up we never had many expensive things. If we did they were purchased as the fad was just starting to fade, when they were on sale or had to last several months (if not years) so that they could be handed down to the next sister or even other family members. We would often get one shot at some latest fad or craze but if it was lost or broken then it was not going to be replaced.

As an adult, the frugal lifestyle was a difficult one to embrace. Once I was in college, I fell prey to a few credit card offers. I fell into the trap of "I want and I want it now." I had not learned the dangers of credit cards since neither of my parents used them very much. I would walk by several displays all over campus and was an easy target for anyone offering a credit card. Some I would get in the mail and cancel right away but a couple I kept and used it to purchase the things I wanted without delving into my monthly allowance given to me by my parents. I thought I was living the life. I had the things I needed and the things I wanted. What could have been better?

After I graduated college, I tried hard to get myself out of the hole I had dug during my college hay days. I did  not have very much luck. I became overwhelmed and often wondered if I ever was going to get out of the mess I had created. I had not been as bad off as most people tend to get but I was in my own mess and I did not know how to get myself out of it. I could not figure out how to stay afloat and make headway on the mess I had already created. I tried to go back to the frugal lifestyle I had known as a child but it was hard to go back after having the things I wanted. I did not really dig myself much deeper but the hole I had already created was not getting any smaller. I found myself stuck in it until I could find a way out.

The way out came shortly before we got married. About six months before we got married, Kris and I decided it was time to come face to face with the mess I had created. I was afraid to even tell him how big of a mess it was but honestly I had not really taken a good look at it as I was too afraid to see how big it might have grown. Once I started to uncover the mess, I realized that the elephant was not as big as I thought it to be. So we tackled it one bill at a time. Slowly we paid off old bills and I started to relearn the frugal lifestyle which I had once been so familiar. We began the steps necessary to begin our own journey together into the frugal lifestyle.

The frugal lifestyle has now been our way of life throughout our entire marriage. It was a slow start learning how to manage our finances and take control of our budget but we have been getting better over time. A big help in encouraging our frugal lifestyle was taking Dave Ramsey's course Financial Peace University at our Church. We have learned budgeting skills that have become invaluable tools in our marriage. We embraced a cash only policy when we do our shopping whether it is to buy clothes, groceries or gas. We use coupons and take advantage of sales at the grocery store to reduce our grocery budget. We enjoy inexpensive date nights by going to the dollar theater and using coupons to enjoy a nice meal out. We combine coupons and good sales with our gift cards to stretch our gifted dollars.

Recently one of our favorite coupon savings websites Southern Savers was live streaming a coupon savings video as part of Save Up conference. I am always very encouraged to hear stories from other Moms, Dads, and families who save money and live a frugal lifestyle.

Here are some quotes and tips I leaned while watching the video:


- Embrace the frugal lifestyle.

- Save where you can so you can live like you want.

- Be smart with your funds so you can live the lifestyle you choose.

- Frugal does not make you noble but careful and grateful.

- There is a difference between poverty and proverty of spirit.

- Save on what you need so you can spend on what you want.

- Being frugal means you can live a better life on a budget.


- Sales rotate every 6-10 weeks. Buy 6 weeks worth of what is on sale and 1 week of what you need (not on sale) After about 6 weeks, you what you need list will not be as long and your pantry/fridge (stockpile) will be your "grocery store."

- Know where your money is going and find where you can save money even if it means going extreme.

- Be focused and organized. Forecast for the things you know you're going to spend money on.

We are proud to live a frugal lifestyle in order to provide for our future and family. We are not there yet but we can certainly see a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you so much to my wonderful husband for introducing me to this lifestyle. I could not have done it without you.

You can watch more savings tips on or follow Southern Savers on

Monday, September 26, 2011

Showered with Love

"Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.
My soul you also knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you 
    When I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my actions; in your book they are all written." 
Psalm 139: 13-16a

I already know that our Special K Felicity is loved by so many. She has been in the prayers of many of our friends and family throughout our entire pregnancy. Many more prayers have been added each step of the way. Prayers have continued through our difficult moments when I was having morning sickness and other uncomfortable symptoms. There were even more prayers of thanksgiving when we had good news to share. We have had the love and prayers of so many the past six months. It has been an incredible journey. We have been so blessed.

This past weekend we had a very unexpected blessing. Kris managed to keep plans of a baby shower a secret for nearly two weeks. I did not suspect a thing. I was very pleasantly surprised and touched by everyone who joined us to celebrate our Special K. We feel even more loved.

The decorations for the party were so cute. Kris' Mom put bows on top of small containers of Special K cereal to give to everyone as party giveaways. She used a large box to make a "Special K" baby. She wrapped a blanket around the box and put a balloon with a baby's hat on top. It was just too cute! She wrapped Special K cereal bars with a touching poem based on Psalm 139. Here is what it said:

Before we knew you as FELICITY, you were our SPECIAL K
Before that - in your father's eye, you were only a gleam
Before that - in your mother's heart, you were only a dream
But from all eternity - in secret, in the depths of the earth
Your inmost being was already woven together by God and
All your days ordained and written in His book.

I almost cried (again) when I read it. We were both so touched. It was a wonderful gathering.

The shower was just in time, too. We had recently received an outfit for her and I had mentioned to Kris how we did not have much for her. We have not even started a baby registry. She will be here in three short months and we do not have things ready for her arrival. We will have much to prepare over the next few months. Little did I know that this gathering was already in the works and in a few short hours we would be showered with love from a few people who have been praying along side of us. I was almost brought to tears when I walked into the house and saw the decorations and everyone there.

Now we have some 3-month, 6-month, and 9-month onesies. We also have a few outfits for when she is older (18 and 24-months) We got a few other small items and even a walker from Uncle Paul and Aunt Nikki. Now we have a few things to get us started. There is still so much left to do but I am excited to have a few items to get us motivated to get things in gear.

I cannot put into words how touched I am. The only thing I can keep saying is that we are so touched. We are so blessed. We thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts. We know that Felicity is already loved by so many.

This is what I saw as soon as I walked in the door
Our "Special K"
Party giveaways
The chair was all decorated for me to sit in and open gifts
A bear for Felicity's new room
We were showered with love
I was delightfully surprised
A big bow for Mommy and a little bow for Felicity
Mommy and Daddy

Dear Special K Felicity,

You are so loved! So many people have been praying for you. Long before we even knew you, there have been prayers for you. We have only dreamed of this moment. We have only prayed for this time with you. Very soon you will be here with us. We cannot wait to hold you. We cannot wait for you to see the wonderful gifts that you were showered with this weekend. So many people love you and are waiting for your arrival. Continue to grow big and strong in there. We will see you when you are ready.

Love, Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Special K with Strawberries

As we were awaiting our recent ultrasound to learn the Special K's gender some of my online friends from an NFP forum were curious to find out if we had Special K with strawberries or blueberries. I have always wanted a little boy first, but Kris from the very beginning had a feeling it was a little girl. Whether Special K had strawberries or blueberries was not so important to us as the health. We wanted to be sure that we had a healthy, growing baby. Anything else was going to be a bonus. 

Our calendar the weeks before our ultrasound appointment was pretty busy. Between the OB, the dentist, the eye doctor, Church meetings and a few family obligations, we were quite busy. It helped the weeks to pass quickly. The Friday of our appointment was going to be a very busy day with errands to run before and after the appointment. Despite our busy schedule nothing could have spoiled the excitement of seeing our precious Special K again since our first ultrasound at 8 weeks. We had already heard the heartbeat twice but we were looking forward to seeing the baby again. At our first quick peek Special K only looked like a peanut. You could see the heartbeat and the makings of a tiny baby but the baby was too small to notice tiny hands or feet. We were excited to see how much our little one had grown.

Prior to arrival at the appointment I was required to drink two glasses of water and asked not to use the bathroom. Not an easy task for a 19-week pregnant woman. Fortunately the receptionist told me it was okay as long as I drank more water. So I had to continuously drink water until the time of our appointment. The ultrasound itself lasted about 45 minutes. They took all kinds of different measurements to make sure that our little one was healthy. They measured the ulna, the humerous, the femur, the chest, the brain, the head, and many other things. It was so neat to see our little one moving all around during the ultrasound. Special K was quite the acrobat. I was hoping to get a good peek before the tech told us if Special K had strawberries or blueberries but Special K just would not stay still long enough for me to get a good peek. I am not sure I would have known what to look for anyway. We were enjoying watching our little one move and dance around. We saw the baby "wave", suck their thumb, kick their leg, tumble, somersault and so much more. We saw the two halves of the brain, the four chambers of the heart, the bones in the fingers and toes and much, much more. It was like Special K was putting on a show for Mommy and Daddy. Although it was hard to lie there with a full bladder I did not want to stop watching the baby. It was so amazing to see. The baby was still rather tiny but you could see everything so clearly. Kris was so excited to see the baby again and this time Special K was more than a peanut. 

We were both excited when time came to reveal Special K's gender. We both had our hunches about the gender and could not wait to find out who was right. No matter what we both had already loved Special K so much already. Gender made no difference. Fortunately, Special K was quite cooperative when it came time to reveal the gender. The tech focused in to show us. She asked what we thought. I was not too sure but I had to ask. Then came the big news. IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!! Kris was so excited. His first comment was, "Now we have to start saving for a wedding." I was just simply moved to tears. Although I wanted a boy, I knew that having a girl was something extra special. I had always planned to name my first daughter Felicity after my paternal grandmother, Felicidad. My Mama Edad is 92-years old and we have been very close since I was young. We used to do many arts and crafts together. She has inspired me and taught me so much. I was sad to learn that she would be returning home to the Philippines a couple of months before we were married. I have had the chance to speak with her via Skype shortly after we learned we were pregnant. She was the first family member we told. I told her that if we were to have a girl, we will name her after her. Mama was so happy to hear that. There was a smile so big on her face. Mama has 6 children (5 daughters and 1 son), 19 grandchildren and now our baby girl Felicity makes 22 great-grandchildren. I am honored to be carrying Mama Edad's namesake and excited for Mama to see her even if it is only by Skype.

After our ultrasound, we met with the specialist Dr. Barron. She informed us that little Felicity is perfectly healthy at this time. She measured exactly where she needed to be (According to the OB we were 18 weeks and 6 days and she was measuing 18 weeks and 5 days) She told us we were on track for an average 7-7.5lb baby. I was taken a little by surprise since my nieces and nephews were not much bigger than 6lbs. A 7-lb baby in is a BIG baby for our family but I was glad to hear that she is very healthy. It was such a relief to hear. We both let out a deep sigh of relief. We could not be more excited to meet our little one in a few months.

This reminded me of a "classic" ultrasound picture that you might see in a book, magazine or poster but this time it was of OUR little girl.

She is such the cutie already!

The tech told us that she has Daddy's nose not a Filipino, flat nose.

She was sucking her thumb.

She has LONG legs like Daddy. She likes to kick me on my left side.

She waved hi for Mommy and Daddy. Hi baby girl!!!!!!!!

Dear Special K Felicity,

We are so happy to have seen you dance, somersault, kick and even wave for us. It was certainly an exciting show to see. We cannot get enough. I wish we could have watched all day. Keep on growing in there. Stay strong and active. I do not mind if you give me a little kick here and there to let me know you are okay but please be gentle. We will see you very soon little one. Remember you are already so loved.

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 29, 2011

Special K

Before even learning that we were pregnant, I decided that I would call our baby in utero Special K. Other friends had different creative nicknames for their babies-to-be and I wanted something just as cute. I did not like referring to the baby as "it" and did not want to always have to say "the baby." I wanted something that would give the baby an identity. Some kind of name before we even knew the gender. Our last name lent a hand to that. Special K seemed perfect. Our own little K. The newest member of Team K. Someone so special to us no matter what gender they turned out to be. 

Dear Special K,

We love you very much. We cannot wait for you to join our team. Do not worry. You do not have to be the star right away. Mommy and Daddy will coach you and pretty soon you will be the All Star. Stay strong. Stay healthy. Grow big. 

Mommy and Daddy