December 29, 2014



I've been meaning to write this post since my birthday (Nov. 29th), but I haven't had time to just sit down and write. I've had a lot of feelings and emotions and thoughts both leading up to, during, and after turning 30. 

So today, exactly one month after my 30th birthday, I'd like to share a few of those thoughts; in particular, a few life lessons and reflections now that I'm at an age where I can give out my pearls of wisdom with some legitimacy. ;) And just for fun, I'm going to scatter photos of my 30th birthday celebration throughout this post. I wanted to do something befitting my entry into my 30s (OK, really, I just wanted to do something where I could dress up and go out!), but I didn't want to break the bank. So I hosted a sit-down, formal dinner (with chargers and place cards and Salvadorian turkey, of course) for 16 people at my home. And I took a break mid-prep to go to the temple. It only seemed fitting to start this new life chapter with a visit to the Lord's house. After dinner, we went downtown to see The Shakespeare Theatre Company's interpretation of As You Like It.

30th bday
Group selfie! It was hard to fit all 16 of us in the shot, but we got almost everyone. :)

I think the most important thing about turning 30 is I feel much more confident in who I am and who I'm trying to become. I often think of my various selves -- my go-getting work self, my goody-two-shoes church self, my big sister/protective over people I love self, my Gilmore Girls-Netflix-watching/cookie-baking/puppy-loving/squeal-when-I-see-a-cute-baby self, and at 30, I own and acknowledge all of these "selves" make up my whole self. I am who I am, I'm me regardless of where I am or who I'm with, and I like who me is (who I am?). :)

I feel more secure in my choices and life decisions. There’s a sense of validity and legitimacy that comes from turning 30 that you just don’t have when you’re 29. Or maybe it’s all in my head.

30th birthday!
Table 1 (clockwise, starting with me): Me, Nils, Stephie, Dennis, Jackie, Nicole, Joseph, María)

I'm also trying to "own" my goals. My chief life goal right now is to find my eternal companion, get married, and start a family. I have no idea how any of this is going to happen, but I have faith that it will, and I intend to do all I can to make it happen. (Hello, internet?) Whereas before, I felt embarrassed to admit that out loud -- let alone on the worldwide web; yikes! -- it is what it is. Evidence of this new mentality: a few weeks ago, we had our staff holiday dinner. We took turns sharing what our "magic moment" will be in 2015. I kindly informed my team they were all invited to my wedding in Utah in 2015. ;) They all laughed, but I was like... No, guys, seriously... I figure it can't hurt to put it out into the universe, right? (Also, if you're reading this, and you know any cute, single, eligible Mormon men interested in dating a mostly laid-back but sometimes sassy over-achieving Latina, by all means, send 'em my way!)

30th birthday!
Table 2 (clockwise starting bottom left): David, Michelle. Jeffie, Kevin, Roxy, Andrea, Jimmy, Caitlin

More pearls of wisdom -- Now that I'm 30, I feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin. And whereas a few months ago, I was really nervous and anxious and worried about being 30 years old, dude, I'm 30, and I'm going to own it.

Don’t get me wrong. I still feel the weight of societal pressure and expectations about where I "should" be by age 30. I mean, just a few days ago, I saw a photo on Facebook of a guy I went to school with.. A photo of him, his wife… and their FOUR children. Yep. Four children. Did I mention we went to high school together? :-/ And for some reason, at least five of my Facebook friends (who are my age or younger) have hit their respective 9-year anniversaries this week. Shoot, I have a friend my age who will hit her 11-year wedding anniversary next year! (So crazy!)

30th bday
Me, blowing out my candles on my 30th bday, with my family joining with their own cake via Skype!
But what I’m trying to focus on is gratitude for the experiences I’ve had, the places I’ve been, and the opportunities that have come my way in my 30 years on this earth. I have been so very blessed! 

I've gotten to travel, pursue my education, live in the capital of the greatest country in the world, serve an 18-month mission that forever changed my life, and meet and befriend and serve with so many wonderful people. I recognize that if my life had turned out the way my younger self had envisioned (married in my early 20s with a bunch of babies running around by age 30), I wouldn’t have had these opportunities. I definitely wouldn’t have served a mission, moved to DC, or even considered graduate school. I understand these were experiences I needed to have. I am who I am today because of them, and I wouldn’t change any of it.

30th birthday!
At the theatre!
I've also felt the desire to think more long-term about things like... retirement, savings, nesting, home ownership, etc. I'm not gonna run out and buy a house tomorrow or anything, but I'd like to make sure I'm making decisions now that will allow me to pursue specific financial goals in the future. I think that makes me officially an adult, right? If anyone has tips or advice on any of the above -- specifically re: home buying and/or retirement, please let me know! 

I'm excited for this new decade and all the adventures it will hold! Cheers to growing up! :)

PS Remember my goal to not shop this year? I put it on hold temporarily for my birthday. Because a girl's 30th birthday clearly calls for gold sequins, a sparkly bracelet, and new shoes, obvs. :D

gold sequins and all things sparkly
Most of these links are out of stock,
but in case you're curious --
Shoes | Dress | Bracelet (similar bracelet)
30th bday outfit
I failed to take a photo of my birthday outfit,
so I had to resort to a mirror selfie.
Please don't judge me!

December 22, 2014

Christmas everywhere

My little brother has a friend joining us for Christmas this year.  She is visiting all the way from China. She didn't grow up celebrating Christmas, and it's already been fun to have her around and share little details with her. Like this morning.

We were riding the Frontrunner down to Salt Lake, and one of the UTA workers came by to wish us all a Merry Christmas and share a little Christmas cheer via candy cane. Shirley (my bro's friend) was intrigued by the oddly-shaped treat and asked what it was. I explained that it was a special type of candy we eat during Christmas. I refreshed her on the Christmas story and the shepherds who received the glad tidings of Christ's birth.

It struck me as such a beautiful thing that even as we get our sugar highs this season, we can find Christ and the REAL spirit of Christmas everywhere we go. :)

PS If you want a quick refresher on the Christmas story, click here to read this beautiful synopsis. It'll fill your heart with gratitude and cheer. :)

November 21, 2014

First Date

First date

This type of post is a little out of the norm for me, but I'm sort of dying about what happened tonight, and I wanted to share it with someone (with you! yay!). It's just that ridiculous. ;)

Sunday night, I missed a call from someone (a boy). I didn't even see the missed call notification that night! Good thing he called again on Monday night! (I answered this time.) As you may have guessed from the title of this post, he asked me on a date. A lovely, thought-out date. He would pick me up from work on Friday at 6:30pm, we would grab dinner, and we would go ice skating on the National Mall. So fun, right?? I was excited for it all week long. :)

And then today came... I mentioned I got sick recently, right? (Only in the last seven blog posts, duh.) Last week, I was improving. This week, not so much. In fact, I felt like I was getting worse, and I started to get concerned about how my Friday plans would be affected. My throat hurt. My gross phlegmy cough (TMI? sorrynotsorry.) was back with a painful vengeance. And I was exhausted... None of these things were ideal for outdoor ice skating...

When I woke up this morning, the way I felt was a sure sign to me that I needed to see a doctor. (Basically, if coughing hurts your chest... go to the doctor.) I made an appointment for 10:20am. But unless the doctor told me otherwise, I was still planning to go ice skating.

It didn't make sense for me to go in to work at 9am only to leave for a 10:20am appointment, so I decided to work from home. My boss was fine with it, as long as I could be available for a quick call at 10am to brief one of the actors we work with re: immigration talking points (he was in Vegas today for the President's announcement on executive action and needed to be briefed for press interviews). My 10am call came before 10am, and it was anything but quick. I had to cancel my appointment. But the work call was still happening, so I couldn't even call the doctor myself to cancel. I had to gchat one of our interns to call for me! (Thanks, Isaac!)

When the call ended, something else urgent came up, and by the time that was done, I didn't have enough time to get to the metro and get to work by noon, which is when I was leading a different call. So basically, I spent half the workday at home, stressed out about when I was finally going to make it to the office. Oh, AND I hadn't gotten ready! I was working at home, half-dressed, with no make-up on.

Since I'd missed my 10:20am appointment, my supervisor advised me to call the doctor or speak to a nurse to see if he/she recommended me coming in, or maybe just getting an over the phone refill of my antibiotics, etc. I finally spoke to a doctor, and he said I definitely needed to come in... I scheduled an appointment for 5:20pm and decided I probably shouldn't go ice skating... I texted my date to see if he could chat at work for a minute. Because he works in a lab, I thought he might not have his phone on him (I was right), so I didn't talk to him 'til 4:30. I felt bad changing his plan, but he was SO nice about it! He told me to go to my appointment and to let him know when I was done and he'd pick me up.

I went to my appointment... where I was prescribed an inhaler (!!!). An inhaler!! Two days ago, I got my retainers (YAY for nearing the end of Invisalign!!), and tonight, a retainer? Geez... #nerdalert

While I was at the doctor's, m'date texted to see how things were coming. I let him know the address and that I was almost done, and he said he'd leave shortly. When my appointment was done, I ran frantically to the bathroom, makeup bag in hand. I cleaned up as best I could in a clinic's bathroom, and I swiped on some mascara (No time for eyeliner! And please remember that I had left my house that day wearing clothes I was planning to wear ice skating... Scarf, beanie, puffy coat, check!).

When I was done at the doctor, I wandered through the Anthropologie sale section, walked up and down the aisles of Sephora (and OK, I maybe added some blush to my cheeks and spritzed on a li'l perfume), and then finally remembered I had a prescription to fill. I crossed the street to CVS and was submitting my paperwork to the pharmacist, when my date called. I ran outside to find him, annnd we sat in his car for the next 15 minutes to wait for my retainer.

Sounds like a great start to a date, no? He had a DC dream date planned out, and instead, he picked me up from my doctor's appointment and waited with me for my inhaler. Surely, this is the stuff romance is made of.

First date

Once my inhaler was in hand, he googled a place for dinner, and we headed to Bethesda Row (see first photo) for some most delicious chicken. :)

We had a lovely evening with great conversation, and then we enjoyed some post-dinner hot chocolate. Definitely not the evening he'd originally planned, but a really good one just the same. Now, please join me in singing his praises for being so flexible and so, so sweet!

November 19, 2014

Things I Learned From Having Bronchitis

Bronchitis recently knocked me out for two weeks. I stayed home from work for more than a week (though I did work from home part of the time), and I only just returned to the office last Thursday. I slept most of the time I was home, but in between naps and a few Gilmore Girls episodes on Netflix, I learned two very important lessons:

1- Mother knows best. I already mentioned this one, but it's worth repeating. My mother has nearly-raised five kids. (I say nearly, bc my two youngest brothers are 14 and 15 and still at home. She's basically done. ;) ) She has seen us go through colds, pneumonia, countless flus, fevers, throwing up, chicken pox, tonsil removals, you name it, etc. etc. etc. "No soy doctora," she told me, "pero despues de cinco hijos, se cuando se necesita ir al doctor." In other words, "I'm not a doctor, but after five kids, I know when you need to go to one."

When I got sick, I was surprised at how quickly I got hit. To go from feeling a little sniffly, to "I can't move or think, and I'm certain I'm going to die right here," is pretty drastic. I thought I had a bad cold. I thought I'd maybe caught María's viral infection and it would go away on its own. I thought I could just sleep it off for a couple of days.

Boy, was I wrong!

On Day 2 (and Days 3-5), my mother told me to go to the doctor. Did I listen? (Hint: NO.) But I should have! I finally went to the doctor five days in, and I was still out for almost a whole week after that. I should've listened to my mother and gone to the doctor early. Maybe I would've gotten better faster. I don't know. What I do know now is when it comes to sickness, Mother really does know best.

2- Self-care is important. I know scientifically I got sick because I came into contact with some sort of infection and my immune system was unable to fight it. But I think the reason my body couldn't fight it is because I haven't been making self-care a priority. I've been working 12+ hour days, not sleeping enough (or well), not making time to exercise, not eating well, living under constant stress, etc. No more. There will always be more work to do. It looks like my team will be under-staffed for a little while longer, but it's much worse to be taken out of work for 10 days and come back to do loads of catch-up than it is to take care of myself and have a little balance on the way. No more 12+ hour days (ugh, except maybe this week when POTUS is going to make an announcement on immigration reform AND there'll be a verdict in Ferguson, MO... BLAH.), sleep WILL be a priority, and so will nourishing and taking care of my body. I deserve it, and it's the least I can do to take care of my little temple. Plus, doesn't getting a full night's sleep every night sound just divine? :)

BONUS LESSON #3: Always look on the bright side!

As you know, I am an optimist. And while I was home miserable, I tried to find good things happening, so I'd like to share a little list of them here:

  1. I felt blessed for the home/visiting teaching system in the Church. My home teachers gave me a priesthood blessing, and Seth re-stocked my with DayQuil, NyQuil, and cough drops. My visiting teacher brought me soup (and limes!! bless you, Kati!), flowers, and just generally made me feel loved.
  2. Apparently it was warm and beautiful out in the world during my sick time. While e'rryone else was flooding my Instagram feed with images of DC in the fall, I still got to enjoy fall colors thanks to the pretty flowers from Kati (which are still alive and going strong, btw!), and I got to enjoy my favorite city via the painting from Ashley's birthday party this summer. :)


  3. Not going to work meant I saved $$ in metro fare. :)
  4. While I was sick, I got to wear ALL my favorite things! Camp socks! Leggings (patterned leggings!)! Fluffy scarves! My deer thermal shirt! #winagain

  5. I had way too many things I needed to carry around (medicine, cough drops, tissues, etc.), so I started using my little black glitter pouch to carry everything. Who says you can't be luxe when you're sick? ;)

So what I'm saying is there's always a bright side. :) (Even when you're dead tired in bed, coughing up blood, and feeling like you got run over by a truck. twice.)

November 09, 2014

Fall Camping :)

bean boots and fall leaves
Bean boot photo #1
I mentioned a few of us went camping last week near Sugarloaf Mountain after the Halloween dance. Behold, photographic evidence!

We arrived super late (like... midnight) after the dance, we set up in the dark (I must say I was impressed with our setting-up-in-the-dark skills!). But here's what the next day looked like:

Sugarloaf Mountain camping our sweet tents! Nils and his manly tent

Nils was too cool to kick it with the rest of us, so he set up his own "man tent." ;)

Now, for the important stuff. Is there any breakfast as delicious as a camping breakfast? I think not! Dara did an amazing job with the food, as you can see below. :)

Dara's breakfastcamping breakfast!


It was Jeffie's birthday* on Saturday, so naturally, celebrations were had!

HBD, Jeffie!

And what's a camping trip without a fire, I ask you? (Nothing. is what.)

campfire group

Especially with these dudes to gather firewood. (By taking large logs and throwing them at trees? Whatever works, guys.)

firewood log throwing

A few of us took an innocent walk through the woods, seeking only to enjoy the beauty around us.

another bean boot picture
Bean boot photo #2. I really love my Bean boots. Even if they're too big...
Thanks for the giant hoodie, Pepsi!
We never could have imagined what a life-changing experience that walk would be as we witnessed the birth of... tree-riding.

What is tree-riding, you ask? Here's how it goes:

Step 1 -- Climb a tree.


Step 2 -- Lean back on said tree. Throw all your weight into it like you really mean it, or else the tree won't lean! (Please note Jeff's form in the second photo. Perfection.)

tree-riding tree-riding

Step 3 -- Ride that tree all the way back, and land on the ground. Ta-da! Tree-ridin'! (Photobombing optional.)

(Please note how ridiculously high up Kevin went. And OK, so I don't have a photo of someone actually landing. But you get the idea.) 

Kevin tree-riding Tree-riding photobomb

After getting our fix of tree-riding (or in my case, my fix of watching the tree-riding), we packed up and went home. And we made it back in time for lunch! It really was just perfect. :)

Here's the whole gang at the end of the trip. Don't we all look like we had a good time? :) Because we did!

Camping friends!
Matt, Kev, Ali, Joseph, Dara, me, Nils, Jeffie
And thanks for the healthy road snacks, Dara! We love our apples! (OK, to be completely open and transparent, I don't particularly care for apples, but I think they're really pretty! So when I say I loved my apple, I really do mean it!)

Camping friends!

One more shot (featuring all the fall clichés) to close us out:

fall stereotypes


* Bonus if you made it this far. I mentioned Jeffie's birthday earlier, right? Later this same night, he had a birthday gathering at Ted's Bulletin on 14th Street, complete with a "How well do you know Jeff" quiz. I am proud to tell you... I won! This was my prize:

HBD, Jeffie!

Jealous, aren'tcha? ;)

November 08, 2014


I'm sick (read: starved for human contact). There. I said it. (Admitting it is the first step in overcoming it, right?) I started feeling sick on Monday, felt awful on Tuesday (but it was Election Day, so obviously, I still put in my 13 hours...), and I completely crashed the day after. I've been home in bed since Wednesday, mostly asleep, and this is what I've learned in these last four days in bed: mother knows best.

I thought I could get better on my own, but boy, was I wrong! (Although, hey! I did get a priesthood blessing from my home teachers on Thursday night! Go, me! And go home teachers! Esp Seth, who restocked my dwindling NyQuil/DayQuil supply!) I finally listened to my mom and went to the doctor today. I came back with two brand shiny new antibiotics (I can't even remember the last time I needed antibiotics.). I'm really grateful I have health insurance right now! And this is definitely the longest I've been out from work in my entire professional career, so here's hoping those antibiotics work quickly so I can get back to work!

So, basically, this is my life right now (please note that the Lipton's chicken noodle soup in the little envelopes is my very favorite chicken noodle soup of all the soups! none of this Campbell's nonsense... but con limón, duh.) --


November 07, 2014

Halloween 2014

As you may know, Halloween was last week. This year, I got lucky with my costume theme(s), in that I was part of TWO groups for TWO different events using the same costume. That's what happens when your co-workers decide to do a "Wizard of Oz" group costume the same year you have friends doing the same thing for a ward party. :)

Below is our amazing work version, in all its glory:


Our co-worker María was home sick, so we decided to photoshop her costume. ;)


All the costumes you see above (well, except María's) are homemade. :) And please let the record show that when our CEO came in with her two little ones (love them!) and saw our costumes, her comment about our costumes was, "You can tell you're children of immigrants." (Just wait 'til you see the gringo Mormon store-bought costumes below, and you'll see what she means. ;) Heh heh.)

And speaking of the boss's little ones, aren't they just the cutest??

IMG_6994 IMG_6995

Oh, I love these little ones! They come in every day for Lalo's lunch, and every time, it's the highlight of my (and Avery's) day. :)


And now for the ward Halloween pictures! Our YSA group had a Halloween activity at the Foulger-Pratt Barn in Dickerson, MD. It was a beautiful venue (it's where Eve and Erick's wedding was), and an even more beautiful night.

And here's the gang below:


In case you hadn't figured it out, yet, I was the "Yellow Brick Road." :) I made my costume by taking a yellow dress I already owned and using black masking tape to form the outlines of the "bricks." I was really quite proud of myself :) And I came up with the idea all on my lonesome! The sign I made at work with our printer, packing tape, a stick from a gay pride flag, and some cardboard. I thought I'd be punny, so on one side, my sign said "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," and on the other, it said "Follow me" and had my social media handle, @utahgirlami. :) (Get it? Follow me? Social media? Ah ha ha ha!)


Some more photos:

Happy Halloween!
Photobomb courtesy of Kyle.
Happy Halloween!IMG_7022


And then we went camping. :) Hope your Halloween was also lovely!