Mi Familia

Okay guys, this will probably be my LONGEST, but FAVORITE post EVER because it’s all about my favorite people!

Only my extended family and close friends really know just how amazing these people are, so I wanted to dedicate a post especially to them, so that you can see why they are so dear to me.

First up, to no one’s surprise… My wonderful husband. I feel like many people kind of already know him or feel like they do because I share so much of our life together on social media. He’s literally (no exaggeration) the funniest person I have ever met, which is why I fell so in love with him almost immediately {his good looks didn’t hurt either}. Since you will probably hear me talk about Willie the most throughout my posts, I won’t spend a lot of time on him. Moral of the story… HE’S AWESOME, treats me like a queen and I love him completely!

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My dear, dear parents, Steve and Kathy or as I call them Ma and Deddy! I owe so much (actually probably EVERYTHING) to them. Anyone with a daughter or daughters for that matter know that raising girls is a beast all its own… My poor parents got BLESSED with 3 (4 if you count our dog Maddie). These days you can find them in the early stages of “empty nest syndrome” (which they don’t seem too upset about), working towards retirement, house hunting/dreaming at the beach, going out to eat, preparing to pay for another wedding and another college tuition (no wonder they haven’t retired yet), playing golf, shopping, getting pedicures TOGETHER (my dad is the manliest man you’ll ever meet but he will never turn down a pedicure), planning their next vacation, being silly, eating ice cream or Hershey nuggets, going to beach music festivals and patiently waiting for their first grandchild (Willie and I aren’t quite ready for that step just yet, but when it does happen, I know they will make wonderful grandparents).

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My older sister/BFF, Elizabeth, another person I owe a lot to. She’s been there since Day 1 and has never left my side (literally, I have a tattoo in honor of her so she’s with me everywhere I go). She stood beside me on my wedding day and now it’s my turn to return the favor. She’s getting married April 29, 2017 to the most perfect guy for her and I couldn’t be any happier or excited! She’s funny, witty and has always given the BEST advice (even the stuff I don’t want to hear, but need to hear). She’s single handedly the ONLY person I would trust completely to decorate my house, pick out my wedding dress and fill my closet (that is saying a lot). She’s a health nut most days, but my “go to” girl when I need my Bojangles, Coldstone or Little Ceasar’s fix (no matter what she will never let me eat these things alone, TRUE friend). As you can see, our love goes far beyond our matching, childhood bowl cuts.

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My little sister, my firecracker, Lauren Michelle. The one they THOUGHT was a boy. Where do I even begin? You make this world a little less serious and A LOT more funny. When you were born, I was 7 years old and Elizabeth was 10. I didn’t understand how 3 would work, since Elizabeth and I were already SO close. But boy were we wrong. Although, we made you our slave for most of your childhood, we loved you like none other (even though at the time it didn’t feel like it). Since we were a bit older than you (especially Elizabeth), we got to watch you grow up, which has been bittersweet but a blessing all the same. I can’t believe you’re starting college this Fall (Go Pirates)! Thanks for always telling me like it is, making me laugh until my stomach hurts and persuading Ma and Deddy when they wouldn’t listen to me or Elizabeth. You are so smart, sassy and beautiful! Stay that way for the rest of your life! Unless, you want to bring back those chubby cheeks. I miss those the most!

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My in-laws, Terry and Jorine. Personally, I think in-laws sounds too stuffy. My other set of parents sounds way better. When Willie and I first started dating, I remember how nervous I was to meet you. With a house full of boys and no girls, I wondered how we would have anything in common other than your son/my boyfriend. I kept asking Willie, “what if they don’t like me or “approve”? He was quick to reassure me, “they’re going to love you”. Hesitantly, we walked in (what’s that line that everyone uses… “the rest was history…”). I consider myself SO lucky to have such thoughtful, loving, caring in-laws that I actually have a personal relationship with (outside of Willie). I have never been more comfortable with any family, other than my own, so thank you for that. Thank you for raising all your boys to be such amazing men and instilling in them the importance of love and family. I am forever grateful.

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Michael, Whitney, Liam, Finn and our BRAND NEW addition Cade! Let me first start off by saying, y’all are the cutest, sweetest, most fun family I’ve ever laid eyes on. Michael and Whitney, from the first day I met you two, your love for one another and your family has ALWAYS been so inspiring and encouraging to me. No matter who needs what or what needs to get done (which is A LOT with 3 growing boys), you always find a way to make it work. I love, love, LOVE that you have found a church home and that y’all have chosen to raise your family under Christ (I feel that is the BEST decision you could ever make as parents). Even though we live across the US (literally), those 2 (now 3) handsome, smart, fun-loving nephews of ours have been the BIGGEST blessing in our lives! Just being able to FaceTime, see pictures and keep up with them brings us so much JOY and lightheartedness. Thank you for setting the example of everything a family should be!

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My foodies, my adventurers, Kevin and Callie! Kevin graduated from culinary school and currently works as a Sous Chef at a upscale, fine dining restaurant in Winston-Salem. Translation: Kevin cooks for me when I visit and it’s ALWAYS absolutely delicious (in fact I’m a pretty picky eater and he’s never made me anything I didn’t love). Callie, my little explorer… This girl loves to travel (which who could blame her). I’ve always envied her “work hard, play hard” mentality (many people say it, but few actually live by it). Her spirit was just born to roam this world and I believe that is exactly what she will do. Speaking of, these guys are embarking on the trip of a lifetime TODAY of all days, right this very second and I couldn’t be more happy or jealous! If any two people deserve to go wanderlusting around Europe, it’s definitely you two (y’all have busted your butts long enough, so safe travels, take lots of pictures and ENJOY!) #eurotrip2016 #yolo #noregrets

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My Benjermina, Ben Bunny aka Willie’s mini me! Out of all Willie’s brothers, Ben holds a special place in my heart. Not because I love one more than the other, but because I got to see him grow up and evolve into the amazing man he is today. When Willie and I first started dating, Ben was just finishing up 8th grade (around 13 or 14 years old, you know those “awkward years”). I remember the first couple times meeting him, he was a little nervous, a little shy and didn’t have too much to say (of course I thought it was cute). That sure didn’t last long… Before I knew it, I was going to almost all of his baseball games, a few cross country meets and giving him advice on high school and all things girls. Now a days when I’m home, we converse around Tyson chicken nuggets and blue Gatorade like old times and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Don’t change for anyone! Keep beating Willie at FIFA. Keep making up corny raps. Keep ridiculously decorating your parents house for Christmas. Keep your spirit free and your mind clear. Keep navigating life the BEST way you know how. Keep being AWESOME! Lets get WEIRD!

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Last, but CERTAINLY not least… How could I forget… The ones who raised, the ones who raised us, our beautiful grandparents (those who are with us and those who have gone home). We love you and think of you often!

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My dad’s mom. Her name was Ann, but I knew her as Grandma. She loved the Lord and played the piano at her church every Sunday. We lived with her for a few years while my parents were building their first house and getting on their own two feet. Once we moved out of her house and into our own, we would still go over EVERY Sunday after church for a big, southern lunch that she had cooked all morning. I was only 9 years old when she passed away, but the love she showed us EVERY time we were with her was more than some people experience in a lifetime. The one thing I remember her saying all the time to me and my sisters was, “Grandma loves you”. It is something so small, but something I can recall so vividly. I still remember what her voice sounds like and I can’t wait for the day when I get to hear it again!

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My mom’s parents, Dr. Damaso Fernandez and his wife Pat (aka my Lolo and Lola) which in Filipino means grandma and grandpa. If two souls were ever meant for each other, these are the ones. My Lolo was a Veterinarian and in his free time loved tending to his rose bushes which were absolutely BEAUTIFUL (sadly, I did NOT get his green thumb). My Lola, among other talents, was an amazing seamstress. She made all the drapes in our old house, as well as clothes, prom dresses and wedding dresses for my mom and her sisters. My Lolo passed away in 2014, just shy of his 100th birthday. My Lola is 91 years old and is currently living in an assisted care facility in Greenville, NC. It breaks my heart to see her without her soulmate, but she is in decent health and is happiest when anyone stops by for a visit. I miss them both dearly!

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Jorine’s parents, Willie’s grandparents, Robert and Cora (aka Granny and Gabby). I’ve only been able to visit a handful of times, but whenever I’m there, I am always loved and well fed. Willie’s granny is the BEST cook! Not only does she cook/bake anything and everything, but she makes A LOT of it! Trust me, you WILL go back for seconds, thirds, maybe even fourths. What I would do for some spaghetti and empanadas right about now… She is also quite the dancer and regularly attends dances every other week. Don’t even get me started on her cowboy boot collection… (Granny, remember we wear the same size, wink wink). Willie’s grandpa, Gabby passed away just last year. It was hard on everyone, especially Willie, since they shared such a close bond. It’s always sad when those close to us leave this world, but I was SO thankful that Willie was able to fly back to Alabama and spend a few days with him before he passed (unfortunately not everyone gets that chance).

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Terry’s parents, Willie’s other set of grandparents, Sig and Marilyn (aka Grandma and Grandpa Olson). These two are alive and well in good ole Auburn, Alabama. They love the Lord and are very dedicated to their church. They volunteer regularly at their local food pantry and help out wherever and whenever they can. They love their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren with all they have and try to stay up to date with everything and everyone (which is hard to do with so many of us). I’ve had the chance to visit them a few times and we were SO happy to have them at our wedding last year. Every time I see them they are always so sweet, loving, caring and genuinely interested in what’s going on in all of our lives. We love you both very much!

The list could go on and on with all of the people we love in our lives. But for now, I’ll leave it at this… I hope you’ve gotten to know a little more about me, my husband and our ever growing family.

In my next blog post (which will hopefully be later this week), I hope to update you on how my interview goes (which is scheduled for today, yikes) as well as show you around our sorta unpacked home.

Stay tuned!

Happy hump day!

XOXO

 

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