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June 2008

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County!

Today I wanted to share something with you: A GREAT MUSEUM! Bill and I took the kids to this magic place and we all had the best time! The most beautiful things are found in nature and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a wonderful place to see and understand all that beauty. I took some photos for you! If the photos are beautiful imagine how amazing is seeing this place in person! Let's take a look:

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Note to the reader:
THE THREE SPECIMENS in the LAST PICTURE ARE NOT PART OF THE MUSEUM COLLECTION!!! :0

I am sooo glad that we went to this place! These photos are only a fraction of what you can enjoy in this museum. They also have one of the greatest gemstones collections that I have ever seen and a lot more! We are always looking for new places to take the kids and this one was specially perfect with the hot weather plus they have a special room for children where they can play and have fun. Diego spent a looooong time in front of beautiful a fish tank. He was just fascinated and so relaxed looking at "Nemo" and all his cousins! And he keept saying FISH, FISH, FISH...

Now I wish you a beautiful Monday!
And see you tomorrow!
Elsita :)


Victor :)

And today I would like to tell you Victor's story:

Victor is one of 8 children from a family where Mom and Dad were not around as much as they were expected to. Victor was the least handsome of all the children, he was not popular with girls (even though his personality was so sweet) BUT he had a great talent: soccer. Victor was a soccer genius so he found a way to keep himself motivated. Victor religiously attended his soccer games after school for years. Then later he became a soccer celebrity in his neighborhood but he still felt incomplete because he didn't have a girlfriend.

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One day after his soccer game Victor decided to stay at the stadium after everybody had left, to meditate and just be by himself. He sat there for about 45 long minutes and then something great happened! When he was ready to leave he noticed that not far from where he was there was a quiet girl knitting something. Very politely Victor approached her and introduced himself, her name was Antonietta. To be honest...ejem...she wasn't that cute but there was something magic about her smile! Victor immediately fell in love with her.

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Antonietta was everything that Victor had dreamed about. They started a nice conversation. Antonietta told Victor that her Dad was part of a team of seventeen men responsible for keeping the stadium clean, you could just see what a proud daughter she was and Victor liked that a lot. He invited her for ice cream and since that day the became like one person.

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On February 14, only three months later, they got married in a lovely and simple ceremony. Victor wore a special outfit that Antonietta knitted for him. Victor was in heaven because nothing says I LOVE YOU better than a knitted outfit specially made for you.

Let's wish Victor and Antonietta a happy marriage!!
And also let's hope that they have a baby soon!

The End!

I have been so excited practicing my crochet in the last couple of weeks! And as you can see Victor was my first victim! Hello! My name is Antonietta-Elsita :o Stay tunned! There will be more victims in the future!

Have a wonderful Friday my friend!
And a peaceful weekend!
Elsita :)


Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OUR MEETING YESTERDAY WAS A HUGE SUCCESS!!!! I still think that we are in a dream! Those of us who know what an IEP meeting is, have lots of horror stories connected to it in our brains. If you Google IEP you get 230,000 related links. I didn't read each one of these links but maybe 99 % of them. (I'm kidding!) The truth is that we had to read a lot and educate ourselves the best we could in order to understand what we were going to face regarding Diego's IEP.

Here I will mention some of the magic elements that helped our IEP meeting to be a success:

*The good wishes and good thoughts that you sent to Bill and I. They arrived just in time, as soon as I opened the door to the room where we had the meeting an unexpected wind blew my dress all over the place in a Marilyn Monroe style. Sometimes the good energy that you send to people arrives to the final destination under the form of wind :o

*I wore my ballerina-looking shoes (per Natalie's request) and my black and white pin with the papercut image that you saw the other day. Two of the women at the IEP loved it. Thank you!

*We didn't bring any lawyer with us in order to keep the atmosphere friendly and nice. The people who work in these meetings are human like you and me and it is not nice when you start the relationship with them in an aggressive way.

*Great human quality regarding the people in our IEP team: I have to say that every single person in our IEP group was great, smart, sensitive and friendly and the most important thing: They love their job. You know how dangerous it is when unhappy people have to make important decisions for you.

*And finally: the fact that Bill and I knew exactly what we wanted for Diego. It is always very helpful to communicate your expectations in these kinds of meetings. And these expectations were the result of the advices that we got from wonderful specialists that have been following Diego's progress for months. A HUGE THANK YOU FOR EACH ONE OF THEM!!!

So my friend, starting in september our little man will be able to attend a special class 5 days a week and we are sure that he is going to have lots of progress! He will have a Preschool Shadow Aide to help him in his new social life, he will have speech therapy and other important therapies and the most important thing, he will have a WONDERFUL TEACHER! We already meet with her and she is everything that you want for your child.

Now I can say that Bill and I are sooo relieved! We can finally breath normally and talk about something that doesn't include the term IEP! We are so excited about this new face in Diego's life! September will be a very special month for him, Diego will love school.

THANK YOU AGAIN MY FRIEND FOR YOUR WORDS AND YOUR THOUGHTS!
They mean a lot to us.
See you tomorrow!
Elsita :)


Today!

We are going to have the important meeting that I told you about before, regarding Diego's personalized plan for his school education starting in September. Bill and I are nervous but ready. Please, wish us good luck! We will need it! I will come back tomorrow with a report about whatever happens today. I just know that Diego has a strong team in Bill and I. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that our little man has the plan that he needs to have lots of progress in his academic and social life. I should leave now, we have to be there in about an hour!

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I leave you with this photo of our prince, he has no idea of what's going on right now but one day in the future we will tell him everything!
See you tomorrow!
Elsita :)


My Life 10 Years Ago.

The other day I went through a package of papers that I took with me from Cuba when I first moved to the USA in 2001. In this package I had all these carefully organized files where I kept track of everything that I did from 1989 to 1999, related to my art career. In all these years I never opened this package until last Saturday and I am so glad that I did it. One of the things that called my attention was a catalogue from a group show that I participated in 1998, in Havana, called: Siete Miradas (7 Visions). I can remember every detail about that show. In the photo below you can see the cover of the catalogue with a picture of Roberto fabelo (one of the artists from the show).

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But what made me so happy about the catalogue was the group portrait with the seven of us who participated in the show (see photo below) from left to right you see: Alicia Leal, Juan Moreira (they are married), Zaida del Rio, Vicente Bonachea, Pedro Alvarez, myself and Roberto Fabelo. We are all friends and I miss them sooo much. In this photo we look kind of tense but the truth is that during the photo session we couldn't stop laughing and making jokes. That day was really hot and the location was Roberto Fabelo's gallery (where the show took place) in Old Havana, my favorite part of the city.

Now let me tell you a few things about my friends so you know how they are and I will dedicate a little more space in the end to Pedro Alvarez (he is wearing glasses) who passed away in 2004 at the age of 37.

Alicia and Moreira (the couple on the left) are one of the most wonderful couples that I know. We were neighbors so we saw each other pretty often. I loved visiting them a lot (they are great cooks!) and their house is so beautiful, it is a colonial property that they remodeled with lots of work. Before he married Alicia, Moreira had a daughter who is my age and she is a great Artist. Then he and Alicia started a family and had a daughter who is so beautiful, she is a ballerina.

Zaida del Rio (with the checkered skirt) is a great artist and she is an amazing character too! One of the funniest women that I ever met. She comes from the country side and she also lived not far from my place in Havana. Having her around was the best thing ever because she made the best jokes plus she had the highest energy that you can imagine.

Vicente Bonachea (sitting on the floor) is such a sweet guy, so is his wife. They have a child who has developmental problems and they adore him. I remember them talking about their son all the time. Now that I have Diego I can understand their devotion.

Roberto Fabelo (on the right side of the photo) is a prolific artist in Cuba. I love his drawings and he is such a great human being. He is married to beautiful Suyu who is Cuban-Chinese and they have two children. By the way, did you know that in Cuba there is an important Chinese community?

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Below there is this portrait of me taken by Ricardo Ellias in my studio. Ellias is another friend who was given the task to take individual photos of the seven of us for the catalogue. I still have the piece that I am looking at in the photo, it is framed in our dinning room. I look at this picture and I see a very different Elsita. I could not imagine then all the things that I was going to experience in the next ten years. Ten years can make a huge difference in someone's life!

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And here you see the piece that I made for the show. It pretty much represents everything that I was going through in 1998. I can write a whole book about that year. It was a mixed time, full of good things and bad things. I had my first solo show with a gallery in New York City, that was very important to me as an Artist (even when the USA government wouldn't give me a visa to attend the opening). And in the other hand I was not happy with my personal life since I was in a marriage that wasn't working out. 1998 was a year of growth for me, I learned so many things. The main thing that I learned is that if you're not happy with your life ONLY YOU have the power to change it. I am very grateful for that part of my life because it was a great school.

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And now I will tell you more about Pedro Alvarez Castello (he is wearing glasses in the group portrait). He was one of the most original artists from what is known as "Special Peroid" in Cuba. Pedro was a painter with a unique vision and sense of humor. Look at the picture below and you will see what I mean. This is one of his paintings titled: End of the USA Embargo.

Much of his work utilized a juxtaposition of pop culture references, such as clippings from The Simpsons comic books, against traditional Cuban images, such as 19th century peasants and troubadours. I took this line from Wikipedia.

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When I read the news about Pedro's death I was in shock, I couldn't not believe it. He was in the best time of his career plus he had just had a baby with a wonderful Cuban artist. Pedro was such a smart person, so down to earth and easy-going.

On February 12, 2004, Álvarez died after jumping out of the fifth-floor window of a hotel in Tempe, Arizona just five days after the beginning of a major solo exhibition of his work, "Landscape in the Fireplace," at the Arizona State University Art Museum. Police found no evidence of drug or alcohol use.[5] He didn't leave a suicide note, and his death was a shock to people who had spoken with him just hours before. (Wikipedia)

His death is still under investigation, those who knew him cannot believe that he committed suicide. It is sad to think that he is not with us anymore but we are fortunate to have his work which is now shown in museums around the world. Pedro's art is an important element within the cuban culture and I am sure that his daughter will be very proud of her father when she grows up.

Well my friend, this was a little open door to my past that I was so glad to share with you. Now I wonder what my life will be like in the next ten years. By that time Diego will be 13, Natalie will be 15 and Miro will be 26. Bill will be 58 and I will be 47. I am sure that we will have lots of things to celebrate in the future but the most important thing is that we are all together as a family right now, loving each other and supporting each other.

Now I need to go ahead and start this Monday with the best state of mind possible. This week is important, there will be a lot going on about Diego and his future.
I wish you a great week full of positive things!

Elsita :)


Good-Bye Ring...

And Good morning my friend :)
Today I want to share something with you that is going to sound a little sad: I lost the engagement ring that Bill gave me in 2002 in a lovely lunch at some Japanese restaurant near his old office. I don't know if I will ever see it again. The ring has been missing for a couple of months now. I thought that I was going to find it but I am not sure about that anymore. It is possible that Diego or Natalie took it from my closet. I have never seen two kids more attracted to jewelry than Natalie and Diego.

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I have gone through a whole rainbow of feelings since I realized that my ring was missing: First I was sad, then I was mad at myself, then hopeful (because I thought that I was going to find it) then later I felt so sorry about Bill who gave me something so special and in the end I felt really guilty because I thought that I should have placed it in a safer place. Fortunately I tend to be my own therapist so I gave myself a couple of free private sessions to recover from this loss and now I can finally say that I am fine.

I spent lots of time thinking about how we turn objects into meaningful things, at the point that loosing them makes us experience emotional pain. Objects are just objects but what makes them meaningful is US. An object is as special as we think it is and what we think about objects is always connected to human feelings, memories, dreams, legacy... etc, the meaning is basically something that we build in our mind. I have a dear friend who lost all her personal objects in a fire. I remember having a conversation where she said that immediately after the fire she experienced an unexpected liberating feeling. She realized that the most important thing that she had was herself and her memories and both of them were intact after the fire.

Now that I lost my engagement ring I realize that more than the ring the most important thing is Bill and I as a couple and how we stay together and strong in the difficult times and in the happy times. So today I want to say good-bye engagement ring, wherever you are right now you should know that I will always keep a special place for you...in my mind :)

I hope that there is some virtual place out there in the universe for all the special lost objects. If you ever lost something special maybe it will find its way to that virtual place and together with my ring they will be happy knowing that we still love and remember them for what they meant to us.

Now I wish you a wonderful Friday, a wonderful weekend and I will see you on Monday!
Elsita :)


DISCOVER ARTHUR SIMO.

Dear friend:
Today I am extremely honored to introduce someone very special to you...but let me start the story from the beginning:

Not so long ago I ended up at some Etsy shop that was new to me. As soon as I saw the pictures in it my heart had a little inusual palpitation as it happens when you discover something different. I immediately got the little bug or curiosity so I started exploring and reading everything. The store had 5 paintings for sell at the time. It didn't take me more than a few seconds to decide what I did next: I bought all the 5 listed pieces! I just had to do it and the reason why I did it has a name: Arthur Simo.

Who is Arthur Simo? Arthur Simo is a teenager who will turn 16 in July 22 and he is Autistic just like my son Diego. To me he is one of the most authentic folk, or naive Artists that I have ever seen, he taught himself how to paint and discovering his art is something that I am so grateful about. Reading the explanations about his paintings made me fall in love with his extraordinary imaginary world.

Now let's take a look at some of his creations. You will also see the explanations of his paintings in his own words. He explains the meanings of his paintings to his Mom and she writes down the words exactly as he says them.

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This painting is about an ant and her baby were walking in the woods looking for the witch doctor to get some medication for her daughter that is sick. She drank dirty water and probably her tummy is hurting. On the way to the witch doctor a giant bee attacked her and pick her up by the shoulders and put them inside a bee hive. They are in trouble, who will save them.

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This painting is about lots of statues protecting a city. This is the most powerful city because nobody is able to get close to the statues. Besides of surrounding the entire city, they all are stock with arrows. They will never run out of them, making the city very powerful. The entire army will shoot lots of arrows up on top of the statues and they will have the best strategy to get the victory.

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This painting is about the only carousel that will let you flight a car. People are coming from everywhere in big lines, they want the ultimate ride, it feels free flying up the sky. Unless you try it, you will never know how it feels like crusing on a car up the sky.

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This painting is about an old and unusual fish, scape from the deep ocean floor, a crack was done after an opening on the underground volcano. After reaching the surface, the light damage his skin giving him pain, so he went down deep. All other fishes around him wondering on this strange visitor, but suddenly he encounter a huge fish, he was going into his territory and he was getting ready to fight.

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This painting is about Earth falling apart and from now on different Earth pieces will be on space and each one will be a different planet. It happens when lots of meteorites blew up the moon and those moon pieces stroke Earth. It was a big hit and Earth end up in pieces.

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Here you can see a little video of Arthur introducing himself and showing one of his paintings dedicated to Shakira, he loves her.

And this is another little video where Arthur is explaining one of his paintings.

I can't even tell you how proud I am to be a collector of Arthur Simo's art. So far I own 16 of his paintings and having them in our home is a daily source of inspiration as an Artist and as the Mother of a wonderful Autistic child. Now Arthur's Mom is my cibernetic friend and it turns out that she is Cuban just like me, WHAT A COINCIDENCE! So Arthur is is bilingual. Arthur gives me so much hope about Diego's future. One day when I visit my Mom in Florida I want Diego and Arthur to meet in person, I can't wait to tell him what a wonderful Artist I think he is!

And if you want to leave a comment for Arthur here, I encourage you to do it since he will be able to read them!

GO ARTHUR GO!!!!
Elsita :)

(LINK TO ARTHUR'S STORE ON ETSY!)


Pins and Black and White Prints!

And today I want to show you two things that I made with the images of my papercuts:

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Number one: The pins! I made 6 pins out of shrink plastic and stiffened felt using one of the images of my papercuts! From the 6 pins I made one for me (see the photo above, I haven't stopped wearing it!) 4 for my Etsy store (I will list them soon) and the 6th one I gave it to a sweet girl in a store; she said that she loved it, so I gave it to her. Yaaaay for all the girls that are not afraid of starting a conversation with another girl who is wearing a black and white pin!!! She was really happy!

And number two: The prints! Below you will see how I turned my papercuts into black and white prints. I got several requests about doing this for my Etsy store so I did it and I am sooo happy with how they look! I am going to frame them for Natalie's room. My favorite thing about these prints is that the black ink is so concentrated on the paper that it looks almost like velvet!

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And now let me tell you a little secret: The photo that you saw of me wearing the pin was taken by Bill for some magazine that will come out soon. I will be in this magazine with an interview plus pictures of new paper sculptures that I made specially for the publication. I will let you know as soon as the magazine is out! Now I wish you a wonderful day and I will be back tomorrow!!!

Elsita :)


Kiki :)

(Kiki, the paper doll below, is available for purchase on my Etsy shop)


Good morning my friend! Today I am back with something very special that I am so excited to share with you! And here it goes:

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Once upon a time there was a little girl named Kiki who had a great friend named Miss Pascuala; an old and sweet lady that collected the most amazing books. Miss Pascuala’s books were very unusual because only special people could understand them. One day Miss Pascuala gave Kiki a beautiful book from her collection titled El Mundo Magico, as a present for Kiki’s birthday. Kiki was extremely happy, she could not believe that such a beautiful book was going to be hers forever, that's why she said thank you, thank you, thank you so many times to Miss Pascuala! Then she ran home as fast as she could, she went up to her room, laid down on her bed and then she opened the first page of the book.

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What happened next was the beginning of the most wonderful series of experiences that Kiki ever had in her life. On the first page of the book there was an antique-looking mirror. Kiki looked in the mirror and saw her own face. She thought: Wow …this is the first time that I see a real mirror in a book…but then, before she even had time to go to the next page she heard a little voice say: Hello Kiki, this is your friend Kiki, I am the part of you that lives in this book and I am so thrilled to meet you in person. At first she had a hard time believing what was happening but since Kiki’s curiosity was bigger than anything else she started a conversation with her new friend, the other Kiki from the book.


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Kiki from the book told Kiki from real life that she had magic powers that could take both of them to the most special places in faraway lands. She talked about her wonderful little friends Gatico and Mariangela and also about her magic dresses and about how they became alive when she put them on. She talked about her magic purse and umbrella and about many other magic objects. Kiki from real life was extremely excited! She realized that from her wonderful book a completely new world was waiting for her. That first night Kiki could not sleep because she was so looking forward to the next day!

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We would need to write a whole book to narrate all the experiences that both Kikis had after they met each other for the first time. But I can say that anytime when Kiki from real life wanted to visit the magic world of fantasy all she had to do was open her book and go on a new trip with Kiki from the book. They became best friends and together they visited the most fantastic places, they went through the most amazing adventures and they never stopped exploring and enjoying the infinite world of El Mundo Magico.

The End! :)

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This little story is dedicated to all the girls and boys out there who enjoy books. This was my special present for Natalie on her 5th birthday. I created the story, then I designed Kiki and finally I turned her into a paper doll so I could present the story to Natalie in a more physical way. Natalie liked her present a lot (YAY!!!!!!) and now Kiki is part of her world. The best part of this present is that I can keep telling Natalie new stories about the two Kikis and she is looking forward to listening to them.


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I hope that you also like Kiki :) and I am so excited to share her with you. She will always have a little home here in case you would like to welcome her into your world.

I have to say that the inspiration for creating Kiki came from my childhood memories. I remember how fascinated I was when I first discovered the pleasure of reading books. Books were my way to scape from reality when things looked too out of balance (which was most of the times :o) When I was in the fourth grade I had this wonderful teacher who loved reading books to us and she was a great actress too, she read and acted at the same time and I just loved it. I can say that she taught me how to enjoy books and I wish that I could say THANK YOU to her in person but I am not sure if she is still alive because she was very old then. When I think about this teacher I think about how sometimes it takes a single person to inspire you. She planted a little seed in me that never stopped growing and I wanted to pass that little seed to Natalie by creating Kiki. Children love it when you mix reality with fantasy that's why Natalie is enjoying this new character so much. But to be honest I still enjoy a lot the same things that I used to enjoy when I was in the fourth grade. I still love paper dolls (one of my obsessions when I was little) and I still love making up stories. The only difference is that now I have a partner in crime: Natalie! So in the end we are like the two Kikis! I told this to her and she started laughing, she loved the idea!

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And now I need to go but before I leave want to say (again :o) that I am sooo happy to be back here with you!!
Have a wonderful Tuesday!
And see you tomorrow!
Elsita :)


Hola Amigos!!!!

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I am so happy to be back here with you again! The last two weeks have been extremely busy! We have been in this race trying to get to that place of calm and routine that we all need and we are getting closer and closer to it. We still have a lot going on over here but we are all fine which is the most important thing. Diego is talking more than ever!!! You will be surprised to know that he already knows:
*How to count from 1 to 10
*He knows most of the colors of the rainbow.
*He can say the name of many animals.
*He is more self-regulated (he can sit for a longer time when we go out with him)
*He has more eye contact than ever and he smiles all the time!

AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: The other day he engaged in a whole game with a boy named Fernando in one of the places where he gets his therapies. That was the very first time that Diego REALLY PLAYED with someone that he didn't know. It was WONDERFUL to watch him laugh and run and have fun, just like any regular kid! I was close to tears because I could not believe it! And Fernando's Mother was as happy as I was because her son was also having so much fun. Fernando is 4 and he doesn't talk yet but he is very developed emotionally and I think that Diego felt attracted to that, they had a great connection. Our little man is doing amazing, we are sooo proud of him! All the therapies and all the hard work are definitely paying off.
And I have only beautiful things to say about Natalie. Bill and I think that she is gifted when it comes to creativity. She makes these amazing drawings and little sculptures with the most unexpected materials. We thought that they were things that every kid was doing in her class but then we found out that these are just her own ideas. Natalie has a natural urge to create things with her hands, she cannot stop doing it. She is always carrying some pens and paper wherever she goes. That's why we got her into some special summer art program that will start in July. She is thrilled about it. We are so proud of our mini Artist in the family.
And what can we say about Miro? He is almost a man. He is sooo tall and handsome and sweet and he is the best big brother ever. Natalie and Diego are so lucky to have him in their lives, it makes a whole difference having such a special brother. Everybody loves Miro!

But I have to finish this post saying that the man up there in the photo; Mister Billy, is the most wonderful father that I ever met. We celebrated Father's Day with him yesterday and it was great. Bill is quiet and modest but he has the biggest impact in our family. Whenever we go through a hard time Billy knows how to transmit us calm and he is so good at reminding us what's really important, which is celebrating life and love! We love you Billy!

And before I say Good-Bye I also want to let you know that in these two weeks I never stopped creating new things :) and I will be sharing them with you in the next days. YAY!!!
Have a beautiful Monday my friend and see you tomorrow!!!!!
Elsita :)

(And if you are a Papa I hope that you had a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY yesterday!)