Day 812: Is 2020 over yet?

Rachel, Day by Day

When the world stayed apart, we stayed together.

New Year’s Eve 2019: I was excited for 2020. My Uncle John just got out of the hospital after a bone marrow transplant. I was excited to meet our daughter, who was born in January. I was to receive a promotion at work to publisher/editor-in-chief. Things were looking up.

Of course, everyone knows how horrible 2020 has been for the world. With COVID-19, politics, and racial injustice alone, I’ve been terrified to watch and read the news these days. Life has not been fair for many people: losing jobs, loved ones, and more.

I want to share things about my life in 2020. And some thoughts.

My daughter was born on January 18, one thing that was amazing from this year. It all happened very fast (too fast for an epidural), and I’ve never felt pain like that before in my entire life. But it was completely worth it. She’s a little bundle of joy, and I sometimes tear up from happiness when I see her smile or hear her giggle.

Things turned sour for my family and me in March—like for most people—but for different reasons. Of course, my preschool son switched to remote learning in March like many others, and he handled it well. My daughter started having feeding problems that involved vomiting during almost every bottle, so I took her to many doctor’s appointments. Doctors didn’t want to run tests to avoid COVID-19 exposure, so we tried new bottles, new formula, new feeding positions, etc., and things didn’t change much. I’m normally not an outspoken person, but there were times I was almost arguing with doctors in person and on the phone. They finally ran tests and found her platelet level was high and she has a slight milk allergy. After all this and a visit to the ER, she’s still vomiting occasionally, but she’s doing a lot better.

In April, my Uncle John got worse. He wasn’t responding to the bone marrow transplant very well and passed away on April 6. I hadn’t seen him for a while before his death since we couldn’t visit. When he took a turn for the worse, family was allowed to visit. I wanted to so badly, but I decided not to in case I became exposed or exposed my family to COVID-19 after a hospital visit. It was one of the hardest decisions ever. He was a wonderful uncle and godfather to me, and I’m glad he’s not in pain anymore. I think about him every day.

On top of these things, my brother got COVID-19, we had flooding in our basement, a tornado hit our town, we lost power for days, a mouse got in our house, and our air conditioning went out during a very hot week. I won’t be negative during this whole post, I promise.

On the other hand, I’m lucky. I have my job and I received my promotion to publisher/editor-in-chief. My brother is OK. My daughter still has vomiting episodes, but it’s a lot better. I’m grateful for all the wonderful memories I had with John. I feel like I’m looking at people and the world differently, almost in a sentimental way.

Here’s the thing. My family and I have decided to take this virus seriously. It’s difficult to follow the rules 100% of the time, and I know we’ve slipped up, but we are trying our best. I would never be able to forgive myself if I had COVID-19 and gave it to someone else. I have asthma, which makes me high risk, too. Here are my family’s thoughts and choices regarding this virus:

*We choose to wear masks in public.

*We choose to stay six feet away from people as much as we can.

*We choose to avoid bigger groups. This has been the hardest part.

*We choose remote learning for our son until schools are OK.

*We choose not to have play dates with our kids.

*We choose to stay home as much as possible.

*We choose to do grocery pickups when we need a lot of things.

*We choose to stay away from parks when they are busy.

These are just some of our choices right now. If you agree, great. If you disagree, fine. I choose to do what is safest for me and my family.

I know some people are thinking, Screw this, I’m going to live my life. Well, guess what: I am living my life. I’m making a lot of wonderful memories with my children and husband. I’m able to spend a lot more quality time with my little daughter. We go to places on weekends, just the four of us, where we know there won’t be many people (parks, playgrounds early in the morning, etc.). I’m living my life, but in a safe way to avoid getting anyone sick.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone. We’ll get through this someday.


Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

Downtown Chicago on a beautiful day.

Well, 2019 is almost over. There were many ups and downs, but I thought I’d focus on the good. Overall we had a lot of fun times! Here are some of my highlights from this year.


Highlights of 2019

New Years Day party with friends

Sledding (first time for my son)

Many fun outings with my moms group

Visit for Barb’s birthday

Son made it in online magazine for fun kid’s event

Fun activities and outings with friends and our kids

Went to nice restaurant for Valentine’s Day

Stayed at Lake Lawn Lodge for a weekend with my family

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

Lake Lawn Lodge with Uncle John.

St. Patrick’s Day parade and party with friends

Son’s birthday at the children’s museum and party with friends and family


A fun birthday for this kiddo.

Editing conference in Rhode Island

Family vacation in Philadelphia to visit Chris and Renee


Philadelphia with friends.

Holidays with family (Easter, Mother’s Day, etc.)

Son’s Little Kickers soccer class

My work annual conference in Nashville

Found out I’m pregnant with a girl!

Children’s Museum with family

Gilmore Girls Trivia with my mom

Fourth of July party with friends

Architecture tour in downtown Chicago

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

Architecture Tour in Chicago

Swam with family over the summer

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review


Basement flooded since our ejector pump stopped working

Trip to Grand Rapids, Mich., just the three of us

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

A nice family vacation.

Hillside concerts

Family visited and went to Maggiano’s Little Italy

Galena trip with college friends

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

Fun with friends!

Arlington Racetrack with friends

Son started preschool

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

First day of school.

Wisconsin Dells trip with family

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

Wisconsin trip with family.

Rader’s Farm visit with family

Son’s T-ball class

Sonny Acres visit

Scott’s Grandpa’s 90th birthday

Our basement is now finished

Went to Lake Geneva with my Mom and son

Thanksgiving with Scott’s family

Day 811: 2019 Year in Review

Thanksgiving with family.

Polar Express with Scott and son


Meeting Santa on the Polar Express.

Early Christmas with family

Son’s Christmas Program

Christmas at home

New Years Eve countdown kid’s event at a local restaurant

I don’t really have any resolutions at the moment, just try to be a good mom as our baby girl joins us soon. There is one thing I’m proud of in 2019, though. I became more brave and outgoing. I finally feel like I wasn’t so shy and spoke my mind numerous times throughout the year when I didn’t think I would. I hope I can keep this up and continue it for years to come.

I might take a little break early in 2020 since we are having a baby girl soon, but Happy New Year!!

Day 810: Work Travel

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 810: Work Travel

On the road again…

How many of you walk to work? Drive? Take the train? Bike? Cab? I’m pretty sure I’ve been driving to work for all the jobs I’ve ever had, except for babysitting. That was the one time I walked since it was only a few houses down.

I always thought it would be neat to take the train, but then I could see myself stressing about missing the train or the train running late. I like the idea of being able to sit, zone out, read, or do whatever you want on your commute. But then you might have to walk a bit once you get to the train station. Bad weather would not make that fun.

I’ve had a lot of different driving paths over the years. For my summer job in high school and college, it was only a five minute drive with maybe only five lights to go through. For my first job after college, it was probably a 10 minute drive home with the same amount of lights. Traffic was never bad, and it was nice getting home in such a short amount of time.

The worst drive I’ve had was when I moved about an hour away during my first job after college. I moved in with my fiancé, so the move made sense! I was very happy moving in with him (the town and his house were great), but I wasn’t ready to give up that job in the other town, so I stayed and did the long commute for two years. It was 57.5 miles one way on the highway. It was the most boring drive of my life. I kept looking at the clock hoping time would move faster. I mostly put the car in cruise control for that one hour and would sing along with the radio, but time felt so slow. Mornings in the fall and winter were the worst. I started work at 7:30, so my commute was extremely dark. There were no lights on this highway as well. Fog, heavy rain, and snow made the drive bad on some of the days. The fog would get so heavy in the morning, I’d follow other cars just because I could see their tail lights. There was one day the rain was so heavy, I couldn’t see at all. So I pulled over, slowly drove home, and took a sick day. I didn’t want to chance it. I don’t miss that highway. (I left that job and moved away with my husband.)

Now I’ve been at my current job for five years, about 17 miles away from my house. On a good day it takes 25-30 minutes, but I run into a lot of traffic, so the commute home is longer (around 40-45 minutes). It still takes less time for me to get home now, and way less miles. To be honest, I’ll take traffic any day over driving fast 57.5 miles one way. There are other cars around me now, and I don’t feel so alone or surrounded by trucks. It’s still a frustrating drive at times, but that’s part of many commutes.

In an ideal world, I’d go back to that five minute commute, but that’s hard to find these days.

As strange as it is, I’ve only been in one car accident during my commutes, and it was during my first job after college (the 10 minute drive). I was heading through a green light when another car ran a red light. I ended up hitting the woman’s car, but she was at fault since she ran the red light. My car was totaled, but I was fine.

The moral of the story? Not sure, but it’s information I thought I’d share!

Day 809: Pet Peeves

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 809: Pet Peeves

Here’s a nice, scenic photo for you.

For this month’s blog post, I thought I’d give you a list. We all have shorter attention spans these days, so why not give you something shorter to read? Here’s a list of 20 of my pet peeves. There’s probably more I could add, but I didn’t want to go too crazy. You’ll start thinking I’m annoyed at everything in life, which I’m not.

Pet Peeves

  1. When someone interrupts you in the middle of a conversation. A specific example: When you are telling a story and someone interrupts saying, “I’ve done that” or “I’ve been there!”
  2. Walking behind slow walkers.
  3. Someone leaving the toilet seat up.
  4. Dishes in the sink.
  5. When someone starts a conversation by saying, “Have I told you this already?” Well, I don’t know, because I don’t know the story.
  6. People who laugh at something they are thinking about or laugh at something you said but don’t explain why.
  7. Being late or someone you are meeting is late.
  8. Overposting on social media.
  9. Body shaming.
  10. Slow and out of control drivers.
  11. People who think they are a big deal.
  12. Oversharing medical conditions.
  13. Having someone tell you, “You look tired.”
  14. People who recline their seats back on airplanes.
  15. The word percolate.
  16. Having to repeat myself numerous times.
  17. When someone says, “I have to tell you something. Oh, never mind.”
  18. The word whatever.
  19. Mom shaming.
  20. Using an apostrophe when there shouldn’t be one (e.g., the Miller’s).

So, what are things that annoy you?

Day 808: Michigan Trip

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 808: Michigan Trip

Cute little waterfall.

In July, my husband, son, and I went on a trip to Grand Rapids, Mich., just the three of us. This was our first getaway as a little family, so it’ll always have a spot in my heart. We were able to drive, and it really wasn’t that far, which is a perk! I thought I’d share the highlights of our fun vacation.

Quote of the trip from my son: “Mommy, you have salad and lemonade. Daddy, you have a margarita.”

Day 1: On the way there, we stopped in Holland, Mich., at the Dutch Village. My three-year-old son loved the windmill and playing on the playground. The flowers and grounds were beautiful. It was a nice stop to stretch our legs. Then we finished the rest of the drive and checked in at a new Embassy Suites. That evening we had dinner close by at a sports bar and grill and walked along the river. The waterfall and sunset were beautiful. Then we relaxed at the hotel.

Day 2: The hotel included a free breakfast, and it was amazing! There were waffles, eggs, omelets, bacon, sausage, bagels, muffins, etc. We then drove to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which was large and beautiful! The gardens and flowers were pretty. My favorite was the Japanese garden, and my son had a fun time playing in the toddler area with little boats and a tree house. We ate lunch at the hotel and then went to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. My son got to play a lot and went on a carousel from the 1920s. We then went to the happy hour at our hotel for snacks and drinks, then Rose’s Restaurant on Reeds Lake. The view was great. I had recently gotten a FitBit, so I had a lot of steps this day!

Day 808: Michigan Trip

Waterfall at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

Day 3: This morning we walked to the Gerald R. Ford Museum. My son wasn’t a huge fan since there wasn’t much to play with (he liked the president’s chair in the Cabinet Room), but I thought it was really interesting. There’s a lot I didn’t know about Gerald Ford. I felt like I learned a lot in such a short amount of time. When my son was in the president’s chair, I asked him, “So, Mr. President, what should we do to improve our country’s economy?” He said, “Pancakes!” Then we had lunch at The Old Goat. It was a neat restaurant with charming décor and a hipster style. We then went swimming at the hotel and relaxed at the happy hour. We walked around downtown in the evening and went to a Mexican restaurant.

Day 4: This was our last full day in Grand Rapids. We walked to the Children’s Museum and my son had an amazing time. There were so many things to do (bubbles, cars, grocery store, instruments, etc.). We had pizza for dinner that night, walked around, and had a very relaxing evening. The sunset with the river and scenery was breathtaking.

Day 808: Michigan Trip

My little family.

I enjoyed this vacation because we went at a slower pace. We had our list of things to do, but they didn’t make us tired or fill up the whole day. The three of us still talk about some inside jokes we had while there, and they still make me smile. It was a small vacation, but I’ll never forget it.

Day 807: Miscarriage

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 807: Miscarriage

I thought I’d give you a nice, scenic photo to look at.

In early December 2018, my husband and I found out I was pregnant. We were happy, nervous, and excited about the new baby to come. This child would be our second kid, and I liked imagining our three-year-old son playing with a sibling. I was already going through lists of baby names to see what I liked and making lists to prepare.


On December 30, I noticed I was spotting in the morning and didn’t think much of it. I read that it can happen during pregnancy. It got worse throughout the day, though, and I was bleeding heavily. Since it was Sunday, the doctor’s office wasn’t open, but I called the emergency line to ask about this. He didn’t want to confirm, but he told me it sounded like a miscarriage.

I went to the doctor’s office the next day where he performed an exam. He couldn’t see much, just a lot of bleeding. So I got a blood test and a bunch of ultrasounds (transvaginal ones hurt me like hell, by the way). That day involved many tests and waiting around, and when I glanced at some paperwork, I couldn’t help noticing it said possible spontaneous abortion. I tensed up when reading those words. At the end of the day, here’s what my doctor concluded:

  • My progesterone level was at 2.7 when it should have been between 11-44.
  • There was no fetal heart tone.
  • My hCG (blood) level was at 2,288.
  • I was 6-7 weeks along.
  • There was an abnormal appearing intrauterine gestational sac in the upper uterus. There was no fluid around the sac, but a yolk sac was present.
  • The due date was August 24.

With all of this information, my doctor still wouldn’t confirm 100% what was going on. For a while, he just kept saying it’s probably a miscarriage. My thought was, if it wasn’t a miscarriage, wouldn’t all of this sound really bad for the baby? The lack of confirmation was freaking me out.

A few days went by and I was still bleeding. I threw a New Year’s Eve party and went to a New Year’s Day party. I wanted to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t think about what was going on behind closed doors, but now that I think about it, it wasn’t the greatest idea. I was hurting physically and emotionally, and it’s hard to ignore that.

I had another doctor’s appointment on January 3 with a different doctor. She confirmed that I had a miscarriage, but it was still going on. She told me I didn’t need a D&C (procedure to remove tissue from inside your uterus) since it was early on in my pregnancy. Instead, I could have taken Cytotec, a pill to help induce miscarriage, but she told me it would be very painful. I decided against it that day for some reason. Everything was happening so fast, and I wanted time to think before making any decisions. She scheduled another ultrasound for that Saturday, January 5.

On January 4, I received a call from the doctor with some results. My hCG level was at 162. He didn’t want me taking Cytotec anymore since my level was so low, so I had to wait it out at that point. He cancelled the ultrasound appointment, too. So at this point, it was a waiting game to see when I’d stop bleeding and when my hCG level would get back to zero.

The one thing I didn’t realize until later was that I was technically still pregnant this whole time. Until your hCG level gets back to zero, you are pregnant. If I took a pregnancy test, it would have come back positive. Crazy.

On January 11, the doctor checked me out and wanted another blood test. I was first told I’d be getting a urine test, but that didn’t happen (lots of confusion between doctors I guess). I had to go back another day since the office was pretty much closed and no one was there to do the blood test. Yay. On the plus side, the receptionist said I had beautiful hair, and I should be in a Hallmark movie.

On January 12, I got the blood test done. Yay.

On January 14, I found out my hCG level was at 6. They checked again on January 26 and it finally reached zero. I stopped bleeding on January 11.

I thought everything was over, but weeks later I started bleeding again. I called the doctor and he said it’s rare to get your period that early, so he thought I started bleeding again from the miscarriage. This lasted almost two weeks and I was finally DONE in mid-February.


So, now that I told you my detailed story, I wanted to share my thoughts. During this whole ordeal, my emotions kept going up and down. It was strange doing everyday things like going to work and going to parties while all of that was going on. I was sad, upset, and hurt by all of the confusion and losing my baby, but then I’d feel guilty since it’s a common thing and I already have a son. I was angry when anyone (even the doctors) talked about trying again. Technically I was still pregnant, so why would I be thinking about that at the time?

I wanted to share my story (to whoever reads this) for a reason. I don’t want you to say I’m sorry to me after reading this post. I wanted to share my story because this whole ordeal was extremely confusing to me, and we need to talk about miscarriages more. Why are they such a secret? I had no clue what was going on most of the time, and it was completely frustrating. I didn’t understand any of the terminology (D&C, cytotec, spontaneous abortion), so I had to keep asking, “What is that? What does that mean?” over and over again. I didn’t know you could bleed twice. If we knew more about this and shared our stories, maybe it would be easier to understand.

I also realized during the miscarriage that I needed to grieve. I lost a child that was growing inside of me, and that’s something I’ll think about the rest of my life. There was a while I didn’t cry because I wanted to be brave, but that made grieving even worse. I just broke down one night and hyperventilated in my husband’s arms. It’s still hard to think about August 24, my due date. It felt like a death in the family that no one ever met but I shared a connection with. I imagined how the baby’s room would look. It was strange for a while to see everyone around me moving on when I didn’t. A part of my heart will always be broken when thinking of this baby.

So please, share your stories, thoughts, and feelings on this. I hope the confusion and silence on this will end. We haven’t been talking enough about this subject.

Day 806: 10 Pros and Cons of Parenthood

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 806: 10 Pros and Cons of Parenthood

The boy who turned me into a mother.

I’ve only been a parent for three years and four months, so I still have more years of experience coming ahead. I thought I’d share (in my humble opinion) some pros and cons of parenthood so far, at least with a three year old. Feel free to agree or disagree.

1. Pregnancy is uncomfortable, especially near the end.
2. Lack of sleep and waking up every time you hear a noise. This gets better over time, though.
3. Tantrums, especially when you don’t understand why they are happening.
4. Trying to help a child get over their fears and anxieties when you have some yourself.
5. The constant attention a child wants and needs. You have to get used to that and the energy they have. It’s hard going to the bathroom alone sometimes.
6. Children cost a lot.
7. There’s more responsibility with looking after another person.
8. Figuring out how to balance your career, parenthood, friendships, etc. It means working harder at all of these, but we all figure it out. Having a routine helps.
9. Clutter and messiness around the house.
10. Parent shaming from other people, especially on social media. Stop it.

1. Forming a special connection with your child.
2. Having an effect on your child by what you teach and show them.
3. Watching your child laugh, play, and grow as a human being.
4. When you see complete strangers smile and laugh at how adorable your child is.
5. Seeing all of the firsts (smile, step, word, vacation, etc.) of this person you created.
6. Hearing your child say, “I love you.”
7. There’s someone to (hopefully) look after you when you’re old.
8. You are rarely bored with a child.
9. The warm, amazing feeling you get when your family is together and happy.
10. The moment you walk into the door or get your child out of their room, and he/she is extremely excited to see you.

What would you add to these lists? Let me know!

Day 804: Everyday Life (Past and Now)

Rachel, Day by Day


Here is everyday life in the mornings with this cutie.

When you look back on your day, it rarely seems exciting or memorable. During your everyday routine, how do you feel most days? Stressed? Worried? Happy? Relaxed? When you look back on a few weeks or a month instead of just a day, you tend to remember the more defining moments in your life (e.g., fun things you did or places you went, a promotion at a job). I thought I’d analyze the basics of what I do day by day now compared to college and my 20s. Since I’m now in my 30s, life is a little different. It’s crazy to think about how your little day-to-day activities can drastically change even over five years.


  • Woke up early (that meant 8 or 9 a.m.).
  • Put some random clothes on (or nice clothes to impress a guy in a class).
  • Went to class.
  • Had lunch with friends in the dining hall.
  • Went to a few more classes.
  • Took a nap between those classes.
  • Went to dinner with friends.
  • Played on the laptop for a while.
  • Talked to boys and friends on AIM (AOL instant messenger).
  • Did a little homework.
  • Stayed up late with roommates watching TV or playing games.
  • Took a shower.
  • Went to bed late.
  • On weekends during the day: Shopped, walked around campus, hung out with friends, did a little homework, binge-watched Dawson’s Creek or Friends, got smoothies, etc.
  • On weekends at night: Pre-drank at our apartment, went to a bar or party around 10 or 11 p.m., stayed out until 2 or 3 a.m., slept in the next day until around 2 or 3 p.m.


Single in my 20s

  • Woke up around 6 a.m.
  • Got ready really fast and then relaxed.
  • Went to work.
  • Ate lunch with friends in the cafeteria or brought my own lunch.
  • Played tennis or worked out on my lunch hour.
  • Ran errands after work.
  • Went home and watched TV for a while.
  • Went for a walk.
  • Made dinner.
  • Watched more TV.
  • Played on my laptop and phone.
  • Took a shower.
  • Went to bed.
  • On weekends during the day: Went for a walk, shopped, did chores around my apartment, cooked something more elaborate, spent time with friends, played games and watched TV, went swimming, etc.
  • On weekends at night: Went to happy hours with friends, played games with family and friends, went dancing, sang karaoke, went to dinner and bars.


Relationship/Married in my Mid to Late 20s

  • Woke up around 5:30 a.m.
  • Got ready really fast.
  • Sang in the car and drank coffee on my way to work.
  • Got to work way too early.
  • Ate lunch with friends in the cafeteria or brought my own lunch.
  • Worked out on my lunch hour.
  • Drove an hour home.
  • Made dinner.
  • Watched TV.
  • Paid bills, watched TV, ran errands, etc.
  • Went to the grocery store to get wine and cookies.
  • Played on my laptop and phone.
  • Took a shower.
  • Went to bed.
  • On weekends during the day: Ran errands or cleaned the house, shopped, cooked something more elaborate, spent time with family or friends, walked around downtown.
  • On weekends at night: Went to a restaurant or bar with the hubby, drank wine and watched a movie, went out with friends or family.


My 30s (Now)

  • Wake up at 6 a.m.
  • Get ready really fast.
  • Wake my kid up.
  • Give him breakfast.
  • Change his clothes.
  • Gather his things.
  • Drive kid to day care.
  • Go to work.
  • Eat lunch at my desk or in the kitchen.
  • Drive home and sing in the car.
  • Play with kid.
  • Make dinner.
  • Watch my kid occasionally not eat what I make, so make something else.
  • Clean up.
  • Take a shower.
  • Play with kid.
  • Give him a bath and put on his pajamas.
  • Do our bedtime routine.
  • Pay bills, watch TV, do computer errands, play on phone.
  • Go to bed.
  • On weekends during the day: Visit family or friends, play with the kid around the house, clean the house, go on toddler outings.
  • On weekends at night: Watch TV, pay bills, drink wine, eat cookies, go out with the husband and friends if we have a babysitter.

So, what are my conclusions from this? Here is a stream of consciousness for you.

Conclusion 1. There are things we do every single day but never take the time to really think about them on a deeper level. Sleep is part of our everyday routine, which is really weird when you think about it. We are supposed to be unconscious at night for eight hours. We eat two or three meals a day. We work. We go to school. We usually have leisure time at some point every day. We take showers, put clothes on, and brush our teeth (hopefully). We do these things automatically without really thinking about it. Next time I brush my teeth, I’m going to analyze the way I do it. Which hand do I use? Do I start at the bottom or the top? (I’ll probably forget to do this.)

Conclusion 2. My 20s don’t really feel that long ago, but when I stop to think about when I graduated college, that was 11 years ago. Wow. One of my cousins, who is currently single, recently said to me, “You’ve never dated, so you don’t know what it’s like.” Umm, yes I did. I went through some weirdos in my 20s. And I was probably a weirdo myself. I did things I regret, like many people do in their early 20s. I’m just in a different phase in life now. Now she only sees me as a married woman. But I can look back at my 20s and laugh, smile, and grimace at certain things!

Conclusion 3. Speaking of different phases, being in your 30s is definitely different. Now that I made it, sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to have everything together. That I’m supposed to be a real adult now. Even having a kid, I don’t feel that way most of the time! Maybe I sometimes feel like that young, silly girl trapped in a 30-something woman’s body. And that’s not always a bad thing. We just learn how to act more mature socially and in public. I think in your 30s, you’re kind of in the middle. The crazy 20s aren’t that far away, but you’re not an older adult yet. Sports players are getting to be younger than you, which is strange.

Conclusion 4. I think being in your 30s means you have to try a little harder. If you want to move up your career, you have to work more. If you want your kid to learn things, you have to teach them. If you have been married for a little while, you have to work harder at it since the newlywed phase is over. If you are single, it might not be as easy to meet someone. You don’t get to see friends as often, so you have to work hard to maintain those friendships. I need to work on that and hope I can.

As you can see, things change over time! My 20s were fun and lively, and my 30s are great and full of surprises with a husband and toddler. Let’s see what the 40s and 50s bring!

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

Beautiful Havana, Cuba.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the first half of my trip to Cuba last June. Here’s the second half of my Cuba journal for you!


Day 7: Cienfuegos, Escambray Mountains, Trinidad

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

A group photo in the Escambray Mountains with the local coffee farmers.

In the morning we left Cienfuegos and headed to the Escambray Mountains. The best Cuban coffee is made in the mountains. Once we reached the top, we went on a walking tour, saw the coffee plants, and saw how the coffee is made. At the end of the tour, we got to try the coffee. It was strong, but good! Then we stopped and met the coffee farmer and his family. He explained the process to us and invited us in his home. I bought some coffee beans, too.

After that, we all ate lunch together (pork, potatoes, rice and beans). The potatoes were delicious! We then stopped at the lookout point and I walked up the 142 stairs to the top! The view was incredibly beautiful. Something I’ll never forget.

On the way to Trinidad, we stopped at Azariel Santander’s home. He makes pottery and showed us how he does it. He’s so fast and great at it! He made a lid to go on top of the pottery without even measuring it. We then went to a paladar for dinner and ate delicious seafood paella. Yum! Some of us played with the band, too. Then we went to our hotel in Trinidad (Las Brisas Trinidad del Mar) and had a drink before bed.


Day 8: Trinidad

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

Me in Trinidad, Cuba.

This morning we did a walking tour around Trinidad. We stopped at the home of a local family and visited a local artist. He makes art carvings out of shutters and things. Gretel took us to the ration shop where families get their monthly allowed food using their ration booklet. They get rice, sugar, oil, etc. We then went in the church of Trinidad, visited shops, and had a mojito at one of the local restaurants. Then we went back to the hotel (Las Brisas Trinidad del Mar) and had lunch at the buffet. We later played dominoes with Mary and Gretel for a while! We had drinks at the bar and walked to the ocean. We went to El Dorado paladar for dinner. We had vegetable soup, a welcome cocktail, and I ate grilled shrimp. We ended the night with a drink at the hotel.


Day 9: Trinidad, Cojímar, Havana

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

Beautiful view of Havana, Cuba.

After breakfast in Trinidad, we had a longer bus trip back to Havana (4-5 hours). We stopped in Cojímar and had lunch at Café Ajiaco with local fishermen. We had soup, chicken, rice and beans, ropa vieja, etc. One of the fishermen named Charlie showed us the photo of the biggest shark ever caught in 1945 in Cuba. There are 188 fisherman boats.

After lunch, we went to the marina and saw their boats. Ernest Hemingway would visit this area in the 1950s. They told us about their fishing trips and we saw a boat destroyed by the hurricane.

Once we arrived back in Havana, we saw El Cristo de Habana statue, The Jesus Christ of Havana. The view of Havana was beautiful. We also saw a statue dedicated to those who helped during Hurricane Irma, and we saw Che Guevara’s headquarters building.

We then had free time, so we all went to the Hall of Fame bar. We later had dinner at Paladar al Carbon. We ate arroz con pollo, lamb, fish, appetizers, and flan. It was delicious! We sat at a table with Marlys and Charlie and had a great time with them. Then we got drinks at the Hall of Fame bar and went to bed.


Day 10: Havana

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

Las Terrazas, Cuba.

This morning we drove one hour to Las Terrazas, a small community and nature reserve west of Havana. We had a welcome cocktail and talked about its history. The village was created in 1971 and 970 people live there. We visited the school and saw the kids in their classrooms. We then stopped at Ariel Gato Miranda’s studio. He makes recycled paper using discarded office paper and turns it into art.

We then had lunch at El Romero, a Cuban ecological restaurant with vegetarian cuisine. It was good! Then we took the bus back to Havana. We had some free time, so we walked around to the liquor store and souvenir shops. Then we all had a drink at the bar and sandwiches in the lower level café at the hotel for dinner. We ended the night with a drink at the Hall of Fame bar.


Day 11: Havana

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

My mom, brother, and me outside my father’s childhood home in Havana, Cuba.

We started the day driving to Ernest Hemingway’s house. The house was very well maintained and big. Everything is still original, and there’s an original Picasso in the dining room. We saw the guest house, pool, boat, etc. We weren’t allowed to go in but could look through doors and windows. Then we saw Malpaso Dance Company perform. They were amazing and toured the U.S. in early 2019!

After this, we drove to my dad’s old neighborhood. We walked around a bit and actually found his house! I immediately burst into tears. The people currently living there let us in and walk around. We took a group photo and talked for a bit. Then we took photos outside the house. I touched the building before leaving, too. This was an experience I’ll never forget.

After that, I went to the Revolution Museum with my brother, Marlys, and Charlie. It was very interesting to learn about some of the history. The museum is housed in the Presidential Palace where all Cuban presidents used to live. Behind the building is the Granma Memorial, a large glass enclosure that has the Granma, the yacht that took Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Raúl Castro along with dozens of other revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba for the revolution. There are also many vehicles and tanks used in The Revolution displayed outdoors. We then had a few drinks back at the hotel.

Gretel surprised us before dinner and we all took convertibles there! Our driver went slowly so we could take in Havana. It was a beautiful experience. I will never forget that drive. At dinner we had our own private room at a restaurant called Habanera, a 1930s home. Gretel gave a speech about our nice time together. I ate ropa vieja, rice and beans, and flan. I had a mojito and some wine, too. Back at the hotel, we said goodbye to Charlie and Marlys. Then we had a drink at the Hall of Fame bar before bed.


Day 12: Havana, Home

Day 803: Cuba Trip, Part II

Last day in Havana, Cuba. I went for a walk by myself and found this beautiful spot.

We had our morning free, so we slept in, packed, relaxed, and had breakfast. I then walked around the hotel by myself and found a path that led to a big, neat Cuba sign. It was a beautiful view! Then we left the hotel and said our goodbyes to Peachy and Gretel.

What an amazing, educational experience that I will never forget! It will be in my heart always.

Day 802: Cuba Trip, Part I

Rachel, Day by Day

Day 802: Cuba Trip, Part I

Revolution Square with friends and family, Havana, Cuba.

Last June I went on a 12-day life-changing educational trip to Cuba with family and friends. My father was born there, and this place has been No. 1 on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, so many classmates thought it was strange that I wanted to go there. My dad and I always talked about going to two places: Spain and Cuba. Unfortunately we never made it to either place together. So, one of my greatest goals in life has been to go to both places in his honor. I went on an amazing trip to Spain in 2003, and I went on this trip in 2018. There were so many amazing moments I will never forget. Here are some highlights from my journal for you from the first half of the trip (second half will be in another blog post).

Day 1: Miami

I traveled to Miami with my mom, brother, and three family friends for Day 1 in Miami. This day involved meeting everyone in our Cuba educational tour group and going through all the information we needed. We had four others in our group (Mary, Nese, Marlys, and Charlie), who were all very nice! When we arrived at our hotel, we had a shot of rum for my dad. We walked around South/Miami Beach and had a bad experience at a restaurant with rude staff, but I won’t go into the details! I did drink a good margarita, though. That evening we had drinks in the lobby bar; there was a guy playing bagpipes, too. Random!


Day 2: Miami to Havana

Day 802: Cuba Trip, Part I

Christopher Columbus Necropolis Cemetery, Havana, Cuba.

For the flight to Havana, I somehow got first class! They gave me sparkling wine after I sat down. When we landed, everyone clapped, and I couldn’t help but tear up. Once we got through the airport, we met Gretel, our tour guide, and Peachy, our bus driver, at the bus.

Our first stop was Il Divino Farm and restaurant (many of the restaurants are privately owned, called paladars) for lunch and we got a tour of the organic farm. I ate crab, rice and beans, plantain chips, and ice cream. Then we went to the Christopher Columbus Necropolis Cemetery. It’s 138 acres and 146 years old. We saw the grave and statue of Amelia Goire de la Hoz, or La Milagrosa. She and her baby died and were buried together (the baby was placed near her feet). Years later her tomb was exhumed by her husband. Once it was opened, the baby was in her arms. People go to her grave and pray to her and leave notes and flowers.

After this, we went to Revolution Square. This is where Fidel made speeches, and his longest was nine hours. After this, we went to our hotel (Hotel Nacional de Cuba) and drank mojitos at the outdoor bar.

For dinner later, we went to a paladar called La Moraleja. We ate chicken croquets and lobster. I had a Cuba Libre and a shot of rum.

Things we learned:

  • Cuba has the best skin and lung cancer treatments. People fly there for it.
  • No crime, no guns, no drugs, no racism.


Day 3: Havana

Day 802: Cuba Trip, Part I

The Muraleando, a community arts project, Havana, Cuba.

This morning we went to a lecture on the history of Cuba. He told us three homes collapse every day. Everything was mostly built between 1900-1958 and is now aging. The average state monthly salary is $27. For apartment buildings, people just maintain their own space, so common areas aren’t kept up. Tourism is up since Obama visited (2016) and the Rolling Stones came (2015), but it’s declined a bit since then. Education is free by the government.

After the lecture, we went to La Merced Church and talked to people at the senior center around the corner. We then went to a small craft market and passed Floridita, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar. He used to drink daiquiris there.

We then went to Amos Photography where we learned about Alex Castro and Rasmés Batista’s business. They both shoot beautiful photography for a living and hold free workshops for younger kids. We had lunch there and ate black bean cream soup, lamb, chicken, egg plant lasagna, rice and veggies, plantain chips, and guava marmalade for dessert.

After lunch, we walked around the city center of Havana. We saw the oldest hotel in Havana and the tree planted by Michelle Obama. We saw a fortress and went to the Plaza de San Francisco. We then went back to the hotel and all had drinks by the pool.

That evening we went to Muraleando, a community arts project. There’s art and murals everywhere and everything is made from recycled materials. Classes and events are held here, too. It originally was an abandoned water tank with garbage in the neighborhood. We had dinner there and danced!


Day 4: Havana

Day 802: Cuba Trip, Part I

Fusterlandia, an artistic community filled with colorful and whimsical mosaics, Havana, Cuba.

Today we started out taking bike taxis (bici-taxis) to the market. We bought some food and brought it to the local day care center. In one of the rooms, they surrounded me and I played for a bit with them!

After that, we walked to the historical center of Havana, Plaza Vieja. We had lunch on our own and chose a restaurant on the second floor. The view was great looking down at the plaza! I ate a Cuban sandwich and tried sangria. Then we walked around the Plaza de San Francisco for a bit.

Once we got on the bus, we stopped at an old rum factory called Ron Legendario. We got a small tour and I ended up buying some cigars. We then relaxed back at the hotel a bit and got drinks. A peacock was bothering my brother in the courtyard area, and he was very nervous about it!

That night we went to Fusterlandia, an artistic community filled with colorful and whimsical mosaics. It was started by José Fuster, and we went to his house. It reminded me of a beautiful playhouse. His son, Alex Fuster, was there and explained the house and paintings to us. I bought a rum bottle with beautiful art. We then ate dinner there (rice and beans, fish, and chicken).


Day 5: Havana to Cienfuegos

Day 802: Cuba Trip, Part I

A beautiful view of Cienfuegos, Cuba, at night.

In the morning we took the bus to Cienfuegos for 3.5 hours. When we arrived at La Union Hotel, we had some lunch and free time. We walked around craft markets and then had a piña colada by the pool. As a group, we then walked around the historic center right by our hotel. We listened to the Cantores de Cienfuegos sing. They were amazing! They travel internationally and won many first-place awards. We all danced at the end, too.

We then went to Villa Lagarto paladar for dinner and it was right on the water. The view was gorgeous. We ate pork and black beans and rice. We ended the night by having drinks on the rooftop bar. I had a delicious margarita.


Day 6: Cienfuegos

Day 802: Cuba Trip, Part I

Children dancing at the Jardines de la UNEAC, Cienfuegos, Cuba.

This morning we went to the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens. There were so many trees and plants from other countries. Everything was beautiful! We did a small walking tour around the gardens. We then stopped at Jardines de la UNEAC (Union of Writers and Artists in Cuba). We walked around to local artists’ galleries, and one artist even quickly made a drawing of my brother! Then we had lunch at a local restaurant on our own. I ate a Cuban sandwich!

We then went back to the Jardines de la UNEAC to watch the children dance. They were great! We all got up and danced at the end. Then we shopped a bit and had a drink on the rooftop at the hotel.

Later that night we had dinner at Finca del Mar, a nice paladar. I ate ropa vieja, squash soup, rice and beans, and flan. It was great eating authentic Cuban food! On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Palacio de Valle, a historic villa once owned by the Valle family. It’s now a hotel and restaurant. The building was beautiful. Then we went back to the Jardines de la UNEAC and listened to Los Naranjos play music. Many people danced, which was cool to see. We then went to the rooftop bar at the hotel before heading to bed.

More to come! Stay tuned.