Kiss Me, I’m (10%) Irish!

For my 40th, hubby bought me something I have been wanting since the first time I watched an episode of Who Do You Think You Are: a DNA testing kit from Ancestry DNA.


I am of Cuban descent. Because it is very unlikely that the Cuban government has any of my family’s records, and my grandparents have long since passed, I have always been curious to learn more about my roots. I knew that my dad’s paternal side was from Spain, and there had been rumors that one of my mom’s grandparents was of Lebanese descent, but other than that, I had no clue who my ancestors are…

…that is, until this week! Yesterday morning I finally received my DNA results:

dna2 Here’s the complete breakdown:

76% European
–53% Iberian Peninsula
–10% Ireland
–4% European Jewish
–3% Italy/Greece
–2% Scandinavia/NW Russia
–1% Europe West
–<1% Great Britain

15% Middle East

6% Africa
–4% North Africa
–2% Benin/Togo
–<1% Ivory Coast/Ghana

 2% Native American

 <1% Asia South


I love knowing that I am a mix of so many ethnicities!

IrishMy biggest shock was finding out that I am 10% Irish. After so many years of singing along at the pub, and feeling such a connection to characters such as Ellis Lacey from the film Brooklyn, I finally understand why I love the Irish so much, we are kin!  Now I want to adopt a little redhead and name her Saoirse (pronounced Sersha, except my Cubanos would most likely call her Soraisa.)

I was also stoked to learn that I am 2% Native American! Now I need to learn if I am Ciboney, the Guanahatabey or Taíno.

My biggest DNA makeup comes from the Iberian Peninsula (my Spaniard roots), the Middle East and Africa. I even learned that I am 4% European Jewish. I love every single part of my DNA!

Have you had your DNA tested? If so, I would love to know who your ancestors are. If you haven’t yet taken the leap, Ancestry DNA sent me this link to share with my friends, and it will save you $10 off the regular price of a DNA testing kit. That’s even less than what hubby paid!

(Full disclosure: for every kit my friends order using this link, Ancestry DNA will send me a $10 gift card to Amazon which will promptly use to download Irish drinking songs!)


Peeking Out Of The 40 Fog

Most of my friends are turning 40 this year. This was supposed to be a comment to a friend’s status update, but it turned into a novel, and I didn’t want to hijack her post, so instead you guys get a new blog post…enjoy!

Turning 40 was hard for me. Really hard. I spent several months before and the whole month after really coming to grips with it. I’m just now, 33 days later, beginning to peek out of my “40 Fog”. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel like every day on this earth is a blessing, I just pictured myself having accomplished certain things and gone certain places by now.

I am facing my mortality a bit more. I’m afraid that I am going to die and never have seen or done the things that I keep putting off for financial or logistical reasons. The 10 years between 30 and 40 FLEW by for me. I blinked and they were gone. I don’t want my 40s to go that fast.

Dress: H&M; Leggings: Forever 21, Boots: Target

I also think that turning 40 made me aware of just how much I do (and have done for the last 18 years) for others, and how little I’ve done that was just for me. For years, while my husband traveled for work, I held down the fort, while longingly wishing that I could be with him in San Francisco, Spain, Portugal, Montreal or whatever other place I still haven’t had the chance to visit instead of spending my evenings at “meet the teacher nights” or “curriculum fairs.”

I am constantly back and forth with the kids at school and their activities. I work, take care of the house, take care of the pets. And, while I love it all, sometimes I want to do something that’s just for Yvette.

It’s hard as a mom to focus on yourself without seeming selfish. Moms are constantly having to justify their career or lack thereof. But, if you don’t make yourself a priority, you may wake up one morning and realize that you are turning 40 and you’re still waiting to take that trip, or buy that purse, or get those highlights, or join that gym or whatever else you’ve been putting off because it’s something that only benefits you.

That is what I want to accomplish most in my 40s, to stop putting myself last all the time. That doesn’t mean I’m going to put my family last (see what I did there? Always making sure to justify my actions less the sanctimommies–and daddies–come out of the woods with pitchforks…) It just means that sometimes Mom is going to get on that plane with Dad, and Abuela will hold down the fort for us, and that is OK.

Thoughts of a SUPER busy person

Author’s Note:  I’m so sorry it’s been so long since my last post. In the previous weeks I’ve attempted so often to sit and write, but after typing a few words I get distracted (squirrel!), usually by a phone call or by a pending chore which swirls around in my head blocking any creative inspiration. Thanks for sticking around.  Enjoy…

I found this cute notepad at Marshall’s last week and knew I had to buy it.

busyYou see, I am totally guilty of playing the “super busy” card.  When someone asks, “How’ve you been?” or “What have you been up to?” my go-to answer is almost always “I’ve been super busy!”

And, it’s true, I am super busy–not super busy saving lives, or super busy running my multi-billion dollar corporation, but super busy nonetheless.

I’m busy because I am a human person with a laundry list (which, in case you were wondering, ALWAYS includes laundry) of things that need to be done regularly and repeatedly. As I’ve grown, made friends, gotten married, bought a house, had children, adopted pets, started my own business, volunteered for a nonprofit and set future goals, that to-do list has naturally grown.

I realize that busyness has become a status symbol. If you’re busy it must mean that your life is full. To be busy equates to working hard, and working hard equates to making money, and having money means that you don’t have to answer to anyone.

For me, and I suspect for other at-home moms, busyness also means that our time is being put to an acceptable amount of use to merit the luxury of not clocking in at a “real” job (because, let’s face it, those of us who work from home don’t have real jobs, right?) For moms who do work outside of the home, being busy means that we know how to balance both work and household responsibilities (because don’t all working moms depend on maids and nannies and get take-out every night?)

Many people liken the opposite of “busyness” as “laziness”. Therefore, if we are not up to our eyeballs in commitments, then we are sitting on the couch eating Cheetos in our pajamas and bing-watching OITNB. If we are the latter, we definitely have the time to volunteer for that committee, host that Jamberry/Thirty-One/DoTerra party, AND take grandma to the eye doctor.

Busyness gives us value. More so, it gives us permission to rest. Busy people are expected–commanded, even–to take some time off.

So, am I really busy or just keeping busy to avoid seeming lazy?  I guess, it’s both. I am legitimately busy. There is never one moment in the day that I don’t have something that NEEDS to get done.  I start on A and work my way to Z, and by the time I’m done, A needs to be done again. But, at the same time, I try to keep busy out of fear that the moment I sit in front of the TV with a bag a Cheetos I will be secretly nominated as next year’s PTA President. 😐

Missing: Reward!

Saturday I spent the day volunteering at the 3rd Annual A Magic Cure Benefit at the Ritz Ybor (a historic theater built in 1917, which to my contemporaries is best known as the dance club Masquerade from the mid-90s) hosted by Lawrence A. Martucci Benefit Corp.  Many of you may already know that I am the Marketing Chair of this fabulous charity. We are 100% volunteer based and raise money to help fund research on pediatric cancer PREVENTION.  It’s pretty rad.

Somehow, in the 14 hours from set-up, to showtime, to take-down, I lost my MOST FAVORITIST SWEATER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER AND EVER.

MISSINGSWEATERI wasn’t sure that I had even brought it down from the car, but I must have hung it up with my change of clothes in the ladies bathroom and left it there. I contacted the theater, as well as my fellow committee members, and no one has seen my precious missing sweater.  Boo.

The only other thing I can think of is that I dropped it on the way from the parking garage to the theater, in which case a hundred-year-old hobo with 3 teeth is rocking my sweet threads.  I guess that makes me feel a little better.

If you see my missing sweater, please contact me. Your reward is a shout out and a bag of peanut M&Ms.

FULL DISCLAIMER: Missing sweater cost me $3 on clearance at Target.  But– this does not diminish its awesomeness.  In fact, I believe it increases its overall value.

Get to Know Me {you know you want to}

My bloggy friend Tanya at Kreative Korner asked me to join her in a little “get to know you” exercise.  I decided to take her up on the offer and share my answers with you all.  Enjoy!


1. What are you wearing?

2. Ever been in love?
Every single day of my life.

3. Ever had a terrible break-up?
Yes, in the 7 years that Hubs and I dated we had a couple of break-ups, the second one (4 years in) was the worst.


4. How tall are you?

5. How much do you weigh?
YIKES…the answer to this depends on the day.  Let’s say somewhere in the 130s.

6. Any tattoos?

7. Any piercings?
Two in each ear.  Occasionally I punch through my second holes just to make sure they stay pierced, but I only wear earrings in my original ear piercings.

8. OTP (One true pair, favorite fictional couple?)
It’s a toss up between Eleanor & Park and Glenn & Maggie.

9. Favorite Show?
Again a toss up: The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, and Parenthood (watching on Netflix, no spoilers, please!)

10. Favorite Bands?
Counting Crows, Mumford & Sons and Avett Brothers

11. Something you miss?
I miss my kids being little, but I love them as tween/teenagers. I miss my parents being married. I miss not needing to color my hair. I miss being able to park in my garage.

12. Favorite Song?
At this very moment it’s Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. Ask me 3 weeks from now and it will be something different.

13. How old are you?
I just turned 39 last week. (39 is the new 29!)

14. Zodiac sign?

15. Favorite Quality in a Partner?
Admitting when he’s wrong, and accepting my apology when I am.

16. Favorite Quote?
A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” — Zen Shin
Good fences make good neighbors.” –Robert FrostAquaSeventy6-4

17. Favorite Actor?
Kristen Wiig

18. Favorite Color?
I love gray, aqua, and black and white together (stripes, dots, graphic tee)

19. Loud music or soft?
Soft if it’s background music, loud if it’s booty music in the car with my kids. 😉

20. Where do you go when you are sad?
I usually take a long shower or watch TV in bed.

21. How long does it take you to shower?
Wait?! Did you anticipate my answer to #20? It takes me about 10 minutes, unless I’m home alone or everyone is in bed and then it’s usually until the hot water runs out.

22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
If I’m just dropping off the kids and returning home, about 5 minutes. If I have to go out, between 30-45 mins.

23. Ever been in a physical fight?
I think I was in 6th or 7th grade. It was a hair pulling fight.

24. Turn on?
A good sense of humor and an active listener.

25. Turn-off?
People who try to call others out or embarrass them. Dishonesty.

26. The reason I started blogging?
Because I love writing, sharing my thoughts and creative process. Because I am painfully introverted at times and it was a good way for others to get to know me. To have digital evidence of my creative and intellectual property.

27. Fears?
Something terrible happening to my kids, husband or other family members. The zombie apocalypse. Aliens.

28. Last thing that made you cry?
An episode of Parenthood.

29. Last time you said you loved someone?
Every time I pass one of my kids in the hallway.

30. Meaning behind the name of your blog (AquaSeventy6)?
I am an Aquarius born in 1976.

31. Last book you read?
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

32. Book you are currently reading?
None. I actually was planning to look for a new audiobook tonight.

33. Last show you watched?
Just finished binge-watching American Horror Story: Freakshow.

34. Last person you talked to?
My husband.

35. The relationship between you and the person you last texted?
I’m his mother.AquaSeventy6-3

36. Favorite food?
So many! I really like a good steak–medium rare.

37. Place you want to visit?

38. Last place you were?
In the living room eating dinner on the couch with Hubs.

39. Do you have a crush?
Katy Perry’s LaDuca booties

40. Last time you kissed someone?
Kids when I picked them up from school. Hubs when he got home from work.

41. Last time you were insulted?
Recently. It wasn’t a direct insult but a series of insulting actions.

42. Favorite flavor of sweet?
I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I do like sweet mixed with salty.

43. What instruments do you play?

44. Favorite piece of jewelry?
My wedding ring, my watch and my Ezra Necklace

45. Last sport you played?
I played a little football and soccer yesterday. (ie: I tossed the football with my son and then kicked a soccer ball with my nephew.) Before that? Hitting a golf ball at Top Golf a month ago.

46. Last song you sang?
Lose Control by Missy Elliot

47. Favorite chat up line?
Any conversation that doesn’t include the word ma’am.

48. Have you ever used it?
No, I call women ma’am all the time. 🙂

49. Last time you hung out with anyone?
Last night watching football with the cousins.

50. Who should answer these questions next?
Hmmm, this is tough because a lot of my bloggy buddies already have their posts pre-planned, but I’ll call out Autumn at Fun Life*Happy Life and see if she’s game!

Calamity and a Few Kind Words

A bit of calamity is common in my life. It’s a daily occurrence for me to bruise my hip bumping into the corner of the bed or bang my knee on a coffee table.  My poor fingers have it the worst.  I’ve sewn through one, completely closed a car door on another.

I was having a typical nutty day. I’d just sliced the top of my index finger when I got it caught in a junk drawer, my dogs wouldn’t stop barking at some workmen next door, and I had spent the last 20 minutes spraying Formula 409 on, and trying to sweep out, the hugest and oldest palmetto bug (Florida cockroach) I’d ever seen–which I’d found in said junk drawer–while shrieking like a banshee with each sweep of the broom.

I finally got the demon beast out of my house and realized that I had to leave right at that moment to pick up my kids from school.  I’d accomplished NOTHING that I’d set out to do that morning. My plans were thrwarted early on when Hubs left me a letter to send certified mail, a check to deposit, and a reminder that we were all out of something (string cheese? milk? OJ?) so I had to stop at the grocery store, too.

I was frustrated and in pain when I pulled up to my son’s school. The whole way there I was cursing (cussin’) under my breath about how I should just STOP: stop writing, stop creating, stop running my business. STOP.  What was the point, anyway? (boo-hoo, woe is me–I know.)  I had 5 minutes until the bell rang and I opened my email ready to clean out a day’s worth of SPAM, when I saw this in my inbox:

To: aquaseventy6
From: christiejean17

Hey Yvette! I don’t know if you really remember me. But I used to blog over at  Ma Nouvelle Mode for awhile. I dropped out of that blog because my son Bennet was born with a severe heart defect. He had 2 open heart surgeries, one diaphragm surgery and 3 stomach surgeries all before the age of 5 months old. He was 100% gtube fed (through a tube directly to his stomach) for 18 months.

I have been wanting to reach out to you because you have no idea how much your wet bags saved my life during those early months of Bennet’s life. We had to keep syringes for meds and feeds and all sorts of strange things with us at all times. Sometimes these items became pretty messy – I won’t go into detail 🙂 Anyways, i carried two of your chevron wet bags with me at all times! I just wanted you to know how God used your products to bless me during a really really difficult time. 

I just started my own blog called A Beautiful Window 🙂 I would love to keep in touch. God bless- Christie

kidsAn overwhelming feeling came over me. I was touched beyond words–both happy and proud that something I made with my own two hands helped a person across the country during a difficult time, and selfish and petty for being upset that I couldn’t get to my “business to do list” because I had to tackle my “family to do list”.  A list that including picking up my healthy children from school and running errands for the love of my life. What a jerk I am.

Thank you Christie for your email.  Thank you for reminding that sometimes our plans change, priorities shift, and that all it takes is a few kind words to put things back into place.

cropped-abeautifulwindowheader_tag61To learn more about Christie, Bennet and their family visit A Beautiful Window.

5 Goals for 2015

Like every year around this time, I find myself sneaking back here, to my tried and true blog, apologizing for the weeks months I’ve been away, and promising to do better.  So here goes: I promise to do better. I promise I will try to do better, anyway.

It’s also around this time of year that I sit down and take inventory of the last 12 months.  In 2013, my goal was to give more of my time and talent (because my treasure was quite limited) by becoming more involved in charity work and volunteering.

By early 2014, it was clear that I needed some of that time back to focus on my family and on better developing my talents– which would hopefully create a little more treasure to pitch in at home. This inspired me to come up with 28 Ways to {better} LOVE Myself.  I am happy to say that I’ve kept up with MOST of the promises I made to myself, and 2014 was one of my happiest and most peaceful years yet.

So what goals have I set for 2015?

1. First and foremost, I will continue to refer to my 28 Ways to {better} LOVE Myself, because we all need to securely fasten our oxygen masks before helping those around us.

2. I will remember to count my blessings more regularly.  It’s easy to get so overwhelmed by life’s occurrences that we forget to be grateful for all of the wonderful things that we do have.

3. I will set small personal and attainable goals (take the kids’ clothes to the consignment shop, finally learn how to use my embroidery machine, clean out the cabinet under my sink, organize my desk) which will make my life easier and give me a sense of tangible accomplishment.

4. I will be less angry at my 5:30 a.m. alarm. There is nothing that I can do about the time my kids start school, so getting worked up every single morning is pointless and unhealthy.  I will try to find the silver lining in my early morning wake-up call, even if it’s still too dark outside to see the clouds…

5. I will go on regular dates with my husband.  My kids are 12 and 14 and no longer consider sitting at grandma’s house watching a VHS copy of Blue’s Clues repeatedly a successful Friday night. This, and the fact that I really do dig hanging out with them, has caused a major dip in date nights. I realized last night when Hubby suggested revisiting our honeymoon destination (Sandals resort) and my initial response was “no, because the kids can’t come”, that maybe he was trying to tell me something…and maybe I should listen.  We truly love you, kids, but Mom and Dad need some alone time.  Want me to go into detail?…yeah, I didn’t think so. You can unplug your ears now.

What goals have you set for the new year?  Tell me in the comments!


Back to School: An Epic Tale of Boxes, Bronchitis, Downward Dog and Lockdowns

Today marks the end of the second week of school.  It has been, inarguably, the longest two weeks I’ve had in recent recollection. Even more so considering how quickly summer vacation flew by.

I wasn’t ready for summer to end, but decided to be positive and jumped right out of bed when my alarm went off in the middle of the night bright and early (at 5:30 a.m.) on the first day of school. Other than having to sign approximately 3,236 papers for school and visit Target a whopping 6 times for school supplies, the first few days were pretty great and I was able to get everyone, including myself, in bed by 9 p.m.

First day of school

 Then the weekend arrived.

My mother-in-law sold her house in less than a week on the market, and the time to pack and move had arrived.  Hubby, the kids, and I went over to help.  My job was to go through all of the photos she and her parents had collected over the last 65 years, combine them and store them in plastic tubs.  Actually my job was to pack said photos, but since the majority of them were strewn through dusty, silverfish infested boxes, falling out of photo albums whose sticky pages had long since lost their stickiness, or tucked away in the drug store envelopes they originally came in, I figured this would be a much better option.

Here is one of the old pictures I found at MIL’s.
Here are Hubs and I when we were around 19 circa 1995.

Since MIL hasn’t found a permanent place, Hubs and I offered to store her furniture and boxes  in our garage, which meant a major, two-day long garage rearrangement.

A good part of my garage was filled by donations for the charity yard sale I will soon be working, so those items had to be hauled to a different storage location. Hubby and I moved things right and left until we finally had the garage looking like I’d wanted it to look since we moved in 15 months ago.  It was a nice 30 seconds until the box truck with MIL’s items arrived.  Thankfully, we played a lot of Tetris when we were kids and we able to fit it all in nicely.

The next day, my daughter called me from school complaining of a cough and sore throat. The pediatrician diagnosed her with sinusitis and bronchitis.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  I had to go back and forth to the pharmacy three times until they figured out that the cough medicine wasn’t covered by our insurance and the doctor recommended an OTC instead.

Phew…I’m tired just thinking about it…

Last night my buddy Marcy invited me to yoga to try and relieve some of the stress of the last two weeks. This was a great idea since I had been wanting to try yoga for years to relieve my chronic back pain.  It really was a great idea, except that 15 minutes into it I realized this was more Cirque du Soleil in an oven than the chanting, relaxing and stretching I had pictured in my head.  About 40 minutes in I refused to do anymore downward dogs.

OK, I didn’t actually refuse. It was more like my brain was spinning in my head, and my ears were ringing, and my boob sweat was rolling up into my eyes, and I didn’t know what the heck any of the poses were, and I was getting nauseous from looking around to see if I was doing any of it correctly, and I was pretty sure they would have to call 9-1-1 if bent over again.  Thankfully, the last 10 minutes rocked.

I have not given up on yoga…I just think I will start with the senior citizens class and work my way up to the class set in the Sahara Desert.

So, this morning I woke up, still a little light-headed, but my body felt pretty amazing. Both kids were able to go back to school, and I planned on painting a table my MIL had given me to use in my studio while I listened to my new audiobook.  I ran out of the Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint I had been using, and as I went to wash my hands and run to the stockist, the house phone started ringing off the hook.  No one ever calls me on my land line, so when I looked at the caller ID I saw it was my son’s high school.

All I remember the recorded message say was “suspicious student”, “in custody” “lockdown”, “law enforcement”, and “safety sweep of the school.” I quickly texted my son, got online and saw the newspaper article that stated that my daughter’s middle school (right next door from my son’s) and a nearby elementary school were also on lockdown due to a student who was wearing a trench coat and claimed to have guns.  I texted my kids, and my son replied that he was in lockdown in his 4th period class but was OK.  My daughter didn’t reply right away, but by then the reports stated that her school’s lockdown had been lifted and that the students were in no danger.

I decided to drive to my son’s school myself, and when I arrived, the street was filled with concerned parents, cars parked on the side of the road and police cars blocking the school’s entrance.

My son’s principal has a twitter account, and he updated it often. I was able to keep in touch with my son via text while I waited for news.  Three hours after the initial lockdown, after crouching against a wall the entire time, skipping lunch hour, and with only one supervised bathroom break, the lockdown was lifted.  Parents like me flooded the front office to take our tired and hungry kids home. Actually, we went to McDonald’s. A situation like this deserves salty fries and a Coke.

Safe and sound.

Later on, we learned that there was no evidence of any weapons at the school, but it has raised a huge concern. How safe are our kids?  How can schools prevent weapons from entering the building?  What if another kid wants this kind of attention? Should the teachers have water and food supplies in their classrooms?

It’s all a little much for me to think about this evening.  Tonight I will just think of how thankful I am that my kids are safe and sound.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you!  My readers always brighten my day!