From a young age I learned that a person’s beauty is both external and internal. I have tried very hard throughout my life to never judge someone based on their appearance, including myself. I thought I had a healthy self esteem, that is until I got pregnant. I was prepared mentally for just about everything I would go through during the pregnancy, except seeing my body change so drastically. Even though everyone around me told me that I was “glowing”, I had never felt more unattractive. Every body part was stretched and swollen and sometimes I did not even recognize myself in the mirror. After giving birth, I canceled my son’s newborn session twice. Granted I was feeling awful from my c-section, but the thought of being photographed terrified me. My amazingly talented friend/photographer Brittany refused to let me cancel a third time and said I simply had to get in front of the camera with my son. She claimed if I absolutely hated the photos I could just delete them, but that I would regret not having taken photos with him for the rest of my life. I was shaking when she took the following shots. I tried to focus completely on Joaquín and it worked. When I saw the photos for the first time I cried, as I have never loved photos of myself more. I do not love the way I look, but I love the woman I have become and I think that my internal beauty is radiating. Being a Mother is the hardest thing I have ever experienced, however it is the greatest job I could ever imagine having. I am being challenged in ways that I never thought possible and I could not be more proud of myself. I am forever grateful to Brittany for pushing me out of my comfort zone and reminding me the truth about beauty. I hope this post reminds you about the truth as well. Next time you are being critical about your own looks, remember everything you have accomplished in life whether it is a higher education degree, volunteering on your weekends, or traveling abroad — these things make you more beautiful than a new dress or losing five pounds ever could!
There was no way I was going to be able to do Joaquín’s newborn shoot without including something to do with travel in it, as I have no doubt that my little prince will one day be a jetsetter like his Mom. My husband, Lucas, and I found the vintage luggage that we put him in when I was five months pregnant on a trip to Peaks of Otter, Virgina inside of a little antique shop. When I spotted the luggage I instantly knew I had to have it for Joaquín’s nursery. I cannot wait to see my boy’s face one day when I show him that he once was so tiny that he fit inside of it!
The following photo is my favorite from the entire newborn photo shoot. When Joaquín smiles my entire heart melts — he definitely has his Mom wrapped around his little finger (and trust me, he knows it too)!
Which photo is your favorite? To see the first part of the photo shoot click here. To be continued. . .
Photos Taken By: Brittany Lauren Photography
Looking for a unique Honolulu experience? Most people hit the tourist areas when they visit the city in paradise: Waikiki Beach, Turtle Bay, and Matsumoto Shave Ice. While these are fun, there are so many more hidden gems in the city that give you a true look at culture and fun in Honolulu:
Honolulu Museum of Art
While the Honolulu Museum of Art is not necessarily a hidden gem, the two extension buildings are. The first is Spalding House, a center for contemporary art. The house also has a special display from David Hockney, which allows visitors to walk through interpretations of his stage designs from a 1981 opera.
The second hidden extension building is Shangri La, a magnificent house that once belonged to an heiress with an affinity for Islamic art. The heiress filled Shangri La with pieces from Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Turkey. You can visit Shangri La on a bus tour and view the gardens overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Gogobot can also give you the inside scoop on hotel deals around Honolulu and the Museum of Art.
The Sanju Pagoda is found in the Honolulu Memorial Park in Oahu. It is a 119-foot pagoda built in the likeness of a Japanese temple. The Sanju Pagoda was constructed in 1966 and is the largest pagoda in the United States. In the past, the pagoda contained urns but is starting to crumble these days. The pagoda can only be viewed from the outside for safety concerns.
La Mariana Sailing Club
If you want the greatest restaurant hidden gem, this is it! The club is concealed in an industrial area near the airport but has fun Tiki decor throughout. Untouched since its construction in the 1950’s, the club has a leafy concealed patio and complete wood interiors with carved faces.
Corsair Airplane Wreck
In 1946 a pilot evacuated his plane after experiencing engine problems during a flight exercise. The plane crashed into the ocean and has been underwater ever since. If you are a scuba diving enthusiast, you can dive 100 feet down to the airplane wreckage. The pilot seat and propeller are still intact, and you will also be able to visit with the eels and stingrays that live with the plane. You can go on a dive to the plane from Oahu’s Portlock.
Goofy is a hidden foodie gem nestled beyond the storefronts. The restaurant has a beach hut style that makes you feel right at home. Even though the food is inexpensive served cafe-style, the taste is phenomenal, with local ingredients in every dish. You can even trace the ingredients on your menu before choosing your dish. The most famous dish at Goofy is the Kahuku garlic shrimp.
Finding the hidden gems during your vacation makes your trip more special and authentic. What is even more fun is planning your next trip to Honolulu with friends to show off the gems you found!
If you are traveling and need to take a car or rent one while you are on your trip, but you are not going to be cruising for hundreds of miles every few days, then your criteria is slightly different to the usual road trip requirements. You probably do not need anything too large or luxurious, and there is no real need for a convertible or anything like that. With this in mind, here are three cars that make a good choice:
Perennially one of the best rated cars in its class, the Ford Focus is a great all-round choice for just about any type of journey you can think of. It is a hatchback so it has decent storage space, the handling and road feel are very good, and you will get useful technology on board. The latest models have a system that can detect and parallel park into suitable spaces. There are many different versions and specifications of Focus for you to pick from, so you will need to work out exactly what you need. You can be sure they will be a matching Focus, though.
If you like a bit of character with your cars, then this little Fiat is a great choice. It comes in all manner of colors and designs and can be a real head turner. Its small size makes it great for nipping around on little trips, and the engine is also particularly economical, so you do not need to worry too much about fuel costs. Many car reviewers have noted that the 500C is a fun car to drive too. Just because you are not going on a long trip, it does not mean you cannot enjoy yourself, does it?
The Mini is a design classic, and now that it is made by BMW, it can boast about German engineering too. There are a variety of versions to choose from, but you will get a good amount of luxury in each one, and critically, good fuel economy. As with the 500C, the Mini is a little car and is therefore easy to park. It is a fantastic choice if your trips involve lots of city driving, however being so well engineered there is no issue with taking it on longer trips that require something that will cruise comfortably. Minis are generally best bought used, as the price new is expensive compared with similar cars.
Montenegro’s Adriatic coastline is calm, beautiful, and a world away from the hectic resort culture of many seaside destinations, making it ideal for a romantic getaway or anniversary gift. Its 72 kilometres of beach — many of which are white sand or pebble — form a striking border between land and sea, overhung by the dramatic mountains that are this country’s namesake, and lots of cloudless, blue skies. There are many trips available from Saga Travel to this unique country, from the sequestered glamour of Sveti Stefan to the Eastern vibe of Ulcinj, there is something for everyone on the Adriatic coast.
Here are some of its highlights:
You might recognise Petrovac as one of the locations from Casino Royale, but its debonair good looks are not just for James Bond wannabes. There is a 700 meter-long yawn of red sand beach, demarking a calm middle point between the seaport of Bar and Budva, as well as nearby Lucice beach with its petite bay, parasols aplenty, and beach bar.
Traveling due north along the coastline from Petrovac, the first little town you will encounter on the way to Budva is Becici. Once winner of the most beautiful beach in Europe, it is easy to understand its popularity when you first glimpse its sparkling shore. Casinos, restaurants, and hotels line its sandy strip, tempting travelers to kick back, throw some dice and sling some cocktails. Nearby, cultural Budva beckons.
Fragrant with bougainvillea, pretty as a picture and boasting some serious medieval provenance, Budva has charm (and sand!) by the bucketload. Venture first to its old town, where you can ascend the Citadel for the modest sum of two Euros for views out to sea, then spend your afternoon window-shopping under swinging, archaic signs amid the shaded, winding alleys. Do not neglect to pop in to the Budva City Museum where you can examine artefacts dating back to the Hellenic era.
Close to the Albanian border to the south of Montenegro, Ulcinj can be reached by bus from Bar in half an hour. A great base for exploring the many attractions of the country’s south and for getting a waft of Albanian culture, Ulcinj has a hilly, walled Old Town, perfect for stretching your legs after a bus journey. Explore its Venetian palace, wander by the former slave market and do not neglect to stop for a Turkish coffee. Then, travel on from here to beautiful Ada Bojana or Sasko Lake.
If you are considering a trip abroad this year, it is worth trying out the warm, clear waters of the Adriatic by visiting this friendly and beautiful country. Go to Montenegro, you will not be sorry!