Although we have been married for 8 years, we have been together for 19 years. We met in 2001 while working as interns at Disney World in Florida, we went there through the universities that we attended (which were not the same!) We met through a mutual friend and our connection was immediate.
After our time at Disney World, we went back to our colleges, our states, our homes (Hawaii and New York) and continued our relationship long distance. For two and a half years we travelled back and forth to be together. Once Chris graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree, he moved to Hawaii to continue his education in Culinary Arts while Vanessa worked on her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Resources. Upon graduation we both continued living in Hawaii with family while we worked in our respective fields, Chris as a Chef and Vanessa as a Teacher. A year later an opportunity opened for Chris and with Vanessa’s full support, we both moved to West Virginia. Then a few years later moved back to New York, where we currently reside.
In 2013 we were blessed with our daughter, Nora. She is well-mannered, respectful, goofy, thoughtful, compassionate, empathetic, and talented. She loves to draw, paint and do crafts. She enjoys the outdoors and, when the opportunity arises, she enjoys swimming. She even loves music! She is always dancing (she takes Tap) and Ukulele lessons. Most of all, she cannot wait to be a big sister. You can see it in the way she plays with her dolls and stuffed animals: the way she cradles them and rocks them, feeds them, talks to them and the loving and gentle way she tucks them in at night before she goes to sleep.
Family Is Very Important To Us...
As a couple, we have wonderful role models in our parents who have been married for more than 40 years each. It is their commitment to each other and love for each other and their families that we continue to look up to. Through them we experienced the importance of cherishing your spouse and children...and the result of having a fulfilling family life and an environment for our children to thrive in, feel loved, nurtured and secure and to help to create a wonderful foundation for their future life success.
Vanessa comes from a large extended family. She grew up in a family where she is one of 23 grandchildren. They did almost everything together. Growing up in Hawaii and being surrounded by beaches, there were a lot of picnics on the beach, flying homemade kites and trips around the island with a caravan of cars in tow. Weekends were spent with family BBQs, playing and laughing. Family members took turns hosting sleepovers with up to six cousins crammed into a bed, staying up late, telling jokes and talking all night. Birthdays were not just a gathering but a celebration. Vanessa shares her birthday month with 9 other family members and it just made sense to hold one big party to celebrate everyone.
One thing that stands out for Vanessa is having her Nana (grandmother) there for her throughout her childhood and adulthood. Not only did they immigrate to the US together, but her Nana lived with her, her mother, her father and her sister. While her parents worked, Nana was there to make sure she went to school and had a hot meal at the end of the day. She was there for all the birthdays and graduations. Nana also walked down the aisle on our wedding day. As Nana grew older the more Vanessa was able to reciprocate all that she did for her while she was growing up by taking her to appointments, running errands and taking care of her.
Family was also an integral part of Chris’s upbringing. In addition to his parents, Chris spent a lot of his younger years with both sets of grandparents, as well as his 3 aunts and 2 uncles. They all had an important role in taking Chris and his sister to experience new things such as roller skating, bowling, or swimming at the YMCA. We also took yearly trips camping where immediate and extended family (all 12 of us) would go exploring on nature hikes, fishing, learning about animals, and cooking s'mores around the campfire at night.
Chris has an older sister who was a great role model for him growing up. She was busy as a straight “A” student and valedictorian of her high school. She always made time to help Chris with a project or homework if he needed it. She taught him to always try your hardest and be the best you can be.
Chris’ parents always put their childrens’ needs above their own. His father, a factory worker on the night shift, made time to see as many of Chris’ baseball or football games as he could. Chris’s mother, a state employee, personally drove her children to school everyday, helped with countless projects and always made sure they had healthy meals to enjoy. Chris’ parents were always an amazing example of what it means to be a parent and the important responsibilities that come with it.
As a couple, we have wonderful role models in our parents who have been married for more than 40 years each. It is their commitment to each other and their families that we look up to, and hope that we too have just as successful of a marriage as they do with happy children who are successful, well taken care of and loved.
We live in a home that was once owned by Chris’ grandparents. It is the same house in which his mother, aunts and uncles grew up in. A home that holds a lot of cherished memories and traditions for Chris that we hope to continue to pass down to our own children. We live near a wonderful school, playground, parks, restaurants, all kinds of shopping, coffee shops and even a roller rink. Just a short walk away, is a river where we love to take walks to feed the geese and ducks. We enjoy going to our neighborhood Farmer’s Market and going on picnics once it gets nice and warm.
In the area we live, we enjoy going to festivals and craft fairs throughout the year and going on long drives to enjoy the different seasons, especially in the Fall to admire the changing color of the leaves. Art galleries, museums and the zoo are only a short drive away.
Vanessa and her family immigrated to the US when she was a toddler. Growing up she remembers being surrounded by Filipino music, movies, shows, food, and the language. She remembers that at every celebration, pancit (a filipino noodle) was offered to represent longevity and her father rang in the New Year with his infamous arroz caldo, one of Vanessa’s favorite dishes.
Chris comes from strong Italian background. He remembers having seafood and fried dough on Christmas Eve and baking tons of cookies for Christmas. He recalls his grandmother making several kinds of bread for Easter. Just a few traditions we hope to continue with our own family.
We have started a few of our own traditions since Nora was born. Since family means everything to us, we travel every summer to Hawaii to spend time with Vanessa’s family. During the Fall, we pick apples and pumpkins with our extended family at local farms. During Christmas, we visit Santa, build gingerbread houses and bake cookies. Most of all, our favorite holiday tradition is Nora painting a picture for each set of grandparents to be gifted on Christmas Day.
Chris is an amazing father, husband, and partner. Together, we make a very strong team. Chris, is a very hands on father. He is there to take Nora to school every day, takes her to appointments and makes himself available for special events like Father/Daughter Dances. Most of all, what I love most is his nightly routine with Nora. He makes it a point to be home on time to get her ready for bed, read with her and chat with her before she goes to sleep. Nora enjoys her “snuggles” with Daddy and looks forward to them every night.
Chris is very hard-working. He works in food service which I know can be demanding as he has a lot of people that count on him. He offers support when employees need it and he is there to help boost workplace morale. As his wife, I understand that his role at his job is important and because of that I do what I can to support him in the household to make sure he continues to be successful in the workplace, which in turn makes our lives better at home.
To relax and unwind, Chris enjoys a good movie, canning freshly picked fruit into jam, pickling vegetables and gardening. Once the weather gets warm, Chris enjoys spending some time in the garage making or building something. He is also a great bowler and loves to golf.
It sounds cliché but Vanessa is the best thing that has happened to me. From our first meeting, I knew there was something different about her. She is down to earth, caring, smart and supportive. She also has a comforting warmth about her that is noticeable by all. After getting to know Vanessa, I knew she was going to make the BEST mother. Seeing her with our daughter, Nora or with our friends’ children is amazing! She is very nurturing and has a rare way of deeply connecting with children.
Vanessa’s loving ways have always put me at ease. I know when I have had a hard day at work, or Nora is in a grumpy mood, she will always be there to uplift our spirits by giving a hug, making a silly joke or simply saying “I love you.” Vanessa melts the stress away. Her peaceful demeanor is a compliment in our marriage and the quality that has made her a great mother. I look forward to seeing our love grow by adding another child to our family.
On top of being a great Mother, Vanessa is a very hard worker. She humbly teaches special needs children and is often put in situations that are beyond anyone’s imagination. Vanessa is in her field because she is truly passionate about helping these children succeed in their lives.
Vanessa likes to unwind by reading a good book, watching TV, scrapbooking, cardmaking and stamping and doing some early morning Yoga or Pilates.