when i think about it, even though i’ve been through more than 3 decades of life experiences - it is only now as a mom to leona, that i truly appreciate the meaning of life; which is to give and love unconditionally. but i titled this “life before leona” so i will try to be brief about myself (& her baba) in order to move quickly to the introduction of her deliciousness a.k.a. "leona juliette mihail"…
to truly introduce leona, i will try to briefly explain the journey that has brought us to her.
i was born in saigon vietnam, and left as a refugee with my mamie around 1 years old.
when i was still in my mamie's belly, my grandmother (dad’s mom), forced him to leave saigon without us. he never made it (but i didn’t find out until i was pre-teen), so it was me and my mamie until i was 4 yrs old.
i grew up in montreal canada, learned french as my first language, then vietnamese. i met my a stepdad and stepsister around 4 yrs old.
my parents moved us to los angeles when i was about 9/10 years old to start their own furniture business. i grew up in north hollywood and was a mall rat kid. instead of daycare, i spent most of my time after school at the mall with my parents. i was a tomboy growing up because i played video games in the food court and only hung out with boys. my brother was born around this time, we are 10 years apart.
mike and i met at a sweet sixteen birthday party in 1995 and have been inseparable since. it's been a long journey for us as a young couple who met in high school.
when we were young, our challenges as a couple were about how much time we spent (or did not spend) with each other. we actually argued about it constantly! we went to different high schools and colleges, so we always made an effort to be together as much as possible (imagine if that were our biggest problems today?...oh how simple life can be at 16/17 years old!).
falling in love so young was wonderful. it was so simple. we used to write each other love letters and talk on the phone thru the night until we had to go to school in the morning. it was always a sweet love.
if you want to see more old and funny pictures of us throughout the 10 years of being together, here is our wedding slide show (warning it is 13 minutes long!)
eventually, our young love nurtured into our adult life of living together and then buying a town house in culver city and getting our first dog, athena. a few weeks after adopting her, mike proposed the night before our 10 year anniversary. i was completely surprised (as you can see from my red face in the picture below). the proposal was a coordinated surprise with a few close friends & family.
we did not rush into our wedding plans and had a two year engagement. after living in the townhouse with athena for less than a year, mike decided that it was time for us to move into a house with a yard. so during the real estate craze in 2006, we moved into a house in Tarzana, where we currently reside now. although we love our house, it was definitely an investment that we would later could not afford (like everyone else).
as we were planning for the wedding, we decided to go to pre-marital counseling. everything began to unfold for us in couples’ therapy as we talked about our hopes, dreams and family planning. it was not the same conversation that we used to have when we were kids. our hopes and dreams at 16/17 were so much different at 28/29 years old.
then the big greek/vietnamese wedding happened. we got married twice, the first time on our high school anniversary date (6.9.2007) - see picture to the right.
and then we walked down the aisles of lake shrine in the pacific palisades a week later (6.16.2007), it was a beautiful sunny june wedding. you can see the wedding montage below:
shortly after the wedding bliss, things got a bit rocky for us. there was a distance between us that we both knew, but could not explain at the time. marriage should have brought us closer but we were further apart for the first time in our lives.
so shortly after xmas, i discovered that mike had an affair. it broke me. it broke us. it was the most unbelieveable betrayal i had ever felt. i cried. we cried together. yet i was not surprised. i could go on and on… but we’ll save all the juicy and sad details for another blog post, if you guys want to know.
fast forward through a lot more couples' therapy, and eventually we forgave each other and started over. after we were able to mend our love, our love grew stronger each day as husband and wife. as our love grew stronger, so did our desire to start a family. that is where leona comes into our lives. she sprung out of pure love and hope from us. we wanted her more than anything.
it took about 6 months for me to get pregnant (all stress related to our house, our finances…again, another blog post if you guys want to know the juicy details).
that’s it’s for now. the next post will be the birth story of leona.