An Unlikely Superhero

God made a promise to His people that he was going to send them a messiah... someone to save them... a savior... a superhero. 

I'm pretty sure that people back then were thinking more along the lines of this:
The perfect picture of strength, boldness, fearlessness and grit.  He wins in the end. 

Nowadays, we picture saviors and superheros like this:
Untouchable and smokin' hot.  Batman does not lose.

But that's not what God had in mind when He envisioned a Savior for us.  Instead, He sent us this:
A little baby.  Born to a teenage mother.  

A baby was sent to save the world.  
A baby... the perfect picture of innocence, purity and goodness.  
How can a baby do anything?  Much less, save the entire world!  
A baby is the most unlikely superhero the world has ever known!
But isn't that something about the way God works.  He chooses something small and weak to make a big statement about who He is.  If God can make a BABY save us, what CAN'T He do?!  

Unlike a gladiator or Batman, that baby did lose the battle, in the eyes of this world.  

He lost his life so that we might live.  He gave it all for us.  This bloodied man is the perfect picture of sacrifice and love.  He lost, so that we can win.  

Today, make it a point to remember that a little baby was born into the world with only one purpose: 

To die. For you. 


It's On the Menu

In the Cuban/Hispanic culture, the "big day" of celebration is today... Noche Buena (or "good night").  It's tradition to have an entire pig roasting for the entire day in what is called La Caja China, (or the Chinese Box)... don't ask me why.
Accompanying the pork, is rice and beans and yuca.  It's goooood... It's our comfort food.  This year, my father is hosting Noche Buena at his house and taking care of all the deliciousness that comes along with it.

Tomorrow, on Christmas Day, my MIL, SIL and I are hosting a Christmas Brunch.  And here's what's on the menu.  (All pics courtesy of Pinterest since we haven't actually cooked anything yet).

Cinnamon Pecan French Toast Casserole 
Bacon and Cheese Quiche
Zucchini Quiche Cups
Waldorf Salad
Baked Ham
Are you drooling yet?!  I totally am!

What traditional yummy foods do YOU serve up each holiday season?!

I Got A Job!

Don't worry, it's not a full time job.  My full time job will still be taking care of my monsters sweet angels.

Lately I've been feeling like I've been missing my outlet.  My musical outlet.  And my teachers outlet.  I love, love, love staying home with my boys, but I feel like I'm missing a part of me when I don't get to sing or teach.

I like to think of it like having many hats.  I have my mommy hat, my wife hat and my friends hat.  I have my MOPS hat and my Bible study hat.  And I have my musical hat.  In order for my life to feel well balanced, all my hats must be worn often.  By all means, my most used hat is my mommy hat... as it should be.  But, with that being the case, my musical hat has been gathering dust for months.  It's time to clean it up and show it off from time to time.

When I lived in Miami before, as a Senior in college, I got my first job.  I was teaching voice for a local music school, Miami Conservatory of Music.  The owner took a chance on me, having no experience whatsoever and not even having a degree in hand.  I was lucky!  I worked there for about 10 months before moving to Orlando and beginning my career.

Now that I have moved back to Miami, I contacted the owner and begged asked for my long-gone-job back!  With a degree in hand and a bunch of years experience under my belt, she was happy to have me.

I was so excited to see all the changes that have been made in my 6 year absence.  She moved from a small apartment sized space with only 4 rooms and a reception to a GORGEOUS space.  Actually it's 2 spaces... one of which is a recital hall.  It's ahhh-mazing.  It's what I've always dreamed would one day be MY studio.  It kicks every single studio that I've ever seen's BUTT!
It's located in the Mayfair center in Coconut Grove.  Just walk up those stairs and to the right of the fountain is the studio and to the left is the recital hall.
The view from the street
Entrance and reception
Recital Hall with seating for up to 150!
Aside from the space being absolutely dream worthy gorgeous, it's what's inside that's most important.  The students!  The school has over 400 students and can expand to over 600!  Holy Cow!  I love thinking about all those young minds absorbing a passion for music!

So we have decided that I'll start working on Saturdays teaching voice.  I'm also going to be offering a Musical Theatre class for ages 8-12 and possibly (if there's enough interest) an a capella chorus ensemble (think Glee) for ages 13-17.  I am PSYCHED!  

If you'd like to read more about the conservatory, please visit their website at:

Totally Spoiled

My mom spoils me.  If you don't believe me, remember this post where I told you all she gave me her CAR.  Yeah, she totally spoils me.

She asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and if you know me, you know that I like "doing things" rather than "having things", so I told her I wanted a day with no kids... where I could have a nice lunch and get a mani/pedi.

Correction... a MUCH needed mani/pedi.

The last time I had a mani/pedi was in June.  My feet were... atrocious.

So she scooped me up today for my birthday celebration.  We headed out to one of my faves... The Cheesecake Factory!  Isn't everything on their menu good?  You can't go wrong.

We stuffed our faces, but by the time we were done, we were too full to even think about ordering dessert.  Fortunately, our waiter overheard us talking about it being my birthday celebration and he kindly came out with an ice-cream scoop and a small ensemble serenading me!

I love attention.

Look at those sprinkles!  They look better than they taste... I promise.
Then we were on our way to a nail salon and spa, where we got the "spa package" mani/pedi.  I know that for most women, getting a regular mani/pedi is a must, but for me it really is a special occasion.  I was soaking it all up.

My mom and I gabbed away and had a great day.  She was a little peeved over my choice of color for my toes, but whatever, it's MY birthday present, so I can do what I want!

It's NOT black... it's a DARK purple!  JEEZ!
 So I appeased her for my hands and let her pick... a silver with a glitter coat.  It's pretty and festive.  And sparkly.

Thanks mom, for an awesome birthday present!  You're awesome!!!

And Now You Know

People always ask me why I look tired. They want to know why my hair is messy and why my clothing is disheveled.

This video should answer all of those burning questions:

And now you know. Now you can understand why I always look like a frazzled mess... Because I have to deal with things like this several times a day.

And to make matters worse, on top of being covered in toilet water, Marco also crapped his pants and had wet runny poop sliding down his legs. Lovely.

Moms of girls, you ain't got nothing on this... This is a boy thing through and through.

Any further questions?

Shopping Spree for Meeee

I kinda hit the jackpot in the In-Laws department.

My mother-in-law took me on a shopping spree today for my birthday.  (My birthday is next week).  We piled the kids in the car and headed to the outlets this morning for a shopping extravaganza.

If you know me, you know I hate shopping and I'm truly terrible at it.  I have shopping ADD.  I don't want to sort through racks, I don't want to try on clothes and I don't want to window shop.  I get discouraged way too easily and leave empty handed more times than not.  (Although I'm sure my husband is grateful for that!)

But more than hating shopping, ever since becoming a SAHM, I feel guilty too.  Even when I want to shop, I feel like I don't deserve it.  Or like there's no point in me buying clothes... for what?!  To go to the park?  To go to the library?   Maybe I should buy my clothes at Walmart... I deserve Walmart clothes.  (Not because I'm not doing a good job at MY JOB, but just because my job doesn't require expensive or nice clothes.)  I always try on cute dresses and pretty frilly tops and put them back, thinking that there's no where to wear it to.  It's depressing.

So I have a uniform.  I either wear jeans (1 pair) or jean capris (1 pair that no longer fits) and one of 10 Target shirts with flip flops.  That's my daily uniform.  Also depressing.  I wear dresses and cuter tops to church on Sundays.

Now this just goes to show you how well my MIL knows me.  She saw that I had a need to get out of my clothing rut and was generous enough to help me do it.  And she knows not to give me a gift card too.  If she had given me a Macy's gift card, chances are I would have gotten a perfume or purse.  If she had given me a Target gift card, I probably would have bought diapers.  Exciting, I know.  No, she knew that she had to GO WITH Me, hold my hand, and walk me through the store.  And she did just that.

We went to the Banana Republic Outlet and they had a KILLER sale going on!  So we picked a bunch of things and then went into the fitting room together (and with the boys, oy).  After I tried on all of my picks, she went back out and came back with another armful of clothes for me to try on!

So in conclusion, she bought me a pair of jeans (skinny ones, can you believe it?!), a pair of pants (not dress pants, just casual pants), and two tops.  We also got Mau a pair of jeans because he's got a big hole in his.

The best sale of the day was my jeans... wait for it... from $60 to $18!!!  For Banana Republic Jeans.  Yeah!  FTW!

Pretty much the best MIL ever, am I right?

2011 Reading Challenge Complete


Last year I set a reading goal for myself of 50 books.  And I failed.  I only made it to 30 books.  I underestimated my ability... big time.  So this year I decided to be more realistic in my goal setting.  35 books in 2011. 

And I did it!

Here are some of my stats via GoodReads:
I read 9,544 pages... although I'm not sure how accurate that is, considering I read a lot on my kindle.
Of the books I've read, here's a nifty pie chart for the way that I categorized them. 

Now I will share with you, out of those 35 books, which are my TOP 5 picks for the year!  (In decending order... let's save the best for last, eh?)

5.  1984 by George Orwell

Can you believe I hadn't read this book until this year?!  Well, I made it a point to fit a few classics into my 35 and this was one of them.  I loved this book.  It was terrifyingly real.  There was a part in the middle where Orwell goes into specifics about the political aspect, causing the story to lag, but it was necessary.  
If you haven't yet read this, you must.  And if the last time you read this you were in 8th grade, you need to pick it up again.  You'll have a new appreciation for it as an adult... I promise.  

4. Tortured for Christ by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

This book was so impacting and powerful.  It really helped me put things into perspective.  It is the story of how Wurmbrand evangelized in occupied Romania during the 40's.  He was imprisoned for over 14 years for spreading the gospel of Jesus.  But his imprisonment and torture did not stop him from preaching to everyone who had ears.  
This was so inspiring for me.  As I read what these men, women and children had experienced for the sake of Jesus, I was completely humbled and humiliated.  I realized that the most "persecution" I'll face is losing a friend... not too big a price to pay for Jesus, who paid it all.
See my full review HERE.

3. Room by Emma Donoghue

This is one that will stay with you.  I read it at the beginning of the year and still think of it often.  There's been some buzz about this book this year and it's pretty popular.  
It's narrated by a 5 year old boy who lives in a room with his mom.  He's never been outside of the room and doesn't know anything that exists beyond it's walls.    His mom had been kidnapped 7 years prior and was being held captive in the room that he had been born in.  This is a story with a lot of heartbreak and hope. It's beautiful.  
Read my full review HERE.

2. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

A suspenseful thrill ride where you have no idea what's going to happen.  This book made me feel paranoid.  It got deep down and messed with my instincts.  Good writing!  
There was an accident that caused Christine to lose her memory.  She has short term memory loss and can not create new memories.  Every day when she wakes up, she believes she's either a child or a young woman, only to find out that she doesn't recognize the older lady in the mirror or the man in her bed.  Every day she has to learn about who she is all over again.  And she has a feeling that she can't trust what she's told by her husband, Ben.  
Think 50 First Dates and Momento... but with a whole lot of fear and suspense!  
See my full review HERE.

And... without further adeu, my TOP PICK is...
1. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

I can not explain to you what Zusak's writing does to me.  It wraps around my heart.  It is absolutely breathtakingly lovely.  He weaves sentences into a beautiful tapestry of a story.  Anything he touches is gold.
This book follows Ed, a 19 year old nobody.  He doesn't have a bright future ahead of himself... and he hangs out with people just like him... losers.  One day he gets a card in the mail... an Ace of Clubs with 3 addresses and times on them.  As he visits each location, he realizes that he has to take action and change these people's lives.  But, while working to change the lives of others, he is changed the most.  
This is a BEAUTIFUL story.  When I finished... I wiped my tears, and hugged the book.  
Read my full review HERE.

So there you have it... my top 5 out of 35.  Pick them up... you wont be sorry!  Also, follow me on GoodReads to find some of my other faves and follow me on The Book Nook Blog to read other reviews by some great reviewers.

So what's your goal for 2012?!  I think I'm gonna go for 40.  Read along with me! 

my read shelf:
Nicole's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

(Insert Clever Title Here)

I don't know how to title this one.  It's about vomit.  How do you title something like that?  How about "Vexatious Vomit"... sound good?  No?  Ok.

(And if you don't know what "Vexatious" means, you're not alone.  It's, and I quote, "annoying.  A younger sibling can often be vexatious to their older brothers and sisters".  Ahh, I love Google.


Jonas... I can't blame him.  He was born problematic.  If you've been reading my story for some time, you know that while he's a JOY in my life, he's also been DRAMA.  From coming out too soon... being in the NICU... having colic... and everything else in between.  He's much more work than Marco was.

Now, the latest issue.  He throws up.  All the time.  At every meal.  What the heck is that about?!

In the morning I bring him over to drink his milk and he takes it down.  As soon as he's done, he starts gagging and coughing, followed by throwing up.  It's not a baby "spit up".  Trust me, I know the difference.  This is full fledge projectile vomit all over the floor.  I'm SO used to it by now that I have a holding technique so as to not dirty his or my clothes.  Yeah, I'm a pro.  But I do end up having to clean the floor EVERY day.

But it doesn't end there.  He does this whole coughing gag during every meal, pretty much.  He throws up all sorts of food, regardless of texture.  He also drinks his juice or water too quickly and throws that up too.  Usually in the car seat.  That's just wonderful... car seat vomit... while I'm driving.

Classic Jonas.  We don't get upset.  We've accepted the fact that Jonas will just be that way.

But in all honesty, I'm becoming a bit concerned about the constant vomiting.  That's not normal.  So, if you have any ideas, tips or advice, I'd love to hear it!  We'll be taking him to the doctor next week for his 15 month check and this is first on my list to talk to the doctor about.  Hoping it's just him forcing (aka being a brat) and not a more troubling issue.  I'll keep you posted.

The Worst First Date

It was this week, 8 years ago, that I had my first date with the boy that would one day become my husband.

But, before you start thinking stars, moonlight and romance, let me curve your thinking.  It was none of those things.  In fact, it was pretty much the worst date I've ever had.

Before I go into the gory details, let me make a case for the man I love.  He was young... really young... only 17.  And I was 20 (almost 21).  He had never been on a "real date" before and he was very nervous.  After all, I was (am... will always be) the girl of his dreams.

Mauricio and I had known each other for years before this "first date".  Which may have made it more awkward.  We were friends.  And now all of a sudden we were trying romance.  Awkward.  We had been in the "friend zone" for a whole 6 years before deciding to take it out of there.  And, for those 6 years, he had a wicked crush on me... I thought he was a cute kid, but he was so much younger than me that I never really thought much of it.  I would torture him and say things like, "Oh Mauricio, if only you were older.", part of me knowing that he could never be and the other part genuinely wishing I didn't care about the age difference.

Here we are... He was 13, I was 17.
So finally, the week before Christmas in 2003, I decided to give it a shot.  Things were starting to heat up between us and my feelings for him were undeniable... but I was still skeptical about his maturity. (What I soon learned in our relationship was that I was the immature one!)

We were on the phone one evening and he asked me if I wanted to go see a movie with him.  Uh, yes.  So he told me he'd meet me at the theatre at 8.

Strike one.  Meet me?!  What?

I told him that if he wanted to go out with me, he'd have to pick me up.  To which he replied that he didn't want to waste the gas to come get me and drop me back off.

Strike two.  Waste the gas?

I told him it wasn't "wasting" it... it was "spending" it... and there's a difference.  So he did me the honor of picking me up at my house.

On our way to the theatre, our conversation was lacking.  I don't remember the details about what we talked about but I do remember it being awkward and forced.  I was pulling teeth to get him to talk to me.  I couldn't wait to get to the movies so we didn't have to talk anymore.

As we get up to the ticket window, he steps in front of me.  And I think to myself... wow, how nice, he's gonna pay for me... at least!  Then he says to the cashier, "one student for Stuck On You".

Strike three.  ONE ticket?!  Aaaaaalright then.

So I went up to the window and bought my own ticket.  Which would have been ok, but everything else leading up to this point was going so poorly that I thought and hoped, that he would have tried to redeem himself.  He was so clueless.

We briskly walked past the concessions, not offering or asking if I wanted something to drink, and found our seats.

During the movie, I kept my hand on the arm rest, begging him to take it.  But he didn't take my cues.  Eventually, I just went ahead and grabbed his hand.  Finally.  We were on the right track.  Maybe this date still had some life in it.

But then, he got up, and without any explanation or even a look back, walked out of the theatre.  He walked out.

Strike FOUR.  What the heck!?

I was so confused, I called my friend, Jen, and told her to be on stand by in case I needed a ride home.  I really didn't know where he had gone.  I was partially hoping he went to get us some drinks, but thought that it was also likely that he just left.  I now know that he went to the restroom, but really!?  Couldn't he have at least told me!

I don't even remember watching the movie.  I was in such a state of disappointment that I couldn't concentrate.  On the way home, conversation was just as awkward as before.  And all I could think of was: I knew he was too young to date me.  I knew he couldn't handle it.  I knew it would be too hard of a transition from friend to more.  I shouldn't have pushed this.  Now how could I go back to just being friends without this awkward weight between us?

As we pulled up to my street, I was already anxious to get out of his car.  I was fuming.  When he stopped his car in front of my house, he leaned over and pulled out a dozen yellow roses from his backseat.  What a sweet gesture!  But it was wasted on me.  I was already so upset, that the roses only added insult to injury.  I said thank you and got out... slamming the door behind me.  What did he think that those roses would make up for the rest of our debacle?

After that date, we went back into the friend zone... and it wasn't until the end of March that we tried again and succeeded.

I always tell Mauricio that he's just lucky that I forgave him for that first date and gave him another shot.

But really... I'm the lucky one.

Yo Gabba Gabba LIVE

On Saturday, Marco's aunt, Tia Mi, took him to go see Yo Gabba Gabba Live.  She took me and my mother-in-law along too.  She is in the race for "favorite aunt" and doing everything in her power to be #1!

Marco has loved Gabba for some time now.  And, honestly we like it too.  I didn't always like it though... at first I found it to be so annoying.  But, after watching a few episodes, thanks to Netflix instant, I too got hooked.  I mean, the music is so awesome!  It's such a cool kids show... unlike some of the other favorites around here... ahem, Barney.

So when Tia Mi called to tell us about the show and even offered to buy our tickets, we were SO in!  I decided to leave Jonas out on this one, since he's so young.  He didn't care... he got to hang with dad, solo style.

On the way to the show, we kept trying to explain to Marco what we were doing.  We would tell him we were going to see Yo Gabba Gabba... but not on the tv... for real.  I tried to explain to him that it'll be real, like when we saw Mickey Mouse back in June, but he didn't remember or understand.  He had NO idea what he was getting in to.

As we got to the theatre, he saw all the children with their Gabba Gear.  He was so excited to see all of "his friends" with their Brobee's, Muno's and Foofa's.  As they walked into the theatre, Tia Mi bought Marco a light stick... and he was ready to go!

As the show started, he was a bit in shock.  It was overwhelming for him to see all those people, plus the loud music, plus the lights, plus the Gabba clan in REAL LIFE!  He just sat there and chewed on his light stick.

Marco was kinda hypnotized by it all.  I basically had to drag him out of his seat and get him moving, dancing and clapping.  I kept telling him that it was ok to have fun... it was PARTY TIME!  But he was still cautious.

Finally during intermission he got the hang of it!  Tia Mi, still working hard to be favorite aunt, bought Marco a little Brobee doll... which he now calls his "REAL Brobee". (He already had one, but that one isn't the "real one" so it's not as good... in fact, he gave it to Jonas.  Hey, one man's trash is another man's treasure, eh?)  

Say "Yooooo Gabba Gabba!!!"
As an adult spectator, I thought it was super well done.  It was pleasing even for me!  The ACTUAL characters were there... DJ Lance Rock and even Biz Markie doing his beat-box-bit.  It was great.  I, of course, knew all the songs and danced and sang along.  Because, "Singing and dancing to music is... AAAWESOME!".

So all in all I thought it was an fantastic experience!  Marco loved it.  I think he's still a little too young to have actually gotten into in the same way the older kids did, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable for him.  He still talks about it and every day he says, "I wanna watch Gabba... but not on the T.D (tv)... For Reeeeeeeal".

Thanks Tia Mi!  You ROCK!

Challenge {never} Complete

Remember last month when I posted about a 21 day Challenge?  It was a post for ladies eyes only.  Well, here's my recap.

Although I completed my 21 day challenge, I realized that the challenge is never really complete.  Because it's not a challenge that's meant to last only three weeks.  It's meant to become a life-time change... a way of life.  And it's a pretty good way of life.

I started off really strong.  My first 7 days were really thoroughly planned and recorded.  But then week 2 landed along side Thanksgiving, so I missed a day here and there in trying to plan our holiday... but I didn't throw in the towel, I picked back up where I left off.  By week 3, I figured out the gist of the challenge. You don't have to follow the challenge to the letter.  So by week 3 I began to do things that were not stated in the book but that I knew would please my husband.  I was thinking outside of the box and personalizing it.

What was most striking to me during the whole experiment was just how simple it was.  Really, it took no time at all to be sure that my husband was extra blessed.  Some days it was as simple as taking a few minutes to send him a flirty text.  Or when I'm already out at the store, picking up his favorite drink as a little surprise.  It didn't take much thought and really no time at all, but it blessed him and made him feel special.

Now, since this challenge is intended for MARRIED couples, it's not rated G, if ya know what I mean.  But you know what I think made the biggest splash with my husband?  And it's not what you think... it's not one of those X rated challenges.  The thing he liked the most was when I made the bed.  Yep, that's right.  The day(s) I made the bed, he just went on and on about how nice it was and how he really appreciated that and bla bla bla.  I was like, really!?  Making the bed?!  Not "being in the bed"?!  Oooooookkkkk...

So all in all, I think it went well and continues to go well.  I don't think of things to do EVERY day, but like I said, it's so simple that it's not a chore to do it every day.  And, every day he didn't notice.  In fact, there were many days he either didn't notice or didn't comment.  But that's ok... it wasn't about receiving recognition.  

I realized it was just as much for me as it was for him.  While blessing him, I became blessed as well.  My heart softened just a little bit more towards him.  I was brought back to the reason I married him.  I was reminded that regardless of the kids and the routine and the responsibilities, HE was the one I chose.  And that nourishing our relationship is more important than all the other things.

Steps to Success

You heard it here first... Jonas is almost a walker!

It all started on Friday.  He began taking a few steps at a time!  And thanks to our nifty new iPhone 4S's, we were able to catch and record it right away!

This is very rare footage.  Jonas' actual first steps ever.  Enjoy!

What was that? Two, maybe three steps?!  Success!!!

Since Friday, he's gotten more brave.  Now he can stand alone (when placed) and ranges between 7-10 steps at a time!  He still doesn't want to walk though.  He'd rather crawl... because it's faster, duh.

Now, Marco walked at 13 months and 7 days.  I thought that was genius, considering he was a one-month-premie.  But Jonas... my little champion... he walked at 14 months and 4 days!  Incredible for a two-month-premie, no?  And they say it takes up to two years for premies to catch up... pashaw... not MY premies! They're rolling and sitting and walking and talking with the rest of them.

Proud Mama, right here guys!

And here we go... a new phase.  Life with 2 under 2 is long gone.  Here comes life with 2 toddlers.  And I say, bring it on!

VLOG: The Vest

Alright guys, I did my very first vlog.  Don't laugh... I'm awkward when recorded.

As you guys may or may not know, on top of having RA, I also have a lung condition, COPD.  I was born with 75% of my lungs not functioning, and I've lived my entire life with lung disease.  At one point, I was placed on a transplant list, but thankfully I've always been "too healthy" to receive a lung.  Currently, I only use about 40% of my lungs.  I'm not supposed to do all the things that I do, but by the grace of God, I do.  Probably because I was born this way, I don't realize just how bad it is.

At my last doctors appointment, she recommended I begin to use The Vest regularly.  The Vest is a machine that has been used for over 20 years now, but is now available for personal use.  You know how when your lungs are really congested you smack your chest and stuff comes up?  Well, basically this machine does that for you... times a hundred.  It fits really tightly and shakes the crap out of you so that the congestion will loosen up and release.  In my case, because of my disease, I am unable to bring all that gunk up, and if it's sits in my lungs, it is more prone to infections such as pneumonia.  And every time I get sick, I further damage my lungs.

This Vest costs a large sum of $16,000!!! Holy cow!  Thank you insurance company!  The good news is that with a price like that, you have the benefit of having a lifetime warrenty.  If anything breaks they replace it for free.  If my vest becomes too small because I've gained weight (I hope this NEVER happens), they'll send me a new one for free.  That's pretty sweet.

So the doctor requested I do it twice a day for 20 minutes.  But, you tell me WHEN I have time for that?  With two crazy toddlers running around?  So I negotiated her down to once a day.  And so far, I've been consistent.

Ok, now let my embarrassment commence as you watch my video.  I hope you're all amused.  And really, if you are in fact amused and would like to see MORE vlogs, just let me know... I aim to please, after all.

First December Giveaway WINNER!

The winner of the Elaine's Craft sign giveaway, according to is:

Comment #24:

Bee said...
And I follow your blog :)

True Random Number   Generator  24Powered by RANDOM.ORG

New Music Giveaway

I'm hooking you all up with ONE more giveaway this December, and it starts NOW!

Tavie Basarich is an awesome new talent living in Orlando, FL.  He's been pinned a "one-man-band" since he does everything solo.  He plays the drums, he plays piano, he plays the bass and he's a siiiiiiick guitar player.  When he plays live, it's a sight to see.  He uses pre-recorded hooks and tracks and does live loops to help accompany himself.  It's really cool.

He also writes the most catchy music you'll ever here.  I mean, when I listen to his tracks, I find myself singing his hooks repeatedly throughout the day... I call it "sticky music".  But it's all great.  He's got smart lyrics and fun melodies.  I honestly think he's one of the most talented musicians I know!

You can check out his first music video here:

Ok, now that you've seen that, you know what I mean.  (And PS, the girl in the video is my best friend, Adele... isn't she beautiful?!)  

Now for the details:
Enter to win a copy of Acoustic Pop artist, Tavie Basarich's debut EP, Love is a Choice, containing 5 new tracks.

(please leave a comment for each individual entry)

1.  Watch the video posted above and tell me what you liked about it.

2. Subscribe to Tavie's YouTube channel

3.  "Like" Tavie's FB artist's page

4.  Follow @TavieBasarich on Twitter.

Giveaway Ends on Sunday, December 11 at 11:59pm.  The winner will be posted on the morning of Monday, December 12.  

By entering to win, you're supporting new music and emerging artists.  Then one day you can say, "I knew of Tavie before he made it big"! 

Building Bad Habits

My mom likes to sing me a song. It goes, "hecha me a mi la culpa de lo que pasa". A translation: blame me for what happens. Basically, she tells me I blame her for everything. Not true. But this, I will blame her for. I mean, I have to blame someone... Am I right?!

I remember being 4 years old and sitting in the backseat of my parents car. I'm watching my mom, as she absentmindedly puts her finger in her mouth and tears off a piece of her nail. My 4 year old mind watches this and immediately wonders what it'd be like to do what she does. So I do. And I'm hooked. From then on, I have never been able to break the habit of biting my nails.

I've tried many methods to try and break this habit. As a child, we put nasty tasting polish on my nails. And I figured that if I just ensured the taste long enough, it would soon fade. Then when my arthritis adjusted my jaw so that I couldn't bite with my front teeth, I figured I could bite with the side, or just use my fingers to tear. (it's bad, I know). The ONLY thing that keeps it somewhat under control is getting weekly manicures. If my nails are nice, pretty and clean, I won't bite or pick as much. But forget it... You know how expensive that can become?!?!

After watching the show Obsessed on Netflix, I discovered a few things about my habit. The show follows people with severe OCD that manifests in compulsions. While these people are waaaaay extreme, I can see that I share some tendencies. This habit has been with me for soooo long, that it's part of who I am and I'm not sure I can change that. What I have realized that I share with the weirdos on the show is that I do it more when I'm anxious. I also do it to unwind and relax. When someone stops me from doing it, I feel more anxious and I can't stop thinking about how I just need to bite it to "fix it" and then it'll be ok. Only "fixing it" always inevitably makes it worse. It's bad. I know.

But now I'm starting to realize just how much I need to stop. Not for me. But for Marco. Here's what he sees a lot:

And this is what I'm seeing in return:

He actually says that he needs to fix his "nanuls". And he picks and bites. He also asks me if I'm fixing my nails too. Oh jeez, why?!?! So here I am, passing on to my son the same bad habit that my mother passed on to me. What a vicious cycle!!!

But I don't know how to stop it. I do it so absentmindedly that when I realize I'm doing it, it's too late.

I know I need to put an end to it, before I form a habit in him that is unbreakable.

December Giveaway! (part 1)

I'm planning not one, but two pretty cool giveaways for the month of December!  They are both completely different from one another and what I love the most is that it's not just for moms.  Anyone will like them!

So, without further adieu, our first giveaway is hosted by:

Elaine specializes in making custom signs for your home.  You can find her Etsy shop here.  While she has some cute kiddie stuff, she also has a lot of classic home decor and even a few seasonal stuff... perfect, right?!

Here's one straight from her Esty page.  How perfect is this for newlyweds?  I love it!  Could make a great gift too!

Here's a seasonal one that is simply beautiful.  A lovely way to remember the reason for the season. 

But here's my favorite.  My goods.  I got one just for my little monster Jonas.  I thought it was appropriate, given his first birthday theme.  

Ok seriously though, how stinkin' cute is this?  It fits him so well, don't ya think?

Although he's not loving the photo shoot, I know he loves his new sign!

So now I know you're all wondering how you can get your paws on one of these bad boys for F-R-E-E.  And, I'll tell you!  Elaine has graciously offered one lucky winner a handmade custom sign of their choice.  Here's how to enter:

FOUR ways to enter!!!
(leave a comment for EACH individual entry)
1.  Visit Elaine's Etsy Shop and tell me which sign you'd love to win!

2.  Be or become a public follower of my blog.

3.  "Like" Elaine's Crafts FB page

4.  Tweet about the giveaway.  Please tag me using @NicoleTableFor4

This giveaway closes on Monday, December 5 at 11:59pm.  The winner will be chosen using and announced on Tuesday morning, December 6. 

*Please note: Elaine's signs do NOT come framed.  I purchased my frame at Target for $5 and Elaine purchases her's at Walmart for $3. 

Meet My New Love

My brand new beautiful shiny iPhone 4S.  I'm in love.

Guys, this phone is rocking my world.  It is simply AHHHH-mazing.

Siri is da bomb... she knows all, does all and is an all around snazzy lady.  She knows exactly how I feel about her too.  I tell her often.  She's like my very own bitch, ahem, assistant.  I like having an assistant.

It's also wicked fast.  So fast it doesn't give my eyes a chance to adjust to the new activity.  Before this, I had the iPhone 3.  When I first got it, I thought I knew what love was... but now I really know.  Not that my 3 was bad... it served me well for 2 years.  But after a while it just grew to be slow and tired.  It took so long that I wouldn't even bother using certain apps.  Needless to say, the 4s kicks the 3's butt.

You guys know, I jest.  I am not in loooooove with a material object.  But seriously... it's pretty stinkin' awesome.  Just sayin'.

Now tell me, what are some of the "must have apps" I need to download?

My Heart Overflowed

Ever since having my babies, I've been praying for them.  Naturally, I've been praying for their futures, for their safety, health and well being.  But most importantly I've been praying that they develop a love and passion for Jesus and that they grow to know Him personally.

It's easy to think that because they are babies or toddlers, that they can not comprehend the deep and powerful message behind who Jesus is.  And this is true.  I mean, most adults can't grasp that message.  But just because their minds can't contain it, doesn't mean that their hearts can't begin to turn towards Him.  Besides, it's Jesus who calls us to Him.  He even calls the little children to Him.

So when this began to touch my heart, we decided to start praying with the boys.  Now Marco prays at bed... usually just thanking for all his food and his family.  Then he says a proud "Namen" at the end.  Although it's usually coaxed out of him, it's still sweet.

Today, I was amazed at what Jesus is doing in Marco's heart.  And I've been in prayer all day that He just takes hold of my little boys heart and pulls him directly to Him.

We were in the car on the way to church and out of nowhere, Marco says, "Jonas, we're gonna pray.  Thank you Jesus... (I couldn't hear this part because he lowered his voice because he knew we were listening)... Namen".

My heart overflowed.  I don't know what he was praying for... but basically he lead his brother in prayer. And even though his prayer was a mystery to me, I know that Jesus saw Marco and knew exactly what he was saying.  He heard my sons prayer and He embraced it.

And I just pray that the Lord gives Mauricio and I the wisdom and understanding to lead our children in His ways.

Thirty Things I'm Thankful For

Thirty?  Why thirty?  Mostly because of the rad alliteration in my title (yes, I'm a nerd), but also because there are 30 days in November.  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I'm thankful for:
1.   My beautiful complete family
2.   Gaining 15 pounds and still being a smokin' hott mama of two
3.   Starbucks Caramel Fraps
4.   My generous in-laws that have allowed us to live in their home rent free
5.   A united family, despite divorce
6.   Rheumatoid Arthritis medication that actually works
7.   Jonas' kind and loving spirit
8.   A warm winter... no snow here, suckas!
9.   Our sleep number bed
10.  My generous and supportive dad
11.  Netflix instant play
12.  Marco's fun-loving and crazy spirit
13.  A great church
14.  My best friend Adele, who lifts me up and holds me accountable
15.  Health insurance
16.  My bloggy friends
17.  Living closer to family
18.  My sexy man that's by my side no matter what
19.  MOPS
20.  My best friend Jen, who knows all my ups and downs and deep dark secrets
21.  Disposable diapers
22.  My amazing mom that gave me her car
23.  Good books
24.  Hot running water
25.  Healthy children
26.  Free cookies at Publix
27.  My best friend Carol, who let's me "mommy vent" and gets it
28.  Mauricio's new job
29.  Delicious Thanksgiving dinner
30.  Jesus' sacrifice for me

Eating Organic

Ever since watching the shocking documentary Food Inc. while I was pregnant with Marco, we have decided to try and eat more organic meals.  We came up against a lot of opposition.  People telling us we were snobs.  People criticizing how much money we spend on our food.  People justifying their own decisions to NOT eat organically.

That's fine.

If YOU don't feel the need, no one is telling you to do it.  But we do.  What I hate is when people judge us without even doing any research themselves... or even without trying it!

We have some close friends that are hardcore about eating organically.  Like, they will rarely go out to eat because they can't guarantee that prepared food are cooked healthily and naturally, much less organically if not prepared by themselves.  We are not even close to being this hardcore about it.  We still eat out and eat at other people's house... it's just that if WE are the one's doing the cooking, we make it an organic meal.  We figure, that way about 50% of our food is organic... and that's better than 0%!

Yes, it's expensive.  It's really expensive when first deciding to go organic because you have to replace your staples... flour, butter, spices, ketchup.  And it's also expensive on a weekly basis... the meat is the most.  But with the meat, now I can taste the difference.  Grass fed beef even smells different!

We hope that by making an investment in the food we eat and we feed our children, that we'll encourage healthy eating habits, reduce the risk of obesidy and reduce other health risks such as diabetes.  Of course, eating organic doesn't mean you're eating "fat free", but it changes your perspective on what is really necessary.  And because buying organic foods is more expensive, you end up cutting back on frivolous food purchases... aka snacks.

We buy some snacks for the kids... like the Annie's organic fruit snacks and Annie's all natural cheese crackers... but mostly it's cheese sticks and yogurt.  Healthier snack options.

Allie over at Table For More explains how to shop organic on a budget.  She shows that it's totally do-able and that until you try, you can't say that you can't afford it or that it's not worth it.

And don't give me that crap... "well, I didn't eat organic and look, I turned out just fine".  Ok... are you sure?  First, you don't know what kind of health issues you will have in the future due to your eating habits and secondly, food today is much more genetically modified and altered than when we were kids.

So, my whole stance is... if we know better, we should try and do better.  Especially for our kids.  They can't choose for themselves.  And the habits we instil today will affect their entire future.

Give it a shot... if not for you, then for your babes.  Try it for a month.  Take note of your finances.  Take note of the taste.  Then decide for yourself.

On a side note, my kiddos take eating organic to a whole new level.
Here's Jonas eating a blade of grass:

Here's Marco eating a shovel full of dirt:

But it's all good.  A little dirt never hurt nobody.  And besides... it's organic.

Twilight Love

Last night, my BFF Carol and two other friends joined all the other teenage crazies in Miami to watch Breaking Dawn.  This was actually the first time I didn't go to a midnight showing on opening night... but that's ok.

Yeah, I love Twilight... and I'm not even a little bit embarrassed about it.  In fact, I'm proud... yeah, so what?!  I am team Edward ALLLLLLL the way.  In my mind, there was never ever a comparison between Jacob and Edward.  There was never any competition.  It's always been Edward.

Let me be clear though, I'm talking about Edward... not Robert Patterson.  Although I think Patterson does a good job as Edward, he still pales in comparison to the literary Edward.  The literary Edward is a dream.

So, the movie... it wasn't my favorite.  It was rather slow and "girly", if you will.  It had a lot of internalizing moments... where the camera stays still on a character who is pensive and there's some indi music playing in the background.  Now if you've read the books, you know that at these moments the character is having an internal monologue... like thinking to themselves, but on the big screen, it loses it's effect.  There was also a lot of cheese.  Like a whole scene where the wolves are talking to each other... which wouldn't be so bad, but they also growl at each other.  But it's not a wolf sound effect growl, it's like as if you or I imitated a growl.  LAME.  And there was also a part that showed the inside of Bella's body that reminded me too much of one of those bad 80's movies where the machine is shrunk and travels through someone's blood and organs and vessels.  Just cheesy, ya know?

But that said, it's still Twilight.  The books make it all worth it.  I'll take all the cheese, because I know that the books are fantastic and I'm a BOOK fan, not movie fan.  I think that if you did not read the books, you'll be confused and miss out on so much underlying information, layers and details.  Like since I've read them, I know what a certain look means or what the characters are thinking during those pensive moments.  If you didn't, then you'd be a little lost.  My 2 other friends that joined us did not read the books prior, and we were explaining the subtleties to them.

I know that some people will refuse to read Twilight just because it's too popular or too much of a craze.  I think that's CRAZY!  It's popular for a reason!  It's dang good stuff!  That's like saying you wont eat pizza because too many people like it... think of what you'll be missing!  Even if you've watched all the movies, you can still pick up the books and be surprised.  You know, there's only so much detail they can put into a movie!

But, if you've decided that you're just too over it... can't imagine picking up Twilight and reading from the beginning, then I urge you to go for another book.  The Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games is going to be the next huge sensation.  It's already huge in the literary world, but with the movie coming out in March, it's about to get nuts!  What I love about The Hunger Games is that it's not a love story.  The love story is secondary.  Secondary to the plot that's filled with action.  Katniss is the main character and she is BAD ASS!  She is one tough girl... pretty much opposite of Bella.  She's confident and strong and bold and beautiful.  In the Hunger Games, I am team Katniss ALLLLLL the way!  Check out the trailer below and GO READ THE BOOKS!

Starbucks Etiquette


I'm a bit of a Starbucks junky.  I force myself to only go twice a week... but sometimes I can't help going three.  When it's not a Starbucks day, I take alternate routes or look the other way when passing one, to reduce temptation.  I'm not worried about the calories, but I am worried about my bank account.

I have my two favorite drinks... and I rarely deviate from them.  In the summers it's a Caramel Frap and in the winters it's a Carmel Macchiato.  I loved this in Greenville, because since you can feel the seasons changing, the different drinks actually warm you up or cool you down when you need it the most.  Here in Miami, it's always summer, so I sweat through my Macchiato in the winters... but it's still worth it.

I pride myself in being a loyal Starbucks customer.  I have the app.  I know the menu.  I am "with it".  So today I was stunned by a Starbucks faux pas committed by my mother while on the phone with me.  She pulled up to the drive thru and said, "A Pikes Place- Venti".  Ummmm... see the problem here?

I told her she wasn't using her Starbucks Etiquette and didn't understand.  I then told her that in Starbucks, you're supposed to order in a certain order... first size, then specialty, then drink.  Like a Tall Caramel Frap, or a Grande Mocha Latte... Size-Specialty-Drink.  So, her order would be a Venti Pikes Place.  She laughed at me and told me I wads being silly... there is no such thing as "Starbucks etiquette".  So when she pulled up to the window, she told the barista about our conversation.  She said, "My daughter says I'm not using proper Starbucks etiquette because I didn't say the size first".  She thought I was wrong... she thought the barista was going to laugh with her AT ME!

But the barista looked at her and with all seriousness said, "yeah, she's right... you say the size first so we can grab the cup and write your order as you're still saying it".


You know, I have a sickness.  To me, everything feels right in the world when I'm right.  What is that?

So, my mom learned two very valuable lessons today:
1.  How to properly place your order at Starbucks
2.  Not to doubt her daughter... ever.