Um, What Year Is It?

The reason I ask is because in this modern age of technology, where phones no longer have buttons, cars no longer have keys and video games no longer have controllers, I can not for the life of me understand why they still manufacture and sell this:

Not the mobile of course... Jonas just loves talking to his monkeys... I'm talking about the wind-up mechanism necessary for enabling it.  Wind-up?  Really?!  You don't think they could put a button on there that will let it run for say, 3 minutes? Would that be too difficult or expensive?

As it is, this mobile cost me over $30!  $30 to have to return to it to RE-wind it every 30 seconds... $1 per second, I guess.

Maybe it's the old charm people like about it... brings us back to those good ol' 1800's.

I really don't get it.

Book It!


Tell me you remember just how AWESOME Book It was?!  You would get pretty shiny stars on the chart and then one magical day, your teacher would give you the Pizza Hut pass.  One FREE personal pan pizza... and a prize.  I'll always remember getting the coolest Back To The Future sunglasses.  They looked something like this:  Pure Awesomeness. 

Anyway, let me get to the point.  I love reading.  No surprise there.  People always ask me how I find the time to read, having 2 under 2 and all.  Well, since I love it, I make time for it.  I especially have a lot of time for it when it's NBA season (GO HEAT!), when Mau gets a new video game, or during late night feedings.
Last year I made a goal to read 50 books in 2010... I failed that goal, but still managed to read more books in one year than I ever had before.  I read 33 books in 2010, so my NEW goal for 2011 is to read just 2 more books than I did in 2010... 35 total.  If I surpass that, I'll be thrilled!  These are just small steps in my self improvement process...

So, without further adieu, here are the last 6 books I've read (3 from 2010, 3 from 2011).

 If you love the Showtime series "Dexter", then you'll enjoy the Dexter book series by Jeff Lindsay.  After all, he started it.  Dexter Is Delicious is the 5th book in the series.  The show DOES NOT follow the book series.  In fact, only the first season is like the first book, with some changes.  The characters are mostly the same, but the show and book differ in some things as well... for example, in the show Dexter's baby is a boy, but in the book it's a girl.  No biggie.
The series as a whole has it's ups and downs.  The first 2 books were amazing... sick and twisted stuff you can expect from Dexter.  Unfortunately, the 3rd and 4th segments were lackluster.  It was way too far fetched and unmoving.  Luckily for Lindsay, he got his groove back with this one.  It's strange, crazy, disgustingly gross and hilarious.
The good thing about this series is that if you watch the show and know the characters, you can skip the 3rd and 4th books and not really miss much.

This is also another book that's in a series.  I wrote about the first segment, Hush Hush, in my previous book post.  Unfortunately this book did not do it for me.  It was so typical of a Young Adult second book.  We've seen it before... it's the "break up book".  Just conflict after conflict with whining and more whining.  Ugh.  
Of course, I will be reading the final segment of this series, because I like resolutions.
If you're a teen, you'll like it.  The rest of us can skip it and wont really miss a thing.

I was asked to review this book for a book blog I am currently writing for:  The Book Nook Club.  I am one of a bunch of writers... it's fun.  Well, I was assigned to review this book for the book blog tour that was to promote the author's new release.  I did not like this book and did not leave a very positive review.
It's a black Christian book.  On the back cover it says something about "uplifting the soul of the black woman".  That said, it is filled with cliche' talk such as "fine man", "you go, girl" and lots of baby-mama-drama.  Way to be original!
The main character wants to get closer to God so that she can "step into the good life".  As a Christian, this doesn't sit well with me... She's selling a "prosperity gospel" which is FALSE!  When you become a Christian, your problems don't magically disappear... in fact, you'll probably be faced with more adversity than ever before.  That's the cold harsh truth.
This book almost made me cringe with just how misleading it was.  Sad that people fall for this kind of stuff.

Can you believe I had NEVER read this book before?!  I was stunned to find out that Mauricio had read it in the 7th grade!  There's the great private school edumacation for ya!
I really enjoyed this quick read.  I'm not familiar with the history behind the USSR and what quite went down (thanks again, private school).  For me, it spoke more about how a corrupt leader can manipulate their audience and cause major destruction.  It speaks true for Hitler and even Castro.
I'm sure that it's beneficial for 7th grade minds, but even more so for adults who have a broader view of world politics today.  A great read for the first time, or the first time in a long time.

I really loved this book.  It captures you from the first chapter and moves well throughout.
It starts off with 5 toddlers that are found abandoned in the cabin of a luxury boat, parked in a dock off the coast of Puerto Rico.  No one knows who these children are, or where the parents are.  The children become known as the "Starfish children" because of a starfish drawing they each have on their hand.  The children are each adopted into different homes and live in various parts of the States and Puerto Rico, but they remain close as they consider each other to be siblings.  It isn't until one of the brothers is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor that they decide to find out their origins.
It's a beautiful story about family, love, compromise and trust.  It has a lovely hispanic flare that I just adored.
Pick this one up... it was my favorite of the group I'm writing about today.

I just finished this one yesterday.  It's another YA fiction that's in a series.  This series has 5 segments and I'm not sure if it's done yet.
Everyone ranted and raved about how awesome this book was.  I didn't really think so.  The writing is great... moves fast, it's funny and has good breaks.  However, I felt like I just wasn't in the right place for the story.
It's written in the year 2000, and the main character, Jessica, is a Junior in high school.  She's 1 year younger than me.  That said, I think I would have devoured this book if I had read it back in 2000.  But now, I'm just over teen drama.
The book talks PLENTY about sex, sexual desires and even orgasms.  TOO MUCH for me.  Now some may say that I'm being naive... I'm not though.  I was once a teen too and I remember that teens thought about sex, talked about sex and even did "it", but that doesn't mean I want to read page after page about it.  It honestly makes me sick.  And even more honestly, I think it's a little irresponsible of the author to make teen sex such a natural and casual thing (even though Jessica doesn't have any in this book).
I'm undecided as to whether or not I'll read more from this series, but since I liked McCafferty's writing, I may read something else by her in the future.

So there you have it.  I've got 3 out of 35 down... woohoo!  If you like my reviews, become my friend on Good Reads to see more!

Stroller Swagger

We did it.  We bit the bullet and got a double stroller!  It was time.  I had been dealing with a single for nearly 4 months now.  There were two ways I could get around with the single stroller:
1. Strap Jonas to my chest in the Moby and put Marco in the stroller, or
2. Put Jonas in the carrier in the stroller and let Marco walk.

There are down sides to each of these options.  For starters, if Jonas is in the Moby, it makes it difficult for me to chase and carry Marco.  But if Jonas is in the stroller, then Marco gets upset because that was HIS stroller FIRST and how DARE his brother take it from him... (it's already begun).  So I have to endure Marco walking at a turtle's speed and stomping his feet and whining the whole way to wherever we're going.

Initially we wanted a front and back stroller, one like this --->
In fact, my sister-in-law, Bea was going to give me hers and I was going to buy her a new double umbrella in exchange.  Good deal!  So we went to the store to try it out and realized we would have to buy a new car if we wanted this stroller.  It was WAY too big and couldn't fit in my trunk.  So, that was out.

Then we thought we could try to get a Sit n' Stand stroller.  Baby in the front, big kid standing in the back.  We tried it and laughed out loud thinking about all the mischief Marco would get into if he were not confined to a seat.  There was no way I could trust him in that position.  I mean, he's still a baby!  He's only 19 months old!

So one day, we went to the amazing Buy Buy Baby and found the stroller of our dreams.  You know, the heavens opened up, a bright light beamed down onto the stroller and we heard a choir of angels singing.  (Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the stroller was pretty awesome!)  The Baby Jogger City Micro... it's a side by side stroller that folds in half and would fit in the trunk with room to spare. Problem was... the price!  EEK!  The stroller lists at $300, not to mention all the accessories I'd want to buy for it.  We were going to have to save our pennies to make this purchase.

I started searching Craigs List and eventually found one for sale in Boca Raton.  This worked out well, because I just happened to be flying to FL at the time.  I begged my dad to drive to Boca and pick it up for me.  The seller wanted $260 for it, but it included the belly bar ($40 value), 2 snack trays ($40 value) and a cup holder for me ($20).  All in all, we would save about $150.  My dad drove up to Boca, checked it out, paid for it and then GIFTED it to me!  Hooray!  Thanks DAD!

I took it for a test drive this morning at the mall.  It drove like a dream!  It's not any longer than a single stroller, so you still fit easily into small spaces, (like elevators) and it's not too wide, so it still fits in regular doors.  I had to get a snuggler for Jonas because it doesn't recline all the way, but it wasn't a problem.  The stroller maneuvers easily and Marco loved sitting next to his brother.  Cutest thing:  He held Jonas' hand and gave him his paci when he started crying.  Such a good brother!

But I will say, once I put both kids back in their car seats, closed up the stroller and put it in the trunk and got into the car myself, I was panting and sweating.  Being a mom provides me with some of the best works out I've ever had.  So watch out... there's a gun show coming to town REAL soon!

Flyin' Solo

I'm not afraid to travel by myself with a kid.  One kid.  Two is too much for me.  But I have flown with alone with Marco twice and just experienced my first time with Jonas over the weekend.  I was so sad I didn't take Marco, but I couldn't imagine myself on the plane battling two small children.  So, I  had to choose the one that I still feed, and that's why Jonas was our lucky winner!

On Friday, I flew with Jonas to Punta Gorda, FL to visit my family.  It was my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate they renewed their vows and there was a reception to follow.  It was truly a lovely event.

Mauricio and I have become experts at packing and flying with kids.  You see, the airline we fly is extreemly cheap... Allegiant Air.  I'm talking $30 flights (each way) cheap.  HOWEVER, they will charge you for everything else... and I do mean everything!  A seat assignment costs $10, water costs $2, and a carry-on bag costs $30!  I wouldn't be surprised if they charged you 50 cents per ply of toilet paper!  So, we've learned to carry book bags and STUFF everything we need in them.

As you can see from my picture, I have everything I need with me.  Minus the car seat, which I had to check (amazingly, for free!)  Baby in front, luggage in back... that's how I roll.

Well, when I used to fly solo with Marco, TSA would let me go through security with him strapped to my chest, no problem.  Apparently, now it's a problem.  Even though the Moby Wrap is completely made of cotton and has no metal pieces, this is no longer acceptable.

On the way to FL, they gave me the option.  I had to either take him out of the wrap to walk through security OR have the dreaded pat down and not take him out.  Here was my dilema... if I took him out, I'd have to re-tie the wrap, but would have no one to hold him while I did this.  And, he was sleeping so peacefully, it broke my heart to have to bother him.  So believe it or not, I chose to be touched by TSA.

Honestly, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I had a female TSA employee perform the feel up and when she reached my more personal spots, she used the back side of her hands.  Because the baby was on top of me, she was unable to reach my breasts (Thank You Jesus!).  When all was said and done, I didn't feel that violated and I was able to keep my baby in peace.

The way back was a whole different story.  The people at the Punta Gorda airport are jerks... flat out.  My options were, I could take him out of the wrap, undo the wrap to pass it through the scanner and walk through security, OR take him out of the wrap, undo to wrap to pass it through the scanner and have a pat down.  Uh, let me think about THAT for a second.  Why in God's green earth would I CHOOSE to be felt up by a total stranger if I'd have to take the baby out anyway?  So I unwrapped the baby, pissed him off, walked through the scanner and had a STRANGER hold him for me so that I could retie the thing.  What a stinkin' mission.

Moral of the story- next time I'm taking a stroller.

The Graduate

was Marco's first ever graduation.  He graduated from the library's Bouncing Babies program.  I can't believe my baby is actually too old for something!  Bouncing Babies is a program that is for babies age 0-18 months.  He turned 19 months today. ::wipes single tear::

We started attending Bouncing Babies when Marco was just 2 months old.  Summer was coming to an end, and I had spent the best warm days inside caring for my newborn.  I was going out of my mind.  I had heard of the library programs and decided to give it a shot.  Marco was the youngest baby there, and he couldn't even stay awake the entire time, but at least we were out!  At that time, I think I needed Bouncing Babies more than he did!

This is the picture that was taken of him on his third visit to the program.  We had to take the picture before the class began because he would fall asleep before the last song.  He looks like a little old man!  This picture has hung on the wall for 16 months... and was taken down today, his last day.

Little by little he began "waking up" and enjoying the music, noticing the puppets, noticing the other children, and then the bubbles!  He began to feel at home there and warm up to the teacher.  He learned the moves to the songs, and would dance and clap along to every one.

Once he was able to stay awake throughout the entire class, we began staying for playtime.  This extra half hour was awesome. He got to play and learn to socialize, while I got to meet some of the parents and make connections.  He exuded so much energy in that hour, that he'd immediately fall asleep once in the car and take a nice long nap at home.  Bouncing Babies always helped us have a great day!

We met some awesome moms, dads and babies there!  They have provided playmates for Marco and support for me.  We've built friendships and relationships that have bonded us and our children. We now meet up out of Bouncing Babies on a regular basis at the mall, the park or elsewhere.

This is Marco's "graduating class".  (From left to right) We have Andres, Marco, Audrey, Bastian and Bennett.  All these babies are moving on to the big kid class... Musical Jamboree.

We'll probably still visit Bouncing Babies from time to time for Jonas' sake, but Marco is officially graduated!

I'm really happy that I decided to go to the library that first day.  It opened up the way for new friendships and lots of learning.  If you're a new stay-at-home-mom, I highly recommend looking into the library programs in your area and starting a class with your little one.  It's a wonderful investment and definitely see the pay off!

Artsy Fartsy

Music has always been my passion.  I've been singing since the time I could talk and joined my first chorus at age 4.  I had my first solo when I was 7 and immediately got the performance bug... I'd never be the same.  Throughout school, I was always referred to as "Nicole- the one who sings".  It didn't bother me at all... it was my pre-fame.  My favorite subjects were chorus and musical theatre... and I excelled at both.  

When high school was over, I decided to go on and study vocal performance in college.  My father said, "Nicole, think about it... this is a life long decision with life long repercussions.  Why don't you study business instead?"  "No Daddy, I can't... Singing is my passion and I'll only be happy doing it!" "Well, what are you going to do with it?  Teach?"  "Uh, no... PERFORM... I'm a PERFORMANCE major!"  

When college was finishing up, I began thinking of grad schools.  I had passed the first round of auditions for the Manhattan School of Music and flew there for the second round.  I got off the plane and within the hour, my voice was gone.  The cold weather does not suit me.  The more I thought and prayed about moving to New York and continuing to pursue my performance degree, the more I felt God pulling me in a different direction.  I was at a crossroads... move to New York or stay in a relationship with Mauricio... I couldn't have both.  

It's no surprise that I chose the latter.  I moved to Orlando and became what I said I would NEVER become... a teacher.  The ONLY reason I enjoyed teaching was because I was able to sing and create music.  Everything else about it sucked... the pay, the disciplining, the lack of support, the drama.  I did it for 4 years, but could not see myself doing it always. 

Now, after not working in a school for nearly 2 years in order to stay home and raise my babies, I really can't see myself going back.  I teach voice privately every afternoon, and I love doing that!  Everything about it rocks... the music, the students, the pay, the no need for disciplining, the support from my husband.  But I'm beginning to feel a shift coming on.  Of course I'm going to continue teaching privately, but I'm feeling the need to do something more. 

I've always loved to read.  And since I've started this blog, I've realized that I kinda love writing as well.  And I think I'm pretty good at it too!  In the past, I've considered writing a book, but it seems like such a massive endeavor that I'm completely stumped as to where I should begin.  So, I've decided to enroll in a Creative Writing online course through Clemson.  I know I wont be publishing a book anytime soon, but maybe it'll get my creative juices flowing and organized.  Who knows?  Maybe I will be a published author some day?  

So instead of being a "starving musician", I'll give being a "starving writer" a shot.  Why couldn't I have just gone into business like my dad suggested?  Oh yeah, because I would have died of suffocation! 

Growing in Wisdom

The most important job that God has ever given me is to be a mother.  But not just any mother.  I've been called to be a Godly mother who raises up Godly children to become Godly men.  Godly men who love Him above all things and lead their households in His ways, and in turn raise up more Godly children.  Isn't it a beautiful cycle?

This is a huge task that has a lot of responsibility and burden.  This is not an overnight miracle... it's something that we'll have to work on daily for the rest of our lives!   So I've been thinking and praying about how I might go about doing this.  And you know what God told me?  He said, "Know me first".

Ok, so I have to know God before I can teach Him... this makes sense.  But THAT TOO is a task that'll take daily work for the rest of my life!  I mean, you never say, "now I know you... done".  No, you're constantly knowing and learning knew things about someone... even your spouse!

I love Jesus and I know my heart belongs to Him... but I'm lazy.  With all the recreational reading I do, rarely do I pick up a Bible.  How do you get to know someone?  Spend time with them.  How do you get to know Jesus?  Spend time in His Word.  I need to spend time in His Word so that I might get to know Him more and become the Godly mother I was told to be.

I've begun a reading plan of the Psalms and Proverbs.  One chapter of each per day.  If I'm trying to gain wisdom and understanding to be a better parent, where better to begin but in Proverbs, which speaks wisdom at every page turn!  And the Psalms are like poetry that feeds my heart and pleases His ears.

I've only done it for 8 days, (so don't be too impressed yet), but I am going to make a real effort to make this a priority in my life.  I can't start trying to obtain wisdom and understanding when my babies are teenagers... it'll be too late then and my life will be a hott mess!  I have to start now.

My prayer is that God engraves his truths and wisdom on my heart so that I might remember to apply it  always.

I downloaded this app onto my iphone (not the BB) and it's helping me keep track of what I've read and how far I have to go.  It has a bunch of different reading plans and cool things like notes and bookmarks that can be private or shared.  It also links up with Facebook and Twitter.  Making it easy to read wherever I am... and hard to find an excuse not to!

*Oh and by the way, if you would like to leave a comment but don't know how, there's a little button on the top of this post, next to labels that says "comment".  Click there and the comment box will appear.  This new formats a bit different.  Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! *

Embarrassing Moments

I'm linking up with Mommy Madness Friday Blog Hop this week.  I've been reading this blog for quite a while and have now decided to join in the fun!  

So this week's topic is "Embarrassing Moments".  I must say, that having an 18 month old and a 3 month old does not lend to many embarrassing moments.  Sure, you have the diaper leaks, spit ups, food tossing and tantrum throwing, but none of that is truly embarrassing because every mom has been there at one point or another.   No, my friends, true embarrassing moments happen once a child can speak freely what's on their minds.  Thankfully I have yet to experience this with my own children, but I have experienced it with my kid brother... and wow, it'll go down in history as one of my absolute MOST embarrassing moments ever.

My brother, Yoyi, is a whopping 14 years younger than me.  He is the product of my father's 2nd marriage, and he's my only blood sibling.  I love him to pieces... even though he's 14 now and kind of a punk.  So, as a young teenager, I did my fair share of babysitting (however, my parents will say otherwise).  He's always called me Nana (short for "hermana" which is "sister" in Spanish).  I loved taking him out and showing him off- people even thought he was mine sometimes!  

When I was 17, I had this massive crush on this Walgreens Pharmacy tech guy.  He was a little older than me and smokin' hot!  I would find any and every excuse to go to Walgreens and pay at the pharmacy department.  Out of milk?  I'll do a quick Walgreens run and go buy some.  Out of toilet paper?  I'll get it!  Seriously, ANY excuse.  

So, one day I decide to take my little brother with me to go fill a prescription.  He's like 3 or 4.  And I'm thinking, maybe Hottie Pharmacy Guy will think it's cute that I take my baby brother with me?  I'm sitting in the pharmacy department waiting for my prescription with Yoyi on my lap, singing and playing...

Hold on, before I continue... I admit it... I'm not the most high maintenance kind of girl.   I let my hair air dry, shave my legs for special occasions and yes, sometimes let my upper lip hair grow to be noticeable before taking care of it.  But what was about to happen was completely uncalled for.  

Ok, back to my story.  We're sitting, waiting and playing.  Hottie Pharmacy Guy comes over to the counter to tell me that my prescription was ready and at that very precise moment, my darling 3 year old brother screams, "Nana! You have a BEARD!"  

Oh.My.God.  You know when you get really, really embarrassed, that your armpits immediately spring up like the fountain of youth?  Yeah, that was me... times a million!  I thought I was going to die.  Why did he have to say "beard"?  It wasn't a beard... ok, maybe a mustache, but NOT by any means a BEARD! 

Needless to say, I immediately paid and got the heck out of there.  After that, my trips to Walgreens were much more sparse... and I always paid at the front counter.  

Party Animal

As promised, here's a post about my brothers wedding with far more pictures than I'm sure you care to see.

On December 30, my little brother, Migue got hitched!  He has been with his (then) girlfriend for over 3 years... and I take all the credit.  If it wasn't for me, they wouldn't have even noticed one another.

It all started at Bernardo and Victoria's wedding, in early 2007.  I asked Alaina what was up with the guys in her life and she gave me a typical answer, "Guys are retarded".  To which I replied, "Not all, have you seen my brother lately?"  Migue and Alaina had known each other as children at our church, but it had been years since they'd seen one another because our then church split and our families went their separate ways.  So I re-introduced them.  Later, on our way to the reception, I asked Migue what he thought of her. He said, "She's cute and nice, but really young right?"  He thought she was still in high school!  I corrected his mistake and told him he had BETTER talk to her at the reception.  I warned him that if he didn't talk to her, I was going to tell his MOTHER!  This got his butt in gear, and he spent most of the reception trying to find out more about her.  The rest... it's history.  But as you can clearly see, it's all because of me! hah!

 Marco was invited to "walk" the wedding, where he and this cutie little girl were supposed to ride down the aisle in a beautiful wagon.  Unfortunately, there were several melt downs prior to the wedding so they 86'ed the wagon and had the babies carried down instead.  Marco is usually a very confidant kid who rarely cries, but when he sees other children crying, he thinks there must be a reason to be scared, and then he cries as well.  It's a snowball effect.

The ceremony was long because it was translated from English to Spanish.  And once again, how do we keep our toddler entertained, quiet and seated for an hour and a half?  FOOD!  Marco stuffed his face with cookies throughout the ENTIRE ceremony.  He even shared with his cousins, Sophia and Kevin.  Moms of toddlers, always be prepared with snacks... for your child and everyone else's as well.

I was supposed to sing at the wedding, and was so upset that I was unable to.  Because I had pneumonia and had not been treated yet, I could not breathe.  I tried singing, but simply could not catch my breath.  It was a little ridiculous.  "Our God (breath) is an awesome (breath) God (breath) He reigns (breath)" get the picture.

The reception was absolutely beautiful.  The decorations were gorgeous, the speeches were lovely and the dances made me cry.  Everything had been calm and serene, until the music started.  Marco. Went. Nuts.

What can I say, I guess I just have a little party animal on my hands. (He gets that from MY side of the family... for sure). As soon as the music began to play, he started bouncing in his high chair and wanting down.  He practically jumped out of the chair in order to get on the dance floor.  He doesn't mess around.
At first he was dancing with Papai.  But that didn't last.  Marco wanted freedom, he wanted to fly solo, he wanted to be a star!
 So we let him go.  And he went.  He was dancing in the middle of the crowd.  Not at all worried about anyone trampling him... in fact, they'd better watch out for him!

 His dance reminded me of Flash Dance, "He's a maniac, maaaaniac on the floor... and he's dancing like he's never danced before".
He would move his feet really fast and then when the beat would shift, he'd pick up one foot and slowly plant it down.

My boy's got moves! 

He was absolutely fascinated by the disco lights and spent a good portion of his dancing chasing them and trying to step on them.  At one point, he tried to catch the lights reflecting off of the brides dress.  He fell on her dress and had an interesting time getting back up.  She didn't even notice!

Even Jonas got to dance with his Abo Cesar!

Overall, the wedding was a hit!  Everything was beautiful and everyone had so much fun.  But I don't think anyone had more fun than my party animal, Marco!

Christmas in Miami

This should have been posted weeks ago, but I'm a bit behind gathering the pictures.  I'm a super unorganized mom, and forgot to take my camera on vacation ::hits forehead::, so I had to rely on other people giving me pictures, which took a while.

We went to Miami from December 24- Jan 3, during which time we were bombarded with festivities, meals, plans and obligations.  It was both fun and exhausting.

 Flying with a toddler and an infant is something straight out of a horror film.  How do you keep a toddler entertained and seated for an hour and a half?  FOOD!  Marco was stuffed full of cookies, pringles, and juice for a complete hour and a half! Even with that glorious entertainment, he was still climbing the walls.  Jonas did pretty well.  He slept a little and cried a little, but it wasn't too bad.  Thankfully, the airline gave us a 3 seater for the 4 of us to share.  Even though Marco is a lap-child still, he was able to have his own seat, which made our lives a whole lot easier.

We flew in to Punta Gorda, and spent a few hours with my family in Naples before heading to Miami.  My grandparents have a farm behind their house with a chicken coop and horse stalls.  Marco LOVED it!  (Once again, I'm a dork and didn't take a single picture of Marco's cuteness).  He figured out that he could corner the chickens and then run after them.  The chickens, of course, were terrified at this and began flapping and running around... Marco thought this was hilarious.  He chased the chickens for a while and then went to go pet the horses.

When we finally got to Miami, there were a ton of people waiting for us at my in-laws house.  Being "Noche Buena", we were expecting a late night party with lots of food, friends and family.

The next day was Christmas and we headed over to my dads house for our annual Christmas morning breakfast.  We got to see my whole family, and Marco and Jonas got more presents and clothes than we could even count.  By the end of the day, Marco was practically begging for a nap!

 As if Noche Buena and Christmas aren't enough, but the next day was my birthday!  I turned 28 this year.  I can't believe I'm almost 30... eeeeekkkk.  After church we went to a super yummy restaurant (can't remember the name) at the Falls for brunch.  I even had a mimosa!  Mirella bought me the most enormous and delicious cake ever... it was a kalua cake with vanilla filling and chocolate ganache frosting.  Can you say "yum"?
Mauricio kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday, and whenever I'm asked that question, I come up with a blank.  I really don't know what I want.  I'm just a content person, I guess... LOL.  All I really wanted was to have a nice date out with my husband.  So, Mau researched a restaurant and took us to an all organic Italian place on the beach; Escopazzo.  This wasn't your typical "spaghetti and meatballs" Italian place.  As you can see from my picture, I was eating lamb and root veggies.  I loved this place because it was very intimate and romantic... there were only 12 tables in the room!  After our fine dining experience, we drove up and down the beach streets and spent some time talking and holding hands.  Unfortunately it was too cold to walk, but the drive was just what we needed.

The next few days were rather exhausting for me.  Little did I know that I had developed a pneumonia that was wearing me out.  I couldn't make it through the day without a nap and I swore I would never feel better again.  But, I persevered.  There were things to do... people to see!

 Marco got to play with his cousin, Andres, for the first time ever.  They had seen each other on rare occasions, but had never had the opportunity to play together.  Andres is a very sweet and soft natured boy... the opposite of Marco.  Marco kinda beat up on him a bit, as he often does, but in the end I think they became fast friends.

We also celebrated the marriage of my brother, Miguel, to his lovely wife, Alaina.  (This event deserves it's own post with TONS of pictures... look out for it next). 

The day after the wedding, I woke up and told Mau to take me to the hospital immediately.  I knew I had pneumonia and was just waiting for the wedding to be over with to deal with it.  They admitted me to the hospital and I was there for 2 nights... including New Years Eve.  I saw the ball drop from my hospital bed... Happy New Year! 

Thankfully, I knew my boys were being well taken care of and were having loads of fun playing with their grandparents.

We didn't think we were going to make it out in time to catch our flight.  Our flight was leaving from Punta Gorda on Monday morning, and on Sunday evening, I was begging the doctors to release me from the hospital!  Every time they got close to releasing me, something would happen that would delay it.  We were almost in panic mode!  Finally, at 10pm on Sunday night they let me go.  We had to wake up at the crack of dawn on Monday to drive the 3 hours to Punta Gorda to catch our flight... but we made it!

Our vacation was 10 full, packed, exciting and exhausting days.  Once we got home, we realized that what we really needed was a vacation from our vacation.  Whew.

Snow Day

Greenville is snowed in!  This is exciting... for about 5 minutes.  As I've mentioned, as a Florida girl, I'm not fond of the cold weather.
They've been announcing all weekend that it was going to snow on Monday, but I was in denial.  I didn't want to believe it was true.  Snow in Greenville is a rarity.  It usually snows once or twice a year... and honestly, that's once or twice too many for me.  This year, however, it's been more frigid than usual.  It already snowed on Christmas... a real "White Christmas".  We missed this snowfall because we were in Miami experiencing a "Warm Christmas".
The thing about snow in Greenville is that since no one is used to it, everything stops.  They close up all the stores, roll up the streets and hibernate until the snow melts.  So, in preparation for todays snowfall, we went to Whole Foods last night and stocked up on the essentials to last us through the week.  We're probably not going anywhere for a few days.
The good thing is that Mau didn't go to work today!  We were able to wake up late, enjoy some breakfast, play with Marco, nap and relax.  We decided it would be fun to take Marco outside and let him have a go at the snow.  We're so unexperienced at this though... we didn't even have gloves for the poor kid and ended up using socks, which got wet in the first minute outside and were then useless.  It took us 20 minutes to bundle us all up and then we were outside for a total of 10 minutes.
Once outside, the snow reached Marco's knees, so he couldn't walk.  He kept looking at us like, "What is this and what am I supposed to do?".  He didn't try to throw himself in it, or fling it, or lay in it... nothing, just a blank stare.  Maybe he's still a little too young to get it... or maybe we're just not fun enough.  Mauricio bounced him around a bit, but he didn't seem really impressed.  Needless to say, we went back inside, took off our clothes and threw them in the drier with a sense of defeat.
Later we tried again.  We opened the door and bent Marco down to touch the snow, but he turned around and wanted to get back in the house.  Maybe he's a true Floridian at heart too?!

Little Rewards

As I've mentioned before, having a premie is really hard work.  I know you've seen me complaining here and here about how the newborn stage seems to last for-e-ver!  And it does.  I mean, really, Jonas is 3 months old now, yet he still behaves like he's only a few weeks old.  I know, that that's because he really IS only a few weeks old in actuality.  I get it.
Finally though, after about 15 weeks, we're getting some rewards.  Let me show you:

Jonas is finally starting to smile!  And what a goofy smile it is!  Granted, we have to provoke him pretty hard to get the smile, but once we do, oh how sweet it is!  It's like having a baby that is 100% work 100% of the time and the only personality trait you know of is fussiness... and then you get this amazing glimmer of  hope!  There is a personality there... and it's a happy one!  
Jonas is also starting to coo.  I love it.  He makes little gurgling sounds in the back of his throat and sometimes speaks out an "ah-goo".  He intently watches my face and mouth and tries to move his around in the same manner.  I can't wait to hear his giggles and squeals as he continues to become more aware.
These little rewards are truly the highlight of my days.  This small thread of personality peeking from nothingness helps me to see that better days are ahead of us.  His smiles and coos almost makes me forget how horrible the colic and fussiness is... almost. 

Don't Push my Hot Button

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you're probably asking, "which hot button?".  I know, I have quite a few... this is my outlet.

So, we went to Miami for the Christmas holiday (I plan on updating on that soon with lots of pics), and returned to Greenville on Monday.  We didn't have a ride to the airport, so decided to bite the bullet, put our car in the lot, and pay up when the time came.  When we arrived at the airport, Mau took Marco and the bags to the car and I waited with Jonas at baggage to collect the car seats.  Mau pulls up to the curb, loads the kids and begins to leave.  While we're driving out of the airport, he tells me this story:

When I pulled up to pay at the parking garage, the attendant noticed your handicap decal in the window.  She looked at me and said "You're not handicapped", to which I replied, "You're right, but my wife is".  She said that I couldn't get the handicap discount because the handicap person was not in the car.  I told her I was going to pick you up because you couldn't walk this far, and she had a fit saying that I couldn't get the discount.  So, I ended up paying... $87.

After hearing this story, every one of my hot buttons had been pushed.  I was going to eat the parking attendant alive.  "TURN THE CAR AROUND", I yelled.  We went back to the scene of the crime, I marched out of the car and knocked on the supervisors door.  I explained, in my most stern and serious voice:

My husband was just in line to pay and he was not given the handicap discount for our car because I was not in the car at the moment.  If I'm handicap, how am I supposed to walk a MILE to get my car in the first place?  I am a handicap person, I have a handicap decal, my husband was picking me up at the handicap entrance, we are a handicap car and we are entitled to our handicap discount.  MOREOVER, how DARE your parking attendant assume that my husband is not the handicap person.  Do I look handicap to you?!  I am... with 3 conditions, none-the-less.  But I shouldn't have to justify or explain my conditions to you in order to receive a discount which is rightfully mine.  You are NOT going to have me pay nearly $100 for a technicality.

Needless to say, we got all $87 back and they treated me most apologetically after my soap box speech.  That poor woman had no idea what was coming to her.  I've been fighting this same battle since I was 16 years old and I am SO tired of hearing comments and sneers because I am not missing a leg or in a wheel chair.

That is one button you don't want to press.