Titty and The Butt

Teaching an almost 2 year old how to speak is a lot of fun.  For about 2 months now, Marco has been repeating everything we say and also observing speech on his own.  Sometimes he's right on target, and sometimes he's way off.  Most of the times we have to decipher what he is trying to tell us.

There are some letters he loves, like B's and K's... he loves saying Ba-Sket-Ball... perfect timing for the Heat entering the finals! (Woohoo, go Heat!)  Then there are some letters he can't say at all... like F.
When we ask him how old he is, he shouts out, "Twoooo" (he's not yet two, but we're practicing) and when we ask him his name, he says "Manko".  He says his favorite food is "cucu's" or "tsitsa" (cookies and pizza).  And he loves his "kkkars" and "bookkkks".

As I said, he picks up a lot of things on his own, that I haven't really taught him.  Like the other day, he brought me one of his blocks that had an E on it... and he said, "Mama, Eeeee".  I was floored.  He was right... it was the E!  So I clapped for him, and kissed him and almost cried with pride.  But then he picked up the W block, and said "Mama, Eeeee".  Ummm, not quite.  So, I wasn't sure if the first E was real or a coincidence.

So on Wednesday he comes up to me while I'm in the kitchen and says, "Mama, titty... the butt?"  Ok, I had no idea what he was talking about.  I know my son does not YET talk about TnA, so it had to be something else.  Well, he continued pointing and trying to grab my attention... "Mama, titty... the butt?"  Finally, I followed him and noticed what he wanted.  He wanted me to press the button on the TV.  I got it... Titty= TV, the Butt= the button.  So now I know that when he talks about titties and butts, he just wants to watch TV... and the good wholesome PBS kind too.

Watching him discover the world and learning more everyday is more fun than I imagined it would be!

My Heart Procedure

Today I went in to have a heart procedure called a Cardiac Ablation, and I have lived to tell the tale.  Honestly, it's a routine procedure and very low risk... so low risk in fact, that it's an outpatient procedure.  People are always shocked by that... yes, they were in my heart, and then sent me home.  But, they went into my heart through catheters, not by opening my chest.

It all began back when I was pregnant with Jonas.  I began feeling my heart rate accelerate spontaneously, and couldn't figure out why.  Sometimes it was after running after Marco, but sometimes it was while sitting on the couch.  There was no rhyme or reason to it.  So, I told my doctor and he sent me to the cardiologist that set me up with a 24 hour heart monitor.  As luck would have it, I did not have a single episode during those 24 hours.  The doctor kinda brushed it off saying that sometimes our bodies react strangely to pregnancy.  So even though it kept occurring, I didn't worry about it to much because I figured it was a weird pregnancy side-affect.

Then in December, when I became hospitalized in Miami for pneumonia, it started happening again.  This time it was extreme.  On the first day, my heart rate popped up to 185 and stayed there for over 20 minutes.  The nurses had to call a Code and everyone rushed in with panels and equipment.  They gave me a shot that  literally stopped my heart for a second or two before it came back to normal.  It scared the CRAP out of me.  It felt like an extreme pressure on my chest.  I immediately started crying because I was terrified.  The next day, my heart rate was flopping up and down... 180, 80, 175, 90... etc.  They told me they were going to have to inject me again with the heart stopper and I was dreading it.  Thankfully my heart gained control and we didn't have to.  But before they sent me home, they had an arrhythmia specialist come see me.  He explained that I didn't need a cardiologist... what I needed was an Electrophysiologist.  Talk about a specialist!

I made an appointment with the ONLY group in Greenville to specialize in arrhythmia.  Luckily, as I went in for my appointment, I was having an episode, so they were able to capture it on record.  My heart rate was at 183 for over 20 minutes while I was in the office.  The doctor, Dr. Rubenstein, explained my condition in detail and gave me my options.

He said that the heart is an electrical organ.  With every pulse, it releases an electrical cell, that travels from the top section to the bottom section, thus creating the boom-boom... top-bottom.  What seems to happen to me at times, is that the electrical cell gets stuck in a track and doesn't travel in it's normal pattern... that's why we get a rapid heart rate... boom-boom-boom-boom... top-top-top-top.

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with anything I do or have done.  It doesn't happen when I'm angry, or running, or because of any medications I've taken in the past.  It is completely random and can happen to anyone.

My options to fix it were to either take a daily dose of medication or to have it fixed by doing the ablation.  Obviously, I chose the latter.  I made this decision because 1. Once it's fixed, it's fixed... it will not ever come back, in that spot.  and  2. I wont have to take any sustaining meds.  I was afraid that I'd have a heart attack while having one of those episodes, and Dr. R told me that although it wouldn't cause a heart attack, it would eventually cause heart failure.  Our hearts are electrical, like a battery.  When it is overworked, it dies sooner rather than later.  I need my heart to die as LATE as possible... I have a lot of work to do with my babies!

So, I went in today to get this thing over and done with.  I was nervous.  They prepped me and took me in to the OR.  Once there, they began wrapping me in a bunch of tarps (I was thinking about Dexter... sick, right?) and started my drugs.  They gave me one dose, but it didn't seem to make a difference, so they gave me another one... and that's all I remember.  I woke up hours later in the recovery room with my mom at my side.  I slept longer than I was supposed to, but when they tried to wake me, I was too groggy to do anything.  They went in through both my groins and my neck with catheters, so I had bandages covering those spots.

I'm still feeling sore and tired, but I'm doing well.  I can't walk up the stairs, so my amazing knight in shining armor, Mauricio, is carrying me around.  How romantic!  I should be back to normal within a day or two.  Thanks to all of you who have Facebooked me with prayers and kind words and thoughts.

The Rudest Kids in All of SC

Pretty sure I'm going to have the rudest kids in all of South Carolina... and it's all my fault.  I've begun to notice that there are certain manners that a 2 year old does know, or should know, that I never even thought about teaching.  I've also noticed that there are certain manners that pertain to "the South" that all the children know, but which I have no desire to teach my children.  Hmmm, yep, we will be frowned upon here in the South.  Oh well.

Please and Thank You:  You might think this to be odd, but it never really dawned on me to enforce this.  Yes, I usually say "please", or if I don't then I always say "thanks"... but it's never been a big deal around our house.  Growing up, my parents never did the whole, "what do we say..?" or "what's the magic word?" thing.  I asked for something and got it.  In fact, my mom has actually told me that saying "please" amongst family seems so formal and almost like begging, so she doesn't like it.  She feels like it would be her pleasure to do something for me, so I don't have to be all, "pretty please with a cherry on top, would you pleeeeaase give me a glass of water".  A simple, "Hey mom, can you get me a glass of water... thanks" is sufficient.

But I know that this is highly unacceptable... and not just in the South.  I watch parents withhold food or toys from their children until they recite those magical words.  I just don't have it in me.  So I've been trying to teach Marco to say "thanks" after receiving something... but only to outsiders, not to me.  And, if he doesn't say it, it's no big deal to me either.  Blame me... I'm the rude one, not them!

Yes Ma'am, No Sir: The rules of the South are different than those of Florida.  Yes, Florida is technically in "the south", but it couldn't be further from southern culture.  The farther south you drive, the more liberal, atheistic, and hot it gets... (sounds like Hell to a lot of Southerners... haha).  But I digress.  Here in the South, it is customary for children to answer adults with a formal "Yes, Ma'am... No, Ma'am... Yes, Sir... No, Sir".  I had NEVER heard of this before moving here.  Never.  I thought that was military talk.  But apparently it's not.  Apparently, that's the way mothers want to be referred to by their babies.  Maybe I just don't get it.  Although, yes, it is polite, it also rigid and cold.  Personally, I don't want my children to call me Ma'am.  Uhhh, I don't want ANYONE to call me Ma'am... I'm too young still! Every time someone calls me Ma'am, I'm taken aback.  Like, who are you calling Ma'am?!

I don't see how saying, "yes, Mom" or "no, Mom" is any less polite... and yet it's so much more loving and personal.

Miss Nicole, Mr. Mauricio:  It is customary for children to call adults by their first names, but adding a Miss or Mr in front of it.  Again, this was not something I grew up doing and had NO IDEA it was normal.

I remember calling my pre-k teacher Miss Christy, but that was just for her.  Then, when I was 14 and moved to a church that had a few American women in it, we called them Miss Linda and Miss Joy, but everyone else was by their first names only... Anne, Vivian, Rosana, Nilsara.  To all of my friends' parents, I called them by their first names if I knew it... Candice's mom was Martica, Natalie's mom was Olga, Jennifer's mom was Lilly (or Silly Lilly).  There was never any formalities.  If in the case that I didn't know their first name, I would call them, Mrs. Last-Name until she told me what her first name was.  No one ever found this to be rude.  It was normal.

Then we move here, and everyone is calling me Miss Nicole, and it's just weird to me.  It's way formal.  And I feel peer pressured into teaching it to my kids because it is the culture of where we're living, but at the same time, I don't like it.  Do I really have to assimilate?

So, in conclusion, if you notice that my kids don't say the same things that yours do, don't hold it against them.  If they don't call you Miss So and So, but instead just use your first name, know that they are not being rude or forward.  If they answer you with a "yeah?" instead of a "yes, ma'am", they're not being snotty.  If they're given a cookie and forget to say "thank you", they still do appreciate it.  These are just cultural differences that are subtle but still stand out.  So, although Marco and Jonas may be the rudest kids in all of South Carolina, they're pretty normal by Florida standards!

Picky, Picky

I used to pride myself on the fact that I had a good eater on my hands.  Marco would eat anything and everything and as much of it as he could bear.  And of course, I deserved the credit... it was ME who introduced him to a wide variety of foods at a young age, not limited by Gerber bottles.  (All good came from me).

But then he became a toddler.  And you know one thing about toddlers that no one tells you?  They are sooooooo opinionated!  I thought I was going to fall over the first time he told me "no, Mama".  Ummm, excuuuuuuse me?  Who are you saying "no" to?

But alas, they are opinionated.  And the thing Marco seems to be most opinionated about is what he does or does not eat these days.  It's a tricky subject to.  I assume he likes PB&J's because he's been eating it since he turned 1, but then all of a sudden he clamps his mouth shut and shakes his head.  Ok, so we need a PB&J break.  Some days he eats chicken, some days he doesn't.  If he can't recognize that it is in fact chicken, say it's covered in a sauce or prepared in a different way, he wont even try it!  Broccoli, asparagus or peas?  Let's just forget anything that's green, shall we?

But veggies are understandable.  I mean, not many children devour their veggies gladly.  Most pinch their nose and rush through it.  (Heck, that's still how I eat my veggies!)  But Marco is even like that about fun stuff.  Like jelly beans.  Or gummy bears.  Or lollipops.  He doesn't know what it is, and he's NOT trying it.  Actually, we finally got him to try a gummy bear when he saw other children enjoying it.  It's like he thinks his parents are evilly trying to trick him into eating something nasty so we can laugh at him... he doesn't trust us!

The other day he was given a lollipop upon leaving the doctors office.  He didn't know what it was.  So when we got home, I opened it and sucked on it and said "mmmmmm".  I offered it to him and he made a "yuck" face, clamped his mouth and shook his head.  So I offered it to Jonas, who latched on and thoroughly enjoyed it.  (Yes, he's only 7 months... don't judge me!).  I thought for sure he'd want it after his brother had it, but still no.  Before I knew it, I had pinned Marco to the floor, I was straddling him and holding his head and mouth open, screaming "JUST TRY IT... JUST TRY IT!!!!!".  Then something inside me clicked... What the heck am I doing?  Why am I FORCING my kid to eat a lollipop, of all things.  I just get so frustrated!

But honestly, I can't complain that much.  Truth be told, he's still a pretty good eater, albiet unpredictable.  I think the unpredictability is the most frustrating part.  I'm not a mind reader or a fortune teller, so I have no way of knowing whether or not Marco is going to be willing to eat XYZ today.  I will tell you one thing though, I refuse to turn in to a short order chef.  I will not be cooking different things for the adults and the kids.  Even now, if he decides not to eat the chicken, then he'll only eat rice, or he wont eat anything.  But I'm not going to get up and make him some mac n' cheese in lieu of the chicken.  After all, no one has died from starvation due to not eating one meal.  And eventually, when he gets hungry, he'll eat.

I keep reminding myself that in a few short months, I'll have TWO opinionated toddlers.  And chances are, they'll have opposing opinions as well!  Oh boy... can't wait!

SunRay Farms

The weather in Greenville has been rather perfect for the last month or so.  It's warm, sometimes humid, and breezy in the shade.  Being a Miami-girl, I don't mind humidity.  But, even though I'm from FL, the summers here are more intense.  The heat is like a blow drier in your face, where in Miami it's more like the inside of a dish washer.  So, until the heat becomes unbearable, we've been trying to do as many outdoor outings as possible.

Last week, you read we went to the Happy Cow Creamery, we've also been to the park a dozen times, and on Friday we went to SunRay Farms.  SunRay is a small horse ranch that sometimes offers toddler time for only $5.  During this time, the children are invited to pet the horses, groom them and feed them.  They also have a few games and a wide open field for lots of running.

I don't think I have ever... I mean EVER, seen Marco that dirty before.  He was probably a little bit cleaner coming straight out of the womb than he was coming out of SunRay Farms!  Marco saw some of the bigger boys picking up hay, but he decided to pick up dirt instead.  He also played with the dogs water bowls, rolled in the grass and even picked up some horse poop.  Yes, my son knows no limits.  Before our picnic, I foolishly tried to clean him up a bit with wipes... as if wipes could handle a job of those proportions!  I swear, I swiped his face ONCE with a wipe, and it came back brown... but there were still 3 more layers of filth on that face!

We had a wonderful time enjoying the horses and being outdoors.  We were thouroughly dirty and tired by the time we got home.  After everyone had a bath, (myself included), we all had a nap, (again, myself included... yay!).  It was a great day and we look forward to visiting with them again soon!

Check out some pictures from the day.  Marco with his best friends, Bastian and Sloane!

 To find out more about SunRay Farms, like them on Facebook! 

Who Wants to Fight?

For those of you who know me now, you might not believe that once upon a time I was a not-so-nice person.  Yup, it's true.  I was super confrontational.  It's something I've prayed about and allowed the Lord to calm my heart.  Granted, I've got a ways to go in the "meek" department, but you should see how far I've come!  However, I've still got a few hot buttons that you should just never push, or you WILL see that confrontational side come roaring out!

On Saturday, we needed to run an errand at Target, and as we pulled into the handicap space, a black lady on the opposite side threw her cart into an unoccupied handicap spot and proceded to walk away. (Normally, I wouldn't comment on her race, but you'll see why...)  So, I look at Mau and say, "Oh hellz no she didn't just do that!" and I get out of the car.  Here's how our confrontation went... we'll call her Queen of the Parking Lot (QPT), since I don't know her name.

Me:  Excuse me, are you planning on leaving that cart there?
QPT: Yeah, so?
Me:  So, what if someone wants to park there?
QPT:  Then she'll have to get her fat lazy WHITE ass out of the car and move it herself!
(oh, no she didn't!)
Me: Really, a HANDICAPPED person is supposed to get out of the car and move the cart?
QPT:  That's not my problem.
Me: Don't you think you should just be curteous and take it to the front of the store or put it in a cart collector...
QPT: Are you gonna call the cops on me?
Me: Uh, no... but it would have taken you the same amount of effort to put it away as it took you to put it there.
QPT:  Then why don't you use YOUR effort and put it away for me.
Me: Yeah, I'm going to... because I'm not a selfish BITCH like some people!

Ok, I lost it at the end there... I know.  But REALLY... some people!  I was actually kinda hoping she would come up to me and punch me so I could call the cops!  That would have been something!

Anyways, nothing got resolved... I moved the cart.  But guys, I had a huge adrenalin rush... I could have fought someone... and won!

When we got back in the car, Mau asked me if I felt good about what I did.  And as I punched the air like a professional boxer, I said Ohhhhh yeah!  Well, he wasn't impressed.  He said that she could have come back around and keyed our car, or hurt me for real and that I shouldn't put myself in those situations.  And he's right... so I blame my motherS.

My mom would have done the EXACT same thing... once she pretended to be a cop when someone parked in the handicap spot without a tag!  And we say that if my step-mom, Vivian, were a super hero, her name would be "The Avenger"... fighting wrongdoing at every corner.  These have been my examples... women who can't keep quiet or let it go.  So naturally, I fall in the same category!  And honestly... IT FELT GOOOOOOD!

Mother's Day, Part Deux

Today I celebrated my second Mother's Day with my 2 boys!  It was actually a weekend celebration.  My husband made every effort to give me a carefree and enjoyable weekend, with a few fun things sprinkled in as well.

On Saturday morning, Mau got everyone up and we had a little cuddle session in our bed.  Everyone was dressed and fed, and just when I thought we were leaving, Marco approached me with a folded piece of paper, that read, "Mama, help me find my tete" (pacifier).  Ok, I smelled a scavenger hunt!  This was gonna be fun!

So I ran upstairs to Marco's crib and in it I found another piece of paper leading me to another clue.  Mau had me running around our whole house... and remember, we live in a 3 story house.  I climbed up and down A  LOT of stairs!  But it was worth it!  I found a clue stuck to the inside of the toilet seat, another one underneath Jonas... but the best one was INSIDE Marco's diaper.  Yes, you read that right... I had to take off Marco's diaper to get it!  Finally, all the clues and running around lead me to this:

I GOT A KINDLE!!!  For those of you who are my FB friends, you already know this because I just couldn't contain my excitement.  And I still can't!  I'm already half way through my first Kindle book!  Seriously, this is such an awesome gift for me and COMPLETELY unexpected.  Mauricio floored me... I had no idea... what an awesome surprise!

The rest of the day was nice too... we went to Target and 5 Guys (mmm) and then back home.  We saw the Heat lose (Booooo) and watched a cute movie.

Then this morning we went to church and received an uplifting and encouraging message from Pastor Perry Noble that specifically spoke to me and reminded me that being a mom is a gift from God.  He entrusted me with these tiny people, to teach them and lead them and help them grow to know Him.  I am the Lord's servant.

This Mother's Day was wonderful!  I've felt special, pampered and blessed.  I only wish I could have given my moms (Mom, Vivi and Rosana) a big hug and kiss as well.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mama's out there... New and Old!  God Bless!

Ode to Dad

Back when you were oh, so young
Into parenthood you were flung.
A young man, just barely twenty-one,
Did you have any idea it would be so fun?

As a little girl, I thought you were a king,
And I still remember all the songs we would sing.
I used to adore our "Lovin' Fights",
And how you'd tuck me in each night.

You taught me about our Father above,
By daily demonstrating Jesus' love.
Today I walk in God's great light,
Because you made it shine so bright.

And though at times I pushed you away,
You know now that I am here to stay.
Your love has guided me through and through,
And I'm a good parent today, because of you.

So on this great day of your birth,
I come not with gifts or incense or myrrh,
All I have is this simple ode,
To thank you for all the love you have showed. 

Happy 50th Birthday, Dad!
I love you!

Happy Cow, Happy Boy

Today we visited the Happy Cow Creamery just a few miles outside Greenville.  The Happy Cow Creamery is a dairy farm that provides milk and other dairy products to South Carolina.  But that's not all... they're open to the public for tours, samples, trolley rides and picking.

Marco knew all morning we were going there.  On the way, we had to travel down many long back country roads, with pastures on both ends.  Marco kept yelling "Vaca?, Vaaaaaaaaaacaaaaaaaa! Moooo"  ("vaca"= "cow").  He was so excited!

Our play group made arrangements to head out there this morning... we were a group of about 7 moms all with kids under 2 years old.  But there was also a school field trip AND another play group with moms of multiples. So, needless to say, it was insanity... but still a lot of fun!

Upon arrival, all the kids were able to play out in the yard and run around.  They had this wooden cow with water-filled utters for the "milking".  Marco thoroughly enjoyed milking this cow, and hogged up all the space for a while.

I then discovered that Marco had a listening problem when I turned around and found him standing near the street, alone, looking at the cows.  When I called to him, he ignored me.  My fear was that there were a ton of farm equipment, tractors and other trucks, coming in and out, as well as an ELECTRIC fence that kept the cows in!  Oh, toddlers.  So I decided to restrain him... yes, with a book bag leash.
Don't judge me till you have an independent toddler running around AND a baby strapped to your chest.  You would do the same. 

We took a tour of the milking stations and got samples of their creamy milk.  They do things a bit differently there.  After watching many documentaries on the subject, it's really refreshing to see a dairy farm with integrity.  It was very interesting and I tried to listen as best I could while pulling Marco off the menure washed floor.  

We then got to go on a trolley ride, being pulled by a farm truck with hugemongo wheels.  Marco loved it, "Mama, truckkkkk".  We had some snacks and enjoyed seeing all the cows from a distance.  When we got back, we ate the rest of our snacks, had some ice cream and were set free to pick strawberries.  In the spring they have strawberry picking; in the fall they have pumpkin picking.  

Marco ate while he picked and he was excited to fill up our box with fresh strawberries... some were so fresh they were still green! 

Overall, it was a fun day, but exhausting.  By the time we were done, it was 1:30... well into nap time.  We were stinky, hot and sweaty... but happy to have spent the day at Happy Cow!