The Less You Write

Some of you may have been wondering where the heck I've been.  Let me assure you, I'm alive and well.

Since moving into our house in September, my blog writing has decreased significantly.  We decided that we wouldn't sign up for internet or cable for the time being in order to save some money and be able to do some much needed fixing to our home.  The only internet access I have at home is through my phone, which all bloggers know it is incredibly frustrating to write and read blogs from a phone.

My first month there I really tried to keep up.  I would write all the time on Word or TextEdit and then transfer my posts over to blogger when I'd get access at either my in-laws or work or even the park!  I would have 3 or 4 posts ready and scheduled a week in advance.  But even with doing that, my enthusiasm for blog writing started to fade.

As I was thinking about why, I finally realized... it's because I have been completely disconnected with my blogging community!  Sure, I could write posts and have them ready, but I couldn't keep up with the blogs I loved reading.  I couldn't interact with the ladies that have brought me encouragement and online friendship as easily.  I was isolated.

So I started writing less.  And the thing about that is, the less you write, the less you have to write about.  Writing is like a flurry.  The more you do it, the more easily it becomes and the more ideas you have and the quicker you get it out.  It's like it just spills out of you.  But likewise, the less you write, the harder it becomes, the slower it is to come out.  It feels like molasses.

I have been warned by some people that if I don't keep up with it, I will lose the followers I have acquired so far... and this is true.  In the last month I have lost 2 followers... I'm not in the 100's anymore.  But that's ok.

On the other hand, I have had a few blog ladies contact me through twitter, facebook or email and ask me where I've been or how I've been doing.  That has been amazing!  And I want to say Thank You to those people... your kindness and friendship means a lot!

I miss writing, but I now realize that I got caught up in the blog competition.  In my hiatus, I've been able to reevaluate why I even do this in the first place.  It's my outlet and my way of documenting my family's stories.  While doing giveaways and link ups are fun, that isn't necessarily the purpose of my blog.

And I'm done spending hours a week reading other people's blogs and writing thoughtful comments when they are never returned.  Basically, I'm purging.  The truth is, I shouldn't care about my follower number.  I'm not trying to make a living doing this.  I don't care to be the #1 mommy blogger.  I can't have a $1,000 giveaway.  I can't make my house Pinterest worthy.  I can't measure up to the competition... so I'm backing out.

If you still want to follow me along my journey, please stay a while.  I hope to keep it real, keep it true to myself and keep it humble.  I would love to share my story with you and I hope we are able to learn from each other.  Because, really... that's what it's about.

A (very) Short Story

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This is a short story I wrote about a year and a half ago, that I completely forgot about, but stumbled upon today and found it to be quite comical and charming... so I decided to share it.  Hope you enjoy!

*****
Two bananas hang side by side in their hammock in my kitchen.  We think nothing of it.  Day by day, we pass these bananas and go about our normal lives, not ever thinking that perhaps they are living a life as well...

The first banana, Mr. Plantain, leans in close to his wife just to smell her.  He says, "It's a beautiful day today, isn't it mi amor?" to which she sourly replies, "It would be if we weren't in this stinky kitchen".  Mrs. Plantain longs for the days when she was swinging from her banana tree in the jungles of the Dominican Republic.

"Remember the days when we were young and free?", Mrs. Plantain asks her husband.  "I could hear the children playing below and smell the cafe brewing below as we swayed to the rhythmic music of bongos and guitaras.  Oh, those were the days when I was most happy".  Mr. Plantain leaned in even closer to his wife, whom he loved so dearly and whispered, "Mi vida, try to find some joy in our new life.  It wont be long now".

They cuddled up to one another and tried their best to be optimistic.  They knew the end was near.  It could be as close as lunch time.  They watched in fear as I sat my toddler in his high chair and asked, "Do you want a banana?  Ba-na-na?"

Mrs. Plantain turned her ugliest shade of brown, while Mr. Plantain held on tightly.  I plucked the least brown banana from it's holder and said, "I'll mash the for breakfast tomorrow morning".

Mr. Plantain cried out to his wife, "I'll see you on the other side, querida!  Remember our days in La Dominicana and remember I love you!"

He was heroic to the very end.


PINspired: Mostly Recipes

I decided to discontinue to link-up for my PINspired series, because the past few months I've only had Callie sign up.  (Thanks Callie for supporting me!)  

But I don't want to discontinue the series because I like it... Sooooo, here are the Pinterest Pins that I've tackled throughout the month of October.  Enjoy!

Parmesan Garlic Potatoes

These are sooooo good... and with sour cream, omg.  Definitely a keeper.

CrockPot Chicken and Stuffing

Tried this the other night and it was just bleh.  I really don't understand why it had to cook all day when I could make the same meal in 20 minutes.  It just wasn't good enough.  And really, I've realized that I don't like cream of chicken soup recipes... so I should stop trying to make them.  

Parmesan Crusted Asparagus

Yes!  Finally asparagus I can get down without forcing myself.  These were good good good.  Even Marco liked them!  He kept saying they were crackers... and we were like, yeeeeeeah, have more crackers! haha.  

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Yuuummmoooo... these were delish!  I added carrots to it also because it blended well and it was so tasty that everyone had seconds!

Spaghetti Squash

Can you believe that I had NEVER had Spaghetti Squash before?  Crazy, right?!  So I made it the other day in place of pasta... but I baked it for too long, so it didn't come out looking like spaghetti.  It looked more like risotto... or mush.  The taste was fine, but the consistency was wrong.  Now I know to bake it for only 45 minutes.  We'll be trying this again soon.  Gotta keep finding ways to sneak in those veggies.  

Sausage and Egg Casserole
Source: culinary.net via Nicole on Pinterest

I made this for my MOPS meeting last week and let me just tell you that it was easy-peasy and absolutely amazing.  Everyone ate it all up and there were no leftovers.  My only change was that I used 8 eggs instead of 6 to make it a little more fluffy.  This is a no brainer for holidays.

BEST App Ever

Every mom should download this app now... right now... do it.  It's called Red Stamp and it's free and it will simplify your life when it comes to sending cards... thank you's, invites, etc.  There is something for every occasion.  And they are wicked cute.  I have been able to snap a photo of my kids wearing or playing with their latest gift and directly email or text it to the gift giver with a "thank you card".  It's great.  Get it. 


WBD: A Post by my HUSBAND!

Today I'm linking up with Allie from Table For More, (I love her) and Kay from Life After for their weekly link-up called :


This should be fun!  

This week, we were asked to get our HUSBAND's to answer the questions... basically blog for us.  Ummm, Mauricio does NOT blog.  It was pain staking and I may or may not have had to bribe him with "favors" in order to go through with it.  (TMI? Maybe...)

It took him THREE tries, but eventually he hunkered down and did it. 

I sent him the questions to read over and his first response was:

The answer to all of these questions is... boobs

Reeeeeal mature...

So I told him to try again...

His second response was:

I feel like this is a plot for wives to force open conversations about these topics with their husbands.

Can you say STALLING?!  

But finally, third time was the charm.  

Here are Mauricio's answer's for Wedded Bliss Wednesday!  Enjoy!

What was the first thing you noticed about your wife?
-The way she commanded the room and unwillingly had everyone's attention.  Kind of intimidating at first, but it was nothing a little game of "hard to get"  (on my part) couldn't solve.

When you first started dating your wife, what kept you calling/asking her out?
- Well when I first started to date her, she didn't quite know about it because I hadn't actually told her yet so a majority of my efforts were on getting her up to speed with all the date she had missed and actually getting her to agree to join me for one.  Once that was out of the way, I had a moral obligation on behalf of all daters to call her back and try to correct all the mistakes I made from the previous date.  It was a tough mountain to climb, but here we are I guess! 

What is your wife's best quality? 
She's the bravest person I know.  Some would say she's got some crazy chutzpah, or cara-de-pau, or nerves of steel. Things (mostly but not limited to, occurring in some sort of medical environment) that scare the daylight out of me are a walk in the park for her.  But it could also be considered a double-edged swor...uhh, I mean, that's all for this question!

What's your favorite thing to do with your wife? (ahem, keep it clean).
Going on long road trips by ourselves, (or more recently with quiet/sleeping kids).  There's something about being locked in a car with nowhere to hide out or seclude to that inspires bolder/healthier conversations.  Even when we're done talking, just sharing the same exact agenda for a couple of hours is a good thing to do (in moderation of course). 
And folding laundry... that's the cleanest thing I could think of involving me... and her... and random clothes on/around the bed.

What are you most excited for the future with your wife?
Sharing every given experience with her and accomplishing marital, family and financial goals. 

How do you make your wife feel loved?
By letting her choose whatever vacuum cleaner she'd like for her birthday.
Totally kidding!!
By doing the little things; the expected and most importantly the unexpected.  Getting her flowers on a Tuesday, filling up her water cup at night, taking over with the kids when she's had a long day, telling her she's beautiful, listening to her, remembering anniversaries, planning birthday part... errr, umm, just overall being a perfect husband by doing all of these things all the time ;)

He blew me away...
As he usually does.

The Value of a SAHM

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According to a recent study, Stay-at-home Moms annual salary should be around $112,962.  

Wowza!

In case you don't want to squint at the picture below, it says:
"The yearly salary a 2012 stay-at-home mom would earn (that is, if she were paid), as determined by the career-advice website Salary.com.  The income ws calculated by combining the average wages, plus overtime, for the jobs a mom typically performs, including laundress, janitor, driver, cook, facilities manager, psychologist and CEO (of the household).  The results also showed that the average stay-at-home mom works a grueling 94.7-hour week and would make an average of $22.94 an hour."

Well, at least SOMEONE sees it! haha.

I love reading things like this because it puts a hard factual value on what I do on a daily basis.  Yes, I do the laundry, groceries, cook and pick up the house.  I am a referee and a nanny.  I am a teacher and a psychologist.  I am a driver and a play mate.  My day starts at 7:45am and doesn't end till 10pm.  I work weekends and holidays and never get vacation or sick days.  That's the life of a SAHM.

Many husbands… not mine… but many, discredit SAHM's and say things like:
"My job is to bring home the money and yours is to take care of the kids".
"Well, all you do is play all day".
"I'm sure you've had a hard day of watching tv and playing at the park today…"

These husbands think that since they go to an actual job and bring home an actual paycheck that not only what they do is more important, but also that it is a free pass to not have to take care of their children.  When I hear stories like this, my heart breaks for the mothers who are undervalued and under-appreciated. 

Aside from the estimated value we should be earning for everything we do, we are also saving a lot of money by staying home.  In a few weeks, my friend will be going back to work full time after having her baby.  She has hired a nanny to come to her home and care for her child instead of daycare.  This nanny will charge $1,000 a month for one baby.  When I have looked into daycare for my two kids, the cheapest I have found has been around $1,750 for both!  If I were to work, I'd only be making a little more than the cost of said daycare… and we'd have less time together and more stress!  No thanks.  By not working, we save money on food as we eat all of our meals at home.  We save money on gas, as the farthest we drive is to the local park.  

Yes, living off of one paycheck is an EXTREME sacrifice.  We can't afford to furnish our house with Pottery Barn things.  We can't afford to take family vacations every year.  We can't afford to buy new cars.  But we do what we can to cut corners and save money wherever possible. 

And it is HARD work… as the report above said, "grueling".  It's physically exhausting, emotional draining and mentally starving.  At the end of most days, you feel like you've run a marathon, cried a bucket and had no intelligent conversation.  On Saturday's all I want to do is sleep till 11, but for some reason, my kids haven't gotten the memo that weekends are for sleeping in!  Kids still need to be fed and be dressed and have diapers changed and go release their energy.

SAHM's, take heart!  What you are doing is valuable… even though we don't receive a paycheck that we can deposit in the bank.  Never ever feel like you are not contributing to your household because your job doesn't pay cold hard cash.  What you do every single day makes a greater contribution to your household than money ever could!  You are shaping a life!  You are forming tight bonds with your children that will last throughout their lives.  You are enriching the lives of your children by putting their needs above your own.  You are teaching them the true meaning of love through your sacrifice!  And that?  You can't put a price tag on that!  

And besides, our paychecks are so much better than cash.  We get paid in snuggles and kisses and cuddles and in kind words like, "i love you mommy" or "thank you".  We get paid in snot noses and tears and heads on shoulders and sobs and even tantrums.  But I don't want anyone else to receive MY hard earned paycheck!  I want every last penny! (Ok, I could do without the tantrums). 

But you know what's really funny.  If someone decided to start giving SAHM's a real paycheck of $112,962 a year, I'm pretty sure husbands would never say another negative comment again.  Who can we call to make that happen?!

Dirty Jobs

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The curse of buying an old house is that there are always repairs to be done that cost a lot of money and are no fun at all.

We knew this going into it.  It's not a surprise to us.

Our house was built in 1956 and thankfully the construction, materials and overall quality of the house is top notch.  But maintenance is required and can become pricey.  Since buying the house, we've had to replace the roof, which had not been redone since it was built over 50 years ago!  This depleted our savings ($13,000), but it was worth it since we probably wont have to think about it again for another 50 years! 

This was a dirty job.

After pealing back our old roof and hauling away all the dirt, they had to lay down tar.  And tar stinks... like really, really stinks.  The entire interior of the home stunk like tar for over 2 days.  After they laid down the roofing strips, they sprinkled small pebbles all over. And when it rained, all those pebbles came down to our driveway, creating a sand-like mess all over the place! 

That dirty job is complete!

Before we moved in, we had to get the pool cleaned. It was absolutely disgusting.  It looked more like a swamp than a pool.  It was green, thick and mucky... and I'm pretty sure it had become a haven for mosquito mating.  Gross, gross, gross.  

I contacted a pool guy about cleaning it and he quoted me at $600 to start and if it was really, really bad, the price would be higher.

Well, my husband, Mr. FixIt, did NOT intend on spending that much money on a job he could easily do himself.  So he and his dad rented a pump and drained the pool of all the swampy water.  Then they pressure cleaned the sides and literally had to scoop out the remaining gunk.  It. Was. Gross. 

This was a dirty job. I did have pictures of this dirty job but I think it may have been so gross that I deleted them!

But thankfully, that dirty job is complete and our pool is a gorgeous shade of crystal blue now and we saved over $600!

Once we drained the pool, we realized that we do not have city sewer... we have the dreaded septic tank!  This too can be expected when buying an older home... but ewwwww, seriously?!

The frightening part was that we had no idea the condition of our tank.  The close of the house came with no paperwork for it, so we had no clue.  We called a company to get it pumped because we figured we may as well take care of it BEFORE a problem arrose.  And, once it was empty, we could actually KNOW the state of the tank.  

This was a dirty job.

The septic company quoted us at $250 for the pumping, but when he found, dug up and opened the tank, the condition of it was so bad, that he had to raise the price nearly double!  I was standing there when he opened it up and the smell... it just smacked me square in the face. The tank was full... to the top.  The man told us that we were lucky if we had a few more months before it started backing up... into our house.  Boy, what a mess that would have been!  He told us that the tank was supposed to consist of 90% water and 10% waste... but ours was about 90% waste with 10% water... it was a thick disgusting mess.  He said septic tanks are supposed to be pumped every 2-3 years, but it looked like our tank had not been cleaned in over 15 years!  
That's 15 years worth of crap!  Ahhh, sooooo gross!!!

So nearly $500 later, this dirty job is complete!  And thankfully, we don't have to think about our tank for 3 more years.

There are more dirty jobs around our house to be done.  Mauricio has been trimming and pulling trees for weeks now and there's still so much to do.  The screen above our pool is falling apart and needs to be reattached but there are tons of spider webs up there.  And we also need to fumigate since we have lots of little sugar ants and worms coming into our house on a daily basis!

Unfortunately all of these dirty jobs cost a pretty penny, which is taking all of our "fun house money" away.  I want our "fun house money" for buying furniture, picking exterior paint colors, and basically beautifying.

But I know I have to be patient and get the dirty work done first.

Ahh, the joys of homeownership!




Homeschooling Update

We moved into our new house about a month ago now and homeschooling has been put on the back burner.  And by back burner, I mean perhaps the grill outside.  

I have totally dropped the ball.  

How do I feel about it?  A little bit like a failure and a little bit like, eh, whatever. 

I try to guilt myself:  "What's wrong with you?  Why can't you just get your act together to do a few activities with the boys a week?  Why are you so selfish?  It's not hard after all!"

And then I try to justify it to myself: "Well, they are only 2 and 3... it's not like the HAVE to go to school, and besides, they're pretty smart already.  We don't have internet at the new house, so it's too hard for me to plan.  Well, at least we still read to them.  Well at least we watch educational television like PBS.  Well, at least..."

So as you can tell, I'm conflicted.

I was so gung ho about it in the summer but that was mostly because I had no activities in the summer.  I was beyond bored in the summer.  But now that all my activities started back up, I'm busier and I'm less motivated- (another excuse).  The only REAL days I can commit to homeschooling is Monday and Tuesday, but even then I cop out and don't do it. 

I'm being a bit hard on myself here though... I have done SOME activities with the boys... but not nearly as many as I would have liked by this point.  

Remember my original goal was to do 1 week's worth of curriculum (one letter) over the course of two weeks?  Well... by THAT plan we should already be on the letter E... but we're still on the letter C.  

Some activities we have done:

Played Dominoes: Marco loved doing this!

Finger Painted:  Jonas made a big mess but was so happy.  Marco didn't want to get dirty so he didn't do much.

We've done a few other things as well.  And we're still getting the suggested library books and reading them consistently.  

I still love the curriculum we got... it's so creative and fun.  I just need to get back into it and become motivated.

But I have decided that I'll be putting Marco in school for K4 next year.  Apparently I can't count on myself to be as consistent as needed.  Hats off to all you homeschooling mommies... you're pretty amazing!



Like Playing 20(,000) Questions


I know it's just the age.  
And I know it's not going to get better anytime soon.
But lately, every time Marco opens his mouth, it's to ask me a question.

Sometimes I feel like we're playing 20 (thousand) questions!
This is his "Huh?" face.
His questions go round and round and round and I find myself repeating myself and becoming frustrated at the never ending stream.

I'll give you an example.  Warning: by the end of this example you may, or may not feel incredibly stressed.

This is an excerpt taken from an actual conversation that occurred after Mauricio's car got picked up by a tow truck.

Marco: Mom, is that Mater? (as in Mater the tow truck from Cars)
Me:  Yes, it's a tow truck just like Mater.
Marco: But why is it red?  Mater's not red, he's brown!
Me:  Because maybe I think that's Mater's cousin. 
Marco:  What's he doing with Daddy's car?
Me:  Daddy's car broke down and so he's taking it to the shop.
Marco:  Where's the shop?
Me:  I don't know… we have to follow the truck because he knows where to go.
Marco:  But is it far?
Me:  I don't know… we'll find out soon.
Marco:  And what are they gonna do in the shop?
Me:  Fix Daddy's car.
Marco:  How?
Me:  I don't know… first they have to see what's wrong with it.
Marco:  What's wrong with it?
Me:  I don't know.
Marco:  Where's Daddy?
Me:  He's in the tow truck with the driver.
Marco:  But why?
Me:  Because Daddy has to stay with his car.
Marco:  But why?
Me:  Because that's Daddy's car.
Marco:  But where are they going?
Me:  To the shop to get the car fixed.
Marco:  Is it far?

And round and round and round and round it goes…

Ok, take a minute and relax… your shoulders are probably tense after that… mine are!

Here's the thing.  After about 5 questions, I'm ready to scream my head off "NO MORE QUESTIONS!" but I'm trying really, really hard not to do that.

I'm finding that this is a challenging issue because while on the one hand, he's annoying the heck out of me, on the other hand, I don't want to squash his inquisitiveness or make him feel like he can't ask questions.

I remember being four years old and also being rather inquisitive.  My mother always reminds me of such times… It was my "But Why Mommy" phase.  And she too would eventually become exasperated and yell, "BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT'S WHY!".  While I'm pretty sure she didn't scar me for life, this is not the approach I want to take with my children. (Sorry mom!)

First of all, girls are different than boys.  I know there is nothing she could have or can ever say to make me shut up.  I have always and will always talk to my mom.  But like I said, girls are different than boys.  There will come a time, when my boys are teens, and they just stop talking.  It's typical teenage boy talk.  "How was your day?" "Fine" "How was school?" "Boring" "Did you learn anything?" "No".  But I think that that might make me more exasperated than playing 20 (thousand) questions!  At that point, I may scream "GIVE ME MORE QUESTIONS!" 

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I've ever heard was that if you want your children to talk to you about the BIG stuff later on, then you've got to talk to them about the LITTLE stuff now.  Because even though it may seem like LITTLE stuff to you, it's probably BIG stuff to them.  And you've gotta always keep them talking… never to close the lines of communication. If the lines of communication get closed right now, it's 100% my fault and 100% due to my selfishness.  

I don't want to be the mom that yells "NO MORE QUESTIONS!".  I want to be the mom that continues through 3 or 7 or 38 rounds of 20 questions.  I want to be the mom who practices her patience and shows grace and love to her children.  I want to be the mom who says "well, let's find out" and opens up her laptop.  I want to scour the web searching for answers with my kids and seeing them connect the dots and find new things to ponder over.  I want to be the mom that encourages their inquisitiveness and develops their desire for learning more and knowing more.  

But how can I become that mom if I'm not willing to answer a hundred questions about where the tow truck is going?  If I'm not willing to answer those questions, why would he trust me to answer any other ones he has?

So, I'm challenging myself to become the mom I want to be.  I'm going to continue to take deep breaths and brace myself for the longest game of 20 questions I've ever played… even if it lasts years!  

And hopefully it will.

Unleash! by Perry Noble

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Perry Noble, senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina, challenges readers to Unleash! the life that God has in store for them and to put their past to rest. 

Within his book, he explains how God's desire is to have us live our best life now by walking in His path and by letting go of a past that enslaves us.  He compares all of our challenges with the story of David from the Bible.  Now, most of us would dare say we have absolutely nothing in common with the same David that found favor with God.  The same David that was anointed as a child, brought down a giant and became one of the most revered kings in history.  But Perry specifically outlines how his struggles and ours are not so different. 

Just as God chose David to be anointed, God chooses us to be His children.  Just as David had to fight Goliath, the giant, so we have to fight metaphorical "giants" in our lives.  God is not looking for someone who is perfect… David was far from perfect.  David was a poor shepherd boy who no one ever suspected would become king.  And then once king, he became an adulterer and a murderer.  And yet… God found favor with him.  

In his book, Perry offers hilarious and gritty stories about his life and how he's learned these lessons.  He speaks about how coming to know the Lord and Jesus has changed him and in doing so he offers hope to everyone who reads his book.  Perry does not beat around the bush… he is dead set on Biblical teachings and does not care if he makes people uncomfortable about it.  He wants everyone to know that the ONLY truth is Jesus.  But he also wants everyone to know that God is not sitting on His throne in Heaven waiting to smite all of the sinners… He wants people to know that God is loving, compassionate and fatherly.  "God is not after or begrudging submission.  He is after our joy" (pg.9)  

I highly recommend this book for anyone who just can't seem to let go of their past.  To anyone who thinks that God can't possibly forgive them for what they've done.  To anyone who thinks that their problems are too big.  To anyone who feels hopeless.  Within these pages you'll learn about a Savior who's love knows no limits and who can't wait to call you His own.  

I had the privilege of being a member of NewSpring church for the 3 years that I lived in South Carolina and I have never seen a pastor more captivatingly true, real and passionate about his call to ministry and Jesus.  He is doing some truly incredible things across the state of South Carolina and reaching throughout the world to impact churches and people in need.  You can listen to his sermons by downloading the FREE NewSpring App or by visiting www.NewSpring.cc

And don't forget to pick up a copy of his book.  You'll be so glad you did!

Pink Olive Wreath Giveaway!

It's that time again!
Time to introduce you to another fabulous little Etsy shop, show off the goods and give one away!  Yay!

If you've been on Pinterest lately, you've been noticing a common theme... wreaths.  It's all the rave for Fall!  Everyone just has to have a wreath hanging on their door during this season.

But why not get one that can hang year round?  And a personalized one to boot?!

Helloooooooo Pink Olive!




The Pink Olive carries all types of wreaths, from rustic to chic, from modern to traditional.  Some of my personal faves are:
Isn't this perfect for Spring time?
A Fall time classic
Modern and sweet!

But my PERSONAL favorite... because it happens to be MINE and currently hangs on my front door is:



I got it in the mail just a few days ago and squealed with excitement upon opening it!  I LOVE IT!  Rachel (owner of The Pink Olive) worked with me on all the details and designed exactly what I wanted.  I love green and she just added the right amount of it!  This is definitely something I would be happy to display year round.  But in all honesty, it's so nice that it makes my door look dingy... so now I just have to convince Mauricio to buy us a new door to go with our beautiful new wreath! haha! 

So now, it's time for ONE of my lucky readers to win a wreath of your very own! 

And if you're not the lucky winner, don't worry, Rachel has graciously offered FREE shipping on all orders using the code "Tablefor4".  So head on over to The Pink Olive, support a small business and add some seriously awesome swag to your door! 

5 Ways to Enter!  Ready, Set, GOOOO!









Jonas' Birthday Dinner

On Friday, Jonas turned TWO!

He didn't know it was his birthday, or even what a birthday was, really, but when he woke up, I could here Marco talking to him over the monitor saying, "Joooonaaaas, it's your BIRTHDAY!" and Jonas giggling.  Then when I walked in and said, "Good morning birthday boy!" he was ALL smiles!

Throughout the day, we didn't say much to him about his birthday... we just went along our usual business... library to exchange books, music class, lunch at home and nap.

But when he woke up, he knew things were different.  My mom was there, and more people started coming over!  I stuck with my plan and only had a family birthday dinner for him... which by the way cost me $100... in case you were wondering.  We had the kids' grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins over... about 14 adults, 3 kids and 1 baby.  It was perfect!

I made crockpot chicken tacos (recipe found here) with all the fixin's... and then we had cake, ice cream and flan for dessert! YUMMO!

Jonas was so happy to have the attention of all his family!  His favorite gift was from my dad and step-mom... the movie, Toy Story 3.  He held onto it for dear life throughout the party.  And he kept running back and forth with his arms outstretched, yelling, "AND BEYOOOOOND!"  He was thrilled!





This boy... he's hilarious!

We were so happy to have had his birthday celebration be the first of many many celebrations in our new home!

Jonas Turns TWO!

Today my little baby boy turns TWO!

That blows my mind.

My little premie.  My 3 pounder.  My clingy one.  My sentimental one.  My sneaky one.  Today, he turns two!

You can read Jonas' birth story here.
And you can see his 1 year post here.

If you've been following along here, you know that the first year of Jonas' life was not easy at all.  On top of being 2 months early, being in the NICU for a month, needing a heart monitor for another month, and having colic for 3 horrible months, being #2 is a challenge all on it's own.  Jonas had to live his first year of life in fear of having fingers poked in the eye, fingers stepped on and bodies squished by his big bro Marco.

His second year of life was sooooo much easier.  He was happy.  He thrived.  He learned.  He got in trouble.  He could finally keep up!








Jonas can say sooooo many things now and he's putting sentences together.  When you ask him how old he is, he shouts, "DOOO" and puts up his thumb and index finger.  He loves running and screaming and throwing all of his bedding out of his crib in the mornings.  He gives us a hard time with eating "real food" but would take milk and cookies any day.  He is not afraid to get dirty and we definitely think he's gonna be our "gross kid"... everyone's got one.  He's fun loving and sweet, he gives hugs and loves snuggling close on the couch.  His favorite thing to play with is my iPhone... hence why it's all cracked, and he'd rather run around with a remote than play with any of his toys.  

This boy.  Our Jonas.  We couldn't imagine life without him.  He fills our life with joy. And we are so blessed to have had him around for "DOOO" years already! 

Happy birthday baby boy!



PINspired September Link-Up

It's that time again!  Time to show off all of your amazing Pinterest inspirations for the month of September.
I must say, I've been so busy with the move and getting adjusted that I have slacked a little on my PINspirations.  But hopefully you'll enjoy the few things I did anyway.

Here we go!

Knife Rack for Cars
Source: ohdeedoh.com via Nicole on Pinterest

I loved this idea!  Especially since I happen to have an extra knife rack from IKEA that I ended up not using.  But apparently, we're cheap and only buy PLASTIC cars for the boys, so it did't work out.  I had never thought about it before now.  But we decided to use the rack for our keys by the door instead.  I'll pin it later because it looks pretty rad.

Fun Ways to Use Straws

I did one of these activities with Marco this week as a side homeschooling thing.  He LOVED it.  I took 3 straws and let him cut it at different sizes.  This proved to be challenging for his little hands.  Then I had some pipe-cleaner (you know those fuzzy, colorful, bendable things) and we threaded the straw pieces onto it and make bracelets.  He really enjoyed it and it was just challenging enough.  Not so much that he got frustrated, but it kept him engaged the whole time.  That was awesome!

Personalized Coffee Mugs

We did this at MOPS instead of having name tags, everyone just personalized a cup.  It worked quite well.  But, when you wash it, you have to just wash the inside of the cup and try your best not to wet the design.  Some of the ink did start to come off.  But hey, how much can you expect from something that costs a dollar to make?!

Semi-Sliced Potatoes

These were delish!  They were a little involved to make, but worth it.  The slicing takes a little while and then you have to add a small piece of garlic between each slice.  If you don't do this, then the potato wont fan out like it does in the picture and it wont get all crunchy.  They were so good and fun to eat because you peel them and eat them like chips.  Yummo!

Household Tips

From all these tips, I only did #2 when organizing my linen closet.  You put all the sheets of a set inside the pillowcase.  It's like DUH, why didn't I think of that on my own?!  But seriously... ingenious.  So organized, stacked and clean.  No more sheets tipping over!

Clean Your Dishwasher

So I did this the GE way.  What is GE?  Good Enough.  I did not get down on the floor, stick my whole body in this machine and stuff my hand in gross places to pull out who knows what.  When it comes to this, my ignorance is my bliss... I'd rather not know.  So, my half-ass way of doing this, was to run it with a cup of vinegar and then run it again with baking soda sprinkled all over.  It looks good to me.  Smells like nothing.  GE.

Well, now that I wrote it all out, it's actually a lot more than I had anticipated!  Yay me!  And now... it's YOUR turn.  Show me what has PINspired you this month.  What worked?  What was fabulous?  What was a huge waste of time?!  I want to know!!!

Link up and Grab a Button!

A Perfectly Ruined Engagement

It was two and a half years into our relationship.

We had survived the "Worst First Date" ever.

We had survived his High School graduation.

We had survived my college graduation.

We had survived moving to another city together.

We were ready.  Ok, I was ready.  He was stalling.

The last 3 months had been a whirlwind of emotions, anger and frustration.  I wanted to get engaged and get married already!  I was ready for our lives to officially begin.  And I wasn't shy about telling him these things... on a daily basis.

Annoying much?
Very much.

And then when it finally came, I ruined it.

Let me back up and tell you the whole story.

It was September 27, 2006.  My best friend Jennifer had just started dating this guy, Tommy (who she would end up marrying and having their first baby girl just LAST week!).  She really wanted me to meet him because he was "the one".  So Mauricio and I met up with Jen and Tommy at a comedy club that was hilariously NOT funny.  We decided to leave after Jennifer almost got kicked out for heckling the comedian.  (It wasn't her first time doing that either).  And we chose a restaurant to meet at.

I was driving the car, and on the way to the restaurant, Mauricio asked me to pull over at a nearby park with a beautiful lake to take a walk with him.  I looked at him strangely.  Didn't he know we were supposed to join someone for dinner in like 10 minutes?  I told him no and kept driving.  I wanted to find out more about Tommy and I thought Mauricio was being rude.

So we have dinner, we both approved of Tommy and then it was time to go home.  I was driving on the way to his house,  and he again asked me to stop at another nearby lake to have a walk with him.  Again, I looked at him strangely, wondering what the heck was up with this guy.  Uhhh, it was like 11 at night. There were homeless people at the park... and wild animals... and bugs.  No!  So I kept driving and dropped him off at his apartment so he could get his car and come back to mine.

When I get back to my place, I close and lock the door and go to the bathroom to pee.  As I'm in the bathroom, I hear a knock on the door.

Why is Mauricio knocking on the door when he has a key?

I say, "Mau, I'm in the bathroom... come in".

Again, a knock.

"Mau! Just use your key and come in!"

Knock... knock...

So I get up, with my pants still unbuttoned and look through the peep hole just to be sure it's him... but I don't see anyone.

"Mau, are you there?"

Then I see him crouched on the floor... hiding from me.

"Mau, I can SEE YOU!  What are you doing?!  What's wrong with you?!"

Then softly and defeatedly, I hear him say, "Can you just open the door please?"

And I do.

And there he was, at my door step, on one knee with a beautiful ring.

I was shocked.  Shocked.

He asked me to marry him, I said of course, and the rest is history.

Later he told me that he had been trying to propose the entire evening but that I kept on blocking each of his advances.  That's why he wanted to take me to the park!

And THAT's how I ruined my own engagement!  But it turned out pretty perfect anyway.  I love that he proposed at my door.  I love that he didn't do a grand gesture... that wouldn't have been us.  We're comfortable.  We're best friends.  We don't need a romantic-comedy-esc scene... we just need each other... with no frills.

At our engagement dinner celebration with the fam!




Moved!

We finally, finally, FINALLY moved into our new house!

WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!

Ah, it's like a sigh of relief...
A breath of fresh air...
A cherry on top of a huge chocolate cupcake.

That's where I've been, in case you've been wondering...
In my NEW house.

It's not that I haven't had time to blog... it's that we don't have the internet set up yet.  In fact, I blog this from a bookstore on Saturday during my work lunch break.

So, we decided to move in last Saturday... at 10 o'clock at night.  Who does that?!  Who gets home from dinner, sees their kids in their pj's ready for bed and thinks... "hey, you wanna just move now?".
We do!

And that's just what happend.

Most of our stuff was already moved in though.  All of our furniture was there already and all we really had to do was move our clothes, put sheets on the beds and move our bodies.  It was awesome!

Marco was so excited that we were moving!  In the car ride there, he was kicking my seat, asking me 1200 questions and giggling from excitement.  When we opened the door to the house, he did a victory lap around each room, squealing with joy!  We weren't able to actually get them in bed til after midnight that night... and once in bed, that was a different story.  Marco continued to be overlfowing with excitement.  He was kicking at his sheets and laughing and squeaking while yelling, "we're sleeping in our NEW house!"  Jonas, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.  He was very apprehensive.  New house... new crib (actually it's his OLD crib, but he doesn't remember it)... new room... "where am I?"  He was a little unhappy about it.  But thankfully since they share a room, he was ok.

The adjustment period was really quick.  Both boys are completely adjusted to living in our new house after just a week!  They are perfectly content to take their naps and go to sleep without any drama.  They love all the space and the freedom to roam.

We decided to go "gate free" in our house for the FIRST TIME EVER.  In Greenville we had gates up blocking the kitchen and the stairs.  I just don't like kids in the kitchen... it's not safe.  And then in my in-laws' house, we also had gates blocking the kitchen and a gate in the hallway.  But it's time now to have "free range children".  It's been an adjustment... for me!  They run up to me while I'm cooking and open and close the fridge and touch all the buttons on the dishwasher.  Jonas likes to press the water button on the fridge, and take a shower.... why God?  I know that the novelty of it all will wear off, but for now, it's making me crazy.

So we're doing good.  We are so happy to be back into our groove.

I will admit though, that I miss my early break... when my in-laws would come home around 5 and I could have a little while to myself.  Mauricio usually doesn't get home til around 6:30... and by 5, I'm getting anxious.  I also miss only cooking 2 days a week instead of 4.  I'm having trouble coming up with dinner ideas.  Extra hands is a huge help!

I will be posting pictures of the transformation our home has made, but you're gonna have to wait just a little longer.  Maybe next week I'll have the big reveal.  Things are not how we want them to be... yet.  There's still a lot to buy, but we need money with which to do that.  So, it'll be a slow transformation... over years and years.  But that's normal, I guess.  Frustrating, but normal.

So, in case you've been wondering where I've been... now you know!

Support

When I lived away from home- from where my family lived- when I was a young adult, newly wed and new mother, I was always very proud of being independent.  I loved the fact that we could and would do anything we wanted.  I loved that I had no one to rely on but my husband, and I think that that gave us a very strong foundation to lay on.  We had no one around, so we had to figure things out together.  And even now, I strongly recommend that newlyweds go live away from their family units... doesn't have to be FAR away, but far enough that you can't go get meals 3 times a week!  I felt like it helped us define ourselves and focus on making a NEW family... OUR family.

But when we had kids, things changed.  It wasn't so "fun" living so far.  It was actually a little heartbreaking.  And it was exhausting.  We had no support.  We were always tired.  We had no breaks.  We became lonely.  (Honestly, I don't know if Mauricio felt this way, but I know that I certainly did and even battled a little PPD after having Jonas because of my isolation). 

My dad would always guilt me by saying that he was missing his grandchildren's lives.  He would tell me how unfair it was that we lived so far and how we didn't realize it, but that we NEEDED them.  

I didn't want to believe him.  Remember, I was proud of being independent.  

And yeah, I COULD do it on my own.  But then why was it so hard?  Why was it so painful?  Why was it so lonely?

We moved to Miami a year ago... straight into my in-laws house.  We lived 20 minutes from my dad and an hour and a half from my mom.  All of a sudden we had more hands to hold our kids than we could count!  

And much to my disappointment, we realized how much we needed their support.  They wrapped their arms around us and our babies, shoved good food down our throats and let us relax a bit. 

It has been such an incredible blessing to have had my in-laws allow us to live in their house for over a year.  They have taken care of our kids thousands of times, whether it be for a night out or for a quick grocery run.  They have given hundreds of baths, fed hundreds of meals, changed hundreds of dirty diapers.  Their support is what helped me to become healthy again and allowed me a chance to rejuvenate. 

It has been such an incredible blessing to have lived nearby my dad and step-mom.  They love taking care of our boys and it makes me so happy to see how they are not a burden on them, but rather a joy!  And my step-mom... that woman has a servant's heart like I've never seen.  She has cleaned my new house from top to bottom, 3 times (at least) so that we can move into a clean house.  She came over to clean, the day after our close, when the power had just turned on and the house was still a sauna.  She cleaned... in her bra... with sweat dripping down... and never complained.  Actually she said, "Ooo, hopefully I lose some pounds doing this!"  When I'm feeling sick, she comes over to take care of my kids and do my laundry and has even cleaned my portion of the in-laws house for me!  I have always been grateful to have her in my life... but since moving back, it's been more evident than ever.

And it has been such an incredible blessing to have my mom and step-dad semi-close too!  About 3 years ago, they moved to Naples, FL which is only about an hour and a half west of Miami.  But that hour and a half does not scare them.  They come on a weekly basis to see me and my kids!  Often times they come and return on the same day... that's over 3 hours in a car just for a visit!  Anytime I have a doctor's appointment, my mom drives into Miami to be able to help me with the kids, so that I can meet with the doctor and actually concentrate, while she plays with them.  Most of the times, she has to leave her house by 6am to get here on time to come with me!  And then she always takes us out to lunch!  She and my step-dad have always been extremely generous and are constantly helping us financially however they can.  And remember when I totalled my car last year and she just GAVE me her car?  Yeah, I'm still driving it. 

Support.

This is the kind of support that I couldn't get living hundreds of miles away.  
This is the kind of support that has helped me gain weight, get back on my meds and get healthy again. 
This is the kind of support that has helped us be able to afford to buy a new house. 
This is the kind of support that my marriage needs to stay strong. 
This is the kind of support that my children need to feel fully and overflowingly loved. 

Now, I'm not saying that we'll live here forever, because only God knows what's in store for us.  And the truth is, while we LOVE our family... we HATE generally dislike Miami.  But, the good news is that we just bought a house, so we'll probably be here for a while.  Just sayin'. 








What's In A Name?

Baby names, baby names, baby names... this is a topic I talk about on a weekly basis.  Many of my friends are pregnant or new mothers and the topic of what to name their little new bundle always comes up.

When we were pregnant with our first, we knew before we even knew the sex, that if it was a boy it would be Marco.  Our only question was as to whether we wanted it to be Marcos or Marco.  But it was decided rather quickly and easily.

With our second pregnancy, it was a little more difficult.  We had tossed around a multitude of names and couldn't settle on any one name decidedly.  People asked us EVERY day what his name would be and we couldn't decide.  In my drug infused state, I almost allowed Mauricio to name him Ayrton... thank God I had a moment of clarity!  We actually didn't finally decide on Jonas until I was being wheeled into the operating room for my c-section!

So what's in a name?  Is it really THAT important?  Is it more important to show your culture, to express your individuality or to blend in?

A few years ago I saw an incredible documentary called Freakonomics, which is also a best selling book.  And last night, I re-watched the portion about baby names and it's significance.  If you haven't seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it... and it's on Netflix Instant!
Basically it says that statistically speaking, the name you choose for your baby will obviously impact his/her entire life.  According to the documentary there are two ways in which a name will impact the child.

The first way is what the name says about your social economic status.  It provides an example about a mother who wanted to name her child Tempest (after the Cosby show daughter) but accidentally named her Temptress.  And Temptress inevitably was a problematic child, promiscuous, arrested for petty theft and sent to juvy.  The question was whether or not the name itself caused the problem... and what they found was NO.  The problem is not with the name itself, but rather with the parent who would mistakenly name her child Temptress.  This mother was clearly low income, low education, and misspelling her daughter's name was the least of her problems.  But in choosing a name that is unique or purposefully misspelled, you may be singling yourself out to appear to others as a lower class person, on paper at least.

The second way is how the name will affect your child in the adult world.  They did an experiment and sent out identical resumes with only the name changed.  One had a predominantly "black name", Tyrone, while the other had a "white name", Greg.  With exception to the name, everything else was the same.  And much to no one's surprise, "Greg" got called back 33% MORE than "Tyrone"!  That means that if they were both real men looking for jobs, while it would take Greg 10 weeks to find a job, it would take Tyrone 15 weeks!  Racism?  Yep.  But it's statistically proven.

So the question arrises... Should I name my child something that resonates with my heritage even if it may hinder their chances at a successful adult life?  There's no right or wrong answer.

This is another section of the documentary that I found fascinating... it's about name popularity.  Watch.

The reason I even began thinking about this in the first place was because I was having a conversation with my MIL who is an ESOL teacher.  Her students have the WORST names ever.  A lot of them are blatantly misspelled or sooooo hispanic that they'll never be taken seriously outside of Miami.  And how will these unique names affect their futures?  Personally, I just shake my head and wonder WHAT these parents were thinking?!

And then I turn it into my own life and wonder if WE made a good choice when choosing names for our children.  Are they masculine enough?  Are they strong enough?  Will they be (terribly) made fun of?  Are they too cultural?

We KNOW that when someone hears the name "Marco", that the first thing to enter their heads is "Marco Polo".  We know.  But, we don't feel like that's such a big deal.  I mean, there are MUCH worse things a child can be called.  And we felt like Marco is a strong and masculine name that commands authority.  It means "warlike".  That's pretty badass.

And with Jonas, we know that when someone hears it they think of "The Jonas Brothers".  But that's a passing fad and I'm sure that once he's in school, NO ONE will even know who the Jonas Brothers are anymore.  And besides, HE's a Jonas Brother... his name is Jonas and he's a Brother.  :)  We loved the fact that Jonas was a softer name... a little more gentle.  And the name Jonas means "dove"... which is the symbol for Peace.

So we have War & Peace.

I don't know if we chose correctly.  Really, there is no right or wrong answer.  And what matters more than the name you choose, is the way in which you raise and nurture your child.

If you haven't seen the documentary, I urge you to do so.  It's so interesting!  And even if you just have time for the name part, it's only about 20 minutes long.

I'd love to hear from YOU.  How did you choose your baby's name?  What do you think about these statistics?  Have you seen the documentary?

Miami Needs More MOPS

2 comments
This time last year, I was faced with a dilema... when I moved to Miami, there was no active MOPS group and I knew that God was telling me to start one.  As I began praying about it, I felt an increasing feeling that there was a major need for a ministry devoted to moms in Miami.  There was no place for them to receive this kind of support and friendship.

So along with the children's ministry leader at a local church, we developed a group and had our first academic year, last year.  It was a rough start.  A really rough start.  We had a lot of inconsistency, we weren't planning properly, plans fell through or changed last minute, sometimes we had 10 ladies show up, sometimes we had NONE.

But we remained faithful.  I knew that God was leading me to this ministry, and the more I became involved and dedicated, the more fruit we began to produce.  We ended the year with nine ladies who renewed their membership and committed to coming the following year!  That was a huge success for us!

During the summer, I did a lot of praying, talking and planning for MOPS.  Every time I met a mom at the park or the library or the supermarket, I would tell her about MOPS.  I was pumped up about the plans I had in store.  Then God brought me FOUR experienced MOPS moms... women who had been in chapters around the country and had just moved to Miami who were willing to help.  Things started to come together even more clearly.

We were ready to go.
We knew what we were doing.
We had a newsletter.
We had prizes.
We had crafts planned and prepared for.
We had CENTERPIECES!

And best of all, we had man power... it wasn't just me doing all the work, but finally I was able to delegate and spread around the work to other hands.

Our first meeting of the new year was on August 23 and we had WAY more women than I expected!  We had 16 moms and 18 kids show up!  And almost all of them committed to become members that very day.  We were excited and worried.
Did we bite off more than we can chew?
The women are not the concern... the children are.  We have plenty of space for more moms, but we only have a limited amount of rooms for the children and childcare workers are hard to come by.

We had a meeting the next week to figure out how to handle this boom we experienced.  And we decided that we would have to put a cap on membership for people with childcare needs.  We could only safely house 20 kids... so any mom that came in after the cut off with childcare needs would have to be put on a wait list.  And we've pretty much already hit our limit.

This breaks my heart.

We prayed for SO long that God would open up our group to help women connect, feel supported and come to know Christ, and now we were going to have to turn them away or put them on a wait list that may never open up!

So what are my alternatives?

The only option that I see doable is to help open another group in another church in Miami.  I can't open it because I've committed myself to this one, but I can train someone else to become a coordinator at their home church and help them pitch the idea to their church leaders.  I don't know if anyone would be willing to do this, but I'm praying that someone feels God calling them as I did.

I know that there is a need for MOPS in Miami.  If not, our group wouldn't have been capped by week 2!  I know that there are moms that want to connect, find friendship, gain support, learn and grow together in this journey.  But there has to be more women willing to step out and make it happen.

I'm not going to lie... it's not an easy job.  But there is so much reward that comes from women thanking you for organizing the group and telling you how blessed they feel just to be there.  Knowing that I'm helping make an impact in the lives of moms and their kids that will have eternal repercussions? That's incredible!  And so worth it.

Jonas Answers Questions

0 comments
We're working on just the facts now...
Name?
Age? (we're teaching him 2 because he'll be 2 at the end of this month)
etc...

Enjoy!

Like Christmas Morning

We bought a house, a month ago.
We chose paint colors and painted the whole house, a month ago.

And yet, we still haven't moved in.

We've been doing the slowest move in the history of moves.  Every Saturday, Mauricio packs up the SUV with boxes, bins and disassembled furniture and moves it into our new house.  He then unpacks said boxes and bins and reassembles the furniture.

Truth is that we haven't moved in yet because we're waiting on the roofers to redo our roof.  Our roof is as old as the house itself (1956), and needs to be repaired and brought up to code.  Thankfully even with the damaged roof, there are no interior leaks, mold or termites.

Whew, dodged a bullet there!

So we've been waiting on this roof.  Well, what's taking so long?
First there was a problem with acquiring the permit.  The county was taking it's sweet time transferring the deed into our names and we couldn't get a permit until they did so.  Once that was taken care of, and the roofer submitted the permit with the correct deed, the city rejected it because it still wasn't up to their high code.  Once the roofer resubmitted to up-to-code-permit with the correct deed, a hurricane loomed just around the corner.
And now, finally, a week after Isaac, the roofers are ready to get started!  Hopefully it'll only take them the week to get the roof done and we can maybe move in next weekend! EEEE!

But in the mean time, almost everyday, we're at the house unpacking boxes.
Boxes that have been taped up and closed for over a year now.
And?
It feels a little like Christmas morning.

I must have a short memory because every time I open a box I say, "Oh, I forgot about that!  I love that!"  I'm not dreaming of gumdrops and candy-canes... I'm seeing frames, artwork, cute knick-knacks and more!

And as we unpack these boxes and start to find places for all of it around our house, we begin to have the realization that...

This is OUR house.

This is our HOME.

And it feels really good.

Parenting In Public

Here's the scene:

You're at a busy sit-down restaurant trying the enjoy your lunch.  You're sandwiched between your wiggle wormy 3 year old and your temperamental 2 year old.  The clock is ticking closer and closer to nap time and as the minutes pass, the emotions rise.

In an effort to just ease the situation and buy yourself some time, you hand your 2 year old your already destroyed iPhone, because, really, what's the point in fighting it anymore?  In between bites of your cooling meal and shoving food into your 3 year old's mouth, you notice that your 2 year old is partaking in your biggest pet peeve... holding food.  He has been holding the same bite of food in his mouth for the last 15 minutes!

You decide to ignore it because at least he's not pitching a fit... at the moment.  But then, just when you aren't looking, he opens his mouth and out pours a stream of watered down, drippy, mushy, mac n' cheese.  You try to salvage what's left of your phone, scoop up the soggy mess... and then what?

It's your choice... you're the mother... it's time for parenting in public.

Here's what I did:

When I snatched the phone away, it immediately resulted in an outburst of screams and tears.  Then I brought his face close to mine and very sternly said "No, no, no... we don't spit food! No, no, no!" and I proceeded to slap him on the wrist once.

Unbeknownst to me, there was another mother seated nearby with a precious angel of a daughter, who I'm sure has never thrown a single tantrum ever, and her own mother.  They were gawking at me with phones poised to dial CPS.

It was brought to my attention by my own mother, who was sitting next to me, that I had a fan club.  I turned to see the grandmother staring at me with unwavering eyes.

It was a stare-down.

I looked at her.  She looked at me.  Faces unchanged.  Tumbleweeds rolled past and cowboy music started playing (in my head, of course).

I was itching... nay, BEGGING for her or her smug daughter to say something about my parenting tactics.

All the while Jonas is still pitching his fit next to me with tears streaming down his little red face.

Once she looked away, I scooped Jonas up into my arms and exited the restaurant to have a one-on-one chat.  I calmed him down, we hugged it out and walked back into the restaurant.

Thankfully, for her sake, she didn't say anything to me... because I was ready to put her in her place.  And my sister-in-law was there... and she's got one hell of a mouth on her!

The bottom line is this... I'm going to parent my children, inside of the house AND outside of the house.  If YOU don't like it, LOOK AWAY.  The rules are the rules no matter where we are.  And a slap on the wrist with a stern voice are the least of it... that WAS my public parenting.  

So how do YOU handle parenting in public?