MOPS Year Over

Well, that's it!  Yesterday was our last MOPS meeting of the spring semester.  We're breaking for the summer and we'll be back in action in August.
In the fall, when I moved here, I was sad to find out that there was no MOPS in all of Miami.  So, I put one together.   I connected with the children's ministry leader at Wayside Baptist, Leigh, and together we formed a MOPS group.  It was hard to get started... we had no consistency.  Some days we'd have 8 ladies, and then next week we'd have 2.  We had failed attempts at crafts and slow conversation.  Things weren't looking good... but Leigh kept telling me to stay faithful.  And so I did.

In January, things got a lot better.  We got into a groove, developed a few more leaders and things started moving.  We started having more visitors and more regulars.  People were consistently coming to meetings and play dates.  We were developing relationships... our kids were developing friendships.

By the end of the year, we had 8 consistent members and they all re-registered for next year!  I know it seems small... only 8 women?! Yes, but 8 from 0 is something... it's 800% growth! haha.  For me, coming from Greenville, where our MOPS had over 80 women, 8 seems soooooo small... but for those 8, I know we are making a difference.  I know that we are forming a bond that will encourage and support us.  And if we never grow to more than 8, that's ok... because these 8 are pretty awesome.

But of course, we WANT to grow.  We want to reach more moms.  We want to offer support and friendship.  MOPS has played a huge role in my life, in helping me to developing my mom sense.  I am always encouraged and uplifted when I leave a meeting... even if I'm leading it.  We all learn from each other and feed off of each other's strengths.  And sometimes, we just meet to have a chance to relax, chat and eat.  Those times are awesome!

Throughout the summer, we'll be having 4 play dates to keep our momentum going, and then we'll be kicking off the fall semester on August 23.  If you're in the Miami area and have a preschooler (any child under 1st grade is a pre-schooler... yes, even your newborn), and would like to join us for play dates or meetings, please email me at for more info.

If you're not in the Miami area, I will encourage you to find a local MOPS branch.  You wont regret it. And even if your first time you may feel like a newbie, you'll be family by your second visit!  Go to to find your nearest chapter.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to lead the MOPS of Miami group.  It is a blessing to bless others.

Battle of the Blocks

Here's a tale of 2 boys with not enough blocks to go around...

Marco: "I'm gonna build a big tower!"

Jonas: "hmm, that sounds like a swell idea... I'll build mine over here".

 Jonas: "oh, I ran out... let me go get more..."

 Jonas: "Gotta be fast!"
Marco: "Hey, hey, hey!"

 Marco: "Where do you thing you're going?"
Jonas: "Busted..."

 Marco: "I'll be taking these back now..."

 Jonas: "Nooo... MAMA!!!!"

When Will We Learn?!

So back in November, Mauricio and I bought a pair of iPhone 4s's.  They were beautiful... pristine.  I even wrote a post about how excited I was to have this new gadget.

We, like most parents, have found that when your child is on the verge of a melt down, handing them the iPhone will usually curve it.  All of a sudden they have something new, shiny and entertaining in their hands and all is right in the world.  This works especially well in restaurants, doctors offices or anywhere else they're expected to be still and quiet for an extended period.

We knew it was risky letting them have the phone... but was it a risk worth taking?  Probably not.

Earlier last month we went to Disney World.  As we were checking into the hotel, the boys began squirming in their stroller and trying to get out.  They were being very loud and rude while we were trying to make our arrangements.  So Mauricio relied on Old Faithful, and handed Marco the phone.  My in-laws arrived at the hotel and Marco was released from the confines of the stroller... still with phone in hand.  While we were all busy making our preparations, no one had noticed that Marco had placed the phone down on the counter and walked away.  Within 5 minutes, the phone had vanished!  We talked to every security person, made a claim, watched security cameras and tried to track it, but alas, it was gone.

Now, while we want to blame Marco, we really can't.  When we're home, if he puts something down, he can trust that it'll be there when he returns for it.  He's only two after all!  Bottom line, it was our fault.  We shouldn't have trusted him with it.

Mauricio still has not replaced the phone because it would cost him over $600 for a new one due to the fact that we're not due for an upgrade for some time.

Fast forward to today.  We had a play date with friends and afterward we all headed to a pizza restaurant for lunch.  There were 8 kids and 4 moms.  Whew.  So as the clock starts ticking, Jonas begins getting tired and fussy.  He's standing up in his high chair, throwing forks, tossing his cup... just acting up.  So I rely on Old Faithful.  I hand Jonas my phone and it calms the storm.  We're having lunch and everything is fine until Jonas decides that the phone is no longer entertaining enough and he throws it on the floor.  I have a case, but it's obviously not baby proof.  I picked it up and wanted to cry.

Completely shattered.

But really, I can't blame Jonas.  It's MY fault.  I didn't need to give it to him.  I could have packed his pacifier and a toy and laid him down instead.  I could  have packed him a book or a toy.  He's only 19 months old after all!  I shouldn't have trusted him with it.

So I'm heading to the Apple Store Genius Bar later this evening to see if there is anything they can do for me.  I am buying a huge case and I'm going to break my kids of this habit.  Ugh.

It's only appropriate that Marco would lose Mauricio's phone and then Jonas would break mine.  We're all even-Stevens.  Now Mauricio can't be mad at me or else he'd be the Pot and I'd be the Kettle.  We're 1 and 1.  When will we learn?!

Bible Stories: David & Goliath

Mauricio tells the boys Bible stories before bed... He alters them a little so that they're less violent and at their level and I just think its the sweetest thing! This is what I heard pouring through the baby monitor the other night:

One time there was a boy named David and David was very brave. Brave means not scared. And his Papai told him to go take care of the sheep. But one day there came a lion... And how does a lion go?

So David took a stone and put it into his sling and began to swing it around and around faster and faster like this. :making whooshing sound: and when it got real fast, he let it go... it went flying and hit the lion on the head!  The lion scared and ran away!  Then David knew he was brave.

Then another day the Papai told David to go take his brothers some lunch... David had 8 brothers. How many brothers do you have?

So when he got there with the lunch, he saw a real big guy... His name was Goliath. And Goliath was big like a house! Goliath was saying real mean things about God and David's brothers were upset. Goliath said he would only stop saying bad things about God if someone came to fight him... And everyone was too scared. But not David... He was brave because he had already fought the lion. So he said, "I'll fight you!" and Goliath started laughing saying "you can't beat me, you're just a little boy". But David was brave so he went a took a rock and put it in his slingshot and began swinging it around like this :make whooshing sound: and faster and faster and he threw it at his head! Goliath was hit and he started crying and ran away!!! All of David's brothers were saying "yay David! You're so brave!".  But David knew that he was only brave because he loved God and God made him strong.

The End.

He Said...

We're driving in the car and there is a man in the truck next to us with a yorkie dog in his arms, hanging his head out the window.
Me- Marco, look, look at that doggie in the car there... you see it?
Marco- yeah, he's funny, look at his hair... he needs a hair cut!

I was talking on the phone with Mauricio as we discussed a failed attempt at bidding on a house.
Me (on phone): Well, I guess we've got to go back to the drawing board.
Marco (loudly to me): Mom, I wanna go to drawing board... and skateboard too!

At dinner, Marco went up to Jonas and began scolding him, while pointing his finger.
Marco (to Jonas): No, No, NO Jonas
Mauricio: Marco, excuse me, stop that, You're not the boss of Jonas, that's my job!
Marco: Ok, but it's MY job too!

Lately whenever Jonas begins to cry, Marco will call out,
"I'm coming, I'm coming"
and then when he gets there, he consoles him saying,
"It's ok, I'm here... I'm here"

Mom Connection & Giveaway!

Being a mom to a young child can be so hard.  I know, I go through it every day.  When your day in and day out consists of a rigorous schedule that you must keep in order to maintain your sanity, life can become monotonous.  Daily tasks include feeding- sometimes force feeding, changing diapers, making potty runs, changing clothes- sometimes 3 times a day, wiping noses, wiping hands, filling sippy cups, cleaning spills, buckling car seats, singing the ABC's- again and again and again, forcing nap time, giving baths, making dinner, watching Mickey Mouse Club House- again and again and again... ok, you get the picture.  Here's where some of you scoff and say, "that's not so bad".  Yeah, you're right, it's pretty great!

BUT!!! It's easy to become disconnected, isolated and depressed.  How does this happen with so much activity and responsibilities every day?  It's easy when the only person you talk to ALL day EVERY day is a 2 year old.  When all your friends are working or not yet moms and when your husband comes home from a long day at work and doesn't want to hear about the latest diaper dilema, your life becomes very lonely.

That's what Mom Connection by Tracey Bianchi is all about.  How to get our groove back... our rhythm. How to see the need to connect with other people and take it!  How to step out of our comfort zones and remember that we CAN'T walk this path alone!  By nature we are relational... women especially!

Tracey splits her book into 3 sections that each focus on a different area of our life as a mom in order to help us get that rhythm back on track.  The first section teaches us to let go of the Mom-petition and realize that we need one another for connection.  We learn that our weaknesses and our strengths don't have to divide us, but can uplift us and bring us closer together.  In the second section, she discusses all the people around us that move to our groove... our families, our extended families, our friends, our spouses and even our communities.  And in the final section, she really challenges us to reach out and help others to find their rhythms too.

I LOVED this book!  I laughed out loud, I cried unashamedly, I sometimes looked over my shoulder to see where the hidden camera was... because seriously, some of this could have been written by ME!  It just really goes to show what an amazing connector Tracey is!  She's a mom just like us... she knows what we struggle with daily... she knows what our greatest fears and failures are... and she's not afraid to call us out on it!  She uplifted me more than once and I would say, "HECK YES!" to her words of affirmation.

If you're a mom to a preschooler and you're feeling disconnected, you NEED to pick up this book and reclaim your rhythm!  And I'm here to help you get started!


MOPS International sent me this book to review and also an additional copy to give away to one of my beautiful readers!  How lucky are you?!

Here's how to enter:
Leave me a comment saying what YOU do to maintain the rhythm in your daily life.  (Please leave your email address so I may contact you in case you're the winner!)

The giveaway will close on Sunday at noon and the winner will be announced later that evening.  It'll be a Happy Mother's Day indeed!

Sharing Your Rhythm

This is the final segment of the book I've been reviewing, Mom Connection.  This last segment focused on moving beyond our inner circles and learning to find time to serve others.  Here is my homework from this section.

**If you've been enjoying this series, come back TOMORROW for a GIVEAWAY!!!  Trust me, Mama's... you don't want to miss out on this book!**

Hot Potato
Helping others find their groove

1. How have you experienced the great joy and value of your efforts as a mom?
Everyday!  Well, not really... if you've been reading my blog for a while, you know what a joy and frustration being a mom can be.  But I know, without a doubt, that we have made the right decision in sacrificing to have me stay home with the boys.  I feel joy and value when people compliment me on how smart or well behaved they are.  Since they've never set foot in a school, I can confidently say that it's my doing! I feel joy and value when my husband tells me I'm doing a good job and that he appreciates me.  I feel joy when Jonas says "thank you" and when Marco hugs me tightly and says he loves me.  

2.  Where have you felt undervalued or overlooked because of your role as a mother?
When people, people without kids, ask me what I do all day.  Seriously?  Yes, my house is a disaster... no, laundry isn't done daily... and yet at the end of the day I'm utterly exhausted.  It's easy for an outsider to look in and ask me what I've done all day... because it looks like I could have been sitting on my behind all day long.  But really, all of us moms know that is not the case!  Sometimes I feel diminished or unimportant because I'm "just a stay-at-home-mom"... but not because I truly feel that way, but because that's the way society makes me feel.

Triple Dog Dare
Can we really live this out?

1.  What is one way I see myself able to help others in this life stage?
For the first 2 years of motherhood, I felt incapable of lifting a finger for another person outside of my children.  Having 2 boys just 15 months apart is unthinkable... basically I remember it and I want to cry.  But once Marco turned 2, things began to get a bit easier.  And now that they're even older, I am able to devote more time to other people!  I have been blessed to be able to open a Miami chapter of MOPS and although I never thought I'd find the time to be committed to a huge endeavor such as this, God made a way!  Through this I'm able to create a support system for moms in the trenches (with kids 5 and under) and make a way to serve them, friend them and uplift them.  I think I've been more blessed by this than anyone else!

2.  What is one way I can barely imagine helping another person at this time?
Financially.  Being a stay-at-home mom is horrible on your finances... hence, the sacrifice.  Unless of course you married a doctor... which I didn't!  We are saving every unaccounted for penny in order to purchase a house.  I can't imagine helping out another person in a financial need.  Of course, I can make a meal for someone... but I can't buy them a week's worth of groceries.  Anything is possible with God though, so we'll see! 

The rhythm of faith

1.  What is one conversation/question about faith and God that I am excited to explore?
Where is God calling me to next?!  I trust Him and His plan and I just pray that He is crystal clear so that I may stay in line with where He want's me to be.  He has blessed me beyond measure and I know I'm secure in Him.  I'm so excited to see what He has in store for me next!

2.  What is one conversation/question about faith and God that I am nervous to ask?
Not necessarily about faith, but I never want to ask God for patience.  I'm afraid of that.  Because I know He wont GIVE me patience... He'll TEACH me patience.  Eeeeek.  It's an important lesson for moms, but geez, does it have to be SO hard?!

Creating Rhythm for Relationships

As I previously mentioned, I'm reading a fab book all about mom's and the connections we make.  So far it's really making me analyze my life and dream about our future.

Along with each chapter are two questions that you are to answer as a "homework assignment".  I decided to throw them on here, in case you wanted to read the book and follow along with the homework.  Also a way for me to really lay it all out there.

This is homework for part 2: Creating a Rhythm for Relationships.

Game Night
What is your family famous for?

1.  What is your most celebrated family tradition or routine?
Since Mauricio and I have only been a "family" for 5 short years, and have had children even less than that, we haven't really developed any traditions yet.  We hope to develop our own traditions when the boys get a little older, but we're not into "forcing things".  
I guess a routine we enjoy is that we spend Sundays all together... from sun up to sun down.  We go to church, have lunch, take naps and enjoy the afternoon.  Sunday is family day... our Sabbath.  I would like to keep that day "sacred" for as long as possible.  Relaxing and getting ready for a new week!

2.  What is one part of your family routine you wish you could discontinue or adjust?
Waking up early! haha... seriously.  I wish the boys would just sleep until  9... that's all I ask.  But here's the kicker... I know that once they're teens, they'll be sleeping till 1 and I'll be begging for them to wake up earlier.  We're never happy, are we?

Pinochle and Bingo
Aunts, uncles and extended family

1.  Why is extended family life-giving for me?  What do I cherish most about this group of people?
In this chapter, it discusses how extended family is now our very own parents.  It's a hard concept to grasp... now that we've built our own family, our own parents and siblings move into an outer ring.  My extended family is life-giving for me because they are so supportive.  My in-laws have graciously opened the doors of their home to us for nearly a year now.  My mother drives 2 hours to come help me with the boys.  My parents continue to help us financially when needed.  But not only do I love what they DO for me... I love spending time with them... hearing their stories, talking, joking, seeking advise, praying.  They enrich my life.

2.  Why is extended family exhausting to me? Where do I struggle with this group?
Holidays.  I dread them.  We feel like we're being pulled and guilted in a hundred ways.  We hear a lot of "you spent 3 hours with them and only 2.5 with us!" and we try to make everyone else happy, except for ourselves.  Someone is always last on the list, has the shortest amount of time and gets their feelings hurt.  Because, while we've created a new family, we are STILL their family... so where do you draw the line?  We're still working on this balance... and unfortunately it just gets more complicated with kids. 

Ring Toss
Balancing our marriages

1.  What is the best memory/moment from your marriage?
Oh my, there are so many wonderful moments from my marriage, but one particularly comes to mind.  It was about 7 months after Jonas was born and Marco was on the brink of turning 2.  We lived up in Greenville, so finding alone time was sparse as babysitting was much more complicated.  My MOPS group won a challenge and our prize was a night of free babysitting!  Best.Prize.EVER.  It just so happened that it was on the same night as Mauricio's company picnic... each summer his company would buy out part of the Greenville Drive's game and we would all eat free food and watch the game. Although this was typically a kid friendly event where most people brought their kiddos along, we decided to make it an adults evening.  And it was awesome.  My bestie was there with her 3 kids, but we didn't even hang with them because I wanted to be around grown ups for ONE evening... she understood.  We had a few adult beverages and hung out with some of the young people in his job... either newly married or just dating... made me feel young and fun again!  No "mom-responsibilities".  Mauricio and I really connected again and it dawned on me... Of course I LOVE my husband... but I also really LIKE him too.  We have so much fun together.  It was so refreshing to put aside our parent hats for the night and just be together.  Needless to say, we were the LAST ones picking up our kids from babysitting... 15 minutes late!

2.  When have you felt the least connected to one another?
Probably about 3 months after having Jonas.  It was the winter months in Greenville... a lot of time spent indoors.  I was lonely.  I was frustrated and tired.  I was blaming him for anything and everything.  I now know that I must have been going through some minor post partum depression.  It lasted about 5 months.  I finally came out of it when I realized that I was asking, begging, demanding my husband to "complete me" when only Jesus can do that.  I stopped doing things to gain his attention and began doing it for Him instead.  My heart was more fulfilled and it took a whole lot of pressure off of Mauricio.  Things started getting better after that. 

BFF's and other anxious acronyms

1.  Which women do you find it most easy to connect with in your daily routine?
It's easiest for me to connect with other women during the day.  I try not to be on the phone when Mauricio is home because I want our family time to be sacred and intentional.  I don't talk to anyone on weekends.  My friend Carol is also a SAHM, so we chat almost daily, during the daytime.  I also talk with my mom throughout the day, since she is retired and home as well.  I'm finding that I'm connecting more and more with the ladies from my MOPS group and trying to be intentional about getting together with them by dropping them a text or FB message.  

2.  Which women offer companionship that you would prefer to avoid?
Women who are always doing "Girls Nights".  Now, I have nothing wrong with the occasional "girls night", but no, I wont be going on a "girl's weekend" with you and no, I wont be doing a monthly "girls night" either.  I would be beyond pissed if Mauricio went on "boys nights/weekends", so I hold myself to that as well.  Besides, I WANT to be with my husband... no offense ladies, but he's WAY more attractive then all of you!  And any free time I have, I want to be with him.  So, basically girls that are always pressuring me into this becomes exhausting.  

Connecting with your community

1. Which ideas within this chapter are within my comfort zone to incorporate?
I think I'm being more invitational lately.  I am trying to get together with different people on a weekly basis to build relationships and make new friends.  I felt very lonely upon moving to Miami... a city I grew up in!  And I know that a lot of SAHM's in Miami feel lonely too because there are so few of us! One thing I'd like to work on is inviting people to my home without feeling embarrassed.  Right now, we live with my in-laws... that alone is embarrassing in itself!  But when we have our own home, I know it wont be clean (you've been warned)... I know we'll be missing furniture or some of it will have stains on it and scratches deep into the wood.  I want to not care about these things!  My new friend, Nicole (don't you love her already), invited me to her house the DAY I met her!  I asked her if she was sure that she wanted me with my two crazy boys to come over her house?  She said, (and I'll never forget), "there is nothing in my house, that if broken, I will be upset over".  What an attitude!  And she has let me and my clan come over several times and make a stinkin' mess of her house, eat her food and leave... and she STILL invites us back for more.  She's a keeper, I tell ya!  

2.  Which ideas in this chapter would unsettle me too deeply to incorporate at this time?
I'm not unsettled by it, but I think I'd be nervous because it seems unnatural.  To go outside and meet my neighbors and forge a relationship with them.  Sure, I've thought about it, but it feels soooooo forced.  "Howdy neighbor!"  There's a lady on our cul-de-sac that just had a baby a few weeks ago.  They had a huge "It's a Boy" banner hanging over their door.  I had the desire to bake her something and bring her a magazine, a MOPS invite and go by for a quick "hello", but I just COULDN'T.  I was too nervous.  But who knows... maybe she needs a friend?  Maybe she's a new SAHM and lonely like I was?  I should have!  I regret that... but now, maybe I'm too late.  It would be weird now, right?  See... I'm STILL nervous about if!  ARG! 


One of my bloggy friends told me she's really enjoying this series... that makes me so happy and encourages me to do more and branch out, which is exactly what I did this week!  Get excited!

1. Popcorn Gift Baggies

We had our last day of music class this past Friday.  I wanted to bring a little something for all the kiddos in the class to just be a extra special.  I decided to do this idea because they could open it up and enjoy it right there and it wasn't candy or cookies... although there are a few m&m's in there!  This was really easy.  Each bag of popped corn made 3 gift baggies... so I made 9 gifts with 3 bags of popcorn, 1 bag of m&m's, some ribbon, 2 pieces of card stock and clear bags. Easy and cheap!  

2.  Paper Clip Earrings

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

We did these at my MOPS group yesterday.  They are so cheap and sooooo cute!  Basically, you need earring hooks, a paperclip and embroidery thread.  It's also a good idea to have liquid stitch glue on hand.  Assuming you already have the earring hooks (recycled) and the paper clips, this will cost you $1.50 for the thread and $5 for the glue!  Best part is that it only takes about a half hour to make so you can whip these up to match your outfit just hours before you walk out the door!

3.  Squash Chips

I made these "chips" last night.  They were good, but by no means were they "chips"... they were not crispy at all.  I did not "trick my kids" into eating them, although Jonas did enjoy a few.  I'll probably make them again though!

Day at Disney

We did it! We made it through our second Disney trip with two small children.

Last June we took the kids to Animal Kingdom and while we had a good time, Marco doesn't remember it at all. And Jonas, well he was only 9 months old at the time so he basically slept through the day.

This time we chose to go to Disney's Hollywood Studios, previously known as MGM. We decided to go here because it has all of Marco's favorites; Cars, Toy Story, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Plus, being that it isn't the most popular park, we'd have enough time to see more and have less people around. It was a good choice!

We downloaded an app that had the map of the park as well as show times and ride wait times. We were able to notice that the longest wait and most desirable ride was the Toy Story ride. Of course we HAD to go on this too do the first thing we did upon entering the park was to go there and get a fast pass for later. By the time we got there the only passes left were for 6-7 pm! We just decided to make that our last thing.

Then we headed to The Great Movie ride which takes you through a history of movies. All was well until the gangster movie era... We were in the middle of a gang war! And the boys thought it was real! Within minutes we had two crying children. Then to make matters worse, after the gangs, came the aliens! We didn't realize that ride was going to be scary until we were in the middle of it!
We dries up their tears and pealed them off our bodies and headed over to the Beauty and the Beast show. All was well. Belle had a beautiful voice and the dancers were great. Marco was a bit on edge already from our previous excursion, so he said the "kill the beast" part was scary... But it wasn't... He was being wimpy! Jonas loved the whole thing!

Then Mau and I left the kids with the in-laws while they took them for a snack and we went to ride the rougher rides. Fortunately both the Tower of Terror and the Rockin' Roller-coaster had only 20 minute lines so we were back with the group within the hour!

We caught up with them right when they were getting to The Little Mermaid show. Jonas was napping already and he continued to nap throughout the show. This show was horrible. So outdated, ugly and boring. And the girl that played Ariel was just awful. Her singing made me want to cry... And not in a good way! We were happy it was short!

Then we gave the in-laws a break while they went to another ride and we took the boys to watch the Disney Junior show! It was truly great! It was the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show that incorporated Handy Manny, Little Einsteins and Jake. It was all done with puppets and they had all the songs and even Toodles was there! Both kids were thrilled!

Since the kids were already excited, we decided to keep it up and head over to meet some of the most beloved characters: Buzz and Woody. The line was looooooong. But hey, that's what we were there for! Both of their little faces were amazed at seeing these characters in real life!

Then we found more faves, Lightning McQueen and Mater!

After all that activity, we were quite hungry... So we headed over to Toy Story's famous Pizza Planet for an early dinner. And then we were on our way back to the Toy Story ride to end the night. It was really fun and try let us ride twice!
We left by 7:15 and the kids were dead tired but happy and excited about all the things they saw!
We probably won't be back to Disney for some time because now when Marco turns 3, his ticket will be $79!!! Hello! Anyone else think that's over the top expensive?! So we'll be back when the boys are 7 or 8 and can really remember it and we'll get our money's worth! Unless somehow we get free tickets again... But for now, these pictures will have to suffice!