PINspired June Link-up

Welcome to the first ever PINspired link-up!  I'm so excited you're joining us.  I can't wait to read up on all the things you've been pinning and doing... and how it's going!  I could really use some practical PINspiration.  

Here are 4 things that have PINspired me lately:

Crispy Chicken & Creamy Italian Sauce with Bow-tie Pasta

Can the name of this recipe BE any longer?  Whew.  The recipe calls for the chicken to be fried, but I chose to bake it instead.  That said, it was a little bland, so if I try to bake it again, I'll definitely add more seasoning.  The cream sauce was a little too "chickeny" so I would probably cut back on the cream of chicken soup.  Other than that, it was really good and pretty easy... the kids ate it up!

Cooking Hot Dogs in the Slow Cooker

I decided to give this a try on Marco's birthday party.  We had a lot of plans for the grill already and didn't want to add more work to my husband, so I set this up about 4 hours before the party and prayed that they'd be ok.  Well, they were MORE than ok... they cooked really well.  They were firm and juicy on the inside.  We also served them right in the slow cooker pot.  It was a no brianer... set it and forget it.  Definitely keeping this one for ALL future parties!

"I Love you THIS much" Cards

I love these little cards because Mauricio and the boys always do this... "how much do I love you?" "THIS much" (open arms wide and tickle attack begins). So I made this for Father's Day.  Since we have TWO boys, we made TWO cards... they don't look exactly like this, but Mauricio loved them anyway.  You can see pics of my finished result on my Father's Day post.

Fruit Skewer Platter

I wanted to show off a pin that I recently uploaded from Marco's party.  I'm very proud.  We wanted to do the fruit skewers we've seen all around pinterest, as a healthy option of party food, but we didn't just want to leave it on a platter.  My mother-in-law had the brilliant idea of taking a pineapple and wrapping it in foil, then piercing the skewers into it!  It looked beautiful and was a perfect focal point for our food table.  Not to mention, it was much more sanitary, because it is easy to grab just one and not put your dirty hands all over other people's food!  It took a little work, but it was well worth it!

Now, it's YOUR turn.  Grab a button and link-up.  The post will be opened for entries for FIVE days, so if you forgot today, don't worry, get it together and come back.  If not, we'll be doing it again next month!

Next link-up: JULY 26

2 Boys in a Movie Theatre

Did you know that Regal Theaters did $1 movies every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer?  Pretty awesome, right?! (here's a link to check out their schedule)

I've known about that for a few years now and I've always wanted to go, but never have.  My first summer as a mom, Marco was a newborn.  My second summer as a mom, Marco was a non-stop 1 year old... too young and too crazy.  My third summer as a mom, Marco was ok, but Jonas was still too young and me alone with two babies... thanks but NO thanks.  My fourth summer as a mom... this summer... this was going to be MY year... I was going to give it a shot!

And I did.

My mother-in-law and I decided that we could make this work... two adults, two kids... man to man defense.  We could do this.  So we went this morning and were shocked to find that this wasn't a "best kept secret"... the theatre was packed.  The line went down all the rows, down the steps and into the mall area!  We waited anyway... I mean, it's only $1, right?!

Marco is really into movies and can easily sit through an entire one... if it's the right one.  Jonas' attention varies... he can watch about 30 minutes of the right movie, but if there are snacks, he can go for longer.

Unfortunately, we didn't see the right movie.

This is the movie we saw:

It was not funny, not captivating and not colorful.  It was beautiful... for adults.  But it just didn't hold my children's attention.  In fact, the first half hour was so dark and scary that it turned them off from the start.  The topic is very serious as well.  Not a good choice for our first ever movie experience.

Within 15 minutes, Jonas started wiggle worming and yelling out "MAMA!" in a packed movie theatre.  So I decided to step outside with him in an attempt to buy a snack.  They had given me a coupon for a $2 popcorn, but once I got down the register, I realized I had left it in my purse... at my seat.  So we went back up.  Once there, I find Marco standing and sitting and standing and sitting.  Then when my mother-in-law got up to go get the popcorn (2nd attempt), both kids jumped up to go with her.  Only 45 minutes into it and we were done.  

So we left.  But hey, 45 minutes for $3 is STILL a good deal!

We took advantage of being at the mall and went to the free kids play area for about an hour to allow them to release their pent up energy.  Whew.

My BIG summer movie going plans were short lived.  Maybe next year will be my year.  Maybe next year both my boys will be ready to sit still and pay attention.  And maybe next year, I'll choose our movie a little more wisely.  

We will be venturing to the movies one more time this summer to watch Rio... but this time, without Jonas. 

PINspired Link-Up Coming SOON

When I open up my computer, I automatically open up 5 tabs at once... Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and now... PINTEREST.  This Pinterest obsession has hit us all hard, has it not?  But a while ago, I started actually trying some of the things I've pinned... and so was born my PINspired series.

If you follow here, you have seen my PINspired series every so often (here, here, and here to name a few).  And after having some interest in doing a link-up, I whipped up this button (ok, really I worked on it for hours of frustration) and decided to give it a go. 

For those of you newbies, the PINspired series is not just about showing us your favorite pins, but ALSO about showing us which ones you've tackled yourself.  Show off your accomplishments.  Help us weed out what's really good and what just looks good.  

So, regardless of whether you've been inspired by recipes, styles, redesigns, organization or parenting tips, we want to know how it turned out.  Inspire us with your pins!  Tell us if those recipes are a must try or a not-so-good.  Tell us if that craft is ridiculously difficult or easy peasy.  Tell us if that cleaning tip really worked or if it's a pass.  We want to know!  We want to be PINspired!

This link-up will be held on the LAST Thursday of every MONTH.  It's best if you prepare the post as you go, adding to it throughout the month and then publishing it for the link-up, that way it's not overwhelming.  Are you in?!

Grab a Button
Spread the Word
PINspire us!!

First link-up
JUNE 28! 

Dates till the end of the year:
July 26
August 30
September 27
October 25
November 29
December 27


Today, I've officially been on this journey for three years.  Today, I've had the pleasure of knowing my son for three whole years.  Today, I've been blessed beyond measure for three years... and counting.

On June 20, 2009, God blessed us with our first beautiful baby boy, Marco.  Although he was early and not quite ready, he was healthy and strong.

While I teach him every day about the world around him... about the friendship and respect, about the animals and creation, about the alphabet and numbers, about God and His Son.  He also teaches me... about patience and kindness, about gentleness and trust, about unconditional love.

I am overwhelmed by the fact that the Lord has entrusted this precious child into my hands.  When I look at his face, I can't believe how utterly beautiful he is and that he is mine!

He is funny and silly, but sweet as well.  He's very busy playing and often does not have time to stop and cuddle, but when he does, it's great!  He's proud to be a big boy and even prouder to be a big brother to his "best friend, Jonas".

He still loves chocolate cookies more than any other food, but wont turn down anything cheese related either... cheese sandwich, mac-n-cheese, cheese stick, cheese pizza, cheese quesadilla and he refuses to drink milk because "that's for babies".
He knows all his numbers to 20, although he usually skips 14 and 15, and he knows his ABC's and can identify every letter and knows most of the letter sounds as well!  He loves doing "homework", although he doesn't enjoy coloring.

He loves music class and can sing more songs than I can count!  He is definitely musically inclined!

He loves to make friends everywhere he goes, and he'll play with anyone at any time!  He's not shy... he'll tell you his life story if only he knew it!

He's my BIG boy... and today, he turns THREE!

 If you're interested in reading his birth story and seeing his baby pictures, click HERE to read his birthday post from when he turned one! 

A Pirate Pool PARRRRty

On Saturday we celebrated Marco's 3rd birthday.  (His birthday isn't until the 20th.)  We had the party at our house (in-laws' house) and invited all our family, family friends and playmate friends... all in all, about 50 people!  We had such an amazing time, celebrating with all our loved ones!  This was the first year that Marco actually grasped the concept of a "Birthday party" and he was over-the-moon excited about it.  He kept on saying, "is THIS my party?!"... sweet boy.

 Personalized baggies for each child with eye patch, gold coins, bandanas, bracelets and beaded necklaces.

 Dad is busy on the grill!

 Can't forget the sunscreen! 

Delicious fruit skewers!  So refreshing!

 Lunch is served!

 Cake and cupcakes by Cupcake Boutique in Miami.  So cute and yummy!

 Jonas singing, "Haaaaa..."

 Make a wish!

A few funny stories about the party:
The eye patch.  Every time I would tell a child to go get their eye patch, an adult would question me as to what I was talking about... apparently, they were all thinking I was saying an iPatch... the latest Apple product!  They wanted to know what it was and where they could get one!  Obsessed much?

Marco... POLO!  Ok, so obviously we KNEW that if we named our child "Marco", we would encounter the Marco Polo game.  We know it, we're ok with it.  But Marco doesn't know it.  So, naturally, at a pool party, it was an inevitability that some of the older children would begin the game.  Poor Marco... every time one of the boys would yell "MARCO", my Marco would turn and say, "WHAT?!  I'm right HERE!"  he would chase them around the pool, trying to see what they wanted... this happened for about 15 minutes!  Finally, in between laughs, I tole him that they weren't talking to him and tried to distract him from the calls.

Overall, wee had a wonderful party... we were so blessed to have everyone surround us with so much love for our son.  He's so excited to be THREE!!!  We can't be prouder of our BIG boy!

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

I have been planning Mauricio's Fathers Day for some time now.  You see, since Father's Day always lands on Marco's birthday weekend, Mauricio always gets the short end of the stick.  But NOT this year.  This year, I had done a little pre-planning and was able to ensure that his Father's Day projects were completed and "out of the way" before I began planning Marco's big day.  I want them both to have the best days ever.

So, I decided to make Mauricio a special book called "Love Letters for Papai".  On each page is a picture of him with the boys and a letter... A,B,C, etc.  I think the finished result came out beautiful.  I used Shutterfly and it was so easy to put together and really inexpensive too.  The quality of the book is top notch!  Here's the finished result.

Then we also created customized cards, so the boys could each show dad just how much they love him!
 One card of each of their hands

Marco's hands when opened say, "I Love You"...

and then Jonas' when opened says, "This Much".  
(thank you Pinterest)

And lastly, I interviewed Marco, asking him questions about his Daddy.  His answers were... interesting.  This was the 10th take, more or less, so I was getting a bit frustrated with it.  That's what happens when you've got a (almost) 3 year old with a short attention span.  Enjoy!

Mauricio loved all of his Father's day presents... he was thouroughly surprised and touched.  It made my day just to see how happy he was with it all!  He said that I'll have a hard time topping this one! I'm sure I'll think of something...
I hope all of you had a stellar Father's Day as well! 


I hope you'll excuse my absence this week, but I've been really busy.  I volunteered to teach VBS this week and on Saturday we're having a birthday party for Marco... not to mention Father's Day and Mauricio's birthday which are also coming up.  Needless to say, I've been a little busy.  Be on the look out for an awesome post about Marco's 3rd Birthday party... it's a Pirate Pool Paarrrrty!  And of course, a Father's Day post as well!

As I said earlier, I volunteered through the church that hosts MOPS to teach a VBS class for this week. For those of you who are not aware, VBS is Vacation Bible School.  It's basically a Bible Camp that is held by most churches for one week throughout the summer and they vary in curriculum and subject matter, but it's always Christian and Bible based.  It's a lot of fun for the kids and it gets them talking, singing and reading about God!

The children are on a rotation of Bible lesson, snacks and recreation, and crafts.  I am teaching the middle school groups, which are split into two groups; boys and girls.  I can not say it enough... I LOVE middle schoolers!   What is it about them that I'm so drawn to?  Most people are afraid of the challenge that middle schoolers bring... especially the boys, but I would take them over elementary aged kids any day.  They are so inquisitive and smart, yet also sassy and goofy.  They want to show you that they have a cool or tough exterior, but you know that they still want to please and impress you.

The church really does a great job of making sure that these kids are well taken care of and are having fun.  I don't get to see all the aspects of it, since I'm teaching indoors, but they come to me all happy and sweaty, so they must be enjoying themselves.
The curriculum theme for the church is Creationism.  This is such an important topics for children to become grounded upon at an early age.  Today, public schools are speaking about evolution earlier and earlier.  Students are not questioning this doctrine but rather becoming indoctrinated by it.  It is our job as Christians to be sure that they are hearing the other side of that coin... and instead of being intimidated by a vast topic such as this one, we should be going straight for it.  Why is it important that we believe that God created us and not evolution?  Because everything else stems from there... our belief system is completely intertwined and dependent on this subject.  If God did not create us, then we should have no morals, concept of right and wrong or emotions such as love.  We know what love is because God loved us first.  God breathed His love into us in the beginning of time.
I am getting so many amazing questions from this group of pre-teens.  They are really thinking about the material and grasping onto it with two fists.  It's so encouraging to see that there are young people who love God and are eager to learn more about His word.

Marco and Jonas are also enrolled in VBS.  They are both loving it.  Mind you, their curriculum is quite different, but they are still learning some things and doing crafts, playing games and singing.  They're having a blast!

VBS has been such an incredible experience... probably more so for me than for my kiddos.  I'll definitely be participating for years to come.

Book Club Friday

Today I'm linking up with The Nerdy Katie (who is hi-larious) for her weekly Book Club Friday post. Here's what I've been reading/listening to lately!
The Informationist by Taylor Stevens 

I'm listening to this one through my Audible account and it is soooooo good.  Like, bite-off-all-my-nails-even-though-I-just-had-a-manicure good.  This is Stevens' first book... and the writing is top notch!
I always think it's funny when books have trailers, but here's the one for this book.  Seriously, pick it up.

Echoes from the Academy by Jeffrey Mann

This one is written by one of my good friend's brothers.  He recently was published and asked me to read and review it.  So far, so good.  It is a Christian book, but not obviously so.  I think it would be ideal for YA boys.

What are YOU reading this Friday?  Link up and tell us all!

Spilling the Beans

So I've been in a bit of a blogging funk lately.  Mostly because we have a busy month ahead, but nothing has come to fruition yet, so I have nothing to talk about just yet.  But I'm gonna spill some beans here... ready?

I decided to link-up with Mama Kat's writing prompts today.  Here you go!

4. Are you on Instagram? Glance at your photos from last week, choose one, and share the back story.
Here's a picture of the house we're trying to buy!!!  We finally found one!

It's an older house, built in 1957, but it has had some minor upgrades done to it and it sits on 18,000 square feet of land!  In Miami, that's unheard of!  It's a 3/2 with a screened in pool and yard with 3 huge mango trees.  It's in an amazing neighborhood with outstanding schools.  We are in LOVE with it.

Of course, there are more upgrades we'd like to give to it little by little.  First things first, we have to paint that exterior (am I right?!).  We'd like to change out the appliances, put in a new garage door, change out the carpet in the boys room, change the front door, change door handles.  Then down the years, we'll do more like install hardwoods.

This neighborhood was our top choice, but every available house within it was at least $300K over budget.  Yes, it's an expensive area.  Then this one came up.  It's almost at the top of our budget but still doable.  It's a short sale.  We put in an offer, even though we didn't think we'd get it in a million years, but you never know till you try.  Within 3 days the seller had accepted our offer!!!

So we had the inspection done and although the house is in excellent condition for an aged home, it needs one major repair... the roof!  Luckily there are no termites or mold, so the only real damage is the roof, which is 30 years old... duh.

Basically, where we're at is calling a roofer to come out and give us an estimate.  If installing a roof will put us over budget then we're going to have to back out.  We'll know by tomorrow.

If it's all a go, then we just have to wait for the bank to accept and close!  We know it's a long shot and we're praying that if this is where God wants us to be... if it's what's best for our family, that it'll be clear to us and a smooth process.  Your prayers would be appreciated too!


Here are a few things that have PINspired me lately...

1.  Cookies in a Jar

Source: via Marta on Pinterest

I made 4 of these for the childcare workers at the Bible Study I attended this year.  They were so sweet and loving towards my boys all year long, I had to do something sweet for them as a thank you!  Mine didn't come out as cute as the Pinterest version, but I loved them anyway.  They were a little hard to make, and I was sweating that it wouldn't all fit.  By the time I had put in all the chocolate, there was barely any room left.  But thank goodness for brown sugar!  I was able to pound it down real good and make room for the rest.  It's a sweet and inexpensive way to surprise someone special... and from what I heard, the cookies are delish!

2.  Ranch Chicken

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

I made these this week for dinner.  It was good, although not as "ranchy" as I would have liked.  I also used the pre-crushed corn flakes instead of crushing them myself.  Since I made a large portion, maybe I should have doubled the ranch.  I will definitely be doing this again.  Quick and easy!

3.  Toilet Cleaner

One known thing about me?  I'm a horrible housewife.  I never clean.  I desperately need a house maid and I've begged Mauricio for one countless times.  (I'm still fighting the good fight).  So, when I saw this post, I decided I had to try it.  Ummm, just dump some baking soda in a toilet, leave it for an hour and flush?!  No wiping?  No scrubbing?  No toilet water all over you?  I had to see if it was true.  And... it didn't work.  I mean, it looked a little cleaner, but not a lot.  Maybe my toilet was beyond the point of no scrubbing... maybe this is a good trick for maintaining cleanliness between scrubbing.  Maybe I need to get to work... maybe.
I'm thinking about making my PINspired series into a monthly link-up.  You would post about all the Pinterest ideas that you have accomplished in that month... whether one or ten, you can link up!  Hopefully it will inspire you to actually DO some of the things you pin... then you can show them off here!  If you LIKE this idea and would be interested in linking up, PLEASE comment here.  I'll only do it if I have some people to join me!  We could do it on the last day of the month, to recap that said month.  Yes?  No?  Maybe?  Feedback please!!!

The First. The Last.

There's nothing quite like your first.

You are stunned by the world he is discovering each day.  You nudge them, just a little, towards bigger and better things.  You delight in all his "big boy" activities and beam with pride when he shows kindness, maturity and intelligence.  You can't wait to see what's next.

There's nothing quite like your last.

You are excited for the world before him, but still trying to grasp at the past.  Since you know he's your last, you want to savor each moment and not rush.  You delight in his baby ways, giggle at his baby talk and beam with pride when he finds his nose, says ay-you (thank you) and falls on his bottom.  You're holding on as long as you can.

Lucky for me, I have my first and my last.  I'm content.  I'm complete.