A 3 Year Old Roller-coaster

3 Year Olds.
Holy Hell.

1 is fun.  Toddler is exploring, watching, imitating, loving and sweet.
2 is a bit more challenging.  Child is growing, testing, learning, following, loving and sweet.
3 is a freaking roller-coaster that I didn't want to board.

This roller-coaster has it's ups...
We're playing together, reading or coloring.
We're talking or singing or dancing.
He's being obedient, cooperative and helpful.

Then it has it's downs...
Whining. (Did he forget how to just talk?)
Melt downs.
Kicking and screaming.
Laying face down on the floor.
Talking back.

OMG... where is my sweet yet challenging 2 year old?!
He's only been 3 for a month and a half!  I'm afraid to see what the rest of this year has in store!

The other day, I was on a Mommy&Marco date when he began acting up at the restaurant.  "Ewww, I don't liiiiiiiiiike it".  And hiding under the table.

I start getting upset.  This is not the way I envisioned our date to play out.  So I begin to discipline.  "Marco, if you don't get into your seat right now, we're gonna have a problem".  Then the counting.  "Don't make me say 3... 1... 2..." and he sat.  Whew.
Then a lady who was watching me actually COMPLIMENTED me on my disciplining methods.  Here I felt like I was grasping at straws, doing anything within my power not to rain down fury on my son in public, and someone was impressed by my madness!
So what did I learn from that?
3 is going to be a challenge.  Even bigger than 2.  2 is just prep work for 3.
And as the primary disciplining parent, I have to bring my A game ALL THE TIME.
Consistency is key.

He may have his roller-coaster of emotions... half the time he doesn't even know why he's melting down... he seems like a hormonal teenaged girl!  But I have to remain the same.
I can't climb on that roller-coaster with him.
The rules are the rules ALL THE TIME.
If I count to 3, then I HAVE to follow through... every single time.

It's exhausting, but if I want my son to see 4, it must be done.  For both our sakes!

Buying a House in Miami

There are several very difficult aspects of buying a house in Miami.
#1. Finding a realtor that works with you and for you.
#2. Finding a home in Miami that is not either a million dollars or torn up and destroyed... or both!
#3. Location, location, location.  Good luck finding a good location.
#4. The monopoly that is insurance.
#5. Trust no one

Let's look into this more closely...
We went through 4 realtors in 6 months.  FOUR.  FOUR!  Is that not absurd?!
The first told me that she had a lot of things going on in her private life and didn't have the time to work with us in the manner in which we wanted to work.
The second took us out once and then stopped returning our phone calls and emails... that's good business... very professional.
The third took us out once also but then was going on vacation and doing a bunch of other things and basically couldn't take us out again for some time.
FINALLY, the fourth saw us through all the way, but we still didn't like her.  She weighed us down with every single problem or bump in the road.  She bullied us into using HER lender (we didn't), HER contractor (we didn't), HER insurance agent (we did), and HER inspector (we did).  We are convinced that she gets a cut from each of her contacts.  But alas, finally, finally, finally, she worked out for us... and her payoff was sweet, I'm sure.

Miami is ridiculous.  The crappiest home is overpriced.  When people are shortsaling or foreclosing, they literally TRASH their house.  It's horrible.  It gives you such a jaded view of what the people in this city are really like.  And seriously, the prices!  Unless everyone is either a doctor or lawyer, HOW do they afford it?!  Oh yeah, they're in debt to their eyeballs!
Not only that, but when you're looking for a house in Miami, you have to move FAST!  Like, if the listing has been on the market for even ONE day, it's usually gone already.  Why?  Because there are tons of investors who come from South America with lots and lots of CASH.  And they can outbid and out buy you any day.  A bank will take their cash offer over your financed one in a heartbeat.  Even though, these properties are usually either going to be rentals or flipped, the bank would rather get it off their hands pronto.  So, that's why we couldn't wait for realtor #1 or #3 to get their personal lives in order... every day that passed, we were missing out on opportunities!
Also, shady things go on... one time we were sent to a house that hadn't even hit the market yet.  It was GOING to be on the market later that week but we were getting first dibs at it.  We, along with like 20 other couples were going to see the house in the same hour.  It was so shady and it felt wrong.  Like we were cheating the system... we didn't feel right about it and didn't put an offer down.  But if everyone is doing that... going to see and put offers of homes that are not even out yet, then how does that give equal buying power to everyone!?  It doesn't!

Miami locations.  You'd have to live here to really understand.  But basically, you can cross the street and be in the ghetto or cross another street and be in little Cuba or cross another street and be in the richest area in the city.
Our only qualifications for location was to either be close to US1(yellow line on right, also called South Dixie Hwy), the Palmetto (Orange line in middle), the Turnpike (Another orange line to the left) or Krome (Last street to the left before going into the green which is the Everglades).  Mauricio works up North in a city named Hialeah... and there is NO WAY on God's green Earth I was going to be living there.
Click to enlarge
But you see, I didn't really want to live off of Krome because it's so far west that you can have alligators roaming your backyard (I exaggerate, but it is practically the Everglades) and to go anywhere at all, you'd have to battle traffic moving East.  It's horrible.
I didn't really want to live off of the Palmetto, because the further North you get, the more hispanic you get... and I'm hispanic.  But look, I don't want to shop at the Publix called SABROSO.  Ew, gross.
I didn't mind living off the Turnpike so long as it wasn't in Doral.  But the prices were very high.
My number one choice was US1.  And thankfully, that's what we got.
Miami is so tricky with locations.  Once we saw a lovely old home in what we thought was a good area, then we turned the corner and we were scared of being in the middle of a gang deal.  So you've got to be really careful and really persistant.

When you're financing a house, you need to get homeowners insurance.  The bank will not approve your loan without it.  And really, being in Florida, aka hurricane country, NOT having insurance is NOT an option.  The problem with the insurance situation, specifically in Miami, is that there is only ONE company that offers coverage.  ONE.  That's it.  How that's even allowed, I don't know?  Isn't that the very definition of a monopoly?  Every other insurance company has pulled out of the city for one of two reasons... the risk is too high with the constant hurricanes, OR the fraud.  Miami is completely corrupt.  So there is ONE company that still offers... but they also have the ability to charge whatever they desire... and because there is no competitor, we have no other option but to accept and pay it.  The price gauging is over the top.  And there is nothing we can do about it.  How is this fair?  How does no one do anything about this?  We paid over $6000 for insurance this year.  Hello, isn't that a bit much?! Yikes.

This leads me to my final point.  Trust no one.  Not your realtor, not your lender, not your inspector... no one.  Like I said, Miami is corrupt.  As previously stated in point #2, shady things are happening all the time.  It's dog eat dog.  Realtors are bullies, trying to get you to buy their own listings so that they reap both commissions.  Sellers are ripping out floors and stealing light fixtures just because they're angry that they had to foreclose due to their poor judgement and decisions.  Inspectors and working on the side with contractors to say you need more work done than you actually do need.  Insurance companies are charging higher than ever because people take advantage of the smallest storm to renovate their kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances for FREE.  Everyone is trying to suck every last penny out of your bank account... and they will if you let them!

I pray I never have to buy another house in this retched city.  And if you're thinking about moving to Miami... think again.


The normal person chooses the colors for their home very carefully.  They pour over design magazines, websites and stand in front of the color swatches for an hour considering combinations and hues.
I want to be normal.
But I married someone who is not.

We knew we were going to paint today... we had several people coming over to help and had bought all of the supplies.  But we hadn't poured over magazines, looked at websites or stood in front of the swatches.

Two days before, I begged Mauricio to look at a few paint magazines with me.  So he reluctantly agreed, turned over in bed and turned on the night table lamp.  So here we are, deciding on the paint colors that we'll have to look at for years to come, with minimal light, in bed, 5 minutes before we have to go to sleep.  That's normal.

Last night, we went to Home Depot and arrived only an hour before close.  We had to choose fast!  While I stood in front of the swatches, he was already ordering!  WAIT!  Can we take a second to rethink this?

To every color I offered, he would say, "yeah, sure."
And most women would be happy that their husband left the decision solely up to them, but not me.  I'm insecure... and let's face it, when it comes to decorating, Mauricio has better taste than me.  (I said it).

But eventually we chose.  And I'm praying we like it.
Here's what we got:

The Oat Cake will be the main color throughout the house.  It will be in the kitchen and hallway as well as all the non-accent walls within the living and family rooms. 

The Cinnamon Spice will be the accent wall within the family room... the wall where the TV will be.

The Pumpkin Toast will be the accent wall on the largest wall in the house that connects the entrance/living room through to the dining room and over the hallway. 

Boys' Bedroom:
The Quiet Storm will sit on the bottom half and the Pecan Sandie on the top.  We haven't decided if we'll use a chair rail a wallpaper or another paint color stripe to separate.  We'll have to wait and see.

Master Bedroom:
The Manhattan Mist will be on 3 of the walls and the Distant Thunder will be the accent wall behind the TV.  We have an offset window behind our bed, so that whole wall will pretty much be covered with curtains.  I need to find a nice patterned curtain that will pair nicely. 

Stay tuned for the finished result.  Pictures to come!

PINspired July Link-Up!

Here we are again!  It's been a whole month since our last PINspired link up!  Have you been searching Pinterest for the latest inspiring ideas?  I'd love to know!  Grab a button and link up!

I've been a little slacking this month, but don't worry... now with the purchase of my new home, I'll be VERY PINspired!

This month it's been all mostly about recipes.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pie

Doesn't this pie look amazing?!  Well, it's not.  It was so sweet, I took a bite and threw it out.  Sadly it was not a hit.

Nutella Banana Bread

Now this recipe... is AHHHHH-mazing! Like lick the bowl, eat every last crumb amazing.  Seriously, go make it and surprise all your friends by what a culinary genius you are.  Go now!

Garlic Lemon Chicken Dinner

This is another keeper.  It was so good and so easy!  Everyone loved it.  But be sure to read the comments if you're gonna make it yourself... I only used 1 lemon and didn't put it for all the time.  This is a yummy one!

Crock pot Chicken Tacos

The easiest dinner EVER.  Seriously just dump it and walk away.  Loved this one.  This is going to be a new regular!

Popcorn in a Brown Bag

Not only does this work, but it's also FABULOUS!  I will never go back to buying microwave popcorn again.  This is healthier and fresh.  You just have to be careful not to put too many kernles in the bag or you'll have a microwave filled with popcorn!  1/4 of a cup should be sufficient!  This is my new favorite snack.

DiY Criss Cross Headband 

I did this with an old T-shirt.  Mine doesn't look as cute hers.  I look like a maid... but it works for those days. And it was free, so I'll keep it!

That's it!  Next month I expect to have more recipes but also some Home DiY's and crafts to share!
Now it's YOUR turn!
Grab a button, link up below!

Raising Boys (Points 1-5)

I found this article via Pinterest and loved it so much.  Granted, I've only been a mother of boys for 3 years now, but I see truth in these words.  So I wanted to share with you, point by point, how these points have affected my life and my parenting style.  How it's changed me and challenged me.  How it's frustrated me, made me laugh and made me cry.  And if you're a mom of boys, I know you'll relate and have your own tales to tell... so please do!

There are 20 points in all, so I'll split this into 4 posts with 5 points in each.

1. There will be Trains, Planes and Automobiles
If you've ever been to my house or even inside my car, you know how true this is.  Boys and their cars.  It's like it's imbedded in their souls.  While I let them play with anything they desire, from toilet paper rolls to dolls, but there is nothing like the obsession with cars.  So watch your step, because they're everywhere!

2.  Boys Don't Stop Moving
Holy cow, is this ever true.  People sometimes look at my life with two young boys and they don't know how I keep up... actually, I don't even know how I keep up.  They are moving from the minute they wake up to the minute they go to sleep, and sometimes they're rolling around in their sleep to.  It's like boys are just overflowing with energy... they can't contain it... they can't hold it in.  This is exactly why I'm pretty much sure of the fact that they're gonna get in a sufficient amount of trouble in school.  I can not envision them sitting still and quietly working for a half hour at a time.    It's not ADD... it's just being a boy.

3.  Clothes Shopping is Easy-- and Cheap!
All us moms of boys complain about how not cute boys' clothes are.  You've got your basic "food groups" of boy clothes.  We've got the transportation group... cars, trains, planes, rockets, tractors.  We've got the animal group... puppies, dinos, bears, tigers, lions, giraffs, sharks.  We've got the sports group... football, basketball, soccer, baseball.  The shorts are usually plaid that works with all of the above shirts, or plain jeans.  Then we have the occasional polo shirt for church.  We also have 2 pairs of shoes... a nicer one and a sneaker.  The end.  When I go to Target I droooool over all the girly outfits... some of them I wish they had in adult size because I would so wear that!  But at the end of it all, boy clothes are no frills, easy peasy, grab it and go clothes.  Thankfully that's one thing I don't have to stress over.  And no matter what they wear, they're still the cutest kids around!

4.  You Will LOVE Watching Him Play with His Dad
Hello.  Is there anything more sexy than watching your husband being a good father?  I think not.  I love to stand back and let Mauricio play with his boys.  First of all, it gives me a much needed break (can I get an "AMEN") and secondly, they get to do things with dad that I can't do.  I can't pick Marco up by his legs and swing him around the room and land him safely on the couch... but dad can.  I can't hold his whole body down with one hand while using the other hand to tickle him silly... but dad can.  I can't run the length of the yard with Marco on my shoulders and Jonas in my arms... but dad can!  I'm so grateful to have a man that can fill so many of the needs of my children.  And he looks hot doing it!

5.  The Penis Comparisons Start Early
Yes, we have had some penis talk... and you'll remember my moment when I realized I would have to become a more Modest Mama.  The curiosity stemmed from me... he needed to know where MY pee-pee was.  But aside from that, I haven't heard them comparing sizes... yet.  When they're taking a bath together, we have to remind Marco that that's a "private part" and that he can not touch Jonas there.  He also laughs and announces when he has a "BONER!" which I'm praying doesn't happen in an inopportune place such as church or school.  I don't think moms of girls have to endure this embarrassment.  And I didn't think it was appropriate to add a picture to this point... ha!

So what do you think, moms of boys?  Isn't this article right on the money?! Tell me what has been your experiences with points 1-5!  I'd love to know!

We Bought a House!

When we moved to Miami in August, or situation had not yet been determined. We could continue renting an apartment as we had in Greenville or we could live at the in-laws house, save money and eventually buy a house of our own. And that's just what we did.

Initially, I didn't want to live with my in-laws. I loved them and I thought that living together would change that. (But this topic is a post for another time).  I wanted to be out as soon as possible... But Mauricio made me agree to stick it out for 6 months. Those 6 months came and went and we stayed. On August 1, in just a few short days, it'll be a year that we've been living here!

Back in December, we started looking for a house to buy. We knew that since our current living situation was good and we were saving a good deal of money every month, that we could take our time looking and not have to settle on the first thing that came along. We could wait for the hidden gem... And we did!

Finally after months of searching, we came across a home that was in our #1 desired location.  Pinecrest.  A location that has the best schools, the best restaurants, the best malls, the best parks.  It's centralized and nice.  It was available.  It was at the top of our designated budget.  Our budget was only as high as we wanted to go... not as high as we could go.  Plus we wanted to have the option of having a 15 year mortgage.

All along, I felt like God's hand was over this entire process.  It was all a little too easy, a little too planned, a little too perfect to be coincidence.  I knew, from the moment we walked in the door that THIS was the house that had been set aside for us!

When we came across it, we immediately jumped on it and was inside within hours of finding it online. Right after seeing it, we told our realtor we wanted to put an offer for list price.  She was hesitant, because given the location, the list price was very low and it was an UNapproved short sale.  For those of you who don't know, a short sale can either be approved or unapproved.  If it's approved, then the list price is basically the bottom price a bank will accept.  If it's unapproved, as ours was, the list price is a GUESS as to what the bank may or may not accept.  A lot of times, an unapproved shortsale will go for months before either becoming approved by the bank, or rejected.  So, our agent wanted us to offer much higher than the list price, but the list price, although unapproved was still at the top of our threshold, which we didn't intend on passing.  We basically told her that that was all we could offer, and if it was rejected, then it wasn't the house for us and that it would be ok.

But that's not what happened.  Within 3 days of placing our offer, it was accepted by the sellers!  And within a week later, the bank had approved it!  We had been expecting to wait months and months before even hearing a yes or no, and all of it came together in a week!  We were ready to roll!

So a few days after that, we had our inspection done.  To our disappointment the house needed a new roof.  But after having some roofers come out and quote it, we figured out that we could still afford to do it!  And thankfully, that was the only real issue with the house... and even though the roof has been compromised, there is no internal damage, mold or termites!  The house was built in 1956, so that's pretty solid!

We continued to work with all the necessary parties in order to close, and had a few bumps in the road with getting insurance coverage (I'll talk about that in another post too) and getting the seller's cooperation, but eventually we did it.  We closed!

We are homeowners!

We have a home in Miami to call our own!
A home to raise our boys in.

And the funniest part is that if we stay there for the life of the loan (15 years), we'll pay it off the same year that Marco graduates from high school!  Isn't that incredible!?

So now what you've all been waiting for.  Pictures!!!
Keep in mind, the house is FILTHY!
And we have a LOT of work to do!

Here's a video of my manly husband doing the honors of removing our for sale sign.  And you can see the front of the house.

Entrance:  This is the view from when you open the door.  To the left you have a small living space and beyond it a converted garage into a large living space.  To the right is the hall to the bedrooms and straight back is the dining and kitchen.

Dining Room.  Sorry, no lights yet.
Kitchen:  We really like the cabinets, but will be adding some handles.  We would eventually like to change out the countertops and get a nice backsplash, but that'll have to wait.  We would also like new appliances. 
This is the converted garage.  It's huge.  We'll be using it as our family room. 
This is the boys' bathroom. We hate the pedestal sinks, but love that there are two of them.  Eventually this bathroom will need a makeover, but not for many years to come.  It's not on the top of my list.
This dump will eventually be my precious children's room.  They will be sharing.  This room needs new carpet because this one smells like a homeless man.  And obviously we'll clean and beautify it.  Stay tuned.
This will be the office.  We decided to have the boys share because this room is really small and the closet is practically non existent.  But it'll make a great office!
And this dump is going to be our master bedroom.  It's small but we like it.  I can't wait to get all Pinterested up in here!
Master bath... there's nothing "master" about it.  But we'll fix it and it'll be fabulous.  This picture sucks, by the way... it shows nothing! haha.
This is the BEST part.  A screened in (dirty) pool AND a MASSIVE yard behind it.  I mean, look at my land!  Can you see the boys playing out there?!  I can.  I can SEE IT!  Wooooo!!!
 So there you have it.  Your tour.  Don't worry, I will keep you updated through our decorating, cleaning, fixing and everything else.  I'm so excited to get started!  I already picked up every paint magazine at Home Depot!
Who wants to help?!

Finny & Zook Giveaway!

I was browsing through Etsy, as I often do, looking for decor inspiration and fun ideas, when I came across the cutest shop:

Finny and Zook specializes in prints for your nursery or child's room.  They are sweet, beautiful, colorful and spunky.  They're modern and whimsical but also timeless and traditional.  It will add sweetness to any child's room!

Here are some of my faves from her shop:

You're sure to fall in love with something at her store.  She has beautiful prints for boys and girls and even a few for mommy and daddy.

For me, this is the one that made my heart go "pitter-patter".
I, like most moms, have been singing this song to my babies since day 1.  Now I change the words to say "You are my sunshine, ONE of my sunshines".  Gotta be fair!
This is the perfect addition to their room!

Frame purchased at Target for $10.

Her prints are printed on super high quality paper and come out looking vibrant and sharp.  She packages her prints very well so that they're not damaged in transit and she mails them out quickly.

I loved working with her!
And you will too!

Her prints can be found at TWO different Etsy shops... visit them both!
You can also access her shop quickly by clicking on her Sponsor button to the left <-------

And now
It's time
For a

Finny and Zook has graciously offered not one, but TWO lucky winners an 8x10 print of their choice from either of her shops!  Hello... that's awesome!

Winner will be announced on Friday, July 27.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Staycation

On Monday I told you all about my horrible honeymoon and yesterday I explained how I had to give up my dream of a fabulous vacation to make way for bigger dreams. 

Today, I'll share with you how even though we didn't share a 2 week vacation through the Mediterranean or a week long drive up the Californian coast, we still had a blast. 


Because it's not about where you go... it's about who you're with. 

And I love my husband...
He's awesome...
And hot. 

So for weeks before the momentous 5 year anniversary, I had been moping around and sighing and rolling my eyes, making passive aggressive comments towards my husband...
"You don't really love me"
"Yeah, we're getting a house, but I want ALONE time"
"Ugh, I never have a chance to relax"
"You never do anything thoughtful for me"

Can you hear the WAAAAmbulance?  Yeah, that was me.

And all he would do is smile and say, "You're gonna look real dumb in a few weeks".

The day finally came... I've been waiting for 2 years... and he told me that we were going to spend the night in a hotel... he had already arranged for his parents to take care of the kids and take them to church with them in the morning! 

Aside from Jonas' birth and a hospital stay when I had pneumonia, this was the first time we'd been away from the children.  Ever.  That's in over 3 years.

So we went to a lovely outdoor shopping mall and walked around sneaking in and out of designer furniture and decorating shops, dreaming of how we could enhance our new home.  We were just dreaming... not buying.

Then we went to eat at a trendy little outdoor restaurant that had a little of everything and I got to have sushi!  (This is a rare treat, as Mauricio doesn't like it). 

We stopped by Publix and picked up a bottle of champagne and headed to our hotel to toast our 5 years together there. 

And I slept.  
With no crying children.
No pee-pee wake up call.
No shouts of "MAMA!"

Unfortunately my body is still accustomed to my 7:45 wake up call, that I did in fact wake up, looked at my phone, noted the time, cried out "DANG IT" and went to sleep for another hour and a half.

It's funny because I thought I'd really sleep in... like the days before kids.  You know, wake up at 11:30, roll around for half an hour and finally get out of bed around noon.  But no.  By 9 I couldn't take it anymore... I had to get up.  
Ahh, adulthood.

We headed downstairs and had breakfast in the lobby, which was delish.  I'm always up for a good omelet station.  And Belgian waffles? Yes please!

Once we checked out, it was only 10:30 and the kids were at church, so we wanted to take advantage of our freedom and go to the beach, but on our way there, it began to pour.  At that time, we noticed a church that was about to begin, so we decided to check it out.

Not only did we like the church, the atmosphere, the pastor, the music... but they also gave first time guests FREE movie tickets!  YES!  So when church let out, we figured the kids were going to be on their way to have their nap, so again we took advantage of our freedom and went to the movies!  (This is also a rare treat... we never go to the movies anymore).

We saw Moonrise Kingdom.  We liked it.  When we got out, we figured the kids were probably still sleeping (ok, maybe not but hey) and took advantage by watching a second movie!  Yes, we did just go to church and now we were sneaking in to a movie... shame shame... whatever.  We saw Spiderman.  

So after sneaking away for almost two whole days, we now knew it was time to go back to reality.  Plus I missed my babies. 

When we got home and saw our kids, this was the welcome:
To Mauricio from Marco:
"Papai!!! I've MISSED you, I LOVE you".

To me from Marco:
"Mom!  We went to TARGET". 

Great.  I can feel the love.  Thanks a lot.  So a day is long enough to miss Dad but not long enough to miss Mom.  I see.  

So that was it.  Our Staycation.  And it was so fun!  
Maybe not quite as fun as a weekend trip to New York, but it'll have to do.
For now...

Trading Dreams

As you may have already read, on Saturday was our 5 year anniversary.  It was momentous.  5 years... now that's a milestone!

Two years ago, I decided I wanted to do something amazing to celebrate this milestone.  Something spectacular.  Something grand.

I felt I NEEDED a do-over after our horrible honeymoon.

I had BIG plans for our 5 year anniversary.  But as time went on, my plans began to diminish and change.
I wanted a 2 week cruise in the Mediterranean.
Then I wanted a week long driving trip through California.
Then I wanted a week long trip to the mountains of North Carolina.
Then I wanted a weekend in New York.
Then I wanted a weekend cruise to the Bahamas.
Then I wanted a 4 day beach vacation here, in Miami.
Finally I just begged for ONE night away.  Just one.

You see, 2 years ago we were in a completely different place than where we're at today.
We were living in Greenville.  Now we're in Miami.
Greenville cost of living is reasonable.  Miami cost of living is ridiculous.
We had a low rent payment.  Now we're buying a house.
We had one baby.  Now we have two.

Things are different, and that's ok.  Actually it's better than ok... it's fantastic!

While at times I feel like screaming at Mauricio's... frugality (for lack of a different word), I am thankful that he's not impulsive or frivolous like I am.  If it wasn't for his painfully strict budget, we wouldn't be buying a house.

I realized I would have to trade my dream of the perfect vacation for the dream of a home in which to raise my family.

It's certainly not an even trade.  This side comes out winning ten times over!

So I guess we'll just take all those fabulous vacations when we're retired.  Good thing we had our kids young!

A Horrible Honeymoon

Today I will recount to you a horrible journey that began 5 years ago today... no, not my marriage... my honeymoon.

Every girl dreams about her wedding day... the flowers, the cake, the guests, the DRESS.  But they also dream about their honeymoon... the sun, the sand, the romance, the SEX.

We had our wedding, it was beautiful.  Then we spent two nights in a luxurious and modern hotel in downtown Miami.
 Then we headed off to our exotic week long vacation at an all-inclusive hotel in Puerto Plata,  Dominican Republic.

The first day, everything was ok.  We were a little disappointed with the hotel, but we kinda let it go seeing as the DR is a 3rd world country and all.  The room had a kitchenette, a living area, a bedroom with a balcony and a bathroom... none of which were luxurious.  The worst part was that there was a "window" that was basically an opened wall between our bedroom and the hallway with a wooden shutter covering.  No glass.  Not soundproof.  On our honeymoon.  In our bedroom.  You trackin'?


We go down to the buffet and the food was good.  I was careful not to drink any water... but I was not so careful about eating salad.

The next morning, I woke up with a TERRIBLE stomach flu.  Terrible.  Disgusting.  On my honeymoon.

I spent the next two days between the bed and the bathroom, not eating a morsel of the food we had already paid for, watching bad Spanish tv.  I was miserable.

And the sex?  What sex?  Sex and a stomach flu just dont' mix!

On one of the days, I was strong enough to make it out to the sand for a few hours and we decided to book an excursion.  I had had big plans of doing several awesome excursions throughout the course of this trip, but we were only able to do this one.

We booked it for the following day.  A bus picked us up and took us through the city.  It was really sad to see the children running beside the bus asking for candy while rich American's tossed it out the window... (I made a mental note to bring toothbrushes to toss out the window the next time I go).  We ended up at a trail where we had to hike through brush and streams in order to reach a waterfall.  From there, we could climb further to see more falls.

 Remember, I had not eaten in 3 days... I had survived on Saltines and Gatorade.  I had zero energy.  I couldn't walk more than 20 steps without feeling fatigued.  This is when I learned that my dear new husband really loved me... he CARRIED me to the waterfall.  Like 5 miles.  On his back or in his arms or over his shoulder.  But basically somehow, we got to the first waterfall... just barely.  Then we had to  turn around and go back... carried again.
I was dragging my @ss... it's about this point where he just decided to carry me.  My shirt is quite fitting, don't you think?

So the next few days continued to be the way the first few had.  I would leave my room for small intervals to go lay on the sand.
this is my sick face... not my sexy face.
I wasn't finally feeling better until the day we had to leave.  It was my happiest day.  I couldn't wait to get back to the luxuries of the States and have some good ol' American food!

I crossed every line that shouldn't be crossed that early in a marriage.  Any noise or smell that he hadn't heard or smelled before the wedding, he certainly had during that trip!  There was no mystery left between us.

So that's the story of our Honeymoon.
Not luxurious.
Not romantic.
Not sexy.

I think we need a re-do, don't you?!

5 Years Strong

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary!

On July 14th, 2007, Mauricio and I said our "I do's" in front of 250 family and friends.  It was a wonderful day! (see more wedding pics HERE)

By July 14, 2008, we had survived a full year as husband and wife.  We were on our own in a city away from family, but had developed awesome friendships along the way.  We knew we were ready for phase 2.

On July 14, 2009, we celebrated our 2nd year of marriage with our first born son.  He was only 3 weeks old and had to be our third wheel on our date night.  He ruined our date... but we forgave him.

By July 14, 2010, we were celebrating 3 years and expecting our second child later that year!  We found out just a week later that it was another boy.

By July 14, 2011, we were finally getting settled.  Phase 2 was officially complete.  And then, we decided to move back to Miami just a week later. (I was really skinny back then... whoa)

Today is July 14, 2012.  5 years in.  Still in love.  Still going strong. And on Tuesday, we will officially be HOMEOWNERS!  Now, there's a GOOD anniversary gift!  Yeah, my husband got me a house for our 5th year anniversary... booya!

Random Acts of Kindness

Today I'm linking up with Brooke at Covered in Grace for a new link-up called Acts Of Kindness!  I loved this as soon as I heard about it and couldn't wait to participate!  You should head on over to Brooke's blog and check her out (after you read this one of course).

Find Your Sparkle

The theme for this month was Random Acts of Kindness.  My "act" was not super random, but I'll share it anyway.

Ever since Marco was born, I've been collecting baby boy clothes.  I received an inheritance of sorts from my best friend who had had a boy 4 years before, but then had a girl.  I also received a lot of clothing at my baby shower.  At first I was collecting for if by chance God decided to bless me with another son, I'd have a good wardrobe already.  And then he did... Jonas was born.  Once Jonas was born, I had no need to buy clothes for some time... the seasons were slightly off but we managed.  But everyone else kept buying clothes for him.  Every time someone would come and visit, they came with clothes for the kids.  What a huge blessing for me!

But when it was time for us to move from Greenville to Miami, and we finally packed up all the "old clothes"... the ones that the boys had already gone through, we realized we were abundantly blessed!

8 plastic bins blessed!

8 plastic bins full of clothes that we did not purchase!

8 plastic bins stuffed to the very top with anything and everything a baby boy would need, clothes-wise.  So much clothes that there was no way to possibly go through all of it without your child outgrowing it first!  Ranging from premie sized all the way to 3T.  (yes, Jonas isn't at 3T yet, but we still have so much to spare that I can be picky about exactly what I want to keep!)

Now we're on the verge of another move and we do not want to lug these 8 bins around.  So I decided to sort, organize, bag and label all of the contents.  I put them all in trash bags... 12 of them!  And I put up on facebook if any new mom's wanted to come by and pick up whatever they needed.

Only one girl responded.  She came over and got everything she wanted.

Then my cousin came into town and she's currently pregnant with a baby boy, so I let her have a go.  She took home 2 trash bags filled to the tippity top!

But I still had 8 full... and no one who seemingly wanted to take them... for FREE.

I thought, how hard can it be to give something away for free... come on!  But that's because God had a special plan for those clothes.

I was talking to an aquaintance at a Bible Study... she's a lot older than me and her husband is one of the pastors of a local church.  I was telling her that we had so much clothes to give but couldn't find anyone... even a church turned me down.

Then she told me of a woman who needed them.  Apparently she has a new baby boy and her husband just left her.  She's alone now, a single mother, trying to survive.

My heart broke.

The very next day I was at that local church delivering a blessing to a woman who desperately needed one!

My trash was her treasure!

I never met the single mom, in fact I don't even know her name.  But I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when she opened up those bags and saw that she wouldn't have to buy clothes for a looooong while.

God provided for her.

And I'm so blessed to have been a blessing.

Dentist Disaster!

Yesterday I took the boys for their bi-annual dentist appointment.  I've been taking each of them since they were 1 year old.  Some people (my family) think I'm silly for taking them at this age... "well, you didn't go till you were 8" (gross).  But I take them for 2 very important reasons:
1.  I want it to be normal... and thus not scary.  It's a part of life.  Of healthy hygiene.  And they HAVE to do it... like it or not!
2.  The insurance covers it 100%.  We don't even have to pay a copay when we go.  So why wouldn't I take advantage of something that is FREE... or something we're already paying for anyway, whether we go or not.

So we went yesterday.  It was Marco's 4th time and Jonas' 2nd.  But it was a disaster.  It is not yet "normal" for them.

You would think that they were in the back with Iranian torturers as their dentist!  The blood curdling screams were resonating down the hallway.

And all they did was brush their teeth.  With a tooth brush... not an ice pick!

For Marco, they brushed his teeth with the polish, then flossed and last put on floride.
For Jonas they only brushed with polish.

But the screams!  The tears!  The shakes!  The sobs!  It was frightful!

When we finally got in the car, they were both so physically exhausted and drained from their fighting that they were silent and mushy.

This isn't going to change anything... they're still going.

I'm just happy we have a whole 6 months before then!

Words With Jonas

Jonas is 21 months now, and at an age where learning language is a constant activity.  Marco really started picking up his speech at 21 months and now Jonas is too.  Only difference is that while Marco is a chatter box, Jonas is a man of few words.

So when we're practicing our words, I first go and give him a turn... like this:

Suco (juice)?... Cucu!
Chips?... Pips!
Please?... Peeeees!
Thank you?... Annyuuu!
Leiti (milk)?... Aytee!
Agua?... Wawa!

Mama?... Mama!
Papai?... Papai!
Daddy?... Daddy!

Marco?... CACA!!!!

Ok... now the rest of the words make sense... I can see how "wawa"= "agua".  But really?!  How does "Marco" sound anything at all like "caca"?

Mauricio thinks he says it on purpose because he always has a sneaky smile on his face when he says it... but I can't believe that my sweet baby would be such a prankster towards his big bro at this young age!

So Marco's nickname is "Caca".
I just hope it doesn't stick!

I call my brother "Caca"... and there's nothing you can do about it!

Skin Candy Soap Giveaway!

Have you ever stopped to look at all the chemicals that make up all of our soaps, scrubs and shampoos?  It's startling!  Really, a lot of us are trying so hard to eat organically these days and steer clear of carcinogens that can go IN our bodies, but we don't think twice about what we're putting ON our bodies.

Today I'm going to show you a new line of soaps that are not only 100% organic and natural but also 100% delicious!

Skin Candy Soaps is a unique company that infuses all natural ingredients to make the best smelling soaps, shampoos, scrubs, salts, lotions, candles, lip glosses, room fresheners, after shaves, and more!  The owner and creative genius behind Skin Candy is always coming up with new products and scents to tantalize her customers.

Here's a look at a few of the amazing things she creates:

Fresh Watermelon Soap!

(I kinda want to take a bite)

Old Havana Soap!  Smells like Cuba... if you're Cuban, you know the smell!  Somehow, she infused the rich smell of cedar... just like a cigar box.  It's really smooth... and sexy.

Coffee and Rosemary Soap! Actually has caffeine in it, to help naturally tighten the skin, while waking you up at the same time!

And talk about CUTE packaging... am I right?!

Are you convinced yet?!  I am!
In the Fall, she was selling a Pumpkin Spice Bar and OMG, I just HAD to have it.  It smelled so good that every night I would lay my head on my arm just so I could inhale the pumpkiny goodness!

You can find her on FACEBOOK or on ETSY (in combination with her jewelry design company, Trendy Trinkets). 
And now...
 it's time...
for the...

Skin Candy Soaps is offering one of my winners an All Natural & Organic Shampoo/Conditioner Bar!

I know most of us do not use Shampoo BARS, so let me give you a run down:

The bar is made with all natural, organic, vegan ingredients including vegetable glycerine, coconut oil and natural kiwi juice. The glycerine cleans the hair without stripping it, the coconut oil lightly conditions and the kiwi juice leaves it soft and shiny.  No need for conditioner!  You lather your hair up the same way you would do your body, or even using a wash cloth.  Easy and smells amazing!  And it's KIWI... can you think of a more Summery scent?  I can't! 

Winner will be announced on the morning of Wednesday, July 11.  

Good luck and stay fresh!

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