PINspired August Link-Up

It's that time again!
Our monthly PINspired link-up is here!
Grab a button below, link up, and show me everything that's been PINspiring you throughout the month of August.  Recipes, cleaning, organizing, crafts, fashion... anything goes!

Here's what has PINspired me in August!

1. Melt In Your Mouth Chicken Breast
Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

I made this the other day for dinner.  Yes it was good... everyone ate it up.  But of course it's good... you coat the chicken breasts in MAYONAISE!  How could it NOT be good?  That said, it's not healthy at all... so I wont be making it again.

2. Lasagna Cups

I loved this recipe.  First of all, it's not much more time consuming than making a regular lasagna.  Lasagna is always an involved process... unless you pick up a Stoffers one!  But I loved this most of all because it was ideal for left overs.  Super easy to just take out one lasagna cup, heat it up, and eat it up! Perfect portions!  And it was a little crunchy on top... mmmmm.  This is also a good one to make 2 recipes of and freeze one for a later day.  Note: I used cupcake liners instead of parchment paper.

3. Brownie Batter Dip

This was pretty good.  It tasted best with strawberries.  I'll definitely be saving this recipe for a girly party... probably wouldn't last long!

4. Plastic Bag Holder to Organize Wrapping Paper

On my last trip to IKEA, I picked up one of these little guys for less than $2.  I haven't put it up yet, but I have it ready to go in my storage closet!  I'm ready to make my new house organized!

5.  Make Your House Smell Delish

This did smell pretty good... but for MY nose, it wasn't strong enough.  I don't think I have a very strong sense of smell.

6. DIY Bracelet

This is going to be one of our MOPS crafts next month so I had to make a prototype so I'd know how to instruct the other ladies.  On the site, it says it takes 10 minutes.  Maybe it would if you're an expert crafter... for me it took more like half an hour.  It's hard to make the loops the same size throughout and you have to continuously scrunch as you go, but other than that, it's pretty easy. And once it's on, it looks really pretty!  I can't wait to show my MOPS moms!

Now it's YOUR turn!  Link up!

And don't forget to GRAB a BUTTON!

Birthdays make me Broke!

Lately I've been thinking about birthdays.  Well, birthday parties, really.

I'm sure for many moms, birthday parties for our children is high on the priority list.  It is for me!

But here's the problem... birthday's don't stop coming!  I feel like we just had Marco's birthday and here come's Jonas' right around the corner!

And birthday parties are expensive!  Living in a city where all of your family lives just multiplies the cost.  Because we can't throw a party and just invite the friends because the family will get their feelings hurt.  But we can't throw a party and just invite the family because then my kids' friends wont be there to celebrate.

For Marco's birthday, which was in the middle of June, we had close to 50 people in attendance!  The total cost for that party was close to $500.  The food alone cost $300 and when you add decorations, favors and cake, there you have it!  $500... for a 3 year old's birthday.

And really, I don't think we went overboard.  The food was simply hotdogs, cheeseburgers, chips, fruit, corn and cupcakes... not too much.  It was a pool party, so we didn't rent a bounce house or an entertainer or a face painter.  We didn't rent tables or chairs, but borrowed them from my dad instead.  So, you know... it was done as cost efficiently as possible.

But still!  We spent $500 just 3 months ago and now it's time to do it all again?!  Don't you think it's a little overkill?  I do.

And part of me feels guilty... well if I did it for one, I should do it for the other... blah blah... parental guilt... blah blah... will I scar them for life?

That's it!  I'm putting my foot down on this whole party money sucking fiasco!

I have decided that for Jonas' 2nd birthday, there will be NO bash. (GASP! FAINT!).  Instead, we will be having a play date at a park on the day before (a Thursday) and I will bring cake pops so that we can sing with his friends.  Then on his actual birthday (a Friday) we will have the immediate family get together at my house... and by immediate family, I mean my parents, my siblings, Mauricio's parents, Mauricio's sister and that's IT!  I'll prepare dinner for us and have a cake to celebrate.

The end.

This plan should cost me about $100.  That's a lot more reasonable than $500.

But I can't always do that to Jonas.  It's not fair that I give Marco a huge all-out bash and then give Jonas a lame ol' play date.  So here's what I'm thinking of doing in the future:

Since their birthday's are 3 months apart, I will have ONE birthday bash at the midpoint, 1.5 months after Marco's and 1.5 months before Jonas'.  We will have an all out, hold nothing back, over the top, party of all parties DUAL birthday party.  And it'll be awesome.

Then on each of their actual birthday's, we'll have the small family gathering with dinner and cake at our house to celebrate them individually.

Honestly, it's just too hard doing two big birthday parties.  It's hard on ME, having to plan everything... it's hard on our guests, having to buy gifts again and having ANOTHER party... it's hard on my husband, having to do all that set up and tear down... and it's hard on our wallet!  This will allow us the opportunity to go nuts for our kids ONCE a year and really celebrate the both of them together.  And the good thing is that since they're only a year apart, hopefully they'll have a lot of the same friends and be interested in the same things.

I'm excited for this!  I wish I had thought of it this year instead!

What do YOU do for your kids' birthday?  Do you do a combined party or give each one their own?  How do you make it work for your family?  I'd love to know!  We're still figuring this whole thing out ourselves!

Homeschooling: Week One

Initially I hadn't intended on starting homeschooling until we had officially moved into our new house.  I felt bad creating an even bigger mess at my in-laws than I already have... But, when I looked at my schedule for this week, I had FOUR whole days with not a single thing planned... no doctor's appointment, no Bible study, no play date, no nothing.

So I said, "eh, why not?".  I was ready.  I had pre-planned like a boss and everything was waiting in a ziplock bag to be learned.

We started on Monday:

Monday we did 3 activities.  Two activities with both of them and one with only Marco.

The boys painted:

Then they did a sock toss and I created a track for them to play with their cars on.  The track was not from the curriculum... just an idea I got from THIS BLOG.

Then Marco and I did shape/color matching:

And what did I learn from the first day?
That they shouldn't be cooped up in the house.  This can't be our only activity for the day.  By the afternoon they were BEGGING to go outside... so we went for a walk in the hot Miami weather.
And, that if I was well prepared, everything went pretty smoothly.
AND, that a 3 year old (or mine at least) can't sit still for 3 minutes.  He concentrates well and completes tasks perfectly, but his energy is forever flowing!

We continued on Tuesday:
Tuesday we also did 3 activities:  1 with both boys and 2 with just Marco.

We measured each other and talked about words like "tall" "taller" "tallest", "short" "shorter" "shortest".  Marco did really well.  Jonas walked away.

Then we talked about fractions with slicing an apple... and we devoured said apple with peanut butter and nutella... can you say "AMAZING?"... because it was!

And lastly, we painted an apple tree.  And if that isn't the most beautiful apple tree you've ever seen then you definitely need help!

On Wednesday we took the day off and headed to a park for some down time.
Thursday we had MOPS, so our entire morning was spent.

So we finished off our week on Friday with 3 more activities, but those smiling faces as pictured above, were gone.

Marco started off the day saying, "Noooo, I don't WANNA do schoooool"... that's a good sign.  But we did it anyway!
Because he's 3 and he doesn't make the rules.  Booya.

We played Hide The A... like hide and seek but with the letter A.  He only wanted to play 3 rounds, but I didn't push it because it was "supposed to be fun".

Then we laced an apple.  This activity was like pulling teeth with Marco.  He didn't want to do it.  He didn't want to complete it.  I told him he had to finish.  I bribed him with candy.  Jonas on the other hand, sat with me and completed it!  He was so proud of himself too!
see the face? He's really enjoying this!
Lastly, Marco and I used a glue stick to glue small pieces of paper onto a coloring sheet.  He's never used a glue stick before, so it was interesting.  The hardest part for me was to allow him to do it by himself and for him to use his "creative liberty" to do it the way he wanted.  The adult in me still wants it to look pretty and organized... I gotta learn to let go.

So that's it... week 1 complete.  9 activities down... 9 more to go next week.
Stay tuned... we've got lots more to do!

Curriculum can be found and purchased HERE.

Book Club Friday

This week I read devoured 2 books.  They were beautiful... amazing... moving... lovely.  I loved every minute of it.  I didn't want them to end. 

I knew these characters.
I could see them.
I could hear them. 
I fell in love with them. 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

17 year old Mia is in the car with her mom, dad and kid brother one snowy morning, when her life changes forever.  The car crash killed her family and she is now in a coma.  She gets to choose whether she stays or goes.  She has to make the choice between living in a world without her loved ones, or joining them on the other side.

The story moves between what is actually happening and her memories.  She has amazing parents.  They're loving, caring, funny and hip.  I fell in love with them from the start.  She has an amazing boyfriend, Adam, who's the lead singer of a new up and coming emocore band, Shooting Star.  Music has been what links them.  Mia is an advanced cello player, on the brink of getting accepted to study at Julliard.  

This book.  I sobbed my way through it.  It was beautifully written.  Like I said before, I loved these characters... every single one of them.  It was funny and raw and heartbreaking all at once.  I didn't want it to end but I couldn't put it down... I read it in 3 sittings! 

5 Stars
Best book I've read ALL year! 

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This is the sequel to If I Stay.  It's told from Adam's perspective, 3 years after the fatal crash.  Adam's band, Shooting Star has hit major success, won a grammy even, but Adam has been in a deep depression.  He can't get over losing Mia and it haunts him. 

This is a story of reunited love and forgiveness.  It's also heartbreakingly lovely.  Some of the phrases Adam would say, I'd read over and over to try to really engrave it, because it was stunning.  This story also moves between the present and the past. 

I didn't love this book as much as the first, mostly because a lot of my favorite characters were not in it... they had all died in the crash... but it was such an amazing way to tie up the story.  I really appreciate that Forman didn't try to milk another book from this story and leave us with another cliffhanger.  There's a neat ending that leaves you with a sigh of relief.

5 Stars

Get these books!  You wont regret it. 

A Privilege and a Sacrifice

Not long ago I was at a restaurant with my family.  We were in the front of the restaurant, waiting to be seated, and the boys were jumping all over Mauricio, excited to be with their daddy after a long day of work. I sat on a bench, watching them, finally relieved to have no one touching me for a few minutes and have the attention elsewhere.  I could breathe a minute... decompress.

An older lady sitting next to me struck up a conversation with me.
She said:  Is that your son?  (pointing at Marco)
I said: Yes... and that one too... (pointing to Jonas)
She said:  Oh wow... TWO little ones? You must have your hands so full...

Can I just rant for a minute?  This is the MOST annoying, MOST cliche thing you can say to a mother. First of all, DUH.  Of course I have my hands full.  Every mom has her hands full.  Motherhood is hard.  BUT, more importantly, my hands are full, but I LIKE it that way.  My children are not a burden to me.  They're most definitely hard work, time consuming and patience testing, but I love them more than my whole life, so yes, my hands are wonderfully full... and my heart?  Over-flowingly full.

I nodded.
She said: So, who takes care of them?
I gave her a questioning confused look
I said: I do?
She said:  Well yes, I know... but during the day?
Another questioning confused look
I said: I do?
She said:  Yes, yes, but while you're at work... who takes care of them?
I said:  Oh!  I'm a stay-at-home-mom... I don't work.

And here it is guys... the point of the whole story...
She opens her arms, really dramatic-like and says in a sing-songy voice...
"Oooooo, what a PRIVILEGED LAAAADY!"


I didn't know what to say, so I meekly said:
"Yes, we are blessed.  My husband is a great provider and we're able to make it work".

But that was the wrong answer.
Don't you sometimes wish you had a rewind button?  Ugh.  I could have put her in her place sooooo good, if only I hadn't been like a deer in headlights!

Here's what I really think on the subject...

Am I privileged?  Hell yes.  I am so grateful that I get to spend every day with my kids... that I get to be their teacher, their playmate, their referee, their boo-boo kisser, their nap time snuggler.  It would break my stinkin' heart if I couldn't do those things for them.

Am I a "Privileged Lady"?  Hell NO!  I ain't rich.  We don't have nannies or butlers or chefs or drivers. We had to live with my in-laws for a whole year to save money to buy a house.  Mauricio's car is from 1997.  My car is a hand-me-down from my mom because I totalled my old car, which by the way was my high school graduation gift.  We buy things off of Craigslist all the time.  We clothes shop at Target.  We haven't taken a vacation since our honeymoon.  We don't have texting.  We don't have cable.  We have to strictly budget and save in order to buy the things we want.

We are not rich...
We are not "Privileged"... in the way she was saying it.

We make an enormous amount of sacrifices for me to be able to stay home with the kids.  It's not something we take lightly.  We could be much better off.  We could both have 401K's.  But we don't.  Because THIS is the time for us to sacrifice.

We feel that it is more important for me to be home with our kids... so that we can decide how to raise them, how to discipline them, what kind of things they should be learning, or exposed to.  We make all the choices.  We are in a completely controlled environment.  For us, that's more important than new cars, yearly vacations, Nordstrom clothes.

So yes, it is a privilege... but it's also a sacrifice.
Dont' get confused.

Potty Training: Year One Complete!

I just realized yesterday, we've already been into this potty training thing for a year now! We started potty training Marco on August 9 of last year!

But potty training, for a little one, especially a boy, takes lots of time.  There will be accidents for years to come.  There will be days where he gets more pee on his pants than in the toilet.  There will be days when he'd rather pee his pants then interrupting a good game outside.  I know that.

But in a whole year, we've accomplished a lot!

He still wears Pull Ups to go to sleep at night, but he's in undies all day, including for his nap!

Occasionally he still has a nap time accident, but he usually wakes up and tells me immediately.

He never has poop accidents anymore... praise God, that's the most disgusting thing ever.

So, I guess he's not considered "fully potty trained" because he still sleeps with a Pull Up, but we're ok with that.  There's no rush for me.  Honestly, I'd rather wait for him to be ready than push the subject and have 3am wake up calls that include me having to change bedding.

I'm proud of him... and he's proud too!
my big, handsome boy!
Now, Jonas is next.  He's beginning to show signs that he's getting ready.  He tells me as soon as he poops and wants to be changed immediately.  He also tells me when he pees, although he calls it ca-ca too.

I'm not really mentally prepared to tackle this all over again, so I'll be holding off until December, I think.

More than HIM being ready, I need to get ready!

To read more about my potty training adventures:
Potty Training Prep
Potty Training Day 1
Potty Training Days 2-3
Potty Training Not Done Yet
Potty Training We Got It

Dreaming in Ikea

This weekend, Mauricio and I did a date night at Ikea.  You guys, I LOVE Ikea.  Who doesn't?  So we dropped the kids off at my dad's house and headed an hour north to the only Ikea down this way.  It's worth the drive... for sure. 

While there, we did a lot of walking, a little bit of fighting (seriously), and a lot of dreaming.  We can't afford to get everything we want today... but we have a wish list. 

So what did we actually buy on our trip?  
Lightbulbs, a screen for our bedroom door (it's a french door), legs for our Expedit Shelving Unit and chocolate (of course)! 
Yeah, that's it... really productive.

But, we DID make our wish list.  So here's what we've dreaming about at Ikea:

The Hemnes dresser:  It's $300.  We already have the bed and night tables, so this is the last piece from the bedroom collection that we'd want.  This is the first thing on our wish list because we actually need it.  And I love it.
This is a floor lamp I want for our bedroom.  It's grey and will match nicely with the decor we've got going.  It's only $30, so it's not gonna break the bank!
Ok, let's talk curtains for a minute... this is actually the cause of our Ikea fight.  Curtains are expensive... ugh.  But so necessary!  So here's the real problem... the wall where our bed is going to be has an offset window... it's not centered.  This drives me batty.  So, after MUCH research on the subject, designers usually just frame the bed to make an apperance of a large window... or cover the whole wall with curtains.  This is not ideal for us because it becomes really dusty and with my lung problems, I shouldn't be sleeping around a dust absorber (should anyone?).  So, my idea was to use the Ikea panel curtains behind the bed instead.  It's much thinner than curtains and wont cause dust build up. 

I want to use 4 plain white, with a woven texture, right behind the bed and then the curtain below on the far end of the walls. 
Then these curtains also on the other window, framing the window traditionally.  
And then these pillows, the exact same fabric as the curtains, to tie it all together.  I especially like that it's all stark white, since the rest of the room is dark grey with black furniture.  
What do YOU think???

Eventually we'd like to get this couch, but it's over $1000, so it's gonna have to wait a while.  We love how modern and large this is.  
We'd also like a TV entertainment unit... it's a monster. But I can't find it online to show you, so you'll have to believe me when I say it's awesome!  But, it's like $1600, so it's definitely gonna have to wait.  And we'll need a larger tv to put on it, so yeah, this is major dreaming. 

Now, this desk, I love.  It's thin and long... perfect for ME.  I really want a desk for the living area so I can blog/work/blog while watching the kids play or whatever... This one is only $70, so it's doable.  But Mauricio wants to wait to see if we really have room for it.  Ugh, he's so practical. 
This will be a purchase further down the line, if/when we redo our master bath.  I love this vanity because it too is from the Hemnes collection and would perfectly match our bedroom furniture.  It looks so sleek with a while sink and silver hardware. 

With this medicine cabinet above it.  There is so much storage space inside AND there are mirrors on the inside too.  It's pretty much amazing. 
And I want these containers for our kitchen... I need 4... for rice, flour, sugar and chocolate (Nestle Quick).  This will only be like $40, so I'll be buying it soon.
So, this is our short list... of course, when we're actually there, there are about 100 more things we want.  

The hard part is waiting.  Sometimes I wish we were ok with getting into debt and we could just get a credit card and go nuts... but that wouldn't be very smart or responsible, would it?  So we'll wait.  We'll save.  We'll be boring responsible.  

But in the meantime, I'll be dreaming in Ikea. 

What I Sing Now

I have told you all in the past that I studied Vocal Performance in college.
To clarify that for non-music people... that's Opera.

Not many people say they studied Opera in college... but I did.  Some may say it's a dying art form, to which I would have to sort of agree (my music colleagues are gasping right now), but really, jobs are scarse.  In fact, of all the people I knew in college, only TWO of them are actually performing in that genre.

I could have continued my education... I was invited to audition at the Manhattan School of Music, and the story of why I didn't end up auditioning will have to be another post because it's too long.  But honestly, I didn't know what I wanted to do.  Jobs are scarse.

So I decided to move into education and become a middle school chorus teacher.  I loved that job.  I never ever wanted to teach, but I learned that I liked teaching after all.  I went from singing Mozart arias to middle-school choral music over night.

And along with teaching, my voice began to deteriorate.  I was singing for about 8 hours a day.  Loudly.  And I was talking for even more than that.  My voice was getting really tired.

So I started taking voice lessons to regain that strength, but at my level, voice lessons were pricey!  Like $80 an hour!  It was way too expensive.

Then I became a mom, quit teaching and my repertoire changed yet again.
These days, all I sing is "Twinkle Twinkle", "ABC's" and "Happy Birthday".

I teach on Saturdays, but I don't really SING.  I listen to kids sing and demonstrate throughout, but I don't SING.

I haven't REALLY sung in YEARS.

And now, I'm terrified.

I'm so vocally out of shape.  I desperately need voice lessons, but I can't afford them.  I would like to take the time to practice, but I can't figure out when... I can't do it while the kids nap because I'm too loud.  I can't do it when they're awake because they want to monopolize the piano and tell me what to sing.

So why does it matter?

Because now, at my job, we are being asked to perform several times a year.
And again... I'm terrified!

What if I go up there and suck it up... and then people are like "THAT girl is teaching MY kid?".  And guess what?  I can't go up there and sing "You Are My Sunshine" (my specialty) ... I'm gonna have to sing Mozart!  And I haven't sung that in at least 7 years.

You guys, I'm scared.
Maybe this is the push I need.
But I'm still scared.

Oh and, I just found out that I'm the oldest and most experienced voice teacher at my job.  That just adds more pressure.

(I wanna cry)

Homeschooling: Pre Planning

I shared with you last week that we have decided to homeschool Marco for K3 instead of sending him to school.
I came across the perfect curriculum and got started right away.

First I hit up Target and bought some supplies. You know, the basics: crayons, paint, brushes, sharpies, highlighters, glue sticks, etc... What is it about fresh school supplies that makes you feel like you can tackle on the world?!  (ahhh, I'm a nerd).

Then I printed Week 1 lessons from the curriculum and the accompanying coloring sheets.  I needed to have it in my hand in order to make notes, cross out, and get a real feel for it.

It can be a little overwhelming to start.  I had 16 pages in my hand and I didn't know where to begin.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to follow the curriculum to the days that were already outlined, so the first thing I did was forget about the written "days".  I would build my own days.

As I looked through each lesson, individually, I had to decide if it was suitable for both children to participate OR if this was an activity I had to reserve for just Marco.  I also had to decide which activities we were not going to do at all because it was something we did anyway (go to the library) or something I KNEW my kids wouldn't even attempt (bobbing for apples).  Once I had labeled each activity as such, I started to put them together.

I decided it would be best for me to do 1-2 activities with both children, then put Jonas down for a nap, and complete the day with only Marco before his nap.  So I had to rearrange the order of some of the lessons so that they follow along that plan.

Then I put it all onto a spread sheet so that I could see a day's work at a glance and go back to the curriculum guide for the details.  I color coded it so I can also see at a glance if it is an activity for both boys or just for Marco.
Then I went onto the site for my local library and reserved 5 of the accompanying literature books to be picked up together.  This way, I don't have to do the searching while at the library with 2 wild boys!  It'll be ready for me when I get there!

The way I have broken it down here, I'll be doing 3 lessons a day, 3 days per week, so this will take me 2 weeks to complete. 

Doing all of this took me less about an hour.

During another nap time, I went through each lesson and prepared all of the manipulatives that need to be pre-made so that I'll have everything for the entire two weeks ready to go in my folder. 

This took a little longer... about 2 hours.  It's not difficult, but tedious... a lot of cutting, coloring and laminating.  I've been laminating using contact paper and I'm really happy with the results... everything is sturdy and nice.  I'm only laminating the things I think will be used more in other lessons and weeks, such as the number cards... that way I don't have to make them ever again (hopefully). 

Good thing I only have my two boys with me for all of this because, really, I don't make pretty letters, or apples, or cut straight.  But they don't care if my apples look like apples, or pumpkins or tomatos!  Whew! 

I still have a few more things to make, which I don't have all the supplies for, but that's ok.  

I'm not going to be able to begin my teaching schedule until I move into our new house.  With all the hands on, crafty, painting activities, I don't feel good about doing that at my in-law's house... just in case, ya know!

Stay tuned... we've only just begun! 

Raising Boys (Points 16-20)

Today I share with you the final 5 points from the article about raising boys.  It's been so fun sharing with you MY take on these 20 points... from what little I know in the 3 years of being a boys' mom.

Thanks for all of your sweet comments throughout... it's been really fun!

In case you missed it, my first 3 posts can be found here and here and here.

16.  You Will Struggle With Gender Roles
Ummm, not so much.  We go to all-girls-houses and they will gladly play with pink dolls and kitchen sets... and it doesn't bother me one bit.  In fact, one of Marco's favorite games is to pretend he's cooking... and I love it!  Real men cook, amen?  That's about all I'm gonna say on this subject for now...

17.  You Will Revise Your Wedding Fantasies- and Be Fine With It.
Yes!  This was a bit of a heart breaker for me when we realized that Jonas would be a boy and then when we learned that he would be our last.  More than a wedding fantasy was the dream of having my little girl be my best friend.  I stil get teary eyed to think about it.  But I know that it's ok... it's God's design for our family to be this way.  I'm just praying hard for God to deliver us two amazing beautiful and loving brides for my boys... and that they can be the daughters I never had.

18.  Boys Sometimes Need to Hug It Out.
Marco is a tough guy... but he still needs his Mama to kiss his ay-ay's and hug him when he's overly tired or cranky.  Jonas loves snuggles and hugs and kisses all the time!  Marco always wants to be with his Daddy, but when he's sick, it's me he wants... YES!  The other day he was fevered and sick and I told him to go lay with Daddy and he said, "Noooo, I want Yoooouuuu"... oh yeah... mom wins!

19.  You Will Throw Away Tons of Clothes
So far we've been lucky enough to not have to throw away TONS of clothes, just the few jeans with holes or shoes that are worn through the soles.  But a lot of shirts we've been able to pass down to Jonas and even donate them after that... sure, they're a little worn and faded, but still totally wearable.  We figure that if Jonas is just going to damage them further, why bother getting all new clothes?  Especially when they're mostly used for parks and play dates... no need for the fashion show.  But I know that as they get older, the less we'll be able to pass down.  That's ok, because as previously discussed, boys clothes are cheap! ha!

20. Boys Love Their Moms
It's true... they sure do.  While they're all about Dad too, there is nothing like Mom.  I pray that as they get older I'm able to nurture our relationships so that they know that no matter how old they are, they can still come back to rest in my arms.

They are my boys... dirty, stinky, sweaty, scraped up, snot-nosed boys... and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Elaine's Crafts Giveaway!

You may remember I hosted my first Elaine's Crafts Giveaway late last year.  Recently, Elaine contacted me again and told me she had been working on some new designs and wanted to host yet ANOTHER giveaway!

Elaine specializes in making custom signs for your home.  She has a multitude of options up on her Etsy Shop for you to choose from, but she's not afraid of making something unique to fit exactly what you have in mind!

The last time she made me a sign, it was this cute one for Jonas.  I loved it!  I mean, really, how adorable is that for a little boys' room?!

This time, I asked her to make me a sign to adorn our new home.  We are so excited to finally move in (in a few short weeks) and this will be the first thing I put up.  I already know where it's going... above our kitchen door!
I found the saying on Pinterest and loved it so I asked her to incorporate it into the sign.  Then, it was a pleasant surprise to see she had also included our last name to the background!  So thoughtful and special!

And now, Elaine is even selling the accompanying frames to go along with your sign!  So when it arrives in the mail, all you need is a nail! (totally didn't mean for that to rhyme).  It's ready to go... no need to go to the store and try to find the perfect fitting frame... she's got you covered!

I have really loved working with Elaine, as she is so gracious and thoughtful.  She really takes time with each piece to make it perfect for her clients.  I have been over-the-top happy with her work!

Go ahead and visit her Etsy shop and tell her what you'd like!
Or you can find her shop through her Sponsor button on my side bar.

And Now...
It's Time...
For A...

Elaine has offered one lucky winner a custom sign of their choice!
Winner will be announced on Friday, August 17.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Nail Files

I was lucky enough to steal way on Monday for an hour to go have myself a mani!  Woohoo!

I found the BEST nail salon in Miami and it's close to my house and everyone speaks English/Spanish so I can actually have a conversation with them.  But that's not the best part... a mani is only $12! Hello!

I decided to go fierce this time, so I chose:
Essie: Over The Top
with an OPI sparkle cover coat on the ring finger.

And its... GORGEOUS
Did you get a mani/pedi this week?  Link up and show it off!

He Said

We were in the car and we heard a song that said the word "Heaven"... Marco thought it said "Kevin"... and here's the conversation that followed:

Marco: Kevin?!  That's my cousin's name!
Me:  Baby, it said Heaven... with an H... not Kevin.
Marco: What's Heaven?
Me: Heaven is the place where Jesus lives in the sky... Do you want to go there?
Marco: (pensive) No...
Me: Why not?
Marco:  No, I'm too tired to go to Heaven...
Me:  But Marco, that's where Jesus lives... don't you want to meet Jesus?
Marco: (appalled) I don't know him!

It's a hard concept for a 3 year old...
We were in the car and Mauricio and I were talking, when Marco invited himself into our conversation...

Me: Ugh, I really need a haircut.  It's been almost a year since I had one...
Marco: Mom, you can't have a haircut... you're not a little boy!
Me:  Oh, so only little boys can have haircuts?
Marco: Yeah, when you grow up and become a little boy, you can have a haircut.
Me:  But Marco, I am grown up... and I'll never become a little boy.
Marco:  But MoOoOm, you wont fit in the chair!
We were in the car (are you noticing a pattern here) and Mauricio and I were talking again, when Marco invited himself into our conversation... again...

Me: Where are we going to dinner?
Mauricio:  I don't care... I'm not gonna eat anyway because I had a big lunch.
Marco:  Daddy, you ALWAYS have to eat... You have to eat so you can grow up big and strong like me.

Our very own words haunt us.
Mauricio works at a company that designs seats for high-end jets.  But to simplify this for our children, we tell them that "Daddy makes the chairs for the airplanes".  The only real connection Marco can make with this is the scene from Toy Story 2 that takes place on a plane.  So when we call him while he's at work, the conversation sometimes goes like this:

Mauricio: Ok, well I gotta go back to work...
Marco: Ok Daddy, go run after that plane real quick... Ride like the wind Bullseye!
One day I was asking Marco which movie he'd like to watch...

Me:  Would you like... Toy Story?  or Lion King?  or maybe... The Incredibles?
Marco:  Yeah!  Maybe The Incredibles!

So now... The Incredibles is officially called "Maybe The Incredibles".  He only always calls it that.

Raising Boys (Points 11-15)

Today I will continue my analysis of this article I found via Pinterest.  It describes 20 things you never knew about raising a boy... and seeing that I'm raising 2, I thought I'd compare it to my real life experiences.
I discussed the 5 first points here.
And points 6-10 here.

11. You'll Learn Not to Compare Your Son to Girls
I was at a friend's house.  She has a little girl about 5 months older than Marco... and she's sweet, kind and smart.  My friend had the idea to do a craft with the kids.  So she sat her daughter and my son down, gave them the craft supplies and instructed them on how to do it.  As her daughter worked, she was able to sit calmly and work thoroughly... my son however, was up and out of his chair 5 seconds after starting.  He knocked over the supplies, threw them on the floor, licked them, ran around a bit and was satisfied with letting her finish it for him.  My friend (who was then pregnant with a boy), looked up at me with horror in her eyes... "Is this how boys are?".  To which I gave a solemn nod, "yes".  It's true that if you compare your sons to your friends daughters, you will want to cry.  Just don't do it.  They're wired differently, so you can't compare.  It's like apples and oranges dinosaurs.

12.  Star Wars Takes Over Earlier Than You Expect
Ok, so for us it's not necessarily "Star Wars".  I'm not a fan and while Mauricio likes it, he's not die hard about it like most men.  Our children have not seen or been exposed to much Star Wars yet, although Marco does have a shirt that he loves because it's his "space ship shirt".  He is, however, a space lover.  He loves to read books about boy astronauts or look at rockets.  He thinks all of that is coooool.  In fact, we were thinking about decorating their new room in a rocket theme, until we had to change the color.  But "Star Wars"?  Not yet.  Remember in my last post I said he thought a light sabre was a fishing pole... we're just not there yet.

13.  You'll Probably Make a Trip to the Emergency Room
So far we've dodged the bullet on this one.  Actually, we've only been to the ER once (click here for all the gory details)  for Jonas, and he was only 8 months old at the time, AND it was Mauricio's fault.  Luckily, with all the jumping, running, hitting and falling that my boys do on a minute-by-minute basis, we've never had to go to the ER.  But even just writing this makes me a bit nervous... you know that we're overdue.  It's like it's coming, it's right around the corner, but we just don't know when.  I have a friend (who blogs here) and has 2 crazy boys.  I think they know her by name at the ER.  For a mother, it can be nerve wrecking, but it sure does make life interesting!

14.  Sports Obsession Can Be Hardwired
Yup.  I even see it with Jonas, he's always yelling "BAAAALLLL".  Marco has always loved playing sports.  Right before he was 2, he would chant "Ba-Ket-Ball", so for his 2nd birthday, we did a BasketBall themed birthday.  During the Heat games, Marco and Mauricio chant "Let's Go Heat!" at the top of their lungs and Jonas joins in with his version, "BA-BA-BOO".  He insists on wearing his "Basketball clothes" for his naps, which consists of a tank top and soft shorts.  It's another one of those things that's just ingrained in their very souls.  And, they want to be just like Daddy... so Basketball and Soccer are the favorites.
15.  Pee Will Be Everywhere.  Everywhere.
Don't worry... pee is not everywhere.  But it's enough places that it just doesn't phase us anymore.  Any time Jonas is naked, he runs into a corner and pees somewhere.  Mauricio says he's like a little puppy.  Marco loves peeing outside and anytime we go to the pool, I think he spends more time peeing outside the pool than actually playing in it!  So yes, boys love their penises (or is it peni?) and love peeing everywhere.  Fun times... especially the clean up!

Can you relate?  Tell me how!


Early in January, I had decided that it was time for me to find a school for Marco to go to in the Fall. He would be going into PK3 and I was ready to release him a bit.

I decided to enroll him in a local Christian school that had a 3 day half day program. So he'd be going Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 8-12. I only wanted him to go 3 days because I didn't want to separate him from Jonas so abruptly. They're best friends and they're pretty attached to each other.

One day I was talking to two ladies that homeschool their kids and the subject came up. When I told them that I didn't think I had the patience to do it, they said that they didn't either but that God equipped them for it. Then one of them said that when you make a decision to homeschool, you don't have to decide then and there to do it all the way through high school graduation... You can choose to go year by year. I really liked that. So often we feel like we have to make all of the decisions for our kids RIGHT NOW... But we don't. We can "play it by ear".

But even after our conversation, I said hellz no... I want my freedom. I want to go to the grocery store or the doctor with only one child.

And then during the Bible Study of Jonah that I was taking this summer, Priscilla Shirer said something to me during her DVD lesson. It was like she may as well had said, "Nicole, are you listening?". She said, "maybe God is calling you to homeschool when you just thought you were about to have some freedom for the first time". I looked around the room and put my head down "no God, not me...".

Then we bought our house, and we went from saving every penny to spending every penny overnight. A few days after the close, Mauricio turned to me and said, "I think you need to withdrawal Marco from the preschool you enrolled him into... It's just an unnecessary expense that we don't need to take on right now." to which I responded, "well, he's already 3, so I want him to do something..." and them he said what I had been running from all along, "why don't you homeschool him". Hmmm? Come again?

But in my experience, running from God and going against your husband does not yield the best results, so I submitted to both of them. I called the school the very next day and explained our circumstance and withdrew him from the program.

I also spent most of the afternoon researching PK3 curriculum. It's very limited and sometimes expensive. I also know that if I tried to make up my own curriculum, I'd get frustrated because there's a lot of prep time and not a lot of do time. And truthfully, I'm just not that creative Finally, I found the one!
What I love about it is that it's very versatile and fool proof. There are step by step instructions for materials, preparation and instruction. There are 6 subjects per day; English, Literature, Pre-Math, Motor Skills, Science and Art. And sometimes one or two are switched out for Social Studies or Music.

The curriculum has been laid out to be covered over the course of 26 weeks, one week for every letter of the alphabet. 5 days a week with 6 lessons per day! That's a whopping 780 complete lessons!

So because it's so extensive and because I plan to include Jonas in a lot of the lessons, I'll be cutting it in half and doing 3 lessons per day. At this rate it'll take me 2 weeks to complete each letter. And an entire year (52 weeks) to complete the whole curriculum!

Will I be permanently homeschooling the boys? Will Marco go to PK4 next fall? Honestly, I don't know. I don't have the answer to any of these questions. For now, I know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.

And I'm gonna do it. I'm really going to try and stick with the plan and get these boys learning together.

I'm encouraged. And excited. Now I've got to do a little preplanning and we'll be ready to get started as soon as we move into our new home!

Stay tuned for updates!

Color Continued

A week and a half ago, I shared with you the colors we chose for our house.  We chose them hastily and we were under the clock... we had to get them then and there because people were going to be meeting us in the morning to help paint, and it was only one hour till Home Depot closed.

We painted the very next day.  We had 8 people over to help and each person tackled a different room or color.  The orange looked beautiful and crisp.  The brown looked smooth and warm.  The main color was perfect for bringing it all together.  

In my room, at first we were afraid that we chose wrong, but after painting it all, it looked incredible!  The dark wall is so chique and bold.  We love it!

But I we made a mistake in choosing one color. The bottom color for the boys' room.  I wanted the room to be dark blue on the bottom, creamy tan on top with a white chair rail in the middle.  But when we applied the blue color, it wasn't right.  It was BLLLLUUUUUUEEEEE!  And then, when Mauricio told the guy at the counter that it was for the boys' room, he suggested we get a semi-gloss finish so that it's easy to clean.  But that made it super shiny and changed the color from the swatch drastically.  It looked like a classroom.

It was wrong.  Every time we walked in there, we hated it.  So we debated, and debated for over a week on what to do.  Mauricio was tired of painting and spending money that we already spent, but I was not happy leaving it in a way that we hate just for $35! (Because a gallon of paint is about $35).  I was insistant that if we didn't change it now, before we moved in, that we'd have to live with it for a while.  And then to paint it after we move in would be a mission... it's much easier to paint with no furniture in the way. 

Yesterday morning we woke up and headed to Home Depot to buy more paint and change the color.  But this time Mauricio wanted to go with a green bottom.  
While I love green, and Marco says "green is my favorite", it does kinda ruin my plans for a rocket room.  

Now I'm completely stumped as to what to do in their room.  I've been browsing and I can do a "woodsy theme" but I'm afraid that they'll outgrow that quickly.  I can do a "dinosaur theme" but I personally am not fond of dinosaur stuff.  And then I thought of a "soccer theme".  I honestly don't know.  If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! 

We also picked out a simple color for the office, since we don't have any bold pieces for that room yet.  We chose this one:
Once those two rooms are done, and if we are happy with them, all we'll have left are the bathrooms.  

I'll get pictures to post some time next week, once everything is dry and looking good!  


This summer my mother-in-law and I did a Bible study together. We met every wednesday morning at a church with about 50 other women and studied the book of Jonah.  We used a curriculum book, workbook and dvd set by Priscilla Shirer and she was amazing.
Throughout the course of the 6 week study, I learned a lot about Jonah, but even more about myself.

I'm sure, whether your a Christian, an atheist or a 3 year old, you've heard the wildly unbelievable story of Jonah; the man who was swallowed by a whale (or "big fish" according to the Bible), spit out 3 days later, and lived to tell about it!  But what I learned throughout the course of the study, was that the whale was really only a small part of Jonah's story.

If you have time to read through the book of Jonah, I encourage you to do so.  It's only 4 chapters long and should really take you no more than a half hour to read through.

Throughout the book, you see that Jonah knew God... like really knew Him.  They had a relationship... they talked to each other.  Jonah could hear Him clearly.  So when God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and deliver a message, there was no confusion.  Jonah knew exactly what God was telling him to do.

And he ran.  He deliberately disobeyed God.

Haven't we all been there?  Haven't we heard God speak to us and deliberately disobeyed Him?  Or pretended like we didn't hear Him?  I have!

So throughout the study we were challenged to find our own "Ninevah's".  A place where God has asked us to go to that we DON'T want to go.  And we have a choice... to obey or not.

For me, one "Ninevah" that I knew God was calling me to was with MOPS.  I knew God was telling me to take over the MOPS in Miami... but I didn't want to do it.  I could hear God telling me that that's where He wanted me, but I was reluctant.  But when I finally did obey, I knew that I knew that I knew that that was where I was supposed to be.

A "Ninevah" that God revealed to me during the course of this class was homeschooling.  I felt like God was whispering it to me... but I am soooooo reluctant to do it.  I never wanted to homeschool.  I don't have the patience.  (I'll be posting more about this next week).

Here's what I most took from the study.  God can see the big picture.  We can not.  We see things linearly... God sees things in every way imaginable... from the front, back, beginning, end, sides and in between.  So God knows that what He is asking us to do now will create repercussions throughout our lives and other people's lives for all of eternity.  Does He NEED us to do it?  Does He NEED us in order to accomplish the goal?  Absolutely NOT!  He's GOD!  But WE need Him.  We need what He's offering us.
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28
Doesn't that bring you hope?!  We can trust, without a doubt, that whatever scary thing God is asking us to do, will inevitably be for good.

Jonah's disobedience caused him to be thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish.  While we think that the fish is the consequence to his disobedience, it was really his saving grace.  Had that fish not swallowed him, he would have drowned and would not have been able to complete the task God had laid before him.  Although reluctant, he went to Ninevah, and an entire city was changed.  God used ONE man to turn the hearts of thousands.  Jonah didn't want to do it... but he obeyed anyway.

We have to let go of our "feelings" and just do it.  We have to trust God enough to know that His promises are true always.  And our "feelings" and our "emotions" are hormonal and imbalanced and not absolute truth.

When God tells us to move, we need to obey regardless of how we feel.  God will take care of us.  God sees the big picture.  God is guiding us.  God loves us.  And God wants to use us to change us and to be a tool to help change others.

Be encouraged, friend.  The road up ahead may be scary, but you've got Him right beside you.  And if He brings you TO it, He will see you THROUGH it!

Raising Boys (Points 6-10)

This is the 2nd part of a 4 part series where I compare this article to my real life experience with raising boys.  Mind you, I'm only 3 years into this journey, so I know there's still a lot to learn and a lot more to experience.  I can't wait.
Please share with me your take on these points!  Do you find them to be true?  Do you think that girls are way different, or are the pretty much alike?  I'd love to hear from you!
Here's the first 5 points, in case you missed it...

6. You'll Learn to Love Legos
Actually, this one is not true for me yet.  Maybe it will be one day... if I learn how to contain them.  But as of right now, we have one set of big (generic brand) legos that are mostly all either lost behind the couch or hiding out wherever all the lost socks are.  If I could trust that my boys wont just dump the bucket of legos on the floor, kick at them for 3 minutes and then walk away, maybe I'd allow it.  But I can't!  Because that's exactly what they do.  They'll play with it for about 2 minutes... assemble a few... pretend it's a horn or a space ship... then SMASH IT and kick it under the couch.  Legos and I do not have a loving relationship.

7.  Roughhousing is Innate
I can see how this is true for Marco.  He loves to get playfully shoved in the face, or held down for tickles.  He also wants to do that to us.  The problem lies when BOTH boys do not particularly enjoy roughhousing.  Jonas likes it, but he has his limits... and Marco doesn't understand where that line is.  Jonas is also very moody, so sometimes he'll be rolling on the ground with Marco and then sometimes if Marco just lays a hand on him, he'll begin to wail.  You just never know.  The main problem is that Jonas never comes out the victor in their roughhousing games.  Jonas is always overthrown or pinne down by big brother.  Hopefully once Jonas gets a little bigger, stronger and heavier, he'll be a better contender for Marco and it'll level the playing field.

8.  You'll Want to Mold Him into a Steller Boyfriend
Mauricio works on this with Marco more than I do.  He's always telling him to "go help your mom" or "don't say that to your mom" or "be nice".  I appreciate that, because I know that if they learn to be kind to ME, that it'll bleed over to all women.  We don't have very many girl friends for Marco to play with.  We have a few and to those, I try to teach him to let them go first, to be gentle with them and to be kind.  So far we haven't had any issues!  This will be a long lesson, I'm sure.

9.  The Goofiness Starts Early
In the article, it talks about "potty humor" as the "goofiness".  Thankfully we haven't started that yet, although with boys, it is inevitable.  They are goofy still, but in a more innocent way.  For them, the funniest thing they can do to each other is... spit.  But not spit in a gross way... like they're not hocking a loogie at each other... yet.  They blog raspberries in each other's faces and crack up... or they spit out bath water at each other.  Jonas just thinks this is hilarious.  Like, fall-over-laughing funny.  They're goofy and it's fun to watch!

10. Even Sweet-as-Pie Boys Love Guns
This is something that has fascinated me.  We don't have any toy guns and we don't watch any violent tv, but one time, Marco picked up a wrapping paper roll and pointed it at me and went "pshew pshew".  Huh?  How did he know?!  When I asked him what he was doing, he told me that he was Spiderman shooting his webs at me.  Ok, so he still doesn't "know" what guns are, but he does know how to exhibit violent manly behavior.  Once we were at a friends house and her son was playing with Star Wars light sabers... he was aiming it at Marco, poised to fight, and Marco looked at me and said, "look Mom, we're going fishing"!  He thought it was a fishing pole!  Regardless, whether it's actually guns, or swords or just Spiderman webs, they know, like it's built into their souls, how to be a fighter.  It's not necessarily a bad thing, but absolutely something we have to teach them... "With great power comes great responsibility" and they have to "Use their powers for good and not evil".  We've got to build up the good guys to fight off the bad guys!