Jonas Turns TWO!

Today my little baby boy turns TWO!

That blows my mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy birthday baby boy!

PINspired September Link-Up

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

Here we go!

Knife Rack for Cars
Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

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

Fun Ways to Use Straws

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

Personalized Coffee Mugs

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

Semi-Sliced Potatoes

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

Household Tips

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

Clean Your Dishwasher

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

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

Link up and Grab a Button!

A Perfectly Ruined Engagement

It was two and a half years into our relationship.

We had survived the "Worst First Date" ever.

We had survived his High School graduation.

We had survived my college graduation.

We had survived moving to another city together.

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

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

Annoying much?
Very much.

And then when it finally came, I ruined it.

Let me back up and tell you the whole story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, a knock.

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

Knock... knock...

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

"Mau, are you there?"

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

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

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

And I do.

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

I was shocked.  Shocked.

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

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

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

At our engagement dinner celebration with the fam!


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


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

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

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

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

And that's just what happend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

What's In A Name?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we have War & Peace.

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

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

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

Miami Needs More MOPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This breaks my heart.

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

So what are my alternatives?

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

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

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

Jonas Answers Questions

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


Like Christmas Morning

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

And yet, we still haven't moved in.

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

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

Whew, dodged a bullet there!

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

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

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

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

This is OUR house.

This is our HOME.

And it feels really good.

Parenting In Public

Here's the scene:

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

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

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

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

Here's what I did:

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

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

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

It was a stare-down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do YOU handle parenting in public?