Sunday, September 30, 2012

What a weekend....

Gosh, what a long weekend this has been.. I'm seriously going to need an extra day to recover from it! Wow..
On Friday we went to Emily's 5th birthday party.. It was celebrated at Jumpin' Jamboree in Doral.. the girls played, jumped and ate cake (lots of it!).. so needless to say it was a wild night!


The next day we went to another birthday party.. This time it was for Mariana's 2nd birthday... She is the only daughter of Olivia's tennis coach, so we couldn't miss the party.. 
The girls played in the kiddie pools and sprinklers and had such a blast.. Again.. lots and lots of cake.. and let's not mention the piƱata candy! OMG!


Last night, we went out (sans kids) to celebrate my best friend's 32nd birthday.. We had dinner at Barrio Latino Restaurant and then we went out for drinks.. It was a fun night, and it was great to see Martyna (who's actual birthday is tomorrow) go all out to celebrate another year of life! What fun!


... and finally today was the not so fun part of our weekend.. Olivia woke up with a fever and complaining of headaches, sore throat and a few other things..
Her fever spiked to 104 degrees and we took her to urgent care.. It turns out she has strep throat and was prescribed a load of antibiotics... My poor baby was so ill she didn't even want to eat.. They gave her Advil at the Urgent Care and she seemed to get a little better.. She also started her antibiotics so I hope she gets better soon!


..and last but not least, after Oli felt a little better, she asked me for a Halloween cookie and I gave her this.. it was cute and tasty...


..she managed to smile for the picture..but don't be fooled..she's still sick.. she's now laying down in bed and under her covers.. I hope she feels better by tomorrow!



..and to top off my weekend.. I PASSED MY COMP EXAM!!! Woo Hoo!! I'm officially the holder of a Master of Science degree... I'm so done with grad school.. for now, at least.. I'm so excited this stage is over with!  Now, to celebrate next weekend! ;)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wait...."I'm not a crafty mom!"

Ever since Olivia started Kindergarten, one of my biggest fears, or most dreaded moments (however you want to call it) has always been the days where she comes home with crazy art assignments that require mad craft skills and a creative perspective...ahh!!
Well.. it has started.. the crazy assignments, insane requests and demanding projects...and of course, me, being the least crafty person on earth and the most uncreative mind out there, have been incredibly stressed out it.. (silly, I know!..but that's me!)...
The other day she got an assignment called "Patchwork Pumpkin", where she was asked to decorate a cut out pumpkin with whatever material she wanted, making it look like a patchwork quilt...
Many times in the past, I've let her do her own projects only to find that all the crafty moms from her classroom make their kids' projects look like a project out of a magazine... NOT COOL!!  The other day, after she made a Family Tree, Olivia came home and told me "mommy, my project was the ugliest of all!".. She said all the "Family Trees" had been put out on a board and she felt embarrassed about hers..It broke my heart but I explained to her that the important part was that she had done it by herself and she should be proud about it...
So.. this time around, the assignment came with a note that said "Remember that your child's grade depends on the effort that he/she independently puts into it" (thank you, Mrs. S).. Olivia was VERY concerned about her pumpkin project so I took her to Michael's and she picked out a bunch of materials.. And like I always say.. my kids never cease to amaze me.. She put SO MUCH EFFORT into her project and came up with this wonderful Patchwork Pumpkin, which she named "Patty P.".. She spent 3 days working on it and was so proud of her little pumpkin.. She asked me to take a picture of it so we could remember her special craft...
...and the best thing??  She did it BY HERSELF....with little to no help from mommy...
So, even though I'm not a crafty mom, I know my kid got it covered..and she rocks!!
I love you, Olivia.. you're my little artist and your pumpkin is so beautiful!!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wake me up when September ends!!!

"Wake me up when September ends"...that has been the theme of this month for me.. literally.. I'm so exhausted and have been so busy.. I haven't had time to blog much so my presence in the blogosphere has been little to none...
But I'm here and September is almost over, so hopefully things will get back to normal as far as blogging goes...
This month has been so overwhelming as we continue to adjust to school and all the things that come with it.. Olivia has been doing a lot better as far as behavior goes, but she still has her days and teacher complaints aren't over... pffff!  Gaby is loving her school and loves all of her classmates..she's really maturing in this whole process.
I spent most of the month preparing for my comprehensive exam (the last piece needed for my master's degree)...I finally took the exam this past Saturday so I'm still waiting for my grade and degree conferral...I hope to have some happy news to share in the weeks to come!
We've been to birthday parties, play dates, pools and other outings..it sure has been a fun month..
Here's a few pictures of my girls on this month of September..


Play date with the Diaz sisters.. always fun!


...and finally, this is Olivia's art work for "Johnny Appleseed" Day.. fun stuff!


Meeting baby Paige

Today I met another adorable little girl...one more reason my baby fever is in full gear! ;)
Baby Paige was born on August 27th, weighing 7 lbs 13 oz, 19 in long.. She is the 2nd daughter of my friend Lindsay and her husband Jim...
I met Lindsay back in 2008 through WTE when we were pregnant with Gaby and Brooke.. She is one of the few local girls that were part of that board, so it's always great to keep in touch with her and even better to hang out...
Paige is such a cute little peanut...she is so cuddly and adorable.. and Lindsay tells me Brooke has proven to be a great big sister...
I held her for a little bit and then she fell asleep on mama's chest.. too cute!
All these babies are such a joy!
Welcome to the world, baby Paige! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

American citizen at last!

What a joyous day for our family... the day when Iggy finally became an American citizen!
After 18 years in this country and countless numbers of visas and immigration processes, my dear husband finally achieved his life long dream of becoming an American.. and we were there to celebrate with him! Yay!
I picked up the girls from school a little early so they could come to us... I dressed them in their all American outfits and gave each of them a flag.. they were so happy for their daddy!
The ceremony was very emotional and super special.. there were 187 people going through the process of naturalization, so many tears were shed...
For any immigrant, becoming an American is one of the biggest moments in life.. and it was for Iggy...
He proudly pronounced his citizen Oath and the Pledge of Allegiance...
Congratulations, Iggy! We love you and I'm so happy for you!
Here's a few pictures of Iggy's special day!


I ordered a special cake for him and we had a little celebration at our home...


..can you tell he was happy?? Oh yeah! Happy is an understatement! :)


...and the best part? Now he can VOTE!!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Movie review: "ParaNorman"

..this movie was "weird" and I'm not entirely sure it was the good or bad kind of weird!
The movie is about a little kid (Norman), who talks to dead people and everyone treats him like a weirdo.. his parents always criticize him and he is bullied at school..
He comes across an old dying guy, whose name I don't remember, that tells him he must end the "witches curse"..
Norman doubts him at first but then decides to take it upon himself to fulfill his mission and the movie goes from there...
The characters are quirky and funny but overall the movie is dark (dah! zombie movie!) and a little too complicated for kids...
The PG-13 rating is spot on because this movie is definitely NOT for younger kids, not only because it is a bit scary but also because the plot is too intricate for kids under 10..also, there are some adult jokes here and there that I deemed inappropriate for kids.. even those 10 and older...
I give this movie 2 out of 4 stars.. it had some fun parts and it's a decent one...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Behavior charts...do they really work?

Ever since Olivia started Kindergarten, there has been a lot of focus on her behavior and the behavior charts that are used in the classroom.. Every day she comes home with a certain "color mark" on her planner, which basically tells us how she behaved that particular day..
She seems to understand how the behavior chart works and most days she comes home on the "green", which means she did "ok" considering there are two more colors that are better than that...
Anything below green means she did below average or worse.. 
Now.. this is where my issue comes in... In the first 4 weeks of school she has come home with Yellow, Orange and Red on a couple of occasions in which case the teacher has written a little note below the mark briefly explaining what she did to deserved such color. 
Today she came home with a red mark (first time!) and next to it a little note read "Threw juice box across the room"... I know my child isn't the violent kind so before I pointed out the juice box incident, I asked her what she did wrong and she said "I don't know.. I was in the blue all day long and then I was down to red".. So I said "did you throw a juice box across the room?".. and she said "well, I was trying to throw in the trash can". Apparently she thought it'd be fun to try to dunk the juice box in the trash bag but the teacher didn't think it was such a great idea..but did she really GET it??


In speaking with Olivia, I realize she doesn't grasp the concept of the behavior chart and the whole color coding is just not sitting well with her, she thinks it's a game and is focusing more on what color she will get than she does in what she learned throughout the day...that's where I question these behavioral techniques...why is that more important than the daily lessons? Why is her behavior the main priority?
A chart will only be as good as a child can interpret it and if that child is getting a negative remark because of an isolated incident, then I don't think their behavior is being accurately interpreted...
If Olivia did well all day and even managed to be in the "blue" for the majority of the session, why would she get a "red" because of throwing a juice box, which in her mind was not intended as an evil act?  Why do these teachers focus on the negative instead of reinforcing the positive? Why don't they pay more attention to the actual lessons and curriculum?
I know I'm sounding like an annoying mom, but I'm just so fixated on these inefficient techniques modern teachers apply... I don't think it makes sense to "scare" a child with a color coding chart instead of promoting good behavior...and it's definitely not ok to shift the focus from learning to behaving..
Life isn't about colors or taking away privileges.. it's about learning what is good and what is bad...
I believe these behavior charts are silly and they don't relay the message that's intended.. 
I'm not a teacher (thank God!...I would have no patience), but I can tell you that teachers need to figure about better ways in which to get a child to behave in a classroom.. these charts aren't cutting it!
Also, teachers should spend more time teaching and less time punishing!
What behavior techniques do teachers use in your child's classroom??

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 years have passed....

...11 years have passed since the most tragic terrorist attacks in our history..and not a year goes by without the world reliving the very same feelings of loss, vulnerability and mourning...
Today is a sad day for America.. it's a sad day for the world...
Thousands of lives were lost on September 11th, 2001 and those lives were honored again today through the many memorials that went on around the world, especially in New York City...
Sadly, 11 years later, the world still hasn't learned the lesson and many wars continue to be fought and lives continue to be lost.. Political disagreements and differences in perspectives still plague the precious peace that we need...
I will always remember 9/11, especially the lives that were lost and what that day meant for the world...
A friend of mine, who's an excellent writer, published this on her FB page and I thought it was brilliant so I'll share. (Thank you, Antonella Regueiro, for a wonderful piece)


"Always remember… Not where you were at the moment the planes hit. Not where you stood at the moment they collapsed. Not the number of deaths. Not what you felt. Not the call to arms. Not the declaration of war.

Remember instead the why.
Remember that this fateful day was decided in the darkness of intolerance. That the actions executed were the ministrations of hatred. That the people who died, d
id so in the name of a God who would condemn the action that ceased them. That this war has been fought for ideals which cannot be changed by bullets.

Remember instead that love can heal. That education is essential. That acceptance is required. That differences cannot determine us. Remember that we are all, in the end, together in the battle of life — regardless of creed, color or tribe.

Do not remember the screams, the tears or the hollowness that overcame us. Not the dust, nor the ashes.

Remember instead that together we have overcome. That America means more. That we have prevailed and ripped apart the veil of evil. Remember that we have sewed each others’ hearts, and bandaged each others’ open wounds. Remember that the scar unites us.

Always remember that eleven years ago, the shadow of an “us vs. them” mentality, became the premise for such sorrow. Remember that those who died will not have died in vain, if we remember why…

Intolerance. Remember that.

Remember them — from the towers, to the planes, to the fields of Baghdad. All blood spilt because of a 'why'.

Remember that.
Forget the hate.
♥ 
9/11. 
Always in our hearts"

Monday, September 10, 2012

A sad day for me!

Today is my Nani's 76th birthday.. She is my godmother and one of the most special people in my life. She was a major influence in my early years and taught me so much.. I love her like I only love very few women in my life.. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember me and doesn't even know my name.. she is a victim of Alzheimer's disease..
It has been a very difficult day for me.. it's hard to believe that the person who holds such special place in my heart is only the shadow of who she once was.. When I called her today (she lives in Venezuela), she didn't even know who I was... her mind is gone.. she is gone! I love you Nani and it hurts me to think that you no longer understand such a feeling! Happy Birthday! I will always hold on to our happy moments! Thanks for all the memories!

I can only hope that research continues to improve and a cure can be found for this terrible disease. It is heart breaking to see families torn apart because of Alzheimer's.  It is hard to lose someone while they're still alive.. Such a terrible feeling.
I will make sure that my kids know who my "Nani" was, that they know what she meant to me and that they understand how much love can be felt for one special person! I love you Nani and forever will! Thank you for everything you were for me.. for everything you still are and everything you always will be!

Movie review: "The Words"

I normally don't post reviews of "indie" type films, but this one features Bradley Cooper (who's my ultimate Hollywood crush), one of the favorite A-listers of current times, so I figured I'd talk about it....
"The Words"...mm... I don't really know where to start.. let's just say that this is NOT a film worth spending money on.. and definitely NOT a guy kind of movie (poor Iggy had to sit through the whole thing!)...
The story was promising but the movie fell flat and did not deliver what it suggested...
The multiple layers of the movie (a story within a story with a story) just did not work.. it was confusing and too slow paced...
The plot centers around Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) who is an aspiring writer waiting to publish his first groundbreaking novel.. he comes across a manuscript during his honeymoon in Paris and publishes the work as his own.. The story turns out to be a hit and the actual writer finds him.. He then finds himself facing the consequences of his "crime" and the story goes (or doesn't go) from there...
Aside from Bradley Coopers' cuteness (did I tell you I think he's super hot?), the characters are dull and the story never takes off...
I give this one 1 out of 4 starts.. wait until it's out on TV!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lately...

Welcome September!!!
I feel like I haven't blogged in forever and have so much to catch up on...and I do!
I have overcome my case of "blogger's block" and have found some inspiration in the simplicity of my recent days...
I also have some blog topics to write about..but those will come later in the week...
For now I will stick to my most recent anecdotes..

The girls are doing well in their swimming lessons.. Surprisingly enough, Gaby has stopped crying at every class and she has become more fond of the water and her professor.. She still despises the floating  part, but she doesn't mind kicking and submerging herself in the water... those are good things.. right?


Olivia is a total pro already..she gets individual lessons since she's so advanced already.. for her, it's not about water survival skills anymore, but rather perfecting her swimming style..she's doing awesome and really loves her time in the water...


We had Tropical Storm "Isaac" come and go.. Thankfully no major damage was done by it in our area, but it did rain.. A LOT.. so we were cooped up in the house for a couple of days.. in which time our cats seem to have decided to befriend each other once and for all...I even took this picture of them sharing our bed! ha!


Gaby spent A LOT of time drawing and coloring.. she got real bad cabin fever and didn't know what to do with herself.. let's say she drew me enough pictures to cover the whole fridge.. ;)


On the 30th, we celebrated my sister's fiancee's birthday with a family dinner at the Olive Garden.. I managed to stick to my diet even while everyone else was pigging out on past and bread sticks.. LOL..


..then came Labor Day weekend..yay.. 
On Saturday we headed to Disney World (our most favorite place, of course)
We spent the day at Magic Kingdom and the girls had a blast as usual.. the weather was hot but not cruel, so we enjoyed our time there..


Disney is gearing up for Fall so there were nice decorations all around.. it was adorable!


...the best part of our day was meeting my friend Terri, who I met through WTE over 5 years ago.. Olivia and her daughter Jaycie really hit it off.. These two have "known" each other since we were pregnant and they have met before so it was great to see them playing together again...


The next day we went to Hollywood Studios and went on most rides... Olivia really loves thrill rides and the park has the most awesome shows in Disney.... it was such a blast...


Yesterday we visited the Animal Kingdom, which is such a fun park.. it's a lot smaller than the other ones, but it features some great rides and animal encounters, which are hard to beat with kids...


Here I am jumping of joy after going on "Expedition Everest", one of my favorite rides in all of Disney...


..so that's what we've been up to lately... 
Other than that.. the girls are doing well at their new school and we've already gotten the hang of our routine.. Waking up at 6am still kicks my butt, but I'm sure I'll get used to that as well..
I've got a lot on my mind, so I'm sure I'll be blogging consistently in the next few days!

Happy Blogging!