Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nashville-bound Day One: Mary Poppins, Mariachis and More

There is a special bond that forms during road trips. Something about driving down the Interstate with the windows down and sunroof open singing really (really) bad and loud to music has the potential to create a bond you won't soon forget, especially if the person joining you in bad singing and sitting next to you is your child.

Isabella and I haven't had much time alone together since Paloma was born, and I miss it. When I found that my friend's wedding in Nashville conflicted with a chance to join James at the ever popular and glamorous White House Correspondent's Dinner, the choice was a no-brainer: Nashville.

See, I immediately knew there would be the opportunity for a long road trip with Izzy and I longed for time alone with her. I know seeing Jane Ann walk down that aisle and commit her marriage to Christ is something that far trumps a night with reporters and abnormally large egos all in one room at once.

I met Jane Ann at Tennessee. Not coincidentally, we happened to enroll in the same Monday, Wednesday, Friday speech class, and the same Tuesday, Thursday statistics class, both at 8am. Our eventual friendship led to her inviting me to a church she heard had a great new kids Sunday school space she wanted to take the "little sister" she mentored throughout the year. I met her for the 9am service at Sevier Heights Baptist Church, an event that would change the trajectory of my life and the reason my abnormally strange love for the southeastern United States all made sense. I'll save the long version for another time, but in short, I went every Sunday after that (because I actually wanted to, a novel concept to this Catholic girl,) enrolled in Sunday school, and about a month later walked down the aisle during the invitation and met my Sunday school teacher, Don Wilson, at the end and, barely able to hold it together said, "it's time," and BOOM! Niagra falls and ugly sobbing from the sheer relief and joy I felt from accepting Christ in my life and finally understanding that He wasn't just an invisible something out there, but a real, loving, living God I could have a personal relationship with.

All because a sweet girl from Nashville, Tenn., invited me to church.

And now that that major ADD tangent is over, let's circle back around, shall we?

Because an 11-hour car ride doesn't suit a toddler, and because she can still ride an airplane for free, Paloma flew to DC with James where she will spend quality time with her Abuela.

After Izzy and I dropped them off at the airport, we were off. First, there was some reading.

Then some sleeping.

Then there was the singing. It started with mariachis because my iPhone landed on Juan Gabriel's La Farsante while she was waking from her nap. Or maybe me just singing that song extra loud (twice) woke her up. Not sure. Then we moved on to Taylor Swift for a good two hours (because singing Mean just once is never enough,) followed by a very good hour or more of singing the entire Mary Poppins soundtrack in our best British accents, followed by more reading and a Doritos break. One must rest the fragile vocal chords, you know.

Then it was Juanes, Michael Jackson, Elvis, Rithie Valens, Bobby Darin, and ended with Brian Setzer's amazing rendition of Malagueña.

We stopped in an Atlanta suburb to visit out beloved Aunt Millie, the cool aunt we love to love but don't see enough of. Dinner and a margarita later, it was small town talk of Vidalia and off to bed.

Today we finish the drive and hope to tour Nashville by trolley so Izzy can see where Elvis recorded his first record. I love that she loves Elvis. Update to come. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We Clean for Babysitters

This month has been absolutely bonkers.  It's big one gigantic blur.  I mean, one big gigantic blur.  See what I mean?  I would have undone that dyslexic typo, except then I thought, no, that's a perfect example of what this month's been like.

It actually started at the end of last month when we we dropped everything to say our goodbyes to James' grandmother as she prepared to meet Jesus.  I stayed with the girls most of our time there, during which time Paloma managed to get us kicked out of the hospice on account of her being REALLY LOUD.  That was fun. 

We drove back the evening after the funeral and hit the ground running.  Isabella had unexpectedly missed a day of school, which meant we fell behind on papers and folders and papers in folders, and now it's all just one mess.  Yesterday I discovered one of said papers that was in her folder and remembered that she has a project due in a week.  A project we haven't started that requires soil and daily analyzing and an egg an carton, and well, that will have to be late.  I feel like I'm the one in school again, scared to draft the e-mail to her sweet teacher that, oh that project that's due, yeah,  the one that was in the folder at the beginning of the month, well I just found it and well,  I dropped the ball on that also.  Sorry.  Again.

My poor child.

So anyway, then it was Easter and of course I hadn't made the girls an Easter basket, and then Easter weekend was full, then it was last week and that was crazy catching up with all the housework and meal prepping I missed running around trying to clean up from the trip and preparing the Easter baskets and doing laundry I hadn't done from trying to dye eggs.  I'm not sure if any of that makes sense.  This weekend it was my good friend's baby shower which took up our whole day, which was kind of nice because the kids were entertained, I could take it easy at the shower and James got the day to play 18 holes.

On our walk to the grocery store Sunday we ran into a co-worker on the elevator who was visiting our neighbor at the pool, and of course immediately afterward Isabella started begging us to take her to the pool because now she knew all the young girls were out there.  So after our trip to the grocery store I took her down.  A whole group of neighbors had gathered in a neighbor's poolside unit where they were enjoying the day and drinks.  After about an hour our neighbor/co-worker/occasional babysitter went in to refill her beverage and Isabella asked to hop over the barrier to say hi.

When she rejoined me in the hot tub she says, "Wow, Mr. Ryan's house is reeeeeally CLEAN!"

That's what she said.  Part of me was at a loss for words from the mind-numbing flabbergastededness  her sweet ignorant words placed me in, and the other part of me wanted to rant off exactly WHY our unit wasn't as polished as the one that belonged to the young bachelor and his roommate, outlining everything I just did above and then add, IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!  YOU KIDS DRIVE ME BONKERS AND I CAN'T SEEM TO CATCH UP!  I'M EXHAUSTED!

But I didn't, because I'm not five, and it isn't her fault.  It's life as a mom with two kids and a dog and ADD.  Last week I couldn't find the pasta I had prepared the night before, and so I gave up thinking I may have thrown it out.  Then the following afternoon I went to grab a container to store the guacamole I made and there, top-on and neatly put away with the clean containers, was the pasta I put away, just not in the refrigerator where it belonged.

So to come full circle here, let me get back to the point.  This morning I was reading the Pioneer Woman's post on why she homeschools and found myself laughing out loud, mainly from just relief.  Relief from knowing that, despite what you read, and aside from those two moms you know that are weird and totally organized because their minds follow one steady stream of thought and focus, moms can't keep a house clean all the time.  Sometimes, we just don't want to even when we have the time because we'd rather just catch our breath (or, blog about it).

But, I found that we do all clean as a family when James and I have a date and the babysitter is coming over.  It's mainly to save face since our babysitters all work in James' office and we don't want them to be all, wow, their house is a wreck.  I mean, we know it is most the time, except for when months and weeks aren't totally bonkers and I'm constantly falling behind on everything because my energy level is abnormally low.  So our date nights are actually a good incentive to give our place a deep clean, so I think I shall vote to have more of them.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

When Visiting Crappy Coffee Central...

Be sure you equip yourself with a Starbucks Via.

These magical pouches of instant coffee are essential when we drive through or visit parts of the United States that enjoy very mild roasts, or what my mom has dubbed "agua de calcetín mugroso," loosely translated, dirty sock water.

And it's not even that we're coffee snobs, we just enjoy bolder brews, something they just don't serve at your local McDonald's or Cracker Barrel, or small town gas station coffee bar. They aren't even an option.

I order or serve myself coffee and then dump a Starbucks Via to the coffee, instantly transported to coffee heaven and well on my way to actual brain function.

We're currently in James' hometown saying our goodbyes to a close family friend that's losing her battle with cancer. We left Tampa at 8:30pm, arrived at 2am, and Paloma was up by 7:30am.

It is definitely a Via morning. I recommend buying a pack and stashing it your car for emergencies. You will thank me later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Skinny Burger with Cebollitas

It's only a skinny burger because I used the last deli flat for the ham sandwich I made Izzy for lunch.  Last night's burgers were such a hit (Isabella even wanted a second one later that evening,) I decided it was safe to use the second pound of ground chicken for exactly the same meal tonight, except I had a burger left over and thus decided it would be my lunch.  And since onions have great health benefits and are acne-friendly (as in, they don't promote flare-ups,) I'm grilling the green onions I bought yesterday as my side.

Cebollitas (grilled green onions) are a favorite side of mine, yet I always seem to forget about them.  I get caught up in my cooking bubble and my perspective shrinks.  A lot like my vocabulary as of late.  There seem to be a lot of instances in which I over-explained something when a simple vocabulary word would have done the trick, and not even a hard one.  I think it was the word "scarce", but instead I was like, you know when you don't have a lot of something or it's hard to get or find, then my friend said scarce, and I thought, why is my vocabulary shrinking? 

Oh, it's because I never have to speak beyond the first grade level.  Awesome.

Anyway, back to the food...

One of the great bonuses of Paloma now being old enough to somewhat entertain herself is that I can actually hold her off enough to make myself something to eat in the afternoons and sometimes even prep dinner.  Chicken mixture for the burgers is already chilling in the fridge, I cut up potatoes for baked french fries I'm making to accompany the burgers, and after this I can breath easy.

Like a good Mexican, I sprinkled the cebollitas with some salt and lots of lime.  Lime is also really good for you.  I forget why, but if you want to find out I suggest reading Feed Your Face by Dr. Jessica Wu.  I will reference this book a lot in the future.  It's changed my life, not because it's taught me how to eat healthier, but because the focus is on eating to clear your face from acne and fight wrinkles naturally, with what you ingest.  I'm not interested in eating clean to cleanse my system.  I enjoy some junkfood.  I'm not dead.  But adjusting my diet to clear acne and fight sun damage?  Sign me up!  I'm not one that wants to fight the natural aging process, but I don't think there's anything wrong with healthy maintenance, and you can file Botox under my "healthy maintenance" files.

And, once I figure out how food Web sites get there food to look like supermodels, I will model my dishes accordingly.  I do think I over-grilled the onions, but they were still really tasty.  All of it was.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Green Chicken Burger

Ever since I sampled a delish chicken burger the butcher at Whole Foods made I've been determined to make them.  So today after I dropped Izzy off at school, I swung by the store and bought some ground chicken and green onions.  I had a loose recipe for the burgers upon reading Bon Appetit's current issue, which included a recipe for chicken meatball minestrone.  The meatballs have chives in them (hence the green onion I bought,) but I knew the fam wouldn't be to keen on a soup dinner since it's already pretty warm down here.  So I Google "chicken burger" and up popped (shocker, no, not really,) a Giada De Laurentiis recipe for chicken burgers with garlic and rosemary mayonnaise.  I'm not huge on mayonnaise, and I didn't have fresh rosemary, but I did have cilantro and green onions so I decided to make chicken burgers with green onion and cilantro mayonnaise instead.

I mixed the cilantro and chopped green onions in only half of the required amount of mayonnaise, which was a whopping full cup.  Bleh!  And the mayonnaise I used was Kraft mayo with olive oil, a much healthier alternative and Feed Your Face approved by Dr. Jessica Wu.  And since I had made salsa verde for the chicken tacos I had for lunch, I just topped the burgers with the salsa instead of ketchup, which is loaded with sugar. 

And just FYI, for the salsa verde I grabbed tomatillos I had sitting in my fridge, threw them, two jalapenos, cilantro, salt and a splash of water in the blender, pureed it, then chopped some onion, added it and half an avocado to what was already pureed.

The result is a deliciously moist and flavorful burger.  So you see, they're green burgers because, um, almost everything in it and the chicken is green.  And also the chicken is organic, as is most of the produce I used to make the salsa.  Duh.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ultimate Cracker Jack Prize, In a Bowl of Tortilla Chips

I misplace things a lot. Some are expensive, some are menial; I don't discriminate.

Once I lost my iPhone and couldn't for the life of me remember where I put it. I used the Find My iPhone app on my iPad to locate said phone and followed the sonar beep to the refrigerator, where, quite confused, I opened the door and followed the sound to a paper bag on the top shelf. I looked in the bag, and there, next to the beautiful grass fed beef I had just purchased at Whole Foods, my phone lay signaling its whereabouts.

Similar scenes are commonplace in our household. I've misplaced my wedding set so often that usually don't even worry when I can't find it. It always turns up, and never when I'm looking for it, and always (always) in a very random place.

When I misplaced my engagement ring a couple weeks ago I wasn't even worried at first when I couldn't find it. But something was different this time.
I couldn't remember anything about when I last had the ring on my finger that morning. I thought for sure it was while I was in the kitchen. Then I thought, no, maybe I left it on the bed after I took it off to apply sunblock on Paloma (since I'm a little OCD about keeping it clean.)

When Izzy got home I asked if she had seen it around the apartment, to which she replied, "Have you looked in the freezer?"

If it was any other day, I would have laughed and brushed it off. She knows me so well. Once I lost my engagement ring for a week, only to find it in the back pocket of a pair of jeans. I'm sure I shoved it in there before handling raw meat and then forgot about it. But this day I was seriously freaking out.

I played my day around the apartment in my head over and over, so often that I couldn't trust my own memories. I didn't know what I may have made up in my mind in an attempt to calm myself down. I was desperate, telling myself I hadn't accidentally thrown it away while cleaning up the kitchen counter. I was hoping I hadn't put it down somewhere Paloma could reach it, but I checked all her favorite pacifier hiding places just in case and my ring wasn't in Barbie's mini cooper or the pink convertible. I knew I wasn't going to find it, but I looked everywhere anyway. I don't know what it was about this time around, but I was scared. I was having flashbacks of the time I left my two carat diamond promise ring James had given me when we were dating at the rest stop on my way to Tennessee. I didn't want to tell James I had lost another diamond ring. We never even insured it!! If it was gone, it was gone. At least if it was lost and insured we may have a chance of recovering some of the cost and instead of buying another one (which I don't think I'd get anyway), we could put a down payment on a house, or pay off some school loans!

But I did tell him, and he helped me look for it. He even looked for it on his own on nights he'd come home when I was already in bed. We rented a steam cleaner to give our carpet a facelift and were both bummed that even after moving everything around and thoroughly cleaning our home, it still didn't turn up.

Almost two weeks later we sat in church on another Sunday, on another day I hadn't found my ring. I was praying about it, again, almost in tears. I loved my ring. I loved what it meant. Whenever I looked down at it I was reminded of God's hand in our relationship. How it started out so backwards and how only after committing ourselves to Him, our relationship fell in its proper place, and thrived. But I was resigned to it being gone, knowing that after all, it was only a ring. I was ready to accept that I may have accidentally thrown it away.

That evening I made some fresh corn tortilla chips to add to our dwindling supply. I picked out some I overcooked a few days before and replenished the bowl so our neighbors would have enough to snack on with the salsa verde I had planned to bring for our Sunday night potlucks.

Dinner was lovely as usual. We're so very blessed to have amazing neighbors. They chat with us and the girls and we try each other's food. It's a cultural experience as much as it is a bonding one.

As I chatted away with those around me I felt a tap on my arm, which threw me off to begin with because we aren't "tappers", if you will. I turned, and there staring back at me was the greasiest most beautiful ring ever. Our host, who was a big fan of my chips the week before, had eaten his way to the bottom of the chip bowl, and there, found my ring.

It's all still so bizarre. I can only guess that on a day I had Paloma seated on the counter with me so she would let me cook, she picked up the ring I had placed to a side so it wouldn't get dirty, and thought it would do well in the chip bowl.

That, or I placed it on a paper towel and in turn put the paper towel in the chip bowl to absorb the oil from fresh fried tortilla wedges. Both are entirely possible.

Now to fish my wedding ring out of the dashboard defroster vents. I took it off at a red light to sunscreen my hands (sunspots are totally avoidable), you know, so the ring wouldn't get dirty, and then the light turned green before I finished properly applying and I had to make a sharp right turn into the gas station, because I was empTY, and upon making said sharp turn, down went my ring into the abyss of whatever lies be beneath the dashboard.


Still not properly cleaned, but who cares.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Mighty Key Lime

Over the last two years it has become increasingly difficult for me to stay properly hydrated.  I went on Adderall to help my ADD brain focus more, since after I had Paloma I had to track two kids, a dog and maintain a home (etc., etc., etc.)  But the catch with the meds, which did tremendously help, is that they severely dehydrated me and cut my appetite.  I've been off them now for about three months, but when I was on them I dropped to a ghastly 108 pounds, and at 5'6, that just looks gross.  It isn't healthy, period.  My skin had no color and my acne flared up because of the inconsistency in my eating habits, or lack thereof.  I was focusing and getting more done throughout the day, but my body was suffering.  I couldn't run because my I was hardly ever taking in enough calories or properly hydrated.

This coming from a girl that loves, loves, loves to go on early morning runs with her dog.  There's nothing quite like just you and the sound of your breath following the rhythm of your feet as they hit the grass (I want to preserve my knees, so I run on the grass, never on the paved trail).  I used to enjoy, almost need, music to run, but now it's just a distraction that keeps me from just blanking out and enjoying God's perfect work in nature.

Now that I've been off my meds I have to learn how to juggle everything AND drink water in order to run again without feeling like I'm doing it with cinder blocks tied to my legs.  I want to drink coffee more than anything, though, because I'm always tired.  Or at least it feels that way. So since I'm now off my meds, I'm a lot spacier, so I forget and lose things a lot more.  It is entirely too much of a task for me to recycle since we live in a highrise, where you have to take all your stuff and drop it in once specific place.  Don't judge.  If you don't have ADD, you have no idea what a daunting task that is for me and my kind!!!  So I don't want to use bottled water because I don't recycle the bottles, and I'm trying to still be a responsible citizen, which leaves me with my 1.5 liter Camelbak that is incredibly heavy, but hey, I'm trying to stay hydrated so I lug it around.  The problem is that I'm sick of plain water.

And they tell you, oh, flavor your water with lime.!  "Yes!" I think to myself, why don't I ever remember to buy limes and put slices in my water?  Well, it's because after I cut a lime and insert said wedges, I put the lime away, and then it gets lost in the fridge, and then it gets old and moldy, and then I don't have limes for my water, and then I don't drink water, and then I don't buy more limes at the store because I don't want to deal with moldy limes I keep forgetting about.

ADD is exhausting.

But I found key limes!  They're so small and cute, and they remind me of Mexico.  I cut one in half, squeeze the entire lime juice in my bottle and throw it away.  Boom!  Done.  I've had about 7 liters of water in the last 36 hours.  No limes to track and my water is flavored, and it tastes like Mexico in the summer, too.  But that's a whole other story.  You have to be Mexican, or have traveled there, to appreciate our fascination and love of the mighty lime.  You can read more about them here and here

Key limes are the perfect little size, see?  They're like disposable dishes!  Best idea EVER!  And if you ever want to make key lime pie, you'll never have to worry about missing the key ingredient!  (I couldn't help myself.)  I love key lime pie! 

Wow, I am really excited about my discovery, as told by my many uses of the excalamation point today.  But shouldn't we all be excited about getting healthy?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Run the Race, Spite the Devil

Well after about a month of absolute craziness in this family, I'm finally back.  I was this close to falling into the depths of spiritual despair.  It's quite simple to let yourself teeter on the brink of self-pity and absorption.  The family had a run-in with lice.  It was absolutely horrible and required a lot, a lot of perseverance and commitment to consistency to rid our home of the pesky bugs.  But they're finally gone and I was finally able to rejoin my Bible study on the book of Revelation.

Let me tell you, there's nothing like fellowship to augment your own time with God.  Every time I fall out of Bible study, I fall back on my fervor.  It's hard to stay focused on God's word when family and, well, life, pulls at you from every angle.  We need to stay committed, to spite the devil in his attempt to have us lose our focus and motivation.

I had to take some Bible study sessions home with me in order to catch up, and I was so happy I did because I learn so much in every lesson, and watching what I missed while I was nitpicking the girls' heads, Beth Moore didn't fail to disappoint.  One of the things I love about her is how she's able to break apart scripture so it makes sense from a Biblically historical perspective, and then take it to a whole other level, where she brings it up close and personal so we can relate on a more personal level to what the writer is talking about. 

To clarify, let me give you and example:  In Revelation 1:17-20 the apostle John has a vision of Christ, in which Christ (in verse 19) instructs him to write down "things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things that will take place after this."  Christ goes on to deliver messages to his seven churches, one of which is the church in Ephesus.  The message to Ephesus, given in Revelation 2:1-3, first commends the church for their hard work and perseverance:
I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil...and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.
Then after he's done patting them on the back for what they've done well, He lays out his issue with the church in the following verse (4):
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
And Beth Moore brought up such a great point during this part of the lesson, and it's that God will never be vague when He's confronting you with something you're aren't doing right.  "I have this against you," he says.  I love that.  God is not passive!  Beth goes on to say something like, don't you hate it when someone's mad at you and they won't tell you why, they just ignore you?  And you ask them and they're all, no nothing's wrong, I don't know what you're talking about.

Why, yes.  Yes I do.  And writing that, I realize that I'm currently guilty of that myself.  Oops.

God and the Spirit aren't like that.  The Spirit is always specific.  What does God have against the church of Ephesus?  It's right there after the comma, "that you have left your first love."  Apparently the church in Ephesus was so caught up weeding out false prophets that it became sort of a witch hunt, and everyone started being suspicious of everyone.  In turn, they lost their God-focus, that's what He had against them.  He tells them.

But the devil, he's vague.  Ever feel like, "blah" but had no idea why.  Or maybe just felt like a failure or like crap for no good reason, it was just an overall feeling?  That "blah" feeling has kept me away from time with God so many times.  It's kept me from going to church some weeks.  That whole, eh, I don't want to go to church today, I'm just in blah mood.  Right there, boom! Devil: 1, Patricia 0.

That was me during my time away from Bible study and blogging.  I'd sit down and want to write about what I was learning in my time with the Lord in the early morning, but nothing would come to me so I'd just feel all blah and shut down the computer. 

Devil: 2, Patrica: 0.

And that feeling doesn't just affect Christians.  It affects anyone trying to do anything in life to better themselves.  Working out is a great example.  It makes me feel awesome, and I love running, but some days I get this overwhelming feeling of, I just don't feel like going running today.  It's so strange, especially on days when I'm not even tired or dehydrated.

So don't let your blahness hinder you.  Spite the devil. 

" with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brimstone and Fire

The Bible makes the brimstone and fire reference in  Revelation 20:10, and it has become synonymous with Bible belt, Bible thumping Christians.  Whatever you want to call it, it has a negative connotation.  It's supposed to bring to mind preachers and people on the street who stand on a corner (or the pulpit) and tell people to repent of their sin or suffer in hell for the rest of their lives.  That if they keep screwing up and living with out God, they'll end up in hell, essentially.  It's a scare tactic, to get people scared of burning in hell for all eternity and thus turn to God and Jesus for eternal salvation and heavenly bliss.

The book of Revelation has always scared the crap out of me.  I don't understand it, and on first glance, it does talk a lot about fire and hell, and the devil.  It's also very clear about what happens to people that have flat-out denied Christ.  It's an intimidating book; beasts with lots of eyes, battles between good and evil, things all coming to an end.  Not exactly what you want to read your children at bedtime.

Growing up, it was one of the only books I read, and I read it because so man of my teachers talked about hell and sin, that that's all that ever really stuck with me; fear.  The fear of doing something wrong and ending up in hell.  It's a great tactic to get kids to do what you want them to do, but it can have such a devastating effect on their view of God.

But before I go any further, here's the verse, from the New King James version of the Bible:
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are.  And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
According to my Bible, brimstone is only mentioned twice in the book of Revelation, and according to, brimstone is another word for sulfur.  Ugh.  I hate the smell of sulfur, and tar.  I hate the smell of sulfur and tar.  I have acne and apparently sulfur is a good way to fight it, so Proactive equips you with a sulfur mask, and it is the smelliest thing ever.  Even after my face is clean, the smell stays with me the rest of the day.  It's stuck in my nostrils.

But I digress.  I started writing this because my women's group embarked on a study of this very colorful book.  Beth Moore, probably the bestest women's Bible study leader in the history of the modern world, leads it, and she is just amazing.  She is not a fluffy teacher.  She breaks down the Bible like you wouldn't believe, but she's able to do it while connecting with women by tying whatever complex thing we're studying to our own very complicated lives and thought process. 

And breaking down the Bible is important because so much of the language has been lost in translation.  Apparently the first Bible was written in Greek, and words in English don't always capture what the original Greek word means, so it in turn can make certain verses and words seem totally crazy and confusing. 

Let me tell you, I wasn't exactly ecstatic about studying the book of Revelation with Beth Moore.  I know she's hardcore and I know the book is hardcore, and I was rather happy subscribing to the "ignorance is bliss" approach to the book.  But I learned something amazing in the first session that has made the book less scary to me and has me looking forward to studying it.

Here it is:  The very first verse in the book of Revelation says it is about to speak in figurative language.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place.  And He sent and signified (emphasis mine) it by His angel to His servant John.- Revelation 1:1

He's telling us all right there, smack at the beginning, that the following is figurative, not literal.  Not literal.  I don't know what about that made me breathe a sigh of relief.  Maybe it's because the end, whenever that may be, is scary.  Not because I'm afraid of dying, but because of all the fire involved in this book.  If there are two ways I'd rather not die, it would be by drowning or burning up.  Yeesh!  The pain involved in getting to see Jesus is what scares me, not actually dying.  And beyond that, I have two girls, and I'd rather not think of leaving them in the world to suffer through the fire of Armageddon. 

But now, thanks to Beth, I'm able to move forward in the study without fear.  Okay, with less fear.  Listen, it takes a while to unlearn your fears.  This was a huge step toward conquering a lifelong fear of this book.  



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Broken Toe Alone, Day One

James went back to work today so that left me alone for the first time since I ran into the side of the couch and broke my left pinky toe.  The day after I broke it, Saturday, it actually felt okay and I could walk, albeit with a wobble.

Then, when we came home from a short walk yesterday, the left side of my lower back hurt, I suppose from the different muscles I've been using to adjust my walking.  Later in the day we took Hannah to Fort de Soto dog beach and that went okay.  The sand made it easier for me get around.  Today, though, has been rough.

I slowly gathered the girls and very carefully taped my toe, then with even more care slipped on my sneaker.  Flip-flops just weren't good for my back anymore.  Since this owner never trained her dog how to bring the ball back once she's thrown it, I brought two balls to the dog park, which is about two block away from us, to hopefully wear her out with fetch.  Let me try to explain to you how incredibly challenging it is to have two children and a dog and a broken pinky toe shoved into a sneaker while trying to walk the dog.  I even had the stroller to lean on while I hobbled and my toe hurt with every step I ever-so-carefully tried to take.

I have to load everyone on the elevator, but before that, I have to maneuver the stroller out of our apartment door.  After that, we enter the elevator (door two), exit the elevator (door three), exit the mail area into the concierge area (door four, which doesn't even swing wide open, so heaven freaking forbid another dog or person is also waiting to get through, because then I have stupid Hannah pulling me through an already narrow exit, with a stroller).  Once I get into the main entrance/concierge area, I exit through another door that also doesn't swing wide open.  These doors not only do not swing wide open, but they also come off the ground enough to where I can't hold the door open with my foot if I have on flip-flops (in a state where it's hot 80 percent of the year), because my foot sneaks under the door,  then the door starts to close over my foot, which, as you might imagine, is a little painful.

No gracias!  I knew I was going to need help, so I e-mailed James that I needed a dog walker.  He gave the green light, and once I hobbled and hopped back inside our building the concierge referred us to Pilar's Pet Resort.  This place is so stinking cute!  Take a look at the photo albums on their page.  I was tempted to ask if I could leave my children there, too.

The woman over the phone was so sweet, especially once I switched to Spanish.  There's something comforting about being able to speak your native language to someone, even if they're not from the same country.  It's like we were immediately BFF.  And, as a mom, she could sympathize with what I have on my plate.  She offered to visit Hannah today so she can meet her.

Can I tell you how excited I am about my dog going to daycare?  Y'all have no idea the strain it will take off my schedule, even if she only goes for two days a week.  Pilar's even has taxi service that will pick her up and drop her off for me.

This broken toe thing will be a lot harder to deal with than I originally thought, but I am already so excited and relieved to have my Hannah Banana taken care of while I take care of the other monsters during the day.

Jesus loves me, this I know.

Monday, January 16, 2012

On Dancing and Toes

Thankfully, I didn't wake up sore the day after my night out dancing.  I only thought I pulled a muscle (twice) while I was dancing.  Maybe next time I should stretch before I hit the dance floor.  And believe you me, it is very difficult to say that without laughing at myself out loud.  In fact, most the night that's what I spent my time doing, laughing at myself. 

For one, the first two gentleman that asked me to dance had a hard time leading me.  The first time it was because the guy was just a gentle leader.  Not having danced in more than two years I was in need of a stronger lead to help guide me in turns.  The second poor soul asked me to dance, and when I had already said yes and was on the dance floor, I realized it was a cha-cha, and the only thing I know about cha-cha is what Baby reviewed with Johnny in Dirty Dancing.  I warned him about it, but he insisted I would fare well, and I barely managed.  Not to toot my own horn (but, toot, toot), I was spinning around to cha-cha by the end of the night, with only a few missteps. 

So Saturday rolls around and I'm feeling great about not being sore.  Then, walking back to the couch with Paloma in my arms, my pinky hits the edge of the couch.  I heard a crack, and then, I felt a crapload of pain.  I screamed.  Then, Paloma screamed because I screamed.  And having just woken up from a nap, I didn't know that James and Isabella had strolled down to the pool to soak in the hot tub.  So there I am screaming, trying to get Paloma to quit screaming, calling James several times, all the while ignorant to the fact that I was calling the phone he had left upstairs.  I cried.  It hurt.

What stinks about a broken toe is that doctors can't really do anything for you other than take an X-ray to see if it's broken, then confirm that it's broken, tape it to your neighbor toe, and send you home with ibuprofen and instructions to ice and elevate your leg.  That's it. 

I've learned that you need to be ever-so-careful, even when you're walking around your home, and that the next time I get a chance to go dancing, I should probably stretch. 

Land of the Fat

America. I feel so blessed to have been born in this country. We have so much, so easy. Our living space is gigantic compared to what other countries have to work with, yet when I watch HGTV's show House Hunters, all I see is people complain about how little their living space is and wonder how they would ever be able to live with such little storage space.

Stuff. We want more storage space for more stuff. We want a bigger fridge to fit more food. A bigger garage to house more cars, and bigger closets to store things we won't see or use but maybe twice a year. Bigger closets for more clothes, and bigger kitchens to store more appliances.

As someone with ADD, I just can't comprehend our obsession with more space for more stuff. ADDers don't do well with more stuff because we get overwhelmed with choices. Even though we're impulsive and buy stuff we don't need, we're horrible with it once we get home.

Take clothing for example. I now know not to over-shop, because what happens is that I go into my closet, stare at my clothes and try on six to seven different things before settling on one of the five items I wear the most. I literally cannot handle too many options because I get frustrated and getting dressed becomes an enormous obstacle and frustration. When I find something I love, I try to buy duplicates if I cannot afford it, but in different colors. Then, I mix, match and accessorize. Much easier.

Now take my problems in the closet and translate that into the kitchen and grocery shopping, and you have one hot mess. Whyyyyy can't we be more European in the kitchen? Why do we have to grocery shop for the entire week? Is that why people want bigger refrigerators? I get so overwhelmed at the grocery store and with planning menus for the week, that it literally paralyzes my brain when I think about it.

You want to know why our country is obese? It's because we eat over-processed foods that can last a long time in our enormous refrigerators, and hormone-infused meats that wreak havoc on our bodies. Add to that, most small towns in the South, where obesity is the worst, don't even have sidewalks. If I want to go on a walk when I'm visiting my in-laws in Georgia, it's a serious challenge, ergo, completely discouraging.

Oh, if we could all have corner markets where we could plan our dinners on a daily basis, with fresh meats, produce and herbs. But even then, when there is a Farmer's market, prices are a little unreal. We're completely discouraged from eating well. I buy hormone free meat, eggs and dairy for the girls, but what average American, especially in this economy, can afford that?

I'm going through Giada de Laurentiis' cookbooks (and I love them all), but it's hard to make some dishes because of the freshness factor. I don't have fresh basil or lemons onhand, and if that's what I need to make the dish I want, I'm not making it, because guess what? That requires me loading up the kids to drive seven floors down the parking garage, to get to the grocery store for one thing, and then I'll only use two basil leaves and have an odd assortment leftover and it'll go bad.

I'm convinced that a European lifestyle would better suit me and my spazness, is all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Great Greens

I have trouble keeping up with my fiber/greens intake. I use to have a juicer and made juices, but then that broke and I was left with just a blender. I've found, though, that a blender is far better than a juicer if you're short on fiber. It's also a great way to get the most bang for your buck out of produce, especially if it's teetering on over-ripeness.

This juice is about a cup or more of packed spinach (stems cut), one large granny smith apple, and three ripe kiwis. It's thick, and a little tart, but it's also jam-packed with fiber. I also don't have to worry so much about finding veggies to incorporate into my meals throughout the day after sucking one of these down.

Martha Stewart's Whole Living Smoothies app is also amazing. It has loads of recipes and nutritional information that can help jump start your smoothie-making.

After this and a glass of water, I'm ready for coffee.
Kiwi, spinach and granny smith apples, all in a fabulous Tennessee tumbler.  Go Vols!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Puttin' on My Dancing Shoes

I actually don't own a pair of dancing shoes, but I will be going out dancing tonight, which is huge.  And when I say dancing, I don't mean going to a nightclub where I'll stand in the middle of the floor with a girlfriend and flail my arms around to Lady Gaga as I simultaneously sing along really, really loud.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, that just isn't my cup of tea these days.  Goodness I sound boring.

Anyway, my friend and I are going to dance salsa.  I haven't danced salsa in years.  Okay, I take that back.  Let me rephrase:  I haven't danced salsa with another human as a partner, in years.  The last time I danced was about three weeks ago when I was alone cooking and my iPod was on random.  An awesome song came on and I started to spin myself around like a crazy lady. But Florida has really good latin radio stations and I've found myself grooving to Pitbull and Marc Anthony in the car.  I laugh at myself a lot when I do that, which I'm sure looks completely normal to passersby.

Back in my teenage years I took my salsa dancing entirely too seriously and went to clubs six nights a week, just to get my groove on.  It was like my religion.  But, a couple years into college the scene got old.  The women were too catty and the men, too slimy.  I started to prefer the atmosphere in country bars, far away from the clubs where I was guaranteed to run into someone from my hardcore clubbing days in high school.  I was just over it.  See, the good thing about going to clubs early was that I got that type of partying out of my system.  Years after my girlfriends graduated college, they were still getting the club bug out of their system, where I was over it and ready to stay in and play BINGO. 

I guess I've become pretty boring.  Maybe it's because I married a white guy.  A very loveable, handsome white guy, but a white guy nonetheless.  We could just sit in our car with beer and listen to country music and talk all night (and sing along exceptionally bad).  My sister married one of us, a first generation Mexican-American, and they still go dancing sometimes.  Rarely, but he can dance, and they have fun.  She's much more in tune with our Mexican side.  She does live in California, too, so I do take that into consideration.  Whenever she visits I learn what all the cool new songs are, and I feel like such a boring old fart when she does, even though she's two years older than me.

I'm more Banana Republic meets Anthropolgie, she's more Forever 21 meets PacSun.  People often think I'm older.  It's pretty sad.

But anyway, I'm excited about tonight.  I don't expect a whole lot, and I'm scared that Floridians dance on the 2 and not on the 1...or the other way around.  I'm not even sure which I dance on anymore.

I just hope my butt and shoulders don't hurt tomorrow.  That would make me feel ever so pathetic.  I'm totally wearing flats.  Screw the heels.  I want my knees to last into old age.

So Cool

I'm not sure why, but I really want this as my alarm clock.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bringing Up Girls

Isabella recently joined the Girl Scouts Daisies and Sunday they had their annual father-daughter masquerade dance. James went to get a quick haircut while Isabella got dressed and returned with this sweet flower arrangement for his date.

When I saw him walk through the door with a big smile on his face, armed with the bouquet for Izzy, my heart about melted. We are lucky girls, us three. I think God blessed us with two girls because he knew James is everything a little girl needs in a dad.

My own relationship with my father is a bit strained.  Its had its ups and downs.  It was never an easy one to maintain.  James and I both come from broken families with a lot of emotional baggage, so we sometimes worry about what we may not be doing right, because we never had proper role models at home to model how to do it right. 

When I was pregnant with Paloma I found the book Bringing Up Girls, by Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.  It was a hard read, only because I came to the sobering realization that bringing up girls to be Godly young women is an extremely difficult task in our world.  And that's not to say I live in fear of the world and think it all evil for our girls, but especially with technology infiltrating so much of our lives (and I love my technology, so I'm guilty too), it is hard to silence the noise all around them, all around me. 

It's something you can't ever slack on.  Isabella got an iPod Touch for Christmas (from my mother-in-law), and it's an an awesome educational tool, and distraction.  She can access YouTube and the Internet, quite innocently.  I personally don't like her watching the Disney Channel's afternoon programming.  The Disney Channel!  It just had too many shows in which the lead characters were tweens with attitude.  And let me tell you, the attitude catches like fire.  The sass in the girls' voices is immediately imitated in the interaction between her dolls when she's playing with them.  It's scary.  So now we stick to PBS Kids and Nick and Disney Jr.  Since I homeschool, it actually helps me supplement (or teach her) what we learn during the day.

I want my girls to be like this, or this.  Who wouldn't?  I don't know how to get them there, but I hope God is gracious enough to help us lead them in that direction, because it's nothing we can force or manipulate them to become.  I've seen parents try that tactic and it has had such disastrous effects on their children.  Whatever their trials are in life, I pray God helps us help equip them to face those challenges with strength and grace, knowing that whatever the outcome, they have a God and parents who will always love them, and that the security in knowing that guides them through a brave new world.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Scramble on Over

I love this coffee mug my mom got me from Cracker Barrel yesterday. They have super cute breakfast themed merchandise right now, so if you're like me and love the smell of crisp morning air mixed with coffee and bacon in the mornings, run to your nearest Cracker Barrel for some dishes that celebrate morning glory.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

If you're looking for a podcast...

Sundays are my favorite.  Put aside the sometimes mad rush to feed and dress the girls, take out the dog to pee and make it to church on time, and I love Sundays.  I love the anticipation that builds before Sunday school, knowing that when I walk out it'll be with a new little nugget of knowledge.  It's like those bite size Snickers bars, a perfect little treat.  Okay, so sometimes when the knowledge is owning up to something, maybe it's not always so treat-like, but I eventually appreciate it.

It's sort of sad when Sunday nights roll around.  The thrill of the day winds down and the week starts to start.  James will leave to work the next morning and the girls and I will restart our own routine, and life goes on.

I suppose the problem (if you can call it that), is that the pastor, Ken Whitten at Idlewild Baptist, is amazing.  The man can deliver a sermon.  He really is just gifted at delivering a message.  And I can fully appreciate using the term "gifted" because I have sat through other preacher's sermons and in the middle thought to myself, bless this man's heart but I am so bored.  Sometimes a preacher can have a good sermon, but if there's poor delivery, man, people can lose focus and totally miss a message that isn't even bad!

All that to say, you should consider subscribing to the Idlewild podcast on iTunes.  If you're like me and enjoy listening to various thought leaders and preachers throughout the week, Pastor Ken would be a good addition. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Glow in the Dark Pacifiers

MAM glow in the dark pacifers.
So, if you're ever in that stage of life where everyone  is pregnant at the same time (since they all planned it in college...just kidding...kind of), you'll need to do your friends a favor and add to whatever baby shower gift you give them, a MAM glow in the dark pacifier. Scouring the bassinet/crib while half comatose for a tiny magical instrument that will soothe your baby back to sleep is the pits.  These suckers (ha, literally), glow, making it that much easier for everyone to get their precious sleep.

No, really, just do yourself a favor and stock up now.  Go ahead and get them the ones for babies 0 to 6 months and the ones for babies 6 to18 months.  Also, when Gilt has a sale on SkipHop diaper bags, buy them.  They are the best out there.  I have two Kate Spade diaper bags that pale in comparison practicality-wise, but more on that later.  
Skip Hop studio diaper bag.  Best ever.

But back to the suckers, MAM has been Paloma's pacifier of choice.  She loves them.  Isabella would take an Avent or MAM, but Paloma never liked Avent or Nuk pacifiers, just MAM.  She sees us put one in the shopping cart and wants to exchange the one she has in her mouth for a new one.  And if we're buying a pair to replenish lost pacifiers (which I swear are in cahoots with the missing socks of the world, all sitting there, laughing at us), she screams until we open the package and give her one.  And, yes, we gladly appease the teething, screaming toddler, thankyouverymuch.

Seriously though, James tells total strangers to buy MAM stock.  I think we may have spent around $800 on just pacifiers since she's been born, and I think that may be a gross under-estimation.  Then again, he has a wife that's major ADD, so maybe not every mom misplaces or lets her child lose pacifiers as often as wifey misplaces her brain.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Green Chile

Bear with me here, I have a much deeper post in the works. This one is just quicker to draft while I have a sleepy baby pawing at me from the other end of our breakfast bar stool.

My mom is visiting for a few days and one of the things I love to do most when she's around is cook.  She's phenomenal.  She seasons according to smell.  It's amazing.  James is also a natural in the kitchen, and a bit experimental.  Most of the times it turns out delish (then there was that time he added honey to corn).

Since I'm not quite yet comfortable in the kitchen when it comes to just whipping up amazing food from whatever I have stashed in the pantry, I absolutely adore Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.  The best part (if you own an iPad): As a monthly subscriber to the print edition, you can also access the digital version through the Everyday Food app. They just recently made the digital version free to their paid print subscribers.  Heaven.

Anyhow, I had a hankering for comfort Mexican and was pleased to rediscover this great, green chile recipe in Everyday Food's October 2011 digital issue.

On making the following super-delicious dish, I have the following nuggets of wisdom to add (and to Mexicanify it a bit more.  I'm totally qualified):

1.  Season the pork with garlic salt and pepper before (or right when) you throw it into the heated oil to brown.  This was my mom's idea and she was right on.  Seasoning the pork while it's browning will add flavor to the actual meat when you bite into it, otherwise it tastes a little bland, unless you wait and have it the next day, which is what we did.

2.  Sub a can/bottle of Mexican beer for part of the recommended amount of water.  (Thank you, James.)  I'm not an expert cook, so I'm still a bit of a stickler for sticking to the printed recipe.  As such,  I measured the can of beer as I  poured (pretty sure the can of Corona came out to a 1 1/4 cup), and added a 1 1/4 of water since the recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of water total.

3.  Add a 15.5 oz (or more) can of black beans to the pot once you're ready to partially cover it to simmer.  This was also James' idea.

4.  If you happen to have Mexican rice around, throw that into your bowl before or after you've served yourself.  It adds to the chile's heartiness. 

Without the black beans and rice, the chile (in our collective opinion) lacked the heartiness chile is supposed to have. The recipe is part of a "chile throwdown" between four of the magazines cooks/editors.  James didn't think it had much substance to be chile if it was just green sauce with pork. 

So you see, this blog brings you all sorts of random nuggets of wisdom.  I'm like a box of chocolates.