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.