Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Taking a break

See you in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The price of a good photo shoot

I have recently been using nap time as photography time, in an effort to learn how to use my new camera and to snap some pics for my photo blog. I LOVE this time!! It is so peaceful and happy. There is only one problem: I live in Houston! That means humidity with a capital H and plenty of mosquitoes to go along with it! There is always a price to pay for doing something you love. I pay in sweat and blood.
This is an icky picture, but can you see all the red welts?! Click to enlarge, if you aren't easily frightened!
Fortunately, the welts go away quickly and the itching doesn't last more than a few minutes, so I haven't been deterred in my daily photography outings.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bounce City

Weston finished his second reading poster today, this one with seven books on it! We celebrated by going to Bounce City for most of the day. The kids had an absolute blast! We are so proud of our big reader!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Because I like you and want you to be happy

Cilantro Cream Sauce

2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup water
2 tsp. granulated chicken bouillon
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
ground black pepper to taste

Place cilantro, milk, water and bouillon in blender. Blend until smooth. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Stir in flour, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in cilantro mixture. Cook over medium-low hear, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly. Season with pepper. Serve over chicken, turkey, burgers, enchiladas, or just a spoon. I haven't found anything it doesn't go well with!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom"

~Proverbs 4:7

The Bible tells us that wisdom is absolutely the most important thing we can possess. The book of Proverbs is devoted to driving that point home. And it also gives us some incredible insight into what wisdom actually is. According to Proverbs 8:12, wisdom is prudence, knowledge and discretion. And a look into the dictionary* further clarifies this for us, as you will see from the following definitions:

Prudence (noun):
1: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason
2: sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs
3: skill and good judgement in the use of resources
4: caution or circumspection as to danger or risk

Knowledge (noun):
2 a 1: the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association 2: acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
2 b 1: the fact or condition of being aware of something 2: the range of one's information or understanding
2c 1: the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning: cognition
2d the fact or condition of having information or of being learned

Discretion (noun):
1: the quality of being discreet: circumspection; especially: cautious reserve in speech
2: ability to make responsible decisions
3 a:  individual choice or judgement b: power of free decision or latitude of choice within certain legal bounds
4: the result of separating or distinguishing

Many Christians (myself in the forefront) spend a great deal of time praying for and asking others to pray for situations in their lives that they have created simply by neglecting to employ even a modicum of wisdom. And then they wonder why their prayers seem to go unheard and why they don't find solutions to the problems they are facing. I am certainly not trying to downplay the importance of prayer or fellowship in our spiritual lives. I am simply trying to make a case for exercising wisdom in the first place, so that we don't find ourselves so often in the midst of unnecessary trials. The Lord commands us to get wisdom, even if it costs us everything we have (Proverbs 4:7). This negates the argument that wisdom is some special, mysterious commodity that the Lord doles out to only a lucky few. We are commanded to get it; we are urged to use it in every situation. And we are even given instructions on how to acquire it if it eludes us: just ask for it (James 1:5)! The Lord has given us extraordinary minds, capable of reasoning and choosing. Let us not make excuses for the unpleasant circumstances in our lives, or cheapen grace by rather arrogantly assuming that the Lord is required to get us out of a jam we got ourselves into by refusing wisdom's aid. Let us embrace wisdom and all she has to offer. 

I am praying for the Lord to give me wisdom, and more specifically, I'm praying that each element of these definitions would be true in my life. I expect that I will probably still find myself in difficult circumstances from time to time, but I suspect that I will be able to eliminate a good deal of them before they even surface.

*all definitions taken from Merriam-Webster online dictionary

I did not pack a single box today

Even though packing boxes was the only thing I planned on doing today. Instead, I did the following things:

  • Worked out at Curves and officially gave notice to terminate my contract with them.
  • Came home to a crying baby and unrelated tales of water heater woes.
  • Fixed my children quesadillas for breakfast (at their request).
  • Took the kids to play at the splash pad and to attend our new favorite story time.
  • Snapped some pictures for my photo blog.
  • Set up an appointment with a plumber to take care of the hot water heater situation.
  • Tried once again to complete the exchange of my Mother's Day gift.
  • Talked on the phone with my mom...three times.
  • Designed and ordered a birthday gift for my father-in-law.
  • Talked with Jeff about his school for entrepreneurs, Strong Academy.
  • Received an hour's notice for a house showing, which prompted a flurry of house cleaning, only to receive word fifty minutes later that the showing was cancelled. 
  • Made some yummy, fat-free sorbet for an impromptu dinner party with friends.
  • Finished the last season of 24.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Shoe Day

Remember New Shoe Day? Your mom wanted you to get a cheap pair. You were drawn to the flashy ones. Mom was thinking, "They need to be practical." You were thinking, "I just want to be the envy of  my class for the rest of the school year." But, eventually, you and Mom came to an agreement (maybe a settlement), and home you went with your new shoes on your feet and your old ones stuffed unlovingly in the new shoe box. You spent the rest of the day looking down, admiring your new footwear. That is, when you weren't proving the worth of your new shoes by showing anyone and everyone how high you could jump now, how fast you could run. Ah, the memories. They all came rushing back today, as it was New Shoe Day in our household. All the kids got new kicks in preparation for our annual trek west, where hiking and mountain climbing abound. Old shoes would actually be better for this, I know, but since we are almost purely a flip flop/croc family in the summertime (uh, also fall, winter and spring), the old athletic shoes have been outgrown and had to be replaced. And so, we had New Shoe Day, with all the joys I remember from my own childhood--the running, the jumping, the gazing and, of course, the challenging of siblings to numerous foot races. It was awesome!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weston helped with the dishes today...

...And he did some floor cleaning, too!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Something New

I'm a picture person. I love taking pictures, looking at pictures, and just playing around with them--and I always have. All my picture taking is pretty much for my own enjoyment, but I also really get a kick out of sharing my pictures with others. Jeff gave me a new fancy-schmancy camera last month, and so I have decided to start a photo blog. My words and family pics will still be here whenever you'd like to know what's going on with us, but I'd like to invite you all over to take a look at my pictures if you just want to see some pretty stuff (that doesn't look like my kids):

It's called "Pretty Stuff," because one time when we were riding in the car and witnessing a spectacular sunset, Weston breathlessly announced that there was "pretty stuff all over the world." My photo blog is an attempt to capture some of the pretty stuff in the world, and to share it with whoever might enjoy seeing it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


My "Super Mom" award has been revoked and may never be reinstated. For what kind of mother allows her children's dental health to deteriorate to the point that one child has two cavities on either side of her mouth that require fillings, and another child has two cavities right on top of each other that require sedation, a pulpectomy (baby root canal), a crown, an extraction and the placement of an "appliance" (spacer)? There is some serious mama-guilt here, I can tell you, even though I felt like we were doing the right things all along to keep these kind of problems from developing.

Ruth's fillings have already been taken care of, painlessly and without fanfare, despite my warnings that there would be a shot and drilling. Turns out they don't do it that way anymore. At least not at our dentist's office. Just a completely pain-free shot with a laser that lasts about 5 minutes.

Weston went in for the first part of his procedure today, which was pretty much the opposite of that. He had to be sedated, though not put completely under, while the doctor performed the pulpectomy and the extraction. There was definitely some pain involved, with the promise of more to come when the full effects of the sedation wear off. There was also fear, which may have been an even worse pain, and certainly a pain that even I felt, especially when Weston looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Where were you?! That was so scary!" I had been not more than a few steps away, of course, but his feeling of abandonment struck me to the core and broke my heart! I will admit to shedding more than a few tears right along with Weston on our way home. They tell me he won't remember any of this, but I will not soon forget. His spacer has to be custom made for his mouth, so we will get to do this all over again in 4-6 weeks.

I can tell you this, we will not be taking our dental health lightly around here anymore. We will be brushing and flossing and mouth-washing like crazy, and we will be doing it with close maternal supervision.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another reader in the house

Weston woke up this morning ready to read. I mean, really read. No more messing around with just a word here or there. We're talking whole books--yes, plural! He read two whole books today (Pat Can Camp by Cynthia Belnap and Will Bill? by Patty Carratello), sounding out every word himself! We started a reading poster for him, and rewarded him with an outing to an Astros game this evening. We are so very proud of him and his wonderful accomplishments!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Spoiled Pack Rats

I made a preliminary run at thinning out the kids' stuff today, in preparation for all the packing that will come later. And let me tell you, it was an all day job, thanks to my two big helpers. It's always better to do these kind of projects with as little help as possible, but I didn't get to it while the boys were away, so there was nothing to do but let them help--which means that toys that haven't seen the light of day for who knows how long suddenly became the most beloved things ever to grace the bedroom the moment they hit the "give away" pile or the "trash" pile.

Speaking of which, I ultimately came away with six trash bags full of stuff for Goodwill--along with some bigger items that wouldn't fit in sacks--and at least that many for the garbage. And, there are still more toys than I can count! Spoiled pack rats, indeed. I suspect they are in good company, though, and will most likely confirm that, when my scrutinizing packer's eye hits the rest of the house in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A day with the boys

I spent the day with my boys today, and we all had a blast! Our first stop was the splash pad, where the boys enjoyed having the fountain to themselves while they entertained each other and me for over an hour. Then, we donned dry clothes and headed across the way to a quaint little bookstore for story time. The boys sat mesmerized as they listened to the stories, and Weston was so proud of himself for realizing and pointing out to the reader that all her stories were about animals, which I don't think she had even really intended. When the stories were over and the cookies were finished, the boys got to pick out some books to take home, which is always thrilling. Weston's were all reading books that he will begin working on reading himself. Finally, we met up with Daddy at one of our favorite restaurants on the lake for lunch. I love hanging out with my boys and am so thankful for this special day with them!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Good words

I have recently read two very good books, from completely different genres, that I feel compelled to tell others to read as well.

The first, Happiness is a Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman, is kind of a psychology/self-help book, which are not the kinds of books I am normally drawn to. But, following my own rule of not quitting a book once I start, I continued on with this one, after uncovering it in the pile of mostly-forgotten books in the guest bathroom at my in-laws' house. I have certainly had the occasional struggle with negativity, sadness, self-imposed stress and sometimes even a sense of hopelessness. And, in the midst of those struggles, have thought to myself that there was nothing to be done. Sort of an "I feel sad, therefore I must be sad" kind of mentality. So, the idea of choosing happiness was an intriguing one, even if I wasn't struggling with unhappiness when I picked up the book. There were times when I felt the author was a "little out there," but overall, I found the concept to be very interesting. I appreciated the scientific evidence he gave to back up his theories, as well as the anecdotal  evidence. I also appreciated having my "belief system" (as Mr. Kaufman calls it) challenged and forcing myself to think about my thoughts and feelings differently. It was an empowering and liberating book, and I'm glad I had the chance to read it.

The other book, a novel, was The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. It explores the deep and abiding friendship of five women, all stay-at-home moms, in the late sixties/early seventies, who get to know each other--and themselves--through writing. The characters in this story were so real--people I could know and be friends with myself, if I would allow myself to be that vulnerable. There were laugh-out-loud moments and tear-stained pages, as well. All a celebration of friendship and womanhood and dreaming big and never giving up. If you are a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend or an aspiring anything, this book is for you. It is beautifully written, challenging, inspiring and entertaining. I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning so I could finish it, and then was sad it was over.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Our Romantic Get-Away

Last night was our last night without the kids, so we decided we would slip away to San Antonio for the night. Our original plan to eat dinner on the river was thwarted by the rain, so we decided to try some indoor dining in The Market. Upon leaving the restaurant, we noticed that the sidewalks all the way to the hotel were absolutely crawling with people. We also noticed that all these throngs were wearing similar name tags, but seemed to have virtually no other commonalities. There were people from literally every demographic you can think of, dressed in every way you can imagine.

When we arrived at our hotel, which happened to adjoin the convention center, we found the crowds to be even more oppressive. Finding only signs that said "The International Convention" and unable to contain our curiosity, we asked fellow elevator passengers what was going on. "Oh, we're all with Alcoholics Anonymous!" replied one lady in an overly cheerful, yet slightly secretive way. She then went on to tell us that there were about 60,000 people there for the convention at the moment, but they were expecting more the following day. And sure enough, the city was flush with convention attendees today. We scarcely saw anyone, whether shopping or dining or just walking around, not wearing the tell-tale name tag.

Once in our room, we found two double beds (rather than one king or queen, which we would have preferred, but knowing the hotel wouldn't have even a closet to spare with the madhouse of the convention going on) and each plopped down on one to watch TV for a while. Jeff fell asleep almost immediately, sprawled out over the entirety of his bed. When I finally got ready to tuck myself in, there wasn't any way I could squeeze in under the covers next to him. So, I just hopped into the other bed and made myself cozy.

It was a rather bizarre romantic get-away, but we still had a good time and were thankful for the time together. Plus, it makes a pretty good story.