January 22, 2010


I take the girls to the library to check out books about once a week, sometimes once every two weeks if we are really busy.  Both my girls love to read books before bedtime.  It's become part of the bedtime ritual around here.

Normally, we go, and I just let Hattie grab books because libraries are meant to be quiet, but with two children, aged 3 and 1, quiet is hard.  I don't want to disturb everyone else.  Once in a while I scan the books while there to make sure they're not too long b/c bedtime rituals shouldn't take hours, but other than that, I rarely look in the books to actually see what we're getting because I want to get in and out.  I guess you could say that I totally judge a book by it's cover ;).  Then, once home, I never pre-read them before reading them to the girls.

This has only gotten me in trouble once in over a year.  After reading Hattie a new library book one night, Sean came out of her room and said, "Why'd you get Hattie a book about divorced parents?"

I had no idea.  The book was called A New Day for Sophie or something like that and had a cartoon picture of a smiling girl all happy and stuff on a swing.  She did not look like a little girl whose parents had just ruined her life as she knew it.

Then the other day, back at the local library, Hattie handed me this book:

Learning about opposites - great!  Cute elephants - great!  It was a no brainer to put the book in the stroller for checking out later.

That night, Hattie picked two princess books and a Fancy Nancy book to read well before bedtime, so when getting ready to put Mary Ellen down for bed, I grabbed the opposite elephant book to read to her because, after opening the cover, I discovered it only had two words per page (and they were opposites - imagine that!), and little sister has a much shorter attention span than big sister.  She prefers less words and more pictures.  She's one.

So we started reading it.  The first couple of pages were harmless enough: Big {insert picture of a big elephant}, Small {insert picture of a small elephant}.  Tall {insert picture of a tall elephant}, Short {insert picture of a short elephant}.  You get the picture.  
Then I turned the page to this:

First of all, the stupid elephant looks happier than the smart one (what's up with that?!?!), and second of all, there are just some words that I don't want used in my house EVER.  One of those words is on the above pages, and it ain't "Smart!" ;)

Maybe you are saying, "Big deal.  That's not that bad.  Just say a different word, like unintelligent.  Hattie can't read yet."  Touche, but what about this:

Um......... graphic!  I mean could the boy elephant have just been wearing a tie and the girl a bow between her ears or something?  Did you really need to go there?  And why does the boy look so much happier than the girl?!?

Before looking, I was certain that this book had to have been published like 40 years ago atleast.  In our current world of total PC, this would never fly.  

Nope, it was published in 1999.  I just couldn't believe it.  However, on further investigation, I discovered that it was originally published in French and was translated to English in 2001.  BINGO.  That makes total sense to me now ;).

Needless to say, Hattie will not be reading this book ever.  Thank goodness I read it to the oblivious 17 month old first!  And I have learned my lesson.  Censorship is necessary with toddlers, and I will find the time to go through library books before my kids get their hands on them in the future.

January 21, 2010

My Current Favorites

I don't have much to blog about, but in an effort to stay away from the pantry and fridge during naptime, I thought I'd share some of my current favorite things.

1.) Sean and I went to see Avatar a few nights ago.  I did not want to see this movie.  I was totally dragged to it kicking and screaming, but it is one of the most, if not the most, amazing movies I've ever seen.  I know I'm probably the last person on the planet so am preaching to the choir, but GO SEE IT if you haven't!  AMAZING.  Visually AMAZING.  And the story's good, too.  Totally not just a guy's movie, which is what I thought.

2.) If you are into eating healthy and organic foods and live in the Houston area, you should go dine at this restaurant.  YUM-O!  A bit pricey but fun for a rare nice dinner date night.

3.) Two books that I'm enjoying right now:

I am almost done reading it.  It is scandalous and fascinating.  I have a love-hate relationship with it.  Love because it's so good.  Hate because I can't put it down at night to go to sleep and wind up very tired in the morning.

I'm also reading this:

I have a tendency to totally procrastinate with Bible study books.  My group meets Monday nights, so I usually pick up the book to do the study the Sunday night before, and half the time, I'm too tired or Sean beckons me to come watch something on t.v. with him.  This time, though, I'm enjoying the book so much that I have kept up with it, doing a lesson every day.  If you are looking for a good bible study book, I recommend this one!

4.) I rooted for this lady on The Next Food Network Star months back and was so happy when she won.  I have tried a couple of her recipes and am totally digging her four step chicken dishes.  Easy and so flavorful, and the chicken never comes out chewy.  We eat a lot of chicken around here, but with her four step plan, I don't feel like I'm eating the same thing every other night.

5.) Have you been to this store?  They have every kind of accessory I never thought I needed.  It's a bit overwhelming at first, but if you need some cheap bling, go here.  They are bound to have something you'll like.  And they sell cute clothes, too.

Well, that's it for now.  I can hear that nap time is over.  What're some of your current faves right now?  Do tell :)!

January 15, 2010

The Other White Meat

This is Sean's mostest favoritest main dish that I make. He says it creates a party of flavor in his mouth :).

Jerk Rubbed Pork Chops
4 pork loin chops, thin cut
1 lime, juiced and zested
2 tbsp preferred Caribbean jerk seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
lime wedges
fresh cilantro

In a small bowl mix lime zest and juice with jerk seasons and oil. Rub both sides of pork chops well and marinate atleast 30 minutes.
Then place pork chops on hot grill (I just do it in a pan) set to medium high heat and cook 10-12 minutes, turning over once until brown on outside and slightly pink on inside.

Easy, healthy, and tasty!

January 12, 2010

This is for Me, but Just in Case You Needed to Hear it, too.....

Thursday is my birthday. I turn 29. I'm surprised with myself at how badly I'm taking it. My theory is that ending a decade is much harder than beginning a new one. I'm about to be the oldest age in my decade. It's like I'm trying too hard to hold onto my 20s. Oddly enough, I think turning 30 is going to make me feel much younger than turning 29. This year, I think I'll just stay in bed and put anti-wrinkle cream on my face all day while periodically checking for stray grey hairs. Waaa!

Really, though, I feel the aging process kicking into gear. I have wrinkles on my forehead that use to not be there. Bunions are starting to form on my feet. Cashiers no longer card me when I go into a store to buy wine or beer.

And I know I'm being petty, which makes me feel worse.

My Christian woman conscience within wants to slap me upside my wrinkling head and say, You know youth is fleeting. You know trying to look young always is like chasing the wind. Stop being a sponge for society's agenda. Contrary to what the world around you is saying, you don't have to look young to be desirable to your husband, and God expects far more from you than just looking young.

Psalm 31 needs to be my Cosmo magazine, my reference for what is desired of women:

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

This is what God desires of me: to be trustworthy and kind, to work joyfully, to be disciplined, energetic, generous, and diligent, to be elegant, poised, a good manager of my home, and God-fearing. Never once does He tell me that younger is better. God does not value youth. He does value life and what we do with it for His glory.

When I dwell that I am leaving my youth behind, I am surely not dwelling on how I am not pleasing God. I have surely missed the mark on who I am here to please.

I was thinking this morning of the similarities of aging and pregnancy. Embracing my wrinkles and gray hairs coming in is so similar to embracing my stretch marks and swollen belly while pregnant. Neither is viewed highly in our society. Both times I was pregnant, the bigger my belly got and the thicker and longer my stretch marks became, the closer I was to bringing forth new life for a child and a new dynamic for my life which would definitely change the ways things were for me forever. I spent the days of my pregnancy nurturing the life inside of me, careful not to eat or drink the wrong things or do anything that would harm that life. I did not want to cause any damage to the growth taking forth within me.

Aging is much the same when you're a Christian.

There is a new Life coming, and my body is starting to show more and more signs that it is getting closer for me. Instead of dwelling and worrying about how the journey to that Life is changing my body in a way that is undesirable to this world, I need to make sure I am nurturing and readying myself for the Life that is to come! I need to make sure I am not damaging or hindering the growth that God is trying to do within me. Am I growing the way that God desires, or am I wasting this time chasing the wind for something that matters not, like the wrinkles on my forehead or the muffin top that I just can't seem to shake no matter how many crunches I do? Am I exercising my soul for the coming of my Lord and the new Life that is in store, or am I sitting numb to it all because the world tells me that it matters not?

Am I a sponge to the world, or am I helping the Living Water flow through the earth, waiting to be soaked up?

Instead of moping around in my aging misery on this birthday and all of those to come, I should wait in joyful hope for what is coming and prepare myself for Him as best I can until then.

So before I blow out my 29 candles {plus one to grow on} this year, that'll be my wish!

January 6, 2010

Sound the Alarm!

Soon after turning 3, Hattie fell into a pattern of waking up at the crack of dawn and screaming and screeching from her room, which would cause her mommy and daddy to wake up very grumpy. Her loud antics at 6 a.m. also started to occasionally wake up her sister, which made sister and mommy hysterical!

I tried everything. Punishing her each morning she did this, trying to bargain with her what she would receive if she didn't wake up so loudly. Regardless of what I did or did not do, she remained our unpleasant alarm clock at 5:30 or 6 a.m. almost every morning. After months of this, I wanted to pull my hair out!

Finally, after many grumpy mornings, it dawned on me to put an alarm clock in her room {duh!}. I tried to teach her to read the time, but the blank look on her face made it pretty clear that she wasn't ready for that, so I decided to just set it for 7 a.m. and instructed her that this object would let her know when it was morning and that it was a BIG GIRL thing to have and use. She lit up with enthusiasm. I practiced with her on how to turn it off in the morning. She learned that quickly. We were ready to try it out!

The first morning, we heard nothing until Christmas music blared from her room at 7 a.m. - clock radio set to Sunny 99.1 in December - and she came running out of her room squealing, I did it! Praise, of course, followed.

It has worked like a charm every morning since. Since December is over, we now wake up to Mexican music, Hattie's choice, instead of her screaming unbearable loudness to get out of bed. Instead of grumbles with my morning coffee, I now want a breakfast burrito :).

I just want to say, thank you, Mr. James F. Reynolds, for inventing the radio alarm clock. You have made my mornings more delightful indeed :)!

And I know that so many preschoolers go through early morning wake-ups, so if yours is in the midst of this lovely phase, and you're about to pull your hair out, this little tip is for YOU :)!

January 4, 2010

Christmas & New Years

We had a blast! This year was so special because everything was so magical about Christmas to Hattie. She loved hearing the story of Jesus' birth. She loved hearing about Santa. She loved all of the decorations and carols and fun traditions we are trying to set.

And Mary Ellen was so much more aware this year, too. She got really good at ripping presents open and playing with those boxes :).

We got to spend Christmas Eve at home mostly, and we attended Christmas Eve mass, which was crazy and packed and noisy with the kids, but then we came home to a gumbo that was warming in the crockpot and dined at the dining room table which I had decorated and fancied before church. After dinner, Mary Ellen hit the hay, and Hattie cuddled up on the couch and got to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas - one of my faves as a child. Then she dictated this Christmas letter to me for Santa:

Dear Santa,

Happy Christmas! Rudolph has a shiny nose. Jesus was born in a manger with lots of angels.
I want....... a wand, a barbie, a pony, and my own manger with Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus laying in a manger.
Sissy wants..... a rattle, a Baby Jesus laying in a manger, a snowman, and her own Christmas tree, and a Rudolph like me.
Mommy and Daddy want...... a bookmark, their own bottle of wine, and their own snow globe.
Merry Christmas!


Hehe, our own bottle of wine! I guess she saw how stressed out we were after Christmas Eve mass ;)!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas that was filled with love, laughter, family, friends, and most importantly, the promise of hope that the birth of our Lord brought us!

And Happy New Year!!! 2010!!!!

We celebrated by going out to dinner with some friends. We went here, and it was fantastic and like nothing I have ever experienced. It was a 5 course dinner, and each course came with a wine pairing. By course number 4, I had to decline the wine ;).

I am not really good with New Year's Resolutions. I break them habitually, but I also love to make them, so this year, to cut myself some slack, I have decided to pick two words that will guide me and remind me throughout this year of what my focus is/should be on {hopefully}. The first is discipline. I want to be disciplined in my prayer life, the way I eat, the way I conduct myself when I'm stressed out, working out, ect. And the second word is youthful. I am about to enter the last year of my twenties {gasp!}, so to honor my last year in this decade, I am going to strive to be more youthful or more energetic, more acting on a whim, more MY age and less my mother's age. Even Wii Fit put me past my 30s, but I am blaming that on my balance. I have terrible balance. Was way off on the board! Must be why I trip so much?!?!

And yes, I know thatYouthful and Disciplined don't really go together as a pair. They contradict each other. Maybe Balance is better? That would help improve my Wii Fit age, too :)!!!

So, do you make New Year's Resolutions? If so, what are they this year?

Wisdom From the Pope

“The inalienable dignity of every human being and the rights which flow from that dignity - in the first place the right to life and the defense of life - are at the heart of the church's message." Pope John Paul ended his address, saying: "In spite of divisions among Christians, 'all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated into Christ...brothers and sisters in the Lord.'" Pope John Paul 2