Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No, you can't have him, he's mine!

The other day I took a mini-vacation and spent the entire day with the kids! We played games, watched Narnia twice, ate when we were hungry, did absolutely nothing that was work...you get the picture. :) Miguel, however, bless his heart, decided to work on the mountain of laundry so I snuck a couple of pictures from the kitchen window, heehee. Yes, I felt a bit guilty for taking it easy while Miguel worked, but in my defense, the kids were HAPPY with all the special attention from Mom. We had a great time...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trying a New Recipe

There is a Christmas dinner at church tonight and I was asked to bring a guisado, a meat dish. I had the lady explain exactly what was meant by "guisado" since it can mean different things in different countries. She explained that it could be anything from sliced turkey to roast beef to meat sauteed with onions and tomatoes...so, pretty much any meat dish that could be served on its own alongside the other food (something like spaghetti sauce wouldn't work). Other people were to bring other parts of the meal, like vegetable dishes, salads, and desserts.

Since I only found out about the dinner last night (we've had a crazy week with school Christmas parties/programs and the church programs/rehearsals and Miguel had forgotten to inform me!), it didn't give me much time to think about what to take. So I peeked in my freezer to see what the options were...thank goodness I went shopping yesterday! I had two packages of "falda de res" (literally "beef skirt"-flank steak, I believe), which would have made a good shredded beef dish, some ground beef, and a medium-sized pork roast. I decided to go with the pork since it's a traditional Christmas meat here. So I got that out to thaw while I looked up recipes online. Almost all of my recipe books and recipe cards got left in Venezuela...but you can find just about anything online! Allrecipes is one of my favorite places to look.

Unfortunately, we forgot to bring our crockpot home from the Spanish study office where we'd used it to heat tamales for the Christmas party last Tuesday, so it was either stovetop or oven...amazingly, the first recipe I came to caught my eye as it called for pork, pineapple, and craisins, all of which I had today! :) I adapted the recipe for the oven instead of the crockpot and substituted fresh pineapple for the canned.

Here is what I did...first I let the pork thaw a bit and then I rubbed it with salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, thyme, and rosemary. Then I seared it in a little oil and put it in the oven. While that was heating up, I added the pineapple chunks and chopped craisins to the pan I'd seared the pork in, adding about 1/3? cup of brown sugar and maybe a cup of water. I let that simmer until the pineapple was cooked, maybe 1/2 an hour or so?

When the pineapple was done, I took the roast out of the oven and turned it over, covering it with about half of the pineapple mixture. I covered the whole thing with foil and put it back in the oven for a while (can you tell I'm a bit foggy about the time? When it comes to times and measurements, I'm not exactly precise...LOL! I can't even tell you the temperature because the oven only has numbers from 1 to 5! I put it on 3, in case that helps). Anyway, I estimate that the time in the oven was somewhere around an hour, total, plus about 10 more minutes at the end where I turned the pork one more time, added the rest of the pineapple mixture, and put it back in the oven uncovered.

I have to tell you that the whole time it was baking, the house smelled SO GOOD! After I took it out of the oven and Miguel and I tasted a bit, he said, "Don't take it!" :) We couldn't resist tasting just a wee bit more...but there was still enough to send to the dinner (I was asked to send enough for 10 people). Ironically, Micah got sick this afternoon and I have a terrific headache/migraine, so Miguel went on his own with Gracia and Jojo. Oh well, I am thinking that I might fix this same dish for Christmas dinner, it would be SO good over mashed potatoes or even with roasted potatoes...hmmm...now there's a thought!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Jkaile is learning to unzip!

Probably to show off his hairy chest...LOL!

Doesn't he just crack you up??!!


Thanks to a link over at Simple Mom, I have been introduced to a new winter craft called a snowstorm! The instructions call for using round labels and dental floss, but I cut out circles and glued them together over fishing line. I also used two different sizes of circles to stagger it a bit. It was a lot of work, I think it took me about an hour? to make these. I am thinking I might make them to go over my kitchen window! It doesn't have a curtain and it's not like I'd have to take them down after Christmas...now the wheels are turning about how to vary this idea for different seasons and/or occasions!

The flash didn't go off when I took this picture,
but it turned out kind of cool!

I think I got them a little too long...

Girls and shoes...

Gracia came home yesterday with a bag full of "loot" that she bought at the Kinder store with the pennies she's collected for good behavior. Judging by the amount of stuff she brought home, she's been a very, very good girl! LOL! And since she's the only girl in the class, there isn't any competition to get the "girl stuff". After she got home, she immediately changed into her pretty dress and tried on her new shoes! Her comment pretty much sums up girls and their footwear...
"I needed these shoes!"

Miguel took one look at her mincing around the house
with her dainty little steps and said, "Uh-oh!"

Tragedy in the Stable

Tragic events in the stable, folks! Somehow a shark got into the manger scene (well, there's actually two manger scenes, you will notice...Gracia made a paper Nativity at school) and killed off everyone except Baby Jesus and the angel (I guess they are considered to be immortal?). See if you can spot the offender...
A close-up in case you had trouble finding it...this poor
sheep is in mortal danger!

I'm thinking that this is probably somewhat irreverent? But it sure is funny what kids come up with! I wonder where they get their over-active imaginations....hmmmm....and just in case you were wondering, the offending sea creature has been removed and all is back to normal in the stable once more. For now.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Odds and Ends

The pile of presents is growing!

Someone was giving away some Christmas decorations,
including this village. The kids are having so much fun with it
that I decided to let them keep it even though it's breakable...
mostly because we were able to borrow this bookshelf! Having
it set up on the top shelf keeps Jkaile out of it...right now
it's also home to all of my Christmas cards and wrapping paper-also
to keep it out of Jkaile's reach.
This morning I noticed that one of the shepherds was
being attacked by the sheep!
Notice that Samson has also joined the Nativity scene...

Our school's Christmas program was put on this last Friday.
The kids were supposed to wear hats and/or scarfs for part of the program.
Micah was quite a sight in his pointy hat, sports goggles, and ear muff thingy...

On Friday mornings, I usually take care of Haley and Anna for a couple of hours.
Jojo SAYS he doesn't like to play with girls, but he sure has a lot of
fun with them while they are here! :) They
were just too cute out there jumping on the trampoline.
Haley and Anna's family is leaving the field this week...
we sure are going to miss our little friends!

Jojo and Jkaile got out these plastic snowflakes (also in the box
of giveaways) and added them to the tree. Poor little tree
is just a tad bit overwhelmed! It was really cute to see
Jkaile working so hard to get them to stay up there! He did
a pretty good job, though, considering! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Home from church...again...

I am home from church again today...seems like church attendance is pretty hit or miss these days! With the six of us, seems like one or the other kid (or parent...okay, usually me) just needs to stay at home. Today it's Jkaile...he has a terribly nasty cold with watery eyes and green, gunky nose (and face, and shirt, and hair...you get the picture). I am confident that they don't want THAT in the nursery! And there's no way that I will be holding that little bundle of joy for 3 hours of Sunday school/church!!! And we'd have to hold him because he loves to RUN...one time I put him down inside the church building and he made a beeline for the front door (two rooms away!) and was nearly out in the parking lot before I caught up to him...church was full of people standing around and he had the advantage of fitting between everyone's legs...I had to politely manouver my way through.

Last week everyone was healthy and we made a huge effort to get ready. Baths for the three youngest (one at a time in the plastic tub in the shower), showers for the rest of us, fix hair, clothes, pack snacks, books, toys, Bibles, diaper bags, extra clothes in case of accidents. We were just walking out the door when a friend called to say that the church service was canceled because the construction workers fixing the street outside the church building had broken a gas line. Argh! All that work...

Anyway, I decided to read and study on the book of Philippians while I'm home today. One of my favorite ways to read/study the Bible is to print out a portion of Scripture from Biblegateway. Today I printed out the entire book of Philippians in the New Living Translation. That way, I can underline, scribble notes, or highlight to my heart's content! I do that a little in my regular Bible anyway, but I think I feel more free to do it when it's on a printout. And reading a familiar passage like Philippians (one of my most favorite books!) in a different version helps me focus more on the message and meaning of the words instead of it being so "rote".

This is my first foray into the New Living Translation...so far, I like it! I grew up using the King James and now usually read the NIV, so it's interesting to try something different. Okay, I'm off to do some horizontal worshipping. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Fun

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Tasha gave me her leftover fall miniature squashes/gourds. As I thought about what to do with them, it ocurred to me that it would be very funny to "recycle" them for Christmas and give them right back! And it was! We got some good laughs about this yesterday as she unwrapped each one. I forgot to take "before" pictures, but here are some of the end result (minus a green spotted one that I hadn't quite finished...similar to the red-spotted one). I think they turned out pretty cute!

My favorite one, I think...

Second favorite? It was hard to choose...

I've got some other projects that I'm working on that shall have to remain secrets until after Christmas so as not to ruin any surprises...so much fun! :) Last night I found a video on how to make little boxes, which are perfect for some of my creations.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas is coming!

I love Christmas! I love the Christmas story...Joseph and Mary, the angels and the shepherds, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men...I love the colors and the bows and the lights...and the presents, of course! And it's fun to pass on traditions to my kids. Every year is a little bit different for us since we're usually either in a different house or even a different country! Since we're new to Mexico, our Christmas decorations are slim, but we're getting creative and making do...we're pretty happy with the results. I am going shopping tomorrow to pick up some more things, but this is what we have so far...

We borrowed this door ornament from a friend at church.
Miguel even repainted the door! The bow
made it look pretty shabby...

The kids and I have been hard at work making paper snowflakes!
We are hanging them in the windows
and on the front door.

Along with the snowflakes, we have lights in the big front windows...

I also added a couple of strips of colorful wrapping paper
to the top and bottom of the glass...looks festive!

I set up a small table with a green tablecloth for
the presents and the manger scene...the kids have already spent
quite a bit of time rearranging it to their satisfaction.
Good thing it's kid-friendly!

Our diminuitive Christmas tree...it came complete with lights and
ornaments already attached! They are all kid-friendly and
since they are attached, Jkaile can't get them off.
He can, of course, pull the whole tree over, which
he's already done several times.
But no worries, I just stand it back up!
I highly recommend it for families with small children! LOL!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jewelry Giveaway!

Okay, you really have to go check this one out...a jewelry giveaway from Simple Mom! It all looks beautiful! Click here to see what the fuss is about. :)

Simple Mom also has a wonderful post about "quality 'nothing' time" that I really needed to hear today!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I keep painting

I am still painting when I can get the time...I am working on some original, hand-painted Christmas cards, I'm enjoying painting on rocks, and I also finished the set of paintings for my bedroom. I am not entirely happy with the results...will I ever be? Who knows...at any rate, the second yellow picture turned out much darker than I meant it to be-I wanted it more like the top one. And the background of the picture on the right also turned out a lot darker than the other one even though it looked okay while I was painting. rats. BUT, they are interesting and give me something to look at on that wall...and I'm learning more every time. :)

We rearranged the bedroom and put the bed against the opposite wall as the paintings, which is why the dresser is now under the rectangles...which I "stacked"-they look much better that way. I also found out that I can use masking tape to paint cleaner, sharper lines. I've been experimenting with that...so much fun! :) And remember...that's what my painting is all about anyway...HAVING FUN!


I am starting a new list over there to the right...yeah, over there...down just a little...a list of popcorn words from around the world. For some reason, I am getting a kick out of collecting these! Does anyone have any to add?

Play with your food

I was talking to my mom last night on the phone and she recommended that I try out a new fruit? vegetable? called 'chayote'...I'm not really sure what it is (looks like a pear, tastes like raw green beans?), but it's supposed to have some good, nutritious qualities to it. I found a couple at the store, but when I got them home and looked a little more closely at them, I just couldn't resist playing with one of them a bit...now how am I supposed to eat it when it's so cute??!!

Btw, if you need a good laugh, look up the words "play with your food" or "food play" on the web and see what you find... :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Basket of Goodies Giveaway

Check out another Simple Mom Giveaway...

a basket of goodies for
moms and little ones!
Simple Mom also has some great
simple holiday decoration ideas...

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Renewing of My Mind

I stayed home from church yesterday...for various reasons, I just wasn't up to going and I could tell that Jkaile wasn't feeling too well, either, since he is coming down with a cold. I kept him up for a little while thinking to delay his nap until the afternoon, but he became quite destructive...tearing up books and magazines, going around pulling everything off of shelves and onto the floor...the last straw was when he broke one of my coffee mugs (not my favorite, but still...) and spilled coffee all over himself, the floor, Miguel's books. My goodness. So off to bed he went and I began feeling a quiet urge to sit down for some time with God. So I pulled out my Patriarchs book to do another day of the study, we are on Week Three (yes, I know, a little behind the rest of you!). And God had something pretty meaningful there for me yesterday!

That particular part of the study was about the second time that Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife...this time King Abimelech took Sarah to be one of his wives (Genesis 20). God intervened once again, however, saving Sarah from committing adultery and in the process revealing Himself and His power to Abimelech and his people.

The first thing that stuck out to me is how God intervened twice on Sarah's behalf and held Abraham responsible for the whole situation. Scripture isn't really clear whether Sarah was going along with the scheme or whether she was just obeying Abraham. It is clear, however, that Abraham allowed Sarah to be put into a very compromising situation because of his own fear and that God stepped in to protect Sarah. It got me to thinking of how many times I balk at doing what Miguel wants to do, being unable to trust God with the outcome?

The second thing was that the study points out that Abraham seemed to have a "default" reaction whenever he felt threatened regarding Sarah and that was to lie and deceive-in this case, wilfull, premeditated sin (Gen. 20:13). What is my "default" when confronted with stressful circumstances-what is my pattern of handing crisis situations? I relate to this in several areas of my life...my responses under stress, my speech and responses to my kids and Miguel, my struggle with food, my thought life, dreams...like Beth says, repeated patterns of sin and foolish decisions that cause pain and self-contempt...

In her own life, God showed her that freedom would only come through the renewing of her mind.

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—
this is your spiritual act of worship.
2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2 NIV
3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.
II Cor. 10:3-5 NIV
23to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Ephesians 4:23 NIV
Beth decided to ask God to not only renew her conscious mind, but her subconscious mind as well...including her dream life and thought life while she slept. She continues to ask God to place His truth deep inside, even in the places of her mind that she doesn't even know exist!
Later, Beth says she discovered the Greek word, "horme", which refers to impulses, urges, a forceful movement towards something, a sudden thought, whim, or dictating inclination. So then she began including that in her prayer as well, asking God to make even her reactions and sudden impulses godly!
Like Beth, I ask, what would it look like if I began attentively and repeatedly praying for the Holy Spirit to invade and renew me so richly and so deeply that even my impulses are godly? That even my "default" response is sanctified?


Do you enjoy piano music?

Then you should really check out Whisperings-Solo Piano Radio. I stumbled across it over the weekend and have been listening to it whenever I can.

It's one of the only types of music that I can leave on in the background without it just adding to the general chaos and mayhem...no, our house isn't THAT bad, but our living room is rather echoey (I think I just made up a new word). When you get people (children) talking (and playing/goofing off/chattering), the parakeets chirping, and loud, exuberant music...well, I tend to begin feeling the tension rise and my eyes going cross-eyed...

Whisperings is gentle, peaceful music that is speaking to my soul.

And it's free! What more could you ask? :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Karen Kingsbury-Life-Changing Fiction

Thanks to Erika upstairs, I have been enjoying reading Karen Kingsbury's Baxter Family Drama book series. I highly recommend these books...not only are they good stories, but there is so much godly wisdom there as well! Last year, I made a commitment to only read books that would encourage me in my spiritual walk because I realized that some of the books I was reading, while not necessarily "bad", were either bringing me down emotionally (didn't need that!!!!) or distracting me from focusing attention on my walk with God. I am very thankful for authors like Karen Kingsbury, who write such good stories that bless and encourage.

I just finished the last book in the Firstborn Series of the Baxter Family Drama and I was kind of sad to finish it! Another great book, but it makes you wish that the series wouldn't end...anyway, at one point in the book, one of the Baxter's sons received a letter from his father that had been written by his mother (now deceased) listing out Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage. I'm going to print it out and put it on my fridge or something...wonderful reminders of how I can love Miguel! So here are these words of wisdom:

Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage
  1. God has you here to serve one another. Love acted out is serving.
  2. Women need respect and nurturing. Love your wife so she knows you'd lay your life down for her. Continue to date her and admire her. Share a hobby--find something you can do to have fun together.
  3. Laugh often.
  4. Be patient. Love crumbles quickly under the weight of unmet expectations.
  5. Spend more time trying to fix yourself than your spouse.
  6. Keep short accounts. The Bible says, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." Make it a habit to forgive.
  7. Determine up front that divorce is not an option.
  8. Learn about the love languages. Not all people show love or receive it the same way. You want a back rub and your spouse wants a clean kitchen. The love languages are fairly simple: acts of service, time, physical touch, gifts, and words of affirmation. Learn them. Love is better received when it's in the language that person speaks.
  9. Words of affirmation are a love language for all men.
  10. Men are born to be leaders. He cannot lead unless she gives him the confidence to do so. If you love your husband, build him up. Confident men to not seek love outside the home.
(from Forever, Baxter Family Drama-Firstborn Series #5 by Karen Kingsbury pp. 238-240)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo update

After feeling so dizzy yesterday, I really expected to have the vertigo again during the night...but I didn't! Yay! I am so happy to be feeling better! PTL and thank you for praying! I was so thankful to have had a good night's sleep because I had planned to have my usual Coffeetime Fellowship this morning. I almost canceled it, but went ahead by faith...this morning four different ladies came and we had such a good time visiting. I made a new recipe of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and we enjoyed them with our coffee. Miguel even stole some to take back to the office for the guys...

My sister Liz called this morning with some more information about the vertigo...she was able to talk to a friend who knows what I'm talking about and he confirmed what I'd read. There are calcium crystal deposits in the inner ear that get dislodged sometimes and he said that if it happens again, to lay down on my back and bang my head on the floor to get them back into place...gently, I would assume? :) The whole thing sounds very crazy and even though it's not really that funny, I've had some really good laughs over it. If the vertigo does return, I'll try the head-banging thing and let you know how it works!

Family Fun

Last night, Miguel couldn't find the one footed sleeper that fits Jkaile (he has more today, thanks to a friend), so he decided to outfit him with one of Gracia's...we had a bit of Family Fun over that as you can see from the following pictures!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

I think I have Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo! Sounds terrible, doesn't it?! It's not serious, though, as you will see from the description below...just really annoying! For several nights now, I've had terrible vertigo when I turn over during the night, but then I'm fine once I get up! I've had vertigo before, either inner ear trouble or dehydration, but I am not suffering from either of those things right now. I looked up dizziness online and this is part of what I found at mayoclinic.com. Apparently, some little position-sensing crystals in your ears can become dislodged and cause this...hmmm. I wonder if the fact that I hit my head on the roof of the van recently has anything to do with this? I hit it pretty hard...

Vertigo is the sudden sensation that you are unsteady or that your surroundings are moving. You may feel like you're spinning around on a merry-go-round or that your head is spinning inside. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common disorders that can cause vertigo.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is characterized by brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness associated with specific changes in the position of your head. It most commonly occurs when you move your head in a certain direction, lie down from an upright position, turn over in bed or sit up in the morning. Moving your head to look up or look down also can bring about symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. You may also feel out of balance when standing or walking.

Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it's rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. You can receive effective treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo during a doctor's office visit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A New List

Jkaile has a fascination with the toilets! We have to keep both bathroom doors closed or else he's in there, quick as a flash, tossing something down the hatch. And it's funny, he often closes the lid (with a bang, I might add, and that's how we're usually alerted to the latest casualty...). So as of today, I'm making a new list over there to the right: things that Jkaile has thrown into the toilet. It's growing nearly every day!

Another Great Giveaway!

Today, Simple Mom has another great giveaway on reusable grocery/shopping bags. They look great...really cute and a practical way to cut down on the number of plastic bags littering the environment. :)

Go check it out!

This could be you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Since Miguel didn't take a camera on his trip to Puebla, I'll have to wait to see all of the photos the rest of the team took. I have, however, seen a few from one of the families and I just loved this one of Miguel. He is so good with kids!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am not Happy with the Dogs Today!!!!

Our sign came to an untimely end. Sigh.
I hung it back up on the door, but it's just too tired
to stay up there.
The dogs had very guilty looks as I shook it in their faces,
I know they're guilty!!!!
Time to get them some new chewtoys.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Apple Pie

Miguel has been begging for an apple pie since we went to the Apple Festival a few weeks back...I'm not a great pie baker, so kinda put it off. But I decided to make him a pie today in honor of his homecoming, so here is the story...

My little helpers...preparing the apples.
That is the handiest little gadget for peeling, coring, and slicing apples!
Gracia did all the work...

I used a recipe called Grandma Ople's Apple Pie from Allrecipes.com.
Instead of mixing the sugar, flour, and butter with the apples, the recipe calls
for simmering the sugar mixture on the stovetop for a few minutes
before pouring it over the pie.

So, while the sugar mixture was simmering,
we got the apples in the bottom crust.

Here is the pie before I poured the sugar mixture over it.
I am not a great lattice-maker...I didn't even try to "weave" it!

I was having fun and took a picture of myself and the pie
before it went into the oven.
You can see how the sugar mixture coats the lattice-work.

My oh-so-large oven!

Miguel slept most of the afternoon...he was
surprised to find a baked pie ready when he woke up!

Enjoying the first bite...I have to say that
this is the best apple pie I've ever tasted!!!