Unless otherwise specified, all writing here on my blog is my own original work. If you refer to something I've written here, please be sure to give me proper credit.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Who Knew?

Well, both our parents had anniversaries in June. We decided to get them some gift cards & ordered them online. For Casinodad's parents, we got one for Darden restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster). For mine, we decided on (what we thought) was a nice Italian restaurant. I was sure I had passed one at some point & thought it was on the way to their house. The other day, I drove by & found that I was wrong. It was a different Italian restaurant, but that's okay...we'll figure out where it is because I'm sure it's not far. (Insert hesitate laugh here.)

Once I got to their house, I apologized because it wasn't where I thought it was. Dad then asked me exactly what I thought the place was. My response: an Italian restaurant, right? Nope! We had given them at gift card to Cabelas - a outdoor sporting store...FOR THEIR ANNIVERSARY!

Oh, & this gets even better! Mom called this morning. She went online to see where the closest one was. The two closest are in our neighboring states! So, when did I see one?!?!?!

I'm too young for Senior Moments. Is there such a thing as Junior Moments?

Reflections for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

There are six of us in our parish who write reflections for our church bulletin for two months of the year. I was assigned April & August. (If you click on the "Reflections" label below, you'll see those I had written for April.) I had some doubts when I first began to write them, but once I started, I found that I really enjoyed it. This time around, most of my thoughts came during those late night feedings - great reflection/prayer time for me!

So, here is the first of my five August reflections. I'll try to post them each Fri. or Sat. in August.

Readings: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15 / Ephesians 4:17, 20-24 / John 6:24-35

Daily we seek to fill what we think are our needs. We consume too much food in an effort to fill our stomachs. We spend hours on our computers connecting with others through Facebook, emails, Twitter, etc. We flood our minds with endless images from TV & computer screens. We turn to drugs, alcohol, & other vices to escape from reality, hoping to fill a need or void in our lives. Still that need remains, always there until we choose to follow today’s Gospel. Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” What more do we need?

How much time do you spend watching TV or surfing the net? How much time do you spend with Jesus? Take a good look at those answers – is there a change needed?

What makes it difficult for you in filling your spiritual void?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Small Successes


Recognizing my "Small Successes" each week is a wonderful tool to find the positives in my life instead of dwelling on the negatives. So, in joining w/ other ladies at Faith & Family Live, here is what I accomplished/did this past week:

1) While waiting for the munchkins to get themselves ready yesterday morning & instead of constantly prodding them, I took that extra bit of time to organize my spice cabinet. Did you know that home dried rosemary smells much better than the bottled kind you find in the store? I had a several bottles of my dad's rosemary & one store bought. Even the munchkins could tell the difference between the two!

2) I've been working on our front room which will be used for school this year. It's still no where near my vision, but I have done the following: set up the K12 computer, including wireless from our own computer w/ the help of Casinodad's best friend; decided where all the furniture will be placed (only had to move the desk to make room for the cabinet); & prepped the cabinet. The cabinet is part of my college loft bed. I sanded & painted it to match the room. Now I'm just waiting for my dad to make some shelves for the inside. (I used it as a wardrobe in college.)

3) I made Mexican rice that came very close to Casinodad's aunt's. It will never be just like hers, as no one can compete w/ her rice, but it was pretty darn close! See the recipe here in this post.

So, what have you accomplished this past week?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movie Review - Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

We had saved up some money & decided to take the munchkins to a movie last weekend while my mom watched The Saint. This was the first time we'd all gone to a movie as a family & we were all looking forward to it.

Our movie of choice was Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. We didn't see it in 3D because we thought it might be a bit too much for the munchkins in the theater (especially The Princess who's going through a shy/scared phase right now.) I really liked the first two, but this one was disappointing to me.

The storyline wasn't bad, although not quite historically correct. The mismatched herd that formed in the first two movies is anxiously awaiting the birth of Manny & Ellie the mammoths' baby. Diego, the sabertooth tiger, feels it's time to move on & Sid, the sloth, has desires to have his own family. He finds three dinosaur eggs & cares for them until they hatch. Once they do, he takes on the roll of "mommy" to them. Meanwhile, the momma dinosaur is on the hunt for her missing children. Once she find them, she carries them off, along w/ Sid. The mismatched herd sets off to rescue Sid & in the process, finds a lost dinosaur world beneath the ice.

So, why didn't I like it?
1) It was full of cliches. I know a few are needed in movies like this, but there were just way too many. Casinodad brought up the fact that they were probably relying on the 3D effects to carry the movie, so they didn't put much effort into the conversations & such.

2) There were several gender related comments made by the characters that I felt were just not appropriate at all. The comments went over the munchkins' heads, but not Casinodad's & mine. Looking back on numerous movies I watched as a child, I realize they had adult-related references that went over my head. But as an adult now, I question why producers have to do that.

There were some good examples of working together to save friends/family & taking care of each other, but overall I found the movie lacking in taste, quality, & originality. Thankfully we went to a matinee at one of the cheaper theaters in town & only paid $4.50 each.

Wordless Wednesday - The Saint's Pledge of Allegiance

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Christmas in July!

I'm listening to Harry Connick, Jr.'s Only You Cd right now. It's a compilation of romantic big band & orchestra standards from the 50s & 60s. The Princess came downstairs & asked why I was listening to Christmas music. The Prophet asked me the same thing the other day. They recognized his voice from his When My Heart Finds Christmas CD, one of my favorites that we listen to a lot during the Christmas season.

Mexican Rice Recipe

Casinodad's aunt makes the best Mexican rice & numerous times, she's told me how to do it. I never attempted to do it because I thought it would be too much work & I wouldn't be able to get the ingredients just right. Well, I happened to pull out a Latino cookbook one of Casinodad's cousins gave us for our wedding. Low & behold, there is a Mexican Rice recipe. I tried it last weekend w/ a few variations I knew his aunt used & it turned out very close to hers, although a little on the bland side. Here is the recipe & below I listed my variations & what I'll do next time. It's a lot easier than I thought it would be!

Mexican Rice

1 med. white onion, chopped coarse
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 c. whole tomatoes
3 ½ c. water or chicken broth
3 T. vegetable oil
2 c. long-grain rice, rinsed
2 extra-large chicken bouillon cubes (if using water)
½ t. salt
1 c. frozen peas & carrots

In a blender, puree the onion, garlic, tomatoes w/ their juice, & ½ c. broth until smooth. In a skillet, heat the oil over med-high heat. Saute the rice, stirring constantly, until golden brown (about 8 minutes). Stir in the blended tomato mixture, remaining broth, bouillon, & salt. Bring to a boil; cover & simmer undisturbed for 25 minutes. Add vegetables, cover, & remove from heat. Allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.

My variations: I just used water & 2 standard size bouillon cubes, olive oil, & 1 c. V-8 juice instead of the tomatoes.

Next time: I’ll used 1 c. tomatoes & 1 c. V-8 juice, then add some cumin. The rice was just a bit bland when I made it. I also think I'll simmer it a bit longer to absorb more flavor.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Small Successes


1) I managed to have the house cleaned up & "birthday party ready" about an hour before The Saint's party was to start. Usually I'm still straightening up a few things as guests arrive.

2) When I could have said something to Casinodad that would have started an argument, I chose to keep my mouth shut.

3) I saved $91 yesterday, w/the help of my mom. I had some money saved up to buy myself some new clothes, so my mom & I went to Kohl's. (I rarely buy clothes for myself & am still wearing some items I had before I had The Prophet almost 9 years ago.) If she used her charge card & the coupon, she could get an additional 30% off. So, I was able to buy 4 shirts for only $32 (& I still have money left!) Retail price of all would have been $123. One was a lavendar short sleeved knit sweater that retailed for $44. It was 90% off clearance, plus the 30% off - a whoppin' $3.08 + tax! I just love bargain shopping!

Check out Faith & Family Live for more successes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Future Popes??

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Saint Turns One!

Today my little man - The Saint - turns one! I can't believe how fast this past year has gone by. He's grown so much yet still seems so little to me. He's brought such joy & happiness into our lives, as well as a lot of sleepless nights too! He loves to dance. Anytime he hears music, his little body starts to wiggle & jiggle -- whether we're listening to the stereo, in church, or riding in the van. Because he likes music, I decided to use a music note for his birthday cake.

Due to scheduling issues, we had his family party on Fri. night. He was tentative at first when I gave him his cake - just touching the frosting corners. I broke off a few pieces & that's all it took for him to dig right in.

Eventually he decided that using his hands was just too much work...

So, Happy Birthday Saint! We thank God everyday for blessing us w/ your presence in our lives! Keep smiling, happy boy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Small Successes


1) I cleaned out & reorganized our bedroom closet - filled two kitchen trash bags w/ clothes to donate.

2) My mom took the three older munchkins for the day on Monday. I took the opportunity to do a stock-up grocery trip at Aldi & The Saint was very good for me.

3) With the exception of last night when I was out, I've been keeping up w/ the dishes twice a day (after lunch & after dinner). It's nice to see that we actually have a sink!

Thanks to Danielle Bean at Faith & Family Live for starting these Small Successes. It really helps me to focus on the positive things happening in my life, even when I feel like crashing from exhaustion!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Fruits (or Veggies) of My Labors

Our Garden
After years of talking about it, we finally decided to put in a garden this year. Being a beginner, I figured it best to start w/ just a few things: zucchini squash, tomatoes, sweet peppers, green beans, onions, & a couple herbs. I am very happy w/ its progress so far, especially the zucchini squash. It started w/ a few seeds, then became this today...
And this...

And yes, it was delicious!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A New Breed of Insect

This evening, The Princess was looking out our front window & exclaimed, "Look, there's a Japaneetle!"

Small Successes


It's been a bit more of a successful week. The Saint is still not sleeping through the night, but he's down to about two wakings now instead of four or five.

1) I braved the unknown, faced my fear, took that one giant leap, summoned all my strength -- I cleaned behind the refrigerator for the first time in years! All I can say is - WOW! After I was done, I sat down to relax & read the paper. The Baby Blues comic for the day was perfectly timed. The parents were watching TV & each frame was announcing a horror movie. In the last frame, the mom says, "That reminds me, I need to clean behind the refrigerator." Yep, that sums up my experience!!

2) I'm still making my "To-Do" list each morning & mostly sticking to it, but I've also started making one for the munchkins. This way they know what they need to do each day before they can play game systems, go outside, etc.

3) I was assigned the August reflections for our church bulletin. I got on a roll this week (I do a lot of thinking & praying when nursing) & was able to write all five of them. I sent them to my dad at church (he's our deacon & is also the one who sets the reflection schedule) & he said they were well done. Thanks, Dad! As I did when I wrote April's reflections, I'll post them each Sunday in August.

What are your successes this week? Share them & see others at Faith & Family Live.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So We Know He Can Dance!

Do you have a special song that, whenever you hear it, you just have to start moving? Well, this Mark Anthony song is mine! Casinodad bought me the CD for our anniversary years ago, after I had heard the song on the radio. I still listen to it frequently. It even has the song in Spanish too! It's great for housecleaning.

Today I found that The Saint likes the song too & just can't help dancing to it, either. He was on his knees under the kitchen table when it came on & started jiggling. A few minutes later, the phone rang. As I was talking to my dad, I happened to look at The Saint again & had to laugh out loud - he was now standing under the table dancing away w/ a big grin on his face. I played it again this evening for Casinodad to see if The Saint would dance again & sure enough, he did. So cute!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Small Successes


I don't feel so successful this week. The Saint has been giving us some sleep (or lack thereof) issues. For three days in a row at the end of last week, he decided that 12:30am was time to get up for a few hours. He's not doing that anymore, but he's still waking about 4 times per night.

1) In light of the lack of sleep mentioned above, I guess my first success would be that I still managed to survive & function, at least enough to keep meals on the table & do laundry.

2) I polished my fingernails the other day - a first in a very long time. The Princess has been asking for blue nail polish, so my mom found her some as well as a very pretty teal one. I polished her toes (The Princess', not my mom's!), alternating the two colors for her. Then I used the teal on my fingers.

3) I've de-seeded lots of cherries & froze them for future desserts. We have a tree out front that I didn't realize was a cherry tree until we'd lived here about two years. The past couple years, we've had an abundance of cherries. We probably got 30 cups of cherries this year. I would have picked more, but the birds got to the last of them. In all the ones I de-seeded, only two had worms in them.

Check out Faith & Family Live for more successes.