Friday, January 27, 2012

{ lovely things } week of 1/23


It's getting nutty around here. 
T-2 weeks until we're off to a sunny place we love.
To make up for that nuttyness 
my awesome hubby asked my mom to babysit Jake-the-Snake overnight.
I didn't even have to suggest it! Smart man.

a. we're going bowling tonight! i know we're dorks. 
but i'd be even dorkier if i rocked this ring, though. i'm going to order it in time for next time. 

b. i'm pretty sure this blog is intended for men 
but this post on christ centered friendships spoke to me nonetheless. 

c. i love finding new blogs. this week i've been soaking in tico and christina 
because he's costa rican and she's american... like us but the opposite. 

d.i think my nephews and brothers-in-law and husband 
would love this collection of photographs of Star Wars storm troopers in unexpected scenarios 
bSwedish photographer Kristina Alexanderson .  

e. This is true... especially the last part. 




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

{ quotable tuesday : coffee }



I'm decorating my kitchen because it's a yawn at the moment. 
Slowly but surely. 
I even got fabric for curtains this weekend. Now to actually make them.
I have a feeling a print like this one is going to make it's way onto the walls.
It's true, after all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

{ i was pro-choice }


As a preface to the following post, I have to state that this is not a place I consider an appropriate political platform so don't fear or expect that I will use it as so. I write today's post on abortion as an expression of a personal conviction I have arrived at over the last few years. It will likely be the only controversial topic I will touch on... ever. 

I remember being freshly graduated from high school 

and logging on to my AIM account to chat with my husband before he was my husband. 
I know. AIM. Old-school. I've known Phil since I was 15 and he was 17. 
When I met him I thought he was a goody-two-shoes, Jesus freak. I thought he was nice... but weird. 
Then and now he's been a man convicted of many things, of which one is abortion.

That particular night we spent hours typing long paragraphs taking a stance for and against abortion.
I was for it. He was not.

I told him I believed that no woman should be legally obliged to give birth to a baby 
after having been raped. 
I told him I thought that no woman should have to raise a baby in a world 
where she can barely support herself.

In what I really felt was a compassionate manner I said, 
"What kind of life would that be for the baby?"

I looked up statistics. I shared them with him.
He made his rebuttals, quite well I must say.

I know now that my pro-choice perspective was rooted in the fact that I was afraid I might face that choice one day... and I didn't think I would be brave enough to make a choice for life.

I can't remember when or how I made the transition into the other side of the issue.
I know the Lord was working fiercely in my heart at that time and this transition is just one of very many that I have no real reasons or explanations for. 
He changed my heart. Period.
I'm okay accepting that.

In the time immediately following my conversion, 
I think I found the logic and justification for being pro-life in what the Church taught.
I used it as my back-up source when I managed to get myself into touchy conversations.
It worked. I made my way through those discussions usually unscathed 
and hoping I had planted a seed of doubt in friends that defended the pro-choice point of view.

When I was pregnant, the entire discussion took a turn for me. 
I was already gung-ho about the pro-life stance... 
but feeling that little person inside of me just cemented my beliefs.

It was week #8 when I first saw that little peanut in a sonogram. It was week #20 when I saw his feet, hands, and his little nose for the first time on a screen. It was week #42 when I felt his smushy face for the first time. A human being had developed and grown inside of me. 

There were no complications throughout my pregnancy, 
but on his birthday I realized that every single baby is a miracle. 
What else would you call growing a whole being from almost nothing?

Now more than ever I understand why people consider, and go through, with abortions. 
It's frightening, it's terrifying to feel your way through a pregnancy WITH a supportive husband 
I can't even fathom going through it alone.
What comes after the pregnancy is even scarier. 
A young girl who can't count on the support of her boyfriend or parents. 
A girl who can't remember just what happened with that guy three weeks prior. 
A woman involved with a married man. 
A married woman who feels she can't afford another baby. 
They feel alone and, I believe, rightly so.

Yet I don't think we can begin to seriously discuss overturning Roe v. Wade 
until we understand isn't only about a woman. 
It's about another life -- yes, life -- within her. 
A human being. A baby. A soul. 

I very personally believe that abortion is about fear and cowardice. 
I understand it. I think I would have likely been a coward if I found myself in that situation too. 

Why a coward? Such a harsh word. 
Because a coward is 
"a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things." 
I took that from the dictionary, ladies and gents. Don't hate the messenger. 

It takes a courageous person to choose life for someone else, 
to decide to give life to another human being 
who might very well change the world if given the opportunity.

It takes a brave person to see that as soon as those two lines come up on a pregnancy test, 
it's just not about them any more. 
It's about a little peanut growing arms, legs, lungs, fingernails, and a heart. 

Today, there are thousands upon thousands of people marching on the streets of Washington, DC resonating the same things I have just said. They will stand in front of the Supreme Court begging to give unborn children across the country the right to live.
Sadly. 
The news will likely not cover this March for Life... 
definitely not enough to properly convey it's message and magnitude. 

While I may not reach the country or the world with this little rant I've published, 
I nonetheless hope that God will use it for His goodness. 

If you find yourself in an unplanned pregnancy, do not despair. There is help. 
Be courageous and please convince yourself that you are not alone. 
Here are a few links to help you in your journey: Good Counsel Homes + Catholic Charities Adoption.
Choose adoption, not abortion.
There are millions of men and women eager to give your baby a good life.

If you are a woman or man who has already gone through an abortion 
and feel a need for healing, visit Rachel's Vineyard. It's never too late. 







linking up to

Friday, January 20, 2012

{ lovely things } week of 1/16


As I sit here I am all dressed up and ready to head out to date night.
Babysitter is arriving in just a few short minutes
and we're getting this weekend going.
I wonder if I am a bit silly for wearing flats with no socks 
when inevitably there will be snow on the ground when we're done with dinner.
Oh well... I want to wear purple and gold tonight. 
My little piggies can take one for the team. 

Anywhooo... 
here's a few lovely things to get make you smile:

a. I love innovative organizing ideas and Jen from Tatertots and Jello put together a few good ideas for organizing in a small space.  Did you see that triple bunk bed? 
I can't to have an excuse to do that.

b. I know I'm getting obnoxious about the whole going away in the middle of the winter thing 
but please bear with me...  these photo tips from Under the Sycamore 
are going to come in very handy in a few weeks.

c. This girl is one of my new favorite bloggers... heck, favorite writers! Read this raw and honest blog post and then read this article from the Huffington Post. Then tell me YOU don't love her too. Seriously, I want to be like her. 

d. I'm not into football but I'm excited about this guy Tim Tebow's fame and prominence. 
I think God is going to do great things through him. I ran across this blog post 
and I felt I just had to share it. What a living testimony!

On that note... go Giants!
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

{ take this, mom }


I haven't been getting in the pictures with my guys lately. 

Reasons why:
1. I am as pale as humanly possible and my dark circles are beyond belief
2. I rarely wear make up these days
3. My son is cuter than I will ever be

The other day I took my camera out to document my son being adorable as usual
and decided to brave the non make up wearing. 
Well... when I turned the camera around 
my little guy decided to punish me for no reason
by pulling my earring. 
Perfect timing.

I promise you that this was not rehearsed, staged, or wanted. 
Truthfully, it hurt like hell. 





{ book review : the underside of joy }



I have trouble staying focused when reading a book.
 That’s why I love blogs so much. Blogs are short and sweet and to the point. 
Just how I like most things in my life! 
But sometimes I find some books that just reel in my undivided attention. 
They keep me awake long past my bedtime 
and I find myself opening them at any given free moment I may have during the day.

The Underside of Joy was that kind of book for me.

This book is SerĂ© Prince Halverson’s debut novel.
 It follows the story of Ella after the sudden death of her husband Joe. 
Joe and Ella had met just three years before his accident 
and immediately started a life together with Joe’s two children, Annie and Zach. 
Joe’s ex-wife, Paige, had left the young family without as little as an explanation. 
After Joe’s death, a reformed Paige returns to claim her children 
only to launch herself and Ella into a unique and heart wrenching custody battle for Annie and Zach.

I have to admit that this probably was not a great book for me to read.
I am a constant worrier and a fearful pessimist.
If my husband doesn't answer when I call
to see if he caught the train in time to make it home for dinner,
I soon type in a Google search with his train line to see if he was in a commuting accident.
When the freak earthquake hit the East Coast over the summer,
he texted me: "Earthquake at my building" and nothing more.
Within minutes I was making mental arrangements for life as a 23-year-old widow and single mom.

I guess when I think of the possibility of something happening to my husband
my mind has a hard time getting past the emotional side of things.
How could I ever live without him? Would I ever be able to move on with my life?
I can't even fathom the idea.
I think I would be paralyzed in my grief.
Yet accidents happen but life goes on.
Ella's life went on and, because she, like me, lived in la-la land,
she had to accept the burdensome task of figuring out just how Joe kept their lives going.

I too would have to pick myself up and be brave for Jake-the-Snake.
I would have to figure out utility bills, insurance payments, and bank accounts.  
Am I prepared for that? No way, Jose.
I should be more embarrassed to admit that
I don't even know when our mortgage payment is due, how much it is for, or how it is made.
(Hey husband... we should talk about that.)

Halverson’s writing style in The Underside of Joy made the story rise to life from the pages. 
She made Ella’s grieving process was real and relatable. 
My heart broke while reading about the love Ella had for the children 
she adopted into her heart and called her own.

Perhaps what surprised me the most was that Halverson manages 
to undo the antagonism associated with Paige 
causing the reader to also relate to her character, her pain, and look past her mistakes.

It’s a story about love, loss, family, doing the right thing, and rising to the occasion.
Am I being vague? I’m sorry! I just don’t want to give this story away. 
It’s worth a read. I’m a slow reader so it took me a couple of late nights to get through it 
but I suspect some of you would devour it in one or two sittings.

I in no way want to compare the story line or style to any others 
but I want to give you a point of reference so you can decide if this is a book for you. 
Mentally I categorize The Underside of Joy with two of my other favorites
My Sister’s Keeper and The Time Travelers Wife
Give it a read and let me know if you agree!





Disclosure: This is a paid review from the BlogHer Publishing Network,
however all the opinions I share are my own.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

{ what i wore to church }

I love the color white and all its shades included.
White tops are part of my basic wardrobe and totally go-to pieces.

On Sunday I dressed up a bit for church... usually we're sadly casual.
I came up with this monochromatic top, scarf, earring combination 
and totally loved it. 
Well, everything except the boring pants and shoes. 
I hate boring shoes.
But I have to tell you that it was freezing cold 
and there was no way I was rocking pumps or a skirt. 
No. Not even with tights. 
Later in the day I changed into jeans and Uggs.
I love me some Uggs.  


 My white Pink Lemonade rosette earrings have replaced my pearls. 
Wanna know one good thing about bangs? Click here.


Did I mention I hate boring shoes? Well, I do.


I'm linking up with .:: the letter 4 ::. + .:: the pleaded poppy ::.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

{ quotable tuesday : detaching from things }



My grandmother was visiting from Costa Rica for the last month. She left yesterday morning. 
In the time she was here we had plenty of time to chat over meals and mostly over coffee. 
It was wonderful to have her with me to chat. I listened carefully to her because I knew that every few sentences she would say something interesting and thought provoking… just as grandmothers do, they speak wise words without categorizing them as so.

One day we were having our regular afternoon cup-o’-Joe and the topic of “our house” came up. 
I told her the plans that we have for completing some renovation projects and some much needed cosmetic work so that we can sell and move to a bigger home nearby in the next 3-5 years.

Her reaction was one of surprise.
“Esther this house is just fine! Why do you need to move?” she said 
and proceeded to list all the qualities she saw in my little house.

I sat there and listened. After taking it all in I started to think on what she said. 
Was I being ridiculous in my expectations for a house?

I remembered that she raised 12 kids in one house. One kitchen. One bathroom. 
One washer and no electric dryer… just a good old clothesline. 
I remembered that she lives in a country that, despite its economic stability, 
its people still don’t have the widespread commodities that we have 
so easily and readily available in the States.

Maybe I should see things as they do. Maybe I am being a little ridiculous.
Maybe my attachment to things of this world is getting out of hands. 

My house is small. 
We have a decent living room, an eat-in kitchen, three bedrooms—
one of which we use as a family room. 
We have two full bathrooms and ten closets. No, I am not kidding about the closets. 
The priority list for building a house in the 40’s was wacked out.

I know that I am more than blessed to have this home to call my own.

It’s not the roomiest place but what my grandmother said to me got me thinking 
about all the things that I have started to consider necessities. 
“I need a dining room!” or “I need a washer and dryer on both floors!” I say to myself sometimes.
Phil and I have so many material blessings that we overlook 
because we are always searching for something more, something better.

We don’t want to be complacent because I intensely fear being stagnant 
but I have to remind myself to take a hard look at the line between complacency and simplicity. 
In theory, I know that one can be perfectly happily with just a few things. 
It’s the practice of that theory that becomes a struggle.

I have a wish list of things I want in a future home that includes a sunroom, a den, 
a dining room, a finished basement, and two impeccably white laundry rooms. 
Yet, if I never got those things, would I be a miserable human being? 
I hope not but I question if I would be able to look past what we lacked 
in order to find true happiness in the mere being my husband and son. 
It’s important that I take the steps towards finding happiness in that now 
so that if one day in the future God calls us to get rid of all of our things… 
I’ll be happy to do His will without even giving it a second thought.

I’m not vowing to stay in this house forever 
because we don’t know where God will lead us in the years to come. 
Yet I am saying that a serious effort to become spiritually detached of material things because, 
in the end, that overused quote is entirely right, 
“the most important things in life aren’t things.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

{ dinner recipe : tortilla soup & quesadillas }



I'm on a mission to upgrade and update my recipe binder. 
This little gem had been printed weeks ago but I just tried it for the first time this week.

Oh man I should have done it sooner.
It was absolutely delicious. 
Like... "I cant wait for leftovers tomorrow morning" good.

The recipe came from the 100 Days of Real Food blog which I am currently obsessed with.
It had the right amount of spicy for this girl yet the right amount of mild for my hubby.
Plus! I managed to keep a zucchini undetected... a feat of its own in this household. 
I served the soup with a simple quesadilla on the side and a few crumbled tortilla chips as a garnish.
Deceivingly, the recipe does not use a single tortilla. 
As an personal note, once finished I put everything                                                                                       through the food processor  to make sure the veggies were consumed by all.

Here is the recipe but please visit Lisa's blog for more details and more recipes.
I also included the recipe for plain old quesadillas... 
just in case you recently moved to Planet Earth from Outer Space and don't know how to make one.

Tortilla Soup from 100 Days of Real Food
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 – 2 hot peppers (optional)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (or fresh if it is in-season)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 28-oz can organic stewed tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz can organic tomato sauce
  • 2 – 3 cups chicken stock, depending on how “soupy” you like it
  • Optional (but recommended) garnishes: avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro
Directions
  1. Chop the onion, peppers, and zucchini into ½” pieces. Dice the garlic.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Toss in the onions.
  3. After a couple of minutes add the peppers and zucchini. Flavor with the spices and stir the veggies until they start to soften.
  4. Add the frozen corn (no need to defrost) and garlic since these don’t take as long to cook.
  5. After the corn heats up add the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken stock.
  6. Bring to a boil then turn down to low. Simmer for a few minutes or until you are ready to eat.
  7. Ladle into bowls, top with garnishes, and enjoy!
Yield: 8 – 10 servings

Plain Quesadillas
Ingredients
  • 1 burrito sized tortilla (we use whole wheat)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of grated cheese, any kind.
  1. Place the tortilla flat on a frying pan.
  2. Sprinkle the cheese on the entire tortilla.
  3. When cheese is slightly melted, fold the tortilla in half.
  4. Cook until lightly browned on each side. 
You can add anything make these a little more interesting... salsa, onions, shredded chicken. Yumm-o!

Can you tell this guy loved it all?








.:: i'm linking up to life made lovely today ::.

Friday, January 13, 2012

{ lovely things on 1/13}


finally! its friday! didn't thinks week go by so sllllllllowly? 
i hope you have a long weekend coming! 
(we don't)
nonetheless,
here are a few things i loved this week.

a. i'm trying to copy this no sew window valance tutorial from centsational girl
b.this wall-o'-embroidery hoops would look great somewhere 
in my home. i'm just trying to figure out where. 
c. i need to decorate my whole house 
but if i start in my living room i can make this pretty anthro knock off shade
d.i know its only january but our trip to costa rica is less than a month away... 
so i'm thinking SUMMER! and i really want a retro one piece bathing suit like this one

Thursday, January 12, 2012

{ toddler activity : finger painting }


Jacob and I did our first "toddler activity" of the year earlier this week.
It's part of one of my goals for this year because my little guy needs stimulation 
that goes beyond simply playing with his trains all day.


So on Friday we finally sat down to do some finger painting.
Last time I tried finger painting with him he tried to eat it all
so you might understand that I was hesitant to do it again.
But it seems that 15.5 months was just the right age!
Jake-the-Snake totally got the concept of painting with your hands.

I am excited for these toddler activity time I am starting.
Spending time entirely dedicated to Jake was so heartwarming.
It made me realize how little uninterrupted one-on-one time I spend with him.
I hope that will change entirely this year.


What you need: 
Cut up cardboard box.
Toxic free finger paints
Paintbrush
Creative painting tools
(such as cut up sponges, Tupperware tops, medicine droppers)
An old t-shirt to protect ruining child's clothes

What to do:
Start with a drop of each color on the cardboard canvas and show them how to spread it throughout.
Introduce the tools one at a time, showing the child how to use each one of them. 
Most importantly, let your child go nuts! 
They have so much fun seeing the new colors they create 
and feeling the textures of what they're touching.



Tips: 
- Keep a wet washcloth nearby. It's easiest to get the excess paint off right when the child is done painting. Then quickly whisk them away to a sink or bathtub.

- Make sure you have a block of time to dedicate to cleaning up after this activity. I made sure to do this right before Jacob's tv time. So when we were done, he immediately sat down to watch Sesame Street while I cleaned up his mess. 


Isn't Jake's hedgehog the cutest thing ever? He was our art judge for the morning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

{ what i wore : i got bangs! }


It's January 11 and I forgot to mention that I got a haircut on new years eve.
I asked the girl to give me very blunt, heavy bangs.
I'd been toying with the idea for a long time and figured it would be a good way to start 2012.

 

What do you think?
I'm still getting used to them.
For a good week I thought they were a mistake
but they're starting to grow on me
figuratively and literally.
I realized that they are going to need some maintenance in order to keep them from blinding me.
I do like them now, though.

Alright, now what we're here for:
Two outfits from last weekend.


I wore this one out to date night on Sunday.
Which was humorous for two reasons:
1. the restaurant we went to was closed ... since August.
Thanks Hurricane Irene.
and
2. I definitely underestimated the weather and this is ALL I wore.
That vest did not cut it for the 38 degree weather.
Silly me. At least I looked cute while shivering.

My top is an extra-large and it was on sale for $8.
I love it and I have a feeling it's going to be an every season kind of garment.
I'm picturing it with khaki shorts and rainbows ... my summer uniform.

I wore this next outfit for dinner at my brother- and sister-in-law's
(and with this great photographer and his lovely wife)
and all of our kids, of course.

The headbands were $5 for two and I'm kind of obsessed
Oh and that button down... it's a children's size large. Yup. 


I'm linking up to 
The Letter 4 . The Pleaded Poppy 
Are you also linking up? Leave a message and I'll head on over to check out your fabulous style!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

{ if god was small }


When I started blogging I used to do something called "quotable tuesdays" 
so I'm going to start doing it again. Hope you enjoy.




and this quote from last week's post really spoke to my heart. 

What do you think about it?






.:: linking up with call me blessed ::.

Monday, January 9, 2012

{ laugh vs. cry }

Around here when one thing falls out of place,
chances are many things will fall out of place. 

Case and point:
our home slowly became a large mess this weekend
... and you wanna know what I did? 
Totally ignored it.
Embraced it. 
Walked over things.
Closed my eyes.

It just wasn't a priority. 
I just told myself: "It'll get cleaned up at some point."

... and it will at some point.

I am not exactly sure why but I decided to to take snapshots of the disaster
I guess I just decided to see the humor in all of it...
my options were either seeing the humor 
or crying.

For some ungodly reason I've decided to share 
said incriminating and very embarrassing pictures with you.

Maybe you can relate.
Please tell me you can relate.  



I'm still in my bathrobe at noon. Hott with two t's.


When the garbage gets full... fill up grocery bags until husband takes it all out.
I should be ashamed.


The Snake's new thing is to raid my pots and pans cabinet. Then he scatters them all over the house.








Do you keep carpet powder handy on your vanity too?


Clean laundry.


Dirty laundry.






.:: linking up to life made lovely ::.

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