"I have come that they might have life and have it to the full..." -John 10:10b

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Izzy Laughing


This is what I walked into last night right before bed time. Eva was jumping on the couch (which is usually a no-no, but this time it was excusable) and for some reason, it had Izzy SO tickled!

This is one of my favorite things about having two. Eva really does get a kick out of putting a smile on Izzy's face, and Izzy really does love watching Eva do just about anything. They already love one another in their own special way!

Oh Christmas Tree...


Here it is folks. After weeks of trying to convince my traditional husband to put the tree up early this year, he won and finally let me put it up the day after Thanksgiving. It was worth the wait.

I LOVE our Christmas tree. It's the perfect mix of style and sentiment. Our first Christmas together, we didn't have much in the way of ornaments, so we went to K-mart and purchased the Martha Stewart Christmas collection and had a very stylized tree that year. But as we've added to our brood and made new friends, we've also added more personalized ornaments making our tree something that I adore gazing at in the evenings. It's beautiful with it's mixture of orange, green and gold balls with my favorite Hallmark Keepsake and Willow Tree ornaments. Oh, and there is the token Redskins ornament for Paul and a Little Einstein's ornament that Eva added this year.

And I know many of you might think it strange that we have a Cardinal on top of our tree rather than the traditional angel or star, but Cardinals have been something near and dear to the Cortez family heart since long before I came into the picture. My mother in law sees Cardinals as a blessing and a sign of comfort for reasons that I'll tell you one day when I have her permission, so the cardinal on our tree is a way for us to honor her and her love of cardinals.

Oh and yes, those are wrapped presents under the tree. I'm tellin' you guys, once I put my mind to something I don't stop till I have it. The tree just wasn't complete to me without presents underneath, so after putting up and trimming the tree all morning, I wrapped every gift and put them underneath while the girls were napping. Paul thinks I'm anal retentive but I prefer organized and thorough...I'll let you be the judge.

The Atonement Child

Man oh man. If you haven't read this book...read it.

I won't get on my soap box on abortion, but I will say this; if you're not sure how you feel about the abortion issue, this is the book to read. Francine Rivers does an excellent job of putting even the most hopeless of situations into perspective.

Truly amazing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Patience? What's that?

...I ask myself as I beg Paul to pull out the Christmas decorations from the storage room off the back porch. I know we JUST put away the last clean dish from Thanksgiving dinner, but pretty please...just a few decorations before tomorrow?!?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Today started early. I woke up around 6:30 to prepare my 13 lb turkey with a butter/herb massage, courtesy of Paula Dean. Sounds simple, right? It should have been. When I was finally able to release the bird from it's packaging, I then had the un-nerving task of removing the neck and giblets. I know that this is most likely NOT a big deal for many, but it happens to make me want to vomit. So, there I am, bed head, morning breath, pj pants and elbow deep in my turkey. I pulled out the neck with ease and then went hunting around for the "goody bag." I couldn't find it. A plethora of concerns coursed through my amateur mind. Did this turkey just not have giblets? Did they forget to give me giblets? Was this a special turkey where the processor de-giblets the turkey for you? What if I roast it and the giblets are still hiding in there. Will I inadvertently cause my beloved family to come down with some foreign strain of salmonella or something? There was only one thing to do...call Mommy.

Only Mommy was in the shower preparing to go to CRACKER BARREL for Thanksgiving. Just as I was about to take my chances and ask my Dad what he knew about turkey giblets, out they fell. Right into the bottom of my sink. A deep sigh of relief followed soon thereafter and I told my dad all was fine. He gave me a semi-sarcastic "okay" and we hung up the phone.

Oh and that was just the beginning my friends. I soon realized that I not only had very limited time to cook all that needed to be cooked, but I also had very limited space in my oven. I had done some prep work the night before, but not enough (note to self for next year). The turkey was roasting away, but I still had two desserts to bake, a green bean casserole and sweet a potato casserole that all required the oven. So, by this time, it's almost 8 and I decide to call my friend Kasey. She'll know what to do...she knows everything.

She generously offered her oven and I decided that the Pumpkin Cheesecake was the most delicate of all the dishes and probably needed it's own, ample oven space. Off I went with the girls in their carseats and my un-baked cheesecake sloshing unpredictably in the passenger side floor board of my Escape. Kasey lives a mere 3 minutes away but I drove so slow and took every turn with such care that it took me almost 15 minutes to get there. When I finally arrived on her street, there was NO parking so I had to park half way on her drive way with the back half of my small SUV hanging out onto the street (as if they didn't have problems enough with their neighbors and the parking situation). I unloaded the girls and the cheesecake and made my way into the house where Kasey was sweeping her kitchen floor with big plans to mop it after.

**Side note: We're potty training Eva. It's going well, day 3 and about 5 accidents total so far.
**Double side note: Kasey lives in a brand new house on base and if anything is damaged or ruined in there, it comes out of her pocket.

I handed Izzy off to Ben, slid the cheesecake in the oven and went to sit in the living room. Eva immediately threw a random tantrum (still have NO clue what it was all about) and got very clingy very fast. It was only when Isabelle offered her a banana that Eva finally calmed down and off the two went into the freshly swept kitchen. Well, after the banana, they decided they wanted rolls. Crumbly, Hawaiian, sweet rolls. I gave Kasey the "sorry I'm such a total inconvenience" look and she assured me it was fine as she handed the girls each a roll. Meanwhile, she stayed camped out by the kiddie table, sweeping the crumbs as they fell.

Once the girls were satisfied, they scurried back into the living room and I stood in the kitchen to talk with Kasey as my cheesecake baked slowly in her oven. And then, I heard the plea for help. "Momma, big girl potty! Big girl potty!" Only, it was too late for the big girl potty as Eva had pee streaming down her leg and right onto Kasey's off white carpet. I scooped her up, willing the stream of urine to stop (only it didn't) and rushed her in to the kitchen sink. But by that point, not only was their a puddle in the carpet, but a whole trail of pee all the way through the passway from living room to kitchen. Again, I gave Kasey the "I know I'm a horrible Mother and friend for bringing her here without a pull-up, please forgive me" look and she politely replied with a "it's fine, really."

Poor Ben pulled out their steam cleaner and started spot cleaning while Kasey disinfected the kitchen floor and I cleaned Eva up in their sink. At this point, I'm feeling like a total inconvenience and I'm just praying that my dumb cheesecake will hurry up and bake so I can get me and my crazy kids out of their hair.

Well, the cheesecake was only supposed to take 35 minutes to bake. And maybe it's because I live in the middle of the ocean or something weird like that, but an hour later, the middle of the cake had finally set and I was able to pull it out and be on my way.

So, when I got home, I proceeded to finish the turkey, bake the apple pie, whip up the potatoes and fluff the stuffing all before my dear friend Patrice showed up to help me finish up the rest. She contributed a yummy green bean casserole and a scrumptious sweet potato casserole as well as some super enjoyable company for the day!

It was so nice to spend some time with her. We met for the first time 5 years ago in Basic Training for the Air Force. We graduated on the same day from different flights and went to both Texas and California together. We didn't hit it off immediately, but we realize now it was because our personalities are not too different from one another. It's so neat to look back at where we were when we first met. Fresh and naive, full of anticipation of what the future would hold for us, being so sure that our lives would go in separate directions, to now. We're both wives and mothers (Patrice is 5 months along with baby #2), we've been through some similar trials and experienced some of the same joys and we're able to look at our friendship with new eyes. And I love what I see in her!

Anyway, it may have been a hectic start, but all in all, a very happy Thanksgiving Day. I was surrounded by people I love and admire and am extremely thankful for. I hope you can all say the same for yourselves. Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S. Kasey, again I'm SO sorry about the accident on your carpet. You know I love you...right?!?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Soupe de Courge à la Vanille


Okay guys, Thanksgiving is only 2 days away! And I don't know about you, but I'm super excited to host it this year. I have a friend in town that roomed with me and was also in my class at DLI back in 2003/04 and she's coming over to help me cook. We've had our menu planned for over a week, all of our shopping is done and I've been staring at the myriad of ingredients in my cabinets for days.

Finally today, the anticipation got the best of me (I know, big surprise) and I made one of the appetizers that I've been dying to try...Butternut Squash and Vanilla soup. I figured this was one item I could make 2 days early and it would still be yummy and fresh on Thursday.

Well, it turned out GREAT! It was so good in fact, that I had to have a bowl for dinner tonight. This is now officially permanently on my yearly Thanksgiving menu. I encourage you all to try it this year...it's really good.

Soupe de Courge à la Vanille

- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
- 2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out and cut in chunks
- Salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract/paste (preferably natural), or one pod dry vanilla, split open
-1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

Serves 6.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add in the shallots and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes or until softened, stirring regularly. Add in the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook for ten minutes, stirring from time to time. Pour in hot stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add in the cinnamon and vanilla extract, or scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod and add in the pod itself as well. Cook for ten more minutes, or until the squash is tender. Fish out the vanilla pod if that's what you used (otherwise don't), and purée the soup in a food processor or blender, or use an immersion blender. Once puréed to a smooth consistency, pour soup back in pot and stir in heavy cream. Serve hot and enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On a Day Like This


This morning, Paul and I woke up to a rainy, breezy, calm, beautiful day. I love mornings like this one. They're somewhat rare on the island, but a day like this brings relief from the routine heat and humidity and gives you the small sense of the Winter season. We won't have snow, or temperatures in the 20's, but at least we'll have a few days like this.

I'm normally not able to sleep in past 7 or so, but on a day like this one, the sound of steady rain on my rooftop keeps me dreaming just a bit longer. When I awoke around 8, I was in the bed alone. Paul had let me take the extra hour for myself and I'm so grateful he did. As I rolled over on my back, I turned my head toward my open window and took a deep breath. Oh, I love that smell. Fresh rain. It's like a cleansing. Washing away all the drama and frustration from the day before and starting new and clean.

And call me Eeyore, but I adore a dreary day. The sky is a misty gray and even the green on the trees seems a bit more subdued. Only the sound of the rain on the trees and pavement, and a few brave birds chirping across the yard as the rest of them have hunkered down in their nests to wait it out. Just like I like to do on a day like this. Open all the windows, bury myself under a thick blanket, turn on a classic like Pride and Prejudice or Meet Me in St Louis, turn down all the lights and just nest. Perfect.

And one thing we can rest assured on out here on Oahu; after a rain like this rain, there is sure to be a beautiful rainbow not far behind.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Early Christmas Present


Very early! I know, I know...but don't say I didn't warn you. I really have no patience when it comes to presents. If I have the slightest inclination of what it might be, I want it NOW.

Usually, Paul makes me wait to open things anyway. But this time, my gift actually benefited him as well, and so he gave in and let me open one of my Christmas presents early. New, Cuisinart, Stainless Steel cookware! YAY!

My old cookware was a wedding present from my Mother-in-law. It's worked great for us and was the perfect set for a new couple just starting out, especially since cooking was not something that came naturally to me in beginning. But now, Paul has deemed my cooking worthy of some new cookware and I couldn't be more excited.

I cooked in it last night for the first time. Spaghetti with meat sauce. I know it's not the most elegant meal, but it was the perfect one to break in the shiny metal 1.5 qt sauce pan and stock pot.

And I'll just be honest, that was the best spaghetti that's ever come out of my kitchen. Half way through the meal, Paul looked at me and said, "Wow! I think this is the best spaghetti you've ever made." I agreed and we both concluded that it had to be the cookware.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yummy Good-byes


This weekend, Paul and I invited my brother Ryan and his wife Jacquie over for a casual dinner. There's not usually a reason behind our get-togethers, other than to just hang out and watch a movie, but this time there was a bit more to it.

Ryan and Jacquie left yesterday to spend two weeks in Florida with family. I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous of their getting to see everyone but I'm so excited for them too.

Anyway, Eva just adores her Aunt Jacquie and Uncle Ryan and asks for them almost daily. Because of this, we thought it would be nice for her to get some good play time with them before having to go two weeks without seeing them at all.

So, they took a break from their trip preparations and came over to eat pizza. For dessert, I made a warm, rustic apple crostata and it was so yummy! I'm not a big apple pie fan (mostly because I don't really care for the goopy filling) but this dessert is just perfect in all of it's simplicity. If you want a satisfying fall treat without feeling like you need to unbutton your pants afterward, try this! It's so good!

Apple Crostatas
Giada DeLaurentis (surprise, surprise)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons ice water

2 small Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 Pippin apple, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
(I used 3 Fuji apples and it turned out beautifully)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (for egg wash)
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (I left these off. Ryan and Paul are pretty picky)

To make the crust: Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a processor. Add the butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the ice water and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. (If the dough still crumbles and does not form into a ball, add another tablespoon of ice water.) Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

For the filling: Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the apples, 1/4 cup of sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl; toss gently to blend. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, dust a large sheet of parchment paper with flour and roll out the dough on the paper to an 11-inch round. Transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a heavy large baking sheet. Spoon the apple mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough border over the filling to form an 8-inch round, leaving the apples exposed in the center. Pleat loosely and pinch the dough to seal any cracks. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake the crostata until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack; cool for 10 minutes. Slide a metal spatula under the crust to free the crostata from the baking sheet. Cool the crostata to lukewarm. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve.

Paul and I pulled something off this past weekend that I was sure was impossible for a classic procrastinator such as myself. We finished our Christmas shopping, minus a few things here and there. One of our big purchases was a new exersaucer for Izzy.

Well, if you know me at all, you know that I am simply not able to hold on to a gift too long. My friends can attest to my getting them a gift and then begging them to open it up to 3 weeks early just because I can't stand the anticipation any longer!

So, the exersaucer was put together immediately. I couldn't endure the thought of keeping it in the box until Christmas knowing full well that Izzy would LOVE it right NOW! And Paul didn't even question me when I pulled the box out and gave him the familiar "pretty please" look. He immediately started to put it together.

And I'm so glad he did, because Izzy loved it, just as I suspected she would.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

And Here She is Folks!

Here it is, the video I've been waiting to get. Izzy rolling over from back to tummy and again from tummy to back. I love her little roly-poly body. Fortunately for me, my babies tend to stay chunky for a while.

P.S. Don't mind the Tigger and Pooh cartoons in the background.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rollin'...rollin'...rollin' down the...

living room!?! Another milestone, and an unexpected one at that. As Paul and I sat with the girls last night in the living room floor, (yes, we spend a lot of time down there) we caught Izzy out of the corner of our eyes roll from her back to her tummy and then again to her back! It's amazing the sense of pride we feel as mothers for even the smallest accomplishments by our kids.

And of course, I have no video camera (on my Christmas list) and my phone was completely out of battery. But I'll work on getting it on video here in the next few days!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Daddy's Girl #2


When Paul got home from work today, Eva was still napping so he took the opportunity to have some one-on-one time with Izzy as she played in the floor. Fortunately for me, the camera was nearby and I was able to capture some very sweet moments.

Paul then got up to finish some homework and I put Izzy on her belly for some "tummy-time." I have to admit, I've been horrible about tummy-time with Izzy. With Eva, I was so concerned that she hit every milestone on time and with Izzy, I've been a bit more relaxed. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it seemed my baby had not missed a beat as she lifted her upper body with ease, propping herself up on her forearms. A small milestone, but a milestone nonetheless.

Ramblings of a Day Dreamer


Today, as I flipped through the channels on TV my eyes caught a quick glimpse of something that I hold near and dear to my heart, an equestrian dressage competition. I, like many former little girls, am a horse fanatic. I took horseback riding lessons (both English and Western) and each week, before my lesson, I remember the palms of my hands getting sweaty with nervous excitement. I remember opening the passenger side door of my mom's big, brown Dodge van to the smell of hay and manure and wanting to be no where else in the world. Oh I just loved, and continue to love horses. My favorite book at the library was always "How to Draw Horses" and I would...constantly. Even now, when my mind wonders at church or during a phone conversation, I find myself doodling horses all over the closest napkin, paper towel or scrap paper around. I would still be ecstatic to simply muck stalls all day every day if it put me within touching distance of a horse.

So, as I watched this competition, my mind began to stroll down memory lane towards the first horse I ever fell in love with. And for any of you horse lovers out there, you know what I mean. You know you're a horse lover the moment that you fall head over heals in love with your first horse. It hits you like a ton of bricks. You can think of nothing else (much like the way Velvet Brown falls in love with Pi in the movie National Velvet) and the one thing you desire in all the world is a horse of your own. Well, the first time I laid eyes on The Black Stallion in the 1979 movie, it was over. The way he ran on the beach, every muscle glistened against the ocean and his legs were so delicate and powerful in a way that I could not take my eyes off of the screen. Sigh...my heart still races at the thought of him.

And then, this memory took me to my next horse love...Denny, from The Man From Snowy River. Oh Denny is rugged and real. A mountain horse from the ranges of Australia. Just beautiful. That is probably one of my favorite movies of all time because it has everything...action, drama, romance, comedy and horses. Lots and lots of horses.

So then I start thinking about the kind of horse I would want if I could have any horse I wanted. A Fresian. Most definitely a Fresian. They have the elegance and beauty of Black and the power and vitality of a wise mountain horse.

As I dwell on my perfect horse for a while, my mind travels to the stacks and stacks of sketch books I had growing up of all the different horses I'd drawn over the years. Sketch books. Sketch books and scrap books. Not of pictures of friends and family mind you...nope. I would go through Pottery Barn catalogs and cut out pictures of my dream home. How I would decorate, paint, arrange things. Pottery Barn, a modern day mecca of interior design and decor. I love Pottery Barn. I pour through each month of my Pottery Barn catalog over and over again as though I could wish the products into being...right in the middle of my not-so-Pottery Barn living room. And then I start thinking of kitchens...

My dream kitchen is the kitchen from Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I love the sleek lines of the stainless steel appliances and the glass tile around the double wall oven. I could really create in a kitchen like that. Man oh man. And I'd fill it with scads of kitchen accessories and tools from none other than Williams Sonoma. Have you ever smelled a Williams Sonoma? It's incredible. I urge you to walk into a Williams Sonoma any free day and breathe it in...aren't you inspired?

Well of course, I have to have a house to put all this amazing stuff in. I know just the one! It's a large, white house in Pasadena, CA. You've all seen it. The house from Father of the Bride. Beautiful and simple. Complete with a white picket fence and a basket ball hoop over the garage.

So there you have it. 20 minutes worth of day dreaming. And then I look down at my husband in the floor with our two little creations and I realize, I have everything I could ever want...right here in the middle of my not-so-Pottery Barn living room.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Secret Moment


Last week, I walked in on the sweetest display of sisterly affection. I had set Izzy in Eva's room for a few minutes while I put some towels away in the linen closet and when I came back into Eva's room, this is what I found.

Eva was "reading" to Izzy one of her favorite new books (Thank you Reilag boys!) and Izzy was looking up at her in complete admiration. Be still my heart. I stood at the doorway for a minute, trying so hard restrain myself from jumping right in the middle of them to squeeze them to me so tight, and I'm glad I was able to practice that restraint because things then got really cute.

Izzy is absolutely at the beginnings of the never ending teething stage and therefore, her hands are always in her mouth. Well, whenever Paul and I see Eva put HER hands in her mouth, she gets a gentle scolding about how our hands are dirty and don't belong in our mouths. So, as Eva looked up from her book and saw that Izzy was gnawing on her hands, she gingerly took hold of her sister's hands and moved them away saying, "no, no Izzy. Dirty hands, no put them in her mouth."

Okay, so at that point, I had to make my presence known. I could restrain myself no more and my chuckles immediately did exactly what I knew they would...the moment was gone but it's a moment I'll not soon forget!

Lets Go to the Movies


Okay, so maybe it's just me but I LOVE the movie, "Annie." (shocker, I know) The old one, not the more recent one. I love the dancing, I love Grace, I love Punjab and I love Daddy Warbucks. I especially love the part of the movie where Grace and Daddy Warbucks take Annie to the movies for the first time ever in her life. She gets dressed up and they sing and dance around the theater isles. There's performers with sparkly outfits and it all adds up to a truly enjoyable movie-going experience. I remember watching that part as a kid and feeling the excitement and longing well up inside me to go to the movies. Well, I felt that again last night when Paul and I took Eva to the movies for the first time.

In a way, it's a right of passage in our family. I grew up LOVING the movies and that's one of the strong bonds I have with all of my siblings. We all love the movies. I believe it's a trait that we inherited from my Dad. He's a big movie fan. Heck, we love the movies so much that it's become a Christmas Day tradition. Forget big family dinners and carols around the piano. Oh no, give us another addition to the Star Wars trilogy or Lord of the Rings any Christmas day and we're happy campers.

Anyway, we took Eva to see Madagascar II last night and she loved it. She did great, sitting through the entire movie with minimal lap changes and scarfing down half a bag of buttered popcorn all by herself. And it was sans Izzy.

In fact, that's one of the funny parts of this story. We left Izzy with my friends Kasey and Ben so that we could have some two-on-one time with Eva. Well, on the way to the theater, Eva suddenly realized that there was no one inhabiting the carseat next to her. "Where'd Izzy go?" She asked with a concerned look on her face. "Izzy is with Mrs. Kasey. It's just you and Momma and Daddy." She looked confused. She then tried with, "Baby Izzy, where are you?" I turned around again and reassured her that Izzy was fine and happy. "You get Momma and Daddy all to yourself tonight," I said. Her eyes lit up and her face went from perplexed to shocked, "Are you kidding me?!?" she asked with excitement.

I turned around in my seat, stifling the urge to laugh so hard I'd surely pee my pants. Paul looked over at me and we drew the same conclusion...she's heard her momma on the phone quite a bit.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photo Shoot Cont'd

Hey Guys! You can see more of Izzy's 3 month photo shoot here. Hope you like them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Culinary Experimentation

I made turkey burgers tonight for dinner. I made turkey burgers knowing full well that Éva would NOT be interested in them and I didn't feel like making two seperate meals, so while Paul and I ate turkey burgers and tortilla chips, Éva had cereal...and a few tortilla chips.

As I set the bowl of Little Einstein's cereal in front of Éva today, I wondered how she might do with it. She eats cereal often, and she drinks milk even more, but today was one of the first times we've combined the two. And I have to say, she did great. Minor droppage and the mess wasn't as bad as I imagine it could've been. However, there was a moment of concern when I watched her scooping up cereal from her bowl, like you would salsa, with a tortilla chip. I kept watching as she slowly brought the concoction up to her mouth and took a ginormous bite. She made a face, studied the chip and went back for more. All I could do was stare. Really? Tortilla chips and cereal?

But then I remembered the first time I heard about melon and proscuitto or American cheese and apple pie. These combinations confused and baffled me, until I actually tried them and discovered that they were absolutely delicious.

So I've drawn this conclusion. I think my daughter is a culinary genius in the making. Perhaps she noticed how the artificial lemon flavor of her cereal played nicely against the salty corn flavor of the chip. Perhaps she appreciated the smoothness of the skim milk on the back of her throat and it's contrast to the crispness of the chip and the sogginess of the cereal. I don't know guys...I think she may be on to something. I mean, I'm not about to try it, but I think we may have another Giada waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fireproof = INCREDIBLE

Paul and I went to see Fireproof last night, and for any married or soon-to-be-married couple, it's a must see! It's incredibly overt, crazy convicting and just all around amazing. The movie doesn't beat around the bush about the necessity of Christ in any marriage, it shouts it from the hill tops. I implore all of my married friends, as well as any of you who hope to be married one day to go see it. Seriously...go. And don't forget a box (or two) of Kleenex.

"Love is not a place
to come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
Work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter
in a raging storm
Love is peace
in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave;
May God send angels to guard the door
No, Love is not a fight
but its something worth fighting for

To some love is a word
that they can fall into.
But when they're falling out
keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter
in a raging storm
Love is peace
in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave;
May God send angels to guard the door
No, Love is not a fight
but its something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we'll only call
He will ask nothing from us
but demand we give our all

Love is a shelter
in a raging storm
Love is peace
in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave;
May God send angels to guard the door
No, Love is not a fight
but its something worth fighting for.

Cause I Will Fight For You
Would You Fight For Me
It's Worth Fighting For."

-Warren Barfield

Monday, November 3, 2008

Izzy's 3 month Photo Shoot


Again, we reap the benefits of having professional photographers in the family! We asked Jacquie to do Izzy's 3 month pictures as well as a few family shots for the Christmas card this year. And although she hasn't finished editing them all, she did send me a few "teasers" as she called them. They were just so darn cute I had to share them with you all.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

God's Presence vs. God's Presents

"The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God."
-Hebrews 7:18-19

Let me start by saying that I LOVE my church. I love the teaching, I love the people, I love the old building and I love the part of the island that it's on (the windward side in Kailua). The mere drive to church is enough to get you in the mood for worship, passing straight through the Koolau mountains on the H-3 and a breathtaking view of Kaneohe Bay coming out of the Tetsuo Harano Tunnel. Truly heart stopping.

Anyway, we normally have the privilege of listening to Pastor Brad every Sunday, but this Sunday, we got to hear Pastor Darryl. And boy was he amazing. He wasted no time in getting straight to the point of his sermon...Is God at the center of your life? And why is God at the center of your life?

Well, I've heard the first question posed countless times. I must ask myself that question 100 times a day, but the second one threw me off a bit. Why? Why is God at the center of my life? But as I pondered the question, I honestly didn't know how to answer. Pastor Darryl continued. He then asked the question, "What are your goals in your relationship with Jesus?" My goals?

He went on to talk about 2 kinds of Christians. The Christians who have Jesus in the center of their lives because their end goal is to know and love HIM more. And the Christians who put Jesus at the center of their lives because they believe that by doing so, they will be given all the earthly treasures they desire. He explained that it really goes back to a grace-based faith vs. a works-based faith. If we are merely serving Jesus so that He will serve us in return, are we really getting all there is to get out of a relationship with Him? Definitely not.

He said that there are usually two outcomes when we put Jesus in the center for the wrong reasons. 1) Things could work out well and we get the things we desire whether it be wealth, status, children, etc. But this breeds pride, haughtiness and judgementalism because we then look at our earthly blessings as prizes for our hard work and accomplishments. After all, if we could earn our salvation or our good standing with God, what the heck do we need Jesus for? or 2) Things go horribly wrong and your works are fruitless because they are not an overflow of your love for God and your desire for HIS will to be done.

Pastor Darryl then reminded us why Jesus came in the first place. To FREE us from the law. To FREE us from slaving away trying to earn God's favor. The Old Covenant said "it's up to you", the New Covenant shouts, "it's all up to GOD!" The pressure is off! Sit back, relax, serve God because you LOVE God and He's called you to serve Him, not because by doing so you think it will earn you all the things you think you should have here on earth.

He read this quote(and forgive me but I can't remember who's quote it is), "I want to draw near to You,whether You bless my life as I want or not, I only want one thing - that You draw near to me."

Wow. Convicting to say the least. He closed with a last question...Do I want the presence of Christ or do I just want the presents?

"In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus"
-Fernando Ortega

The Harvest Happenin'


On the way to the church, our very tired (due to her refusing to take a nap) Éva fell fast asleep in her car seat. Paul and I chuckled quietly and made some cracks to each other about how just the mere anticipation of a party was enough to tucker our girl out. Needless to say, it was a quiet ride to Kailua.

The plan was to meet up with my friend Annette and her son, Éva's friend, Christopher as well as a mutual friend, Mindy. Well, we arrived about 3o mintutes later than planned and were able to catch them as they returned to the parking lot from a quick trip on the trolley. Christopher and Éva greeted one another with a hug, as is their custom, grabbed hands and turned around to face the festivities in front of them. They obviously had no idea where to start.

Well, it's a good thing that Annette is a planner and a leader. She took Christopher's hand, who was still holding Éva's hand, and lead the way. Paul took his role as photographer for the evening and Mindy and I followed closely behind.

We did everything. From tossing little duckies into Mason jars (hoping NOT to win because the prize was a live gold fish...no thank you) to the turkey bowl where the kids got to roll a 2 lb frozen turkey towards a group of bowling pins. One of my favorite events of the evening was one where the kids had to scoop up some water with a ladle from a bucket, walk it over to a bottle and pour the water into the bottle. It was a race between two competing children and the first one to fill up their bottle was the winner. Well, Christopher took to his game very well. You could just see the determination on his face as he stuck his little tongue out the side of his mouth in pure concentration. Éva, on the other hand, didn't quite get the concept and proceeded to pour the water she had scooped up with the ladle all over her costume. Not a game winning strategy, but a great opportunity for cute pictures.

And of course, there was bobbing for apples. Only, for the toddlers (and any other person who may not get the drill of holding your breath under water and trying to bite an apple at the same time) the bobbing consisted of stabbing at the apples with a fork. Interesting to say the least, but Éva seemed to enjoy it.

We made the rounds, going to all the age appropriate booths for our 2 and 3 year olds and then it was time for Trunk or Treat. It's just as it sounds. It's trick or treating only the kids go to the trunks of people's cars instead of doorsteps. Well, it began to rain only minutes into it and so Izzy and I found shelter under the pavilion while Paul and Éva finished hitting up the backs of people's cars for candy. When they finally came to find me, it was obvious that our girls were tired and it was time to go. We loaded up and headed home.

Of course, Éva was pretty amped up on candy (she never gets it so imagine the sugar shock) so it was still a good hour after arriving home that she actually went to bed. Which turned out to be fine because Aunt Jacquie came over to hang out and watch a movie.

All in all, a successful Halloween I'd say. Full of candy, costumes and friends. Just the way it should be!