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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

When it Rains...


And that's NOT where it ended, folks. Kasey called me from our house, once they had successfully broken in, and informed me that they could not find the keys. Poor Kasey had searched through every nook and cranny of my home, going through dirty laundry, neglected drawers and cobweb filled corners (I praise God for a friend like Kasey who won't judge me by the lack of attention my home has gotten in the past few weeks).

Once she and Ben had admitted that there was no hope of them finding the keys, they drove the 20 minutes to Hawaii Kai to pick us up. All eight of us loaded up into their matching Honda Odyssey, left ours their in the parking lot, and headed home.

Once home, Paul and I did our own search through the house to look for the keys, thinking that perhaps in their unfamiliarity of all the secret spaces in our home, they had possibly overlooked them. Nope. No keys. Paul and I racked our brains trying to think of every possible place we could've left them.

Well, we were at Ryan and Jacquie's house the previous day for our Christmas festivities so Paul headed out to walk over there. Once there, they searched high and low and finally, at Ryan's suggestion, Paul checked their car. There they were. Paul rode with them Christmas night to go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and must have left his keys in their car. Funny thing about this is that Paul texted me on his way home from the movies and asked me to please leave the front door unlocked for him if I was headed to bed. He had totally forgotten that he had his keys with him!

So, Paul got a friend to take him back up to Hawaii Kai to pick up the van, and on his way home, he called me. It was 6:30 pm at this point and I had just bathed the girls and was in the midst of their bedtime routine when I answered his call. It went something like this,

"Babe, you're not going to believe this."

"What!?! Did someone vandalize the car?"

"No. I forgot my wallet."


"SO, I can't get on base without my ID and I don't have my driver's license either. I'm ridin' dirty."

"Paul...please tell me you're kidding. I don't have a car. It's dark. The girl's are bathed and it's thundering and lightning outside. It could start pouring any second."

"I know, Hun. But there's no other option. I need you to walk down to the back gate and meet me there with my wallet. Otherwise, I could get a ticket."


more silence...

smoke coming out of my ears...


So, I loaded up the girl's in their strollers, and started the 3/4 mile trek to the back gate of the base. About 50 yards out from the guard shack, the power went out. All over base...all over the island! I couldn't even see the sidewalk in front of me because even the street lights were out. I slowed my walking which was frustrating because I could see where Paul was parked just outside the gate which only made me want to hurry.

When I finally reached the guard shack, the guards were running around frantic trying to get the barriers up to keep people from coming on or off base. They asked me what the heck I was doing out and I explained the situation. One of the guards ran towards Paul to motion to him to hurry up and get on base. They were so kind. They allowed me to vouch for Paul with my military ID and even looked the other way when we had to load everyone up in the van sans car seats (which is a big no-no!).

When we got home, we looked up at our dark, powerless house and decided that maybe we should head back out and find somewhere to hang until our power came back on. But only minutes later, we learned that EVERYONE was out of power. Not just Hickam AFB, the entire island of Oahu was out of power. (Even Barack Obama who is vacationing here with his family was out of power!)

We had a nutritious dinner of chips and gold fish (as we didn't want to open our fridge in fear of letting out the cold air) and put the girl's in bed. Thankfully, Paul and are used to sleeping with our windows open so we actually had a restful night and the power finally came back on at 5:30 this morning.

Christmas Day


The afternoon of Christmas, after the girl's had napped and I was done baking my Pumpkin Cheesecake and Apple pie (in a cake pan because I couldn't find my pie plate anywhere!) we headed over to Ryan and Jacquie's for a family Christmas Dinner. Jacquie made a delicious prime rib along with some cheesy mashed potatoes and macaroni cheese.

Once dinner was done, the guys all headed outside to play with Hurley and Eva. Justin took the time to bond with Eva as he's only gotten to meet her 3 times so far. She wasn't sure about him at first, and who could blame her with his overwhelming stature, but she seemed to warm up after a while.

And of course, Eva enjoyed the company of her best buddy and favorite dog, Hurley. Hurley is the topic of many a conversation in the Cortez house and he's also handy when a good bribe is needed. For example, "Eva, if you want to see Hurley today, you're going to have to clean up your toys" or "Eva, Hurley doesn't like it when you act like that. He would be sad to see that." The mention of Hurley seems to snap our girl right back into shape. Maybe it's wrong to use him like that, but it works.

Anyway, it was a good Christmas day! We were blessed to be surrounded by family even way out here in the middle of the Pacific.

Christmas Morning


I don't know what it is about Christmas morning that makes it instinctual for all children to wake up at the booty crack of dawn. Eva has been making a habit lately of sleeping until 8 or 8:30. But Thursday morning, wouldn't you know, she was up at 7. I have to admit, I was glad for the early morning. I was probably as excited as she was, if not more so.

This year was the first year that Eva actually "got it." She was very into opening her presents, but not too much so that she wasn't willing to share the excitement with Izzy which made my heart proud. Of course, Izzy wasn't very in to the actual presents, but she sure did have fun going at the wrapping paper.

I think my favorite present that Eva got this year was a book by Brooke Shields called Welcome to Your World, Baby. It's an adorable story with whimsical illustrations about a big sister welcoming home her new little sister. She's telling the new baby about all of the things they'll do together and it's just really sweet. Perfect for my sweet girls.

But, just like every year, the wrapping paper frenzy is over too quickly for all of the planning and wrapping that goes into it. Still, I was glad to add to our girl's ever growing book collection, and Paul was excited to instill the love of photography in Eva with a Kid Tough Digital Camera.

All in all, a very good Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve


This Christmas, we were very blessed to have my brother, Justin here. He flew in at 9am on Christmas Eve morning, just in time to catch a few z's and be up in time for a little shin dig at our house.

Being that two of my 4 siblings were going to be here, I tried to make the night memorable by making all of the finger foods that my mom used to make for us on Christmas Eve. I made sausage bisquick balls, snickerdoodles, ham rolls, queso dip and my sister in law, Jacquie as well as my friend, Kasey supplied some very yummy additions of their own.

It was a very nice time and I enjoyed being around my brothers so much. Kasey got a kick out of seeing the three of us together and picking out the features that we all have in common. Of course, we can't see at all where we look alike, but it's nice to know that we do to other people.

Before everyone got here, Paul took the opportunity to try out his new camera and snap some pictures of the girls in their matching Christmas pj's.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Still Here

I have NOT dropped off the face of the blogging planet. Oh no, I've just been completely engrossed in the Twilight saga. All four books read, from start to finish in less than one week! So good. I'm a little sad that I'm done.

I'll be back soon with good stories and pictures...I promise!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heart Break

My poor, sick girl asleep in her hot pink bean bag with the familiar sound of Madagascar in the background. I hate knowing she doesn't feel well and there's not much I can do about it except force children's Motrin down her throat, which only adds to her solemn emotional state. I wish I could trade places with her.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend From...well, you know

No, again there are no pictures in this post. I know I probably have so few readers to my blog because I just don't post enough pics. This is not entirely my fault though, guys. My husband has a problem. I don't know if I could officially diagnose it as an illness so much as a disorder, but whatever it is, it's a problem. He cannot seem to hold on to a piece of electronic equipment for any lengthy period of time before getting completely bored with it and needing something new. This includes cameras.

I have no camera right now because he sold it. He sold it in hopes of getting a newer, better camera...which we do not have right now. So, I'm camera-less thanks to my husband's disorder. Blame him for the lack of pics.

Anyway, this post is not supposed to be about Paul. This is a rant. Humor me for a few minutes. I've had a crazy weekend and it's not even over yet.

Friday, on our way to the mall, we noticed the transmission slip in our Ford Escape. Our recently paid off Ford Escape. Isn't that how it always goes. Anyway, the Escape is a 2002 and we've already put more money than should be allowed into that car for repairs, so when we noticed the transmission slipping, we both agreed that it was time to say ta-ta to the Escape. Well, the Escape is our family car. Our second car is a 2004 Ford Mustang and two car seats would absolutely NOT fit in it.

So, Saturday morning, we dropped Eva off at Kasey's house to play with Isabelle and Daniel and off Paul, Izzy and I went to look at new cars. Almost 8 hours later, we finally drove our tired, hungry bodies off the lot in our new (to us) 2006 Honda Odyssey. Yep, I've officially joined the ranks of the mom-mobile drivers'. But boy do I love this van.

While we there at the dealership, during one of the numerous times that our salesman was "going to bat for us," I began to suspect that I may have developed a painful case of mastitis. Being fearful that it could develop into a a not so mild case, I decided to head up to the ER on Saturday night with Izzy in tow, despite being exhausted from a day of wheeling and dealing.

One look at the crowded waiting room told me that I would most certainly be there a while. You see people, it rained...all weekend long. And don't get me wrong, I LOVE the rain, but I don't love the accidents caused by the rain on an island where the roads are full of pot holes and the red-dirt hills are prone to mudslides. So, I checked in with the nurse, she gave me my wrist band and I picked a seat close to the window to sit...and sit...and sit. 3 hours later, I finally consented to the realization that I was not very high on the triage totem pole. So, I loaded Izzy up (who was a trooper by the way) and made my way out to the parking lot.

Only, it was raining...hard. I waited for a few minutes in hopes that the rains would subside enough be for me to get to my van without getting completely soaked. But there was no sign of that, so I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head, made sure Izzy was safe and warm under the canopy of her stroller and car seat attachment and charged into the rain. Things were going well until I stepped into a hidden indention in the sidewalk. My shoes were sopping and my jeans were soaked half way up my calf (and I have long legs). Ugh.

I made it to the van, made sure Izzy was secure in her seat, loaded the stroller and quickly jumped in the driver's seat dripping water all over my new car. We finally made it home and I put the girls to bed, pushed a shower off until morning and worried about my potential infection and how long it would take to get much worse.

Sunday morning, I slept in. On accident. I had exactly 45 minutes to get everyone ready for church and out the door. The shower I wanted to take...yeah, didn't happen. The clothes I wanted to wear...in the laundry. I rushed around trying to secure my unwashed hair into the world's smallest pony tail, applying extra deodorant and flinging clothes all over the girl's room looking for something appropriate for them to wear. We barely got out the door on time and made it to church with a few spare minutes to drop the girl's off at the nursery and find a good seat.

After church, more rain. The pain on my left side was still there, but no worse than the day before so I felt okay about pushing off another visit to the hospital until the next day when I could call and schedule an appointment.

I moved on to baking the 5 dozen sugar cookies I had committed to for a cookie decorating party at Annette's house in the morning. I had originally planned to buy the pre-packaged cookie dough but wouldn't you know, the commissary was all out. So, I made them from scratch. 4 hours and 66 cookies later, I was finished and it was time to think about dinner. Paul recognized the exhaustion in my eyes and suggested going to pick up a pizza and I was grateful and happy to oblige.

We came home, scarfed down our pizza and started the girl's bed time routine. When the girl's were finally down, I took my long awaited shower, poured myself a glass of Riesling and hunkered down on the sofa to veg for a bit. Things were looking up.

And then, this morning at 5:30, Eva awoke with a 101 degree temperature. Sigh. Life More Abundant, right?

But, the pain I've had all weekend is finally subsiding (making me think it was merely a clogged milk duct instead of full blown mastitis), the Motrin is helping to keep Eva's fever down and the rain has stopped for now.

So, needless to say, it was a hectic weekend. However, I did manage to read the entirety of Twilight (contributing to my exhaustion as I was up every night until almost 1am). It was amazing. I don't know what I was so hesitant about. Guys, it's a classic Romeo and Juliet story; star-crossed lovers and the desire for what's forbidden. Stephanie Meyer is perfectly descriptive, telling the story in such a way that you can feel every emotion, every light graze of the skin, and every shiver down Bella's spine. I highly recommend it and I cannot wait to get the second book. Laugh all you want...a good book is a good book is a good book. And that's all there is to it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Giving In

I'm one of the few people that have NOT read any of the Harry Potter books. I pride myself in this fact for some reason. And no, there's no moral reason behind it. They just never really interested me. So when all of the insane madness began brewing around the Twilight series, I shrugged my shoulders and paid no attention.

After all, I'm more of a Dr. Dobson, Elizabeth Elliot, Beth Moore kind of girl. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of fiction here and there, but when I indulge in fiction, it's usually something really tame like Nicholas Sparks, Richard Paul Evans or Francine Rivers. I do LOVE a good love story.

So, when my sister-in-law, Jacquie looked at me last week and insisted that I read the first book in the Twilight series, I gave her the "You're on crack" look and asked, "Why? It's about vampires for heaven's sake." She then began to gush about the budding romance between Edward and Bella, saying things like, "it's the most amazing love story ever" and "Oh my gosh Anne, you'll be so addicted."

Well, as Paul and I walked around Borders this morning looking for stocking stuffers for the girls, my eyes caught a glimpse of the black covered book on the rack in the center of the store. I curiously walked over, looked at the back (for the price, NOT the synopses) and mulled over the decision, to buy or not to buy.

I bought it. I'll begin reading it tonight. And I'll just tell you now that I'm a bit of skeptic when it comes to this book. We'll see...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rainy Day and Christmas Cookies

Last night, we experienced something that hardly ever occurs out here in the middle of the Pacific; a thunder storm! It was awesome. I adore thunder storms. It's one of the things I miss most about living in Florida.

Anyway, when we awoke this morning, it was still rather dreary out and even now, at 12:30 pm, the rains have not relented. Paul even got a phone call this morning telling him not to worry about coming into work because the roads were so flooded on that side of the island. This is my favorite kind of day.

It's not, however, Eva's idea of the perfect day. So, in order to keep her occupied and happy, we made Christmas cookies. We made shortbread cookies and she did great. She loved cutting out the cookies and rolling out the dough. But when it came to decorating, she wasn't interested. She did agree to decorate a few with sprinkles before baking them and then she was off to watch Tigger and Pooh.

Once they were all baked, I made some royal icing with the last little big of meringue powder I had left and spread it over the cooled cookies. I had big plans to decorate them with detailed and intricate designs but Izzy woke up and that plan went right out the window.

But they still turned out cute, I think.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Design Dilemma

Have you seen Madagascar? Not the new one, the first one. Okay, so do you know that part when Alex the Lion is running through the grassy field toward the watering hole and his eyes bug out, his hair frizzes and he completely loses it? Well, that's me when I spot something that I just HAVE to have.

Two days ago, it was these vintage kitchen canisters in Aqua. I saw them on Ebay. The seller wanted $40, I offered $20 (just to see, not expecting to actually get them) and the next thing I know, I have an email from the seller congratulating me on my purchase. Hmmmm. Now I love them...and I just HAD to have them. But they totally don't match anything in my kitchen, which is fine because I hate my kitchen and want to do something different anyway, but Aqua canisters?

So once I eased into my purchase, I began my hunt for a new tablecloth. The one I have now is horrid. It's this ugly army green and well, not what I really wanted for the breakfast area, but hey, I needed a tablecloth and there it was. Anyway, I came across this Martha Stewart damask tablecloth at Macy's and immediately fell in love...until I saw the price. Eek, just a little out of my price range. SO, back to ebay to land on another Martha Stewart tablecloth, similar colors, a bit bolder and vinyl. And I'm happy with vinyl as I have two small children and no need to add to my ever increasing laundry piles. So, I bought it. Two aqua things for my kitchen.

Now I LOVE aqua. I love teal, I love robin's egg blue and I love blue green. Definitely one of my most favorite colors (that and orange, just check out my bedding). But what the heck do I do with it?

No...for real. What do I do with it? Here, let me take you on a journey. It's the same journey I've been on for the last two days, ever since the canisters.

I've been wanting to recover my chair cushions for ages. They badly need it. I cannot afford a new table, and my old table is fine, but the cushions are wretched. They used to be white and now they are a dingy gray, yellow, pink...it just depends on what exactly was dropped in the particular spot you're looking at. Anyway, with an aqua tablecloth, what kind of fabric do I use for the chairs? Lime green? Orange? More aqua?

Here's some fabric samples I found at J Caroline fabrics online. Tell me what you think. For real...tell me.

What do you think? Okay, and for the walls...what about this? I found it at Target but I'm pretty sure I could recreate it for less than half the price. Just a good piece of stretched canvas and some orange acrylic paint. Keep in mind that I live in military housing and we tend to move every 3 years so painting the walls is kind of out of the question unless it's a VERY neutral color.

And then what about the floors? I'll need a rug. Orange? Lime? Aqua? And curtains! What about the curtains?!? (pant, pant) Do you see my dilemma?

Okay, let's stop talking about it, I'm going to have a conniption fit. Don't you just LOVE this bag I found at Etsy? Yep...I'm in love again.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Music to My Ears

Yesterday morning, as I ran around my house doing all the things that were much needed to do, I took a few moments to sweep and mop the kitchen floor. I did this while Eva was in her chair eating lunch so that I wouldn't have to worry about her running in the kitchen and slipping on the soon-to-be-wet floors. I started up by the fridge and moved backward towards the breakfast nook. As I swept under Eva's chair, she looked at me with shining eyes and said, "Thank you, Momma."

Well, I guess she's heard me complain under my breath about the "thanks I get around here" and decided to do something about it. I didn't know whether to smile or cry. Such a sweet little gesture. And would you know, with all the hullabaloo of the morning and the overwhelming feeling of never being able to get everything done that needed to be, that simple "thank you" from my little girl really made my day brighter.

I guess I can't complain anymore about "the thanks I get around here." It seems I'm getting more than my fair share.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Admitting Defeat

Oh goodness. Where do I start? Let's just say that the taste of "humble pie" is something I've grown VERY accustomed to in my life. I tend to have "jump the gun" syndrome as well as a mean case of "foot in mouth" disease. They are not a good combination of ailments, let me tell you. But the Lord has been gracious in blessing me with very patient friends and family and they were so needed this past week.

I think as a parent, I struggle with placing my personality and the expectations I would have for myself on my kids; mostly Eva, of course being the 2 year old. Anyway, I've come to see that God gave me a child very different from myself. I'm outgoing and extroverted. I tend to talk too much when I meet someone new and have a hard time keeping things to myself. I love going to functions and events with Paul because I know there will be scads of new faces for me to converse with. I'm a people person by nature and I love to socialize. At home, I'm quiet and focused. Eva...not so much. She is my exact opposite in that area. At home, she's crazy and fun and adventurous, but put her in a social setting and she withdraws so fast it would make your head spin.

I've finally come to realize that this is not something about her that needs "fixing." That's just the way she is. If you were to look up the word "introvert" in the dictionary, my child's face would be plastered right next to it. Once I was able to draw this conclusion, that there was nothing WRONG with her, she was just different from me, immediate relief followed. I mean, it's not too surprising. I wouldn't exactly call Paul "Mr. Social" either now that I think about it.

Anyway, I found myself in a similar predicament this past week. Potty training. Ugh, the very words send shivers down my spine. It was horrible. All 3 and half days of it. Oh, and don't read that and think "Wow, she potty trained her kid in only 3 days!?!" No! I started potty training and drastically failed in all of 3 days. Okay, maybe failed isn't the right word.

Eva is a smart kid. She can count to 10 and she knows all of her shapes. She memorizes songs no problems and has a pretty good sense of humor for a 2 year old. All this being said, potty training should come easy...right? WRONG! This is where parenting gets tough. I've been reading up on potty training for months trying to decipher if Eva was, in fact, ready to potty train. And I read over and over again that some kids are just not ready to potty train until closer to 3 and sometimes even 4. But every time I read those things, I dismissed them. "That doesn't apply to MY kid," I would think to myself. I finally decided to give it a good go last week and we went out and purchased "big girl panties" and pull ups to get her started.

Well, lets just say there were MANY more accidents than accomplishments and I found myself getting very frustrated. And every time I would get frustrated, Eva would resist the potty all that much more. It got to the point that she was afraid to tell me when she'd had an accident. Poor baby. The straw that broke the camel's back was her final accident on my WHITE couch(NO, I don't know what possessed me to buy a white couch with small children around, but that's water under the bridge). At that point, I was so exhausted with trying to force Eva to use her potty, all I could do was look over at Paul and admit defeat.

So people, my child is not potty trained. In fact, we're not even going to attempt it for a few more months. This was a case of Mommy feeling the pressure because all of Eva's little friends are either in the midst of potty training or have already been well trained. But guys, my kid is different. She's just not ready and I've learned my lesson in trying to force the issue. More than anything, I want her to trust me, and if I'm constantly nagging her to do something she just isn't ready for, the trust bond is broken.

So, here's to another few months of buying diapers for two and being content with that! I mean, I'm not going to have a kid in kindergarten that cannot use the potty on her own...right?!?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, yesterday anyway. Yesterday I celebrated my 26th birthday. I know, I know, most of you are thinking, "Oh to be 26 again." But my 26, I've found, looks much different than the lives of most 26 year olds' in today's society. I'm a mother of two, I've been married for 4 years and done a 3 year stint in the military. Sometimes, when I stop to think about that, it weirds me out a little. Not in a bad way. I'm SOO glad to be a young mother, but I wonder what people think when they see me with my husband and our two kids. I probably don't look 26. Or maybe I do and this is just all nonsense. Whatever the case, I turned 26 yesterday and I still feel very young even if my young doesn't look like other people's young. Does that make sense? Okay, and some of this rambling may be the remnants of the raspberry lemon drop I had last night at dinner (it's been a LONG time). But anywhoo, I hope to always feel young on my birthday.

It was a good birthday too. I made chocolate chip pancakes with Eva for breakfast and we stayed in our pjs until after lunch. Paul surprised me with a dozen red roses when he came home from work and plans to go to dinner at Bucca de Beppo's. Once we arrived at the resturaunt, we were shortly joined by Ben and Kasey and their beautiful kids, Isabelle and Daniel. And they were followed by my brother Ryan and his gorgeous wife, Jacquie.

We all sat and enjoyed the company, perusing our menus and watching the kids. Kasey and I finally decided to split the Chicken Saltimbocca and stuffed mushrooms which were both equally fantastic!

After we had all finished our hefty meals, Paul then pulled out another treat...red velvet cupcakes from the Hokulani Bake Shop in Honolulu. They were delicious and I enjoyed every last crumb! I even had some left over to take home with me (don't tell anyone but I had one for breakfast this morning).

After we all had full bellies, I opened gifts. Paul had already given me my roses, of course and a new Willow Tree figurine which I LOVE. The first present I opened was very special to me. Isabelle had gone to the trouble of picking out a gift for me all by her 4 year old self. And it was perfect. You see, Isabelle and I are kindred spirits. When I look at that little girl, I see myself when I was her age. She's sensitive, intuitive, a little mischievous and cares deeply for the feelings of others even to the point that she will sacrifice her own happiness to make someone else happy. Every time the girls and I come over to play, she tries to give something of hers to Eva simply because she knows Eva would like it. She's artistic and she loves horses. Kasey and I joke often that Isabelle really belongs in my brood of girls, however, I know that the Lord blesses us with children very different from ourselves for a reason. Anyway, Isabelle picked out the sweetest carousel horse ornament for me and it's one I'll cherish forever. I collected carousel horses as a little girl and always stop to stare at them when I see them in a store. Isabelle didn't know that, but she knew that I would love that ornament. Proof that she and I are kindred souls.

Well, that amazing gift was followed by some more amazing gifts. Kasey also gave me an ornament (ornament gifts are her tradition with the people she loves)which is so pretty and will look incredible on my tree. And Ryan and Jacquie gave me two big Yankee candles in "Christmas Cookie" and "Gingerbread House" to help me create that holiday ambiance in my home, which is quite a challenge living in year round 80 degree weather.

We stuck around a good 20 minutes even after we had all signed our checks and left our tips on the table just enjoying the company and conversation. On the way home, I thanked Paul and told him how perfect this birthday was.

When we got home, we put the girls to bed and spent a quiet hour in the living room before we too turned in for the night.

It was a very good birthday.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Early Indoctrination


This one is for you Dad...or Colonel as Eva would call you. Do you remember being in that Cracker Barrel just outside of Orlando over a year ago and seeing this on the racks? You just HAD to get it for her. Well, she finally fits in it, and just in time too. For Saturday was a good day in Florida football. We CREAMED the Seminoles 45 to 15!