Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's a Double Feature!

I made this for dinner.

Mexican [Brown] Rice with Chili, topped w/ shredded cheese. Dang, I'm good!

The Best Think About A Turkey Dinner

Left-Over Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup:

It's soooooooooo delish!!! Even my brother didn't have anything negative to say about it!

Recipe courtesy of Kalyn's Kitchen.

Oh, and I had meant to post a pic the other night of our finished dinner -- turkey, dressing, homemade gravy, brussels sprouts, and sweet potato casserole -- but we got busy eating it! Maybe next time . . .

Friday, December 28, 2007

Look what Brandi & I are cooking up!

Why? Just 'cause!

I don't typically do book reviews

My dear friend, Elaine, gave me A Thousand Splendid Suns on Christmas Eve. It's the new book by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, which I haven't read 'cause I've been a real slacker in keeping up with literature. Anywho, I finished the book yesterday. It was such a moving and eye-opening novel.

Even though I've traveled to the region, I've learned I don't know much about Central Asian culture and religion or the wars that have ravaged that region for generations. This book is set specifically in Afghanistan. I have friends who have traveled there; I know people who are laboring there, even now. I get their weekly or monthly emails and newsletters. But it's so different experiencing the culture from a native's perspective; hearing about what they've had to shoulder over the years.

This book broke down stereotypes that, despite my first-hand cultural knowledge and experience, I didn't realize was there. Reading of the horrors these women endured broke my heart. True, they're fictional characters, but their story is so true. There are people my age who lived through the communist take-over, then their defeat. They celebrated when they witnessed their invaders leaving their home, but then they were heart-broken when the sectarian fighting erupted, pinning them once again in the middle of war. They froze in fear at the sound of rockets and bullets exploding overhead. They lost homes, loved-ones, and the familiarity of their communities. Then the joy of the Taliban crushing the warlords was short-lived, as we all now know. All of this within the past three decades, within my lifetime, and I never fully understood it or knew of it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns has a happy ending; a hopeful ending. And I sure am a sucker for a good story with a happy ending, even though I know life doesn't always turn out that way. But it's not the typical Hollywood happy ending. It may seem like it is at first glance -- people struggling and in pain, enduring one thing after another, hope is in the horizon and then it's crushed again and again, until it finally does come and stays. That's exactly what happens, but what makes it different is it's REAL. These are real people, a real nation, who have been torn apart by war. Yet hope is still alive, as long as they are still alive, despite all the devastation over the years.

I forget how lucky we are here in America, or The West, if you will. It's easy to get pulled into the mundane, everyday life. And it's not bad that our lives here are vastly different from someone's on the other side of the world. It's easy for me to feel guilty, to think there's something I need to be doing. I suppose the best thing I can do, what we all can do, is to remember. And pray. And give thanks for what we have.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It would have been 61 years today

We miss you, Grandpa!

Santa's Elves have joined the writers

We have a pile of boxes by the door that grows a little bit each day. The only problem: none of them are wrapped! Hmm . . . the elves must be on strike. But at least I have loads of time on my hands since the writers' strike has taken all my favorite shows away. *sigh*

Anywho, I'm being called to go play Pictionary w/ the fam. I'm the only one who can draw, apparently.

Friday, December 21, 2007

No rest for the weary

I cannot believe it's almost 2008. I'm ready to put this year behind me, but there are a few things I must do before the next two weeks are over. So here is my Christmas holiday to do list:

1. CLEAN MY ROOM! That is on my list every single break, but it somehow never gets done to the extent that I need it to get done. I'm such a slacker!

2. Mail packages/letters to the UK. Things have been piling up for over a month now and it's high-time to box them up and send them off!

3. Check-in on friends and family I haven't had time to catch up with in weeks.

4. Read one or more of the many books I have lying around. I keep collecting them but don't read them. *sigh* To be in college again and have hours and hours to read, paint, and drink coffee. I'm really excited about one book a friend gave me for Christmas. There's a small problem, though -- it's in SPANISH. She thinks it will help me learn; I'm sure she's right, but still! I avoided taking a third year of Spanish in high school 'cause I didn't want to have to read novels. The crazy thing is I'm kinda up for the challenge. I'll let ya know how it goes.

5. Finish Christmas shopping. That's actually something that needs to get done in the next couple of days. Most of it is done but there are a few key gifts missing.

6. Average grades and complete Report Cards. I know, I know, it's my holiday, but I don't want to have to worry about it when we get back in January. A week after the kids return they start testing and the stress will kick into high gear.

Hmm . . . I know there's more but it eludes me at the moment. I'm thankful to have a few extra days to rest. Originally we were supposed to work today and return Jan 2, but we ended up having today off and don't return until Jan 4. Praise the Lord for that!

I'll leave you with a pic of my cool new ring my friend Blest custom made for me. I guess it's not all that new since I've already had it a month, but I'm still very exciting about it!

I survived!

Words cannot express the joy I feel in having this week over with! I'll post more later but I just wanted to let you all know I survived our Winter Program, our crazed director/principal, our classroom party madness this morning, and our company Christmas party tonight. The latter explains why I'm still awake at such a ghastly hour, but it was a nice end to a stressful week -- eating, dancing and laughing with friends; sitting outside in the middle of downtown Houston with not a care in the world (don't worry, I wasn't alone); and just taking time to enjoy life. Not to mention, being out on a SCHOOL NIGHT!
Thank you, Jesus, for carrying me through, not only this crazy week, but this difficult year . . .

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

Typing works out the cramp in my hand after squeezing bottles of glitter glue for over an hour. Here's a snapshot of my final product (from my MacBook camera, of course, so a mirror image yet again!):

Even though all 22 stockings are not pictured, they're all drying, ready to be stuffed. I really hope the Dollar Tree glitter glue dries and stays on until Thursday. I decorated the first stocking an hour and a half ago and it's still a bit gummy. I may be crying this time tomorrow, if not. Seriously. I'm barely able to keep my emotions in check these days.

Anywho, I had to dig around in our Harry Potter closet to find the stocking stuffers. Thanks to the Marines' Toys for Tots, all my kids get an awesome book. I also stocked up on pencils and erasers for them.

Once it's divided up, I know it won't look like much but they'll love it, nonetheless. I wish I could do more, though.

"I wish I could do more." Hmm . . . that's probably been the theme for the year, if not my LIFE, but that'll just lead to an emotional vomit post that prob doesn't need to exist. Perhaps I should refrain from posting until the stress has passed . . .

Note to Self

Remember to breathe.

And eat.

And sleep.

Don't forget the words to "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" tomorrow night.

Don't forget the steps you made up and taught.

Don't fuss at the kids for responding to chaos with chaos.

Stop procrastinating and GET TO WORK!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ten years later

I can't believe it's been nearly ten years since I got my very first passport. For a year now I've been putting off renewing it, but the time is finally here. So with much anticipation and a bit of trepidation I've finally started the process of moving overseas next year. So here's step one:

Once it arrives I'll contact King's Arms and then work on obtaining a visa.


What's even scarier is how quickly ten years passes. I think I read somewhere I'll get my old passport back, but I had to take a few snapshots just in case.

Here's the first page with stamps from France and South Korea:

This is the visa for my entry into China back in '99:

And here's my way cool visa into Uzbekistan in '01:

There are also many entry and exit stamps from the UK which aren't as cool as the previous two, so I won't bother with posting a pic. But once I get my visa, rest assured that I'll be posting a pic of that one!

Wow, what a decade I've had!

It's 1 p.m.

and I've just realized I never took my thermos out of my bag, yet alone opened and poured it's contents. No wonder my head hurts -- I haven't had my coffee today!!!

And I make a ROCKIN' holiday coffee! I add enough Hazelnut creamer to make it about a shade darker than me (which is a lot of creamer, btw). But it's usually not sweet enough for my tastes so I add about 4-5 scoops of Stevia (which is super concentrated, so a scoop is really about an eighth of a teaspoon; and it's in my Starbucks thermos, not a mug). Then I add about a cap full of peppermint extract and a few dashes of fresh ground cinnamon. MMMmmmmmmm . . .

Too bad the weather is still not cold enough to feel like late fall/early winter, so I can't fully enjoy it.

Anywho, my thermos is the best $25 I've ever spent. Nearly 7 hours later my coffee is STILL hot!

Monday, December 03, 2007

I'm being stalked by Chuck Norris

Or so it seems. I keep hearing about him EVERYWHERE. It's quite spooky. This is my latest run-in:

Quote of the Week

Sure, it's only Monday, but this is a great one!

During carpet time my ESL student, Alex, said his mom has a boyfriend. I said, "But your mom is married to your dad, right?"

He thinks about it and says, "Yeah, she has a husband. What about you?"

"No, I don't have a husband. Or a boyfriend."

"Do you have a house?"


"Do you have a car?"


"Do you have a tree?"


"Do you have a t.v.?"


"Entonces,* you have a family!"

:D :D :D

*Entonces is Spanish for "then."
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