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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm with Rose!

I just finished watching the season premiere of Lost. So good!!! As usual, we only have bits and pieces of the answers we all crave. But after three seasons, we're all used to it.

I'm not too concerned about who the Oceanic Six are or what their big secret is (sure I want to know! but it can wait for now). The most significant thing for me was Rose's statement to her husband when the line was drawn: "I'm not going anywhere with that man!" Before that I was torn between Jack and John. It would be easy to go with John in honor of Charlie's sacrifice, but John's too much of a weirdo. Rose has been the one with the most keen discernment throughout the whole series, so if she sees it too, I'm with her! In fact, she felt such a strong conviction that she chose to remain in the group wanting to leave the island despite the fact that her cancer would return and she would soon die. Now that ought to mean something!

Thankful Thursdays!

1. God's grace.

2. This one's for you, J: Carl has a girlfriend and it's NOT ME!!!

3. God's provision! Yesterday I signed the paper stating how much money I will receive as an incentive pay from the school district for working with low-income, at-risk students . . . it's over two times of what I was hoping for!!! Praise the Lord!

4. LOST 2 hour season premiere TONIGHT!

5. The World Mandate main session teachings are available for download here.

6. Last night I heard my dad sign a contract for the sale of my childhood home. I'm thankful that the money made will help my parents pay off debt, but it's bittersweet. Granted, I probably haven't stepped foot in the house this decade, but still!

7. I ate the most delicious german chocolate cake left from my dad's birthday . . . made with an all natural sweetener and whole wheat flour. It's AMAZING!

8. Pistachios. I'm addicted to them now. It's a nice break from plain peanuts and mixed nuts. Thanks, Debs!

9. My new glasses and contacts. And my new optometrist -- he's the BEST optometrist I have EVER had! Seriously!

10. No more working weekends after this Saturday. YAY for having all my weekends back and sleeping on on Saturdays!!!!

11. After today, January will finally be over! I feared it would never end . . .

12. The sound of 5 year-olds learning to READ and knowing that I'M the one who taught them!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's On My Mind Wednesdays

1.  Ok, I know it's technically still Tuesday, but in my mind it's already Wednesday!

2.  Somehow, in the craziness of my life I forgot - FORGOT - that Lost premieres Thursday!  The same day the school district's superintendent visits our school (yeah, my room is still a mess).  That's also the night I'm required to go to some board member celebration, which will probably be as exciting as it sounds (that's sarcasm, btw).  Praise the Lord for DVR.

3.  Speaking of forgetting, I left my computer charger at school. 

4.  I've been eating an obscenely large amounts of carbs lately.  But after next Wednesday I won't be eating anymore for forty long days.  Nevertheless, I still need to watch it!

5.  I've realized it's a gift I have, to be able to suck it up and work in stressful situations with people I don't really like.  Yes, I know I'm a Christian and should love everybody.  Blah blah blah!  You try working with people who suck the life out of you on an HOURLY basis!

6.  Hmm . . . it appears I may be in a crabby mood . . .

7.  Sadly, I have grown dependent on my MacBook automatic spell check feature.  So please excuse any typos and misspellings.

8.  I fear I may be in a time loop and am being forced to relive January 2008 for all eternity . . . This month JUST WON'T END!

9.  I'm tired.

10.  I may actually go to bed early tonight . . .


This is about the song, not the video. So just close your eyes and listen . . .

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm stuffed!

I bought the ingredients to make this last week. Thankfully the italian sausage lasted uncooked until this evening!

It's my version of a restaurant quality pasta dish recipe Brandi has. Don't get me wrong, she'd happily give me the recipe; I just couldn't be bothered to call and transcribe it!

The main ingredients consist of italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, garlic, spinach and angel hair pasta. I basically threw it all together with some spices and I think it turned out rather close to the original. I'll have to get the real recipe one of these days and see how it compares.

Our family could DEFINITELY open a restaurant. Between Brandi and I we could cook or bake anything! And Bird will be the grill master. My dad and brother, Sha, will be the taste testers. Mom will keep the kitchen tidy, and the kids will bus the tables. Sounds like a plan to me!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New Glasses

I got new contacts too, but no use taking a pic w/ those on -- it's just me w/o glasses!

Sunday Cookin'

Every Sunday afternoon/evening I cook food for the upcoming week. Today I tried out two new recipes: Jana's Chicken Chili and my own invented Baked Ziti. Both turned out fabulous!

Here's the ziti:

I know it's not a pretty presentation, but it was a yummy dish! All I did was cook a box of ziti (I actually think it was penne; and I used whole wheat pasta), and mixed it with a container of ricotta, about 4 cups of mozzarella, an egg, and 2/3 of a can of spaghetti sauce. Then I dumped it in a 9x13 inch pan, poured the rest of the spaghetti sauce over top and sprinkled it with grated parmesan cheese. I baked it for about 30 min at 375.

I followed Jana's chili recipe rather closely. I don't use taco seasoning packets, so I just added my own usual spices -- salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and whatever else catches my fancy. I also added a diced fresh jalapeno. It probably could have used two. It was very tomato-y but still tasted great. Here's the final product:

I had hoped to make another invented past dish, but ran out of time. Maybe later in the week.

Anywho, just thought I'd share what's cookin.'

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why is it called "Cloverfield?"

Yesterday was Dad's birthday, so we celebrated with dinner out and a movie. I took him to see Cloverfield. All I knew about the movie was that some people loved it, some people hated it and it was a film about NY being destroyed. I had completely forgotten about the camera action/movement until we were watching the opening scene. Oops!

It was at that point I remember briefly reading that people suffered motion sickness because of the constant movement. I'm not one to get easily ill, but because we had just had a HUGE dinner and it was in my head that even some of my guy friends got sick, I was a bit worried. I did ok, actually. A bit queasy but not bad. However, the girl down the row from us had to be helped out of the theater by her boyfriend. She was practically in tears. And some other people left the theater halfway through the movie. We all did have headaches by the end, though.

I'd like to see it again so I can catch some of the things I missed while being distracted by the audience, the constant camera movement, the slightly sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and the dull ache in my head.


I'm a sucker for a good story. The way J.J. Abrams and crew framed the story with Rob and Beth's day at Coney Island was brilliant. And Rob and his friends literally risking their lives to go back for Beth was heroic, and maybe would have had a greater emotional impact (on me) if it weren't for the distractions. Even though I was captivated by the story I didn't get very emotionally involved. The camcorder feel made it more real but at the same time caused me to distance myself from the character's struggles.

And the camcorder was like the little engine that could! It not only survived the initial attach, it survived being dropped numerous times (like when the parasite things attacked), it survived a helicopter crash, it survived Hud being half-eaten by the creature, it survived numerous bombings, AND it survived being buried under a bridge at the end. I need to find out what brand that sucker is and invest in one!

The thing I found least believable was not the probability of a giant monster attaching NY and playing ball with the Statue of Liberty's head. Nor was it that venom from the creature's parasites' bites causing one's torso to explode. It wasn't even that someone would adamantly run into uncertain danger to find the girl he loves (that was sweet, actually). What bothered me the most was that when they did find Beth, skewered by an iron rod, they pulled her free and she didn't bleed to death! Then, she proceeded to run with them through the streets of Manhattan like she wasn't half-dead just minutes before! I know adrenaline can make you do some crazy things, but still!

I read up on the movie online and there's speculation that the creature might have survived. That's possible, 'cause like the camcorder, it just wouldn't die! But since the camcorder was recovered from "the site formerly known as Central Park," then it must've moved on. Otherwise, how else would the camcorder have been found? That creature (and its parasites) seemed to be everywhere! There's no way someone could sneak into the attack zone and sift through rubble to recover a camcorder they didn't even know was there!

I also read that there might me a sequel. Not going the route that the creature is still alive, but the unfolding of events through another's eyes. That will be cool, actually. And next time I'll be more prepared -- no big dinners beforehand and anti-nausea medicine!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thankful Thursdays!

1. It was only a 4 day week! Granted, it felt like the longest 4 days of my life, but still . . .

2. All testing and make-up testing is OVER. Praise the Lord!!!!

3. I love the Saviour King, Hillsong Live album I just bought over itunes. We did a few of the songs at Mandate and they're AMAZING!

4. The new episode of Chuck I'm watching!

5. My dad just signed a new customer and made managing director in less than 2 months of being in business! (you can email for details, if ya want)

6. Speaking of Dad, tomorrow is his 64th birthday. How did we all get so old???

7. Last weekend I received my package from England with my belated Christmas pressies -- an awesome bracelet and a new money purse, both from Accessorize. My favorite sweets too, Percy Pigs, but I can't eat too many of those.

8. I keep receiving unexpected money from work! There's more coming my way next week, but I have a HUGE hurdle to jump first.

9. I'm off work Saturday!

10. January is almost over. This has been the longest month, EVER! Does anyone else feel that way???

11. Debs and I had a blast together over the weekend! I hope we can do it again soon . . . either here in TX or over in England!

I just have to say


Thankfully, I got home in time to watch the second episode, but I missed the first. So sad!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Turnip Soup

As I speak, there's a large pot of Jana's Hearty Minestrone simmering that contains an obscenely large amount of veggies, particularly turnips.

I'm worried. Sure it smells good, but it's a whole lotta soup with a whole lotta veggies. This is what the big pot looked like before I added the 6+ cups of chicken broth:

I love veggies, but still! However, it's received positive reviews, so I'll just have to wait and see. I'll let ya know how it turns out!


It was yummy! Different from what I'm used to, but yummy, nonetheless. I'll definitely make it again. But not anytime soon 'cause there's TONS of leftovers!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Um. Wow.

30 hours into my weekend and that's all I can say.


Debs and I are having a blast together and it's cool showing her around Waco and filling her in on Antioch.

World Mandate has been phenomenal so far, and Debs has patiently endured being dragged all around the building in search of people and being forced to stay for the final (and late - look of the time, for goodness sake!) bits of wild worship. Sorry, Debs!

It's been 8 years since I've attended my first WM. Unbelievable. I see so many familiar faces I forget I'm not in college anymore. Then I see the current college students and can't help but wonder at how young they've suddenly all become. But it's amazing to worship alongside them. And it's even more amazing to get prayed over and not have a million overwhelming issues brought up. I'm not saying I'm perfect, just more whole than I was 8 years ago. What a great thing!

The themes for the weekend, both corporate and personal, have been fire and the fatherless. Not necessarily the two together, though. And I would further explain but I'm thinking sleep is very much needed at the moment. So you'll just have to stay tuned . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thankful Thursdays!

1. It's Thursday.

2. Tomorrow is Friday.


4. Debs is coming tonight!

5. That means dinner at Taqueria Del Sol!

6. World Mandate is TOMORROW! (it's not too late to come!)

7. That means I get to see lots of old friends from all over the world!

8. Only two days of testing left (and the make-up days).

9. Incentive pay from HISD coming my way.

10. God loves me even though I'm sometimes an insensitive brat.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It Breaks My Heart

I don't work in the nicest of neighborhoods. For those of you who know Houston, I work a few blocks southeast of Sharpstown - not an area you want to find yourself in alone at night. Southwest Houston is constantly in the news - people are shot, stabbed, robbed, etc. And my school is rather sizable, so every time I hear something on t.v. about the area I listen for the names of the streets and wonder if it affects any of the students I know.

Unfortunately, last week it did.

In the class I'm testing this week, there's a little boy, Jason, whose father was stabbed to death. Jason is such a sweet boy. He's very shy and quiet, even moreso now. His father was the one who brought him to school every morning and picked him up every afternoon. His father was the one who sat down and did homework with him, who encouraged him to learn, who helped him believe he could learn. His father was the one who paid for all the field trips and attended all the extra-curricular activities. Now his father is gone.

I don't claim to have known Jason's father personally, and I'm certain I couldn't point him out in a line up. But I'm still grieved that this family is left without their father, their rock. And the saddest thing is Jason is so young, it's possible he may not remember his father 15 years from now. And given the statistics, it's probable his life will take a drastically different direction now that his father was murdered.

So I pray that Jason and his two brothers keep their father's memory alive by pursuing their education like he wanted them to. And I pray that they find another Father who lavishes His love, acceptance, and encouragement upon them every single moment of their lives . . .

Day 2

We survived the first day, now on to the next! Today's tasks include word reading and recognition. Not all my students read, so I'm a bit nervous about that. We also have Family Night tonight, so that means an extra long day. Wahoo. I might get yelled at cause I don't expect many of my kids to show up and they are having difficulty learning the Star-Spangled Banner's complex words, but at this point I don't really care! Plus, many of the poor babies are sick (I am, as well). So I'm praying for grace to press on through the day without turning into the ugly person it's so easy to become in this place.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Say a little prayer for us!

In two minutes I have to head out the door to collect my kids. In a little over an hour they'll be starting their Stanford 10 exam, a national type of intelligence exam. Please pray for peace for both students and teachers. And patience. LOTS of patience. And that no one throws up on their test. That wouldn't be fun.

Thanks y'all!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Morning Funnies

So I'm at work. On a Saturday. Yipee.

But the funniest thing just happened. We did a short group writing. It was predominately girls speaking up, so here's what they had to say:

I have a dog.
Her name is Sophie.
She likes to play.
She plays with girls.
She does not like boys.

I thought it was cute, but didn't know how the 11 boys in the room felt about it.

One boy, Noel, just finished his story and brought it over for me to staple. He had the cutest dog drawn on the back cover -- it took up the whole page and it had an over-sized head. On the inside he changed the story up a bit:

I have a dog.
Her name is Sophie.
She likes to play.
She plays with boy.
She does not like girl.

How clever is he?! Then he drew a picture of a little boy and a dog with a frisbee in its mouth!

After I started typing this another student finished and brought me her book. She kept the story the same but decided to add captions to her illustrations. For the last sentence, "She does not like boys," she drew a little dog and a boy. The boy is asking the dog, "Can I play with you?" And the dog responds, "No." (But she actually spelled it n-o-w -- she's only 6, for crying out loud!)

Unfortunately, the two star students aren't my regular students. And quite frankly they're so smart, I don't really know why they're in Saturday Tutorials. Oh well. They gave me a laugh.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thankful Thursdays!

How is it already Thursday???

I need to breakaway from my moaning to remember things I'm thankful for.

1. This song.

2. My new passport. It's so pretty!

3. World Mandate next week! (You should come!)

4. The old friends from all over the WORLD that will be attending World Mandate.

5. Running into old friends at a new church in a different city (does that make sense? Oh well, it does to me!).

6. Meeting Debs next week when she comes to stay with me and go to World Mandate!

7. The writers' strike: I have extra time to read and rest!

8. The students I have that actually fall asleep during rest time.

9. Good books.

10. My bed. I wish I was sleeping in it right now . . .

What a Wacky Week

I've been in a funky mood this week. I'm fed up with the ignorant people around me and I have no patience for them 'cause I've also been fighting a cold. Yeah, I was only back with my kiddos for two days before I felt my throat tightening up. Anywho, I was in a meeting yesterday and it was driving me crazy because people were asking some ridiculous questions. I was already annoyed that I had meetings scheduled every day this week except Friday, but I'll probably have to work late Friday because we start testing Monday and then have Family Night Tuesday night. But that meeting was rough. I kept remembering an old saying my previous director would tell me: "Common Sense ain't common." Ain't that the truth!

I'm ready for my stint at this job to be over. There are so many demands and they all happen at the same time. This week alone we had a major project to hand out, report cards due, a family night to plan and training for the national exam we administer next week. Friday we give out the report cards and the kids get out at 1 but we have to stay and work. Monday we start testing and I already mentioned Tuesday is a late night.

I almost feel bad 'cause I've basically checked out already. I don't talk much in meetings and I'm only doing what I need to do when I need to do it. I feel bad because I feel like I've left my friend Melissa out to dry. I'm usually the one always staying and working with her, helping her out. But this week, I don't really care. How horrible is that! But she does take too much on. She doesn't know how to say no and I can't live with myself if I left her to do everything alone. But this week I've been in my own little world. I think because I'm ready for a change. It probably doesn't help that I received my new passport in the mail. So yeah, I'm impatient for change.

What's funny is I'm not a big fan of change. But I know it's necessary. And this year, I NEED a change.

And I still have four months left! Aaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Told ya so!

Here's the stack of books by my bed:

I'm bummed that I haven't been able to read since SATURDAY! My holidays spoiled me!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Add it to the stack!

My latest literary acquirements to add to the stack of books I fear I may never get read:

I'm halfway through Enna Burning and LOVE IT! Hale's first book from this 3-book series, The Goose Girl, was also phenomenal. It's based off of a two-page Brothers Grimm fairy tail. I actually also bought that book to send my friend, Kelley, in England.

As a late birthday present I used a gift card to buy Hale's latest book, Book of a Thousand Days. It's another retold Brothers Grimm classic.

I did get a grown-up novel: The Kite Runner. I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns, even though I heard The Kite Runner is better, so I have high hopes for this one.

My final acquisition is The Tree: Wonder of the Natural World, pictured here in Spanish. I bought the English version, which I found in the bargain books section and only paid $8! It contains beautiful pictures that I would love to paint. Someday, I hope.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Tonight's Dish

Easy Fried Rice

This recipe is a variation of one I found at All Recipes. It's hard for me to write up a recipe since I throw things together and season as I see fit, never measuring. But I'll give it a try!

* 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
* 2 T vegetable oil
* 2 T soy sauce
* 3 green onions and tops, chopped
* 1 carrot, julienned (I left this out)
* 1/2-1 cup frozen peas or snap peas
* 1/2-1 cup fresh cut string beans (I usually boil these a bit first)
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 4 cups cold cooked rice (I used brown rice)
* 3 tablespoons Teriyaki Sauce (I used an organic one w/ garlic & ginger)
* Salt, pepper and garlic to taste.


1. Cut chicken into thin strips.
2. Heat oil in hot wok or large skillet over high heat. Add chicken, green onions , carrot (again, I didn't do carrot), and soy sauce. Stir-fry 3 minutes, or until chicken is nearly cooked. (I always add seasonings in this step and may had more later, after the rice has been added to the meat.)
3. Add veggies (I use peas and/or string beans). Cook 3-5 minutes more.
4. Add eggs; cook, stirring gently, until firm. Stir in rice and cook until heated through.
5. Add teriyaki sauce; remove pan from heat. Stir mixture until well mixed. Serve immediately.

I know it's not true fried rice, but it's still yummy. Hope you enjoy!

New Look!

Yes, it's true, I decided to change things up a bit here. Okay, maybe A LOT since I even changed the blog's name and all. I kept the addy the same cause I didn't want to change it and suddenly nobody's able to link over (Perhaps Bird, you can help me work that out?) I got bored with the old and impatiently wanted a fresh start, however I didn't want to lose all my old posts. Anywho, so far so good. What do u think???

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hello, 2008!

Around here we were all very mature and grown-up while ringing in the New Year.
First we played Monopoly with the Speed Die.
Then we set off firecrackers and let the kiddos run around with fire (sparklers, actually).
Later we played Hide-N-Go Seek outside in the dark w/ walkie-talkies and no flashlights. The fireworks lighting up the sky added to the spooky ambiance. My brother hiding in the shadows and on top of the roof was rather freaky.
By the time Midnight came around we were all tired and the sounds of fireworks going off woke up my niece and freaked her out. So it wasn't a very climatic countdown. But we enjoyed the light show outside, nevertheless.

May God bless you and keep you in this New Year!
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