Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday - Peace Out Until Easter!

Fat Tuesday - oh one of my favorites! Your last chance to enjoy all you are giving up for Lent. For me, it is, as stated before, anything that has really distracted me from spending time with the Man upstairs. To be specific, blogs and facebook. Andy and I also decided to sacrifice our evening glass of wine and I am definitely going to miss it. I love how wine makes me relax and de-stress, I feel so chill and like everything I was worried about will be alright when I drink wine...I am hoping that instead of counting on that nightly glass, my committment to a conversation with Christ each night will be a much better replacement.

I am also going to miss chocolate - another indulgence I seem unable to live without. SO, in light of "Fat Tuesday," Andy and I picked a few foods we love to induldge in combined with what was in the freezer so to save some money and had our own little Fat Tuesday last hoorah before Lent meal. He grilled pork chops and I made decedantly wonderfully creamy mashed potatoes (my long-time weakness), creamed corn (I wouldn't touch it with a 10 ft. pole but it is Andy's fave), garlic green beans with almonds (another indulgence of mine...luckily not too unhealthy), and a FEW glasses of wine. I then indulged in dark chocolate covered almonds and more wine while watching good ol' George W on Oprah ha! Random but Andy actually wanted to watch...the only time he has EVER been interested in Oprah except this time it was clearly to see W.

I am so looking forward to the sacrifice and little bit of uncomfortable change that comes with these next 40 days! I will MISS blog and facebook but Easter will be here soon! The picture above I thought was a beautiful depiction of what we must focus on for Lent - the sacrifice our Lord made for us and a reflection of all the nails we drive into him as he hangs on the cross. What am I doing to crucify Christ? When am I NOT BEING Him to those I meet or already know? When am I not being His love to other people, His people, and then in turn, hurting Him. It reminds me of that Casting Crowns song,

"If we are the body, why aren't His arms reaching, why aren't His hands healing, why aren't His words teaching? If we are the body, why aren't His feet going, why is His love not showing them there is a way - Jesus is the way..."

Let us pray for one another as we grow closer in relationship to and in appreciation of the one who loves us and carries our cross daily for us. Let us work towards emulating Christ and letting Him remain in us as we are His body and His love to all we encounter! How cool and happier our world would be if we could all do this! See you in 40 days!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pre-Lenten Reflection

My faith has been something I have really been thinking about lately. With life throwing so many crazy twists and turns and hardly ever lending itself to a "slow down," I find myself lately only turning to God in complete desperation. When traffic is backed up and I am still 30 min. away from school but have 10 to get there I call on a miracle from God paired with my reckless Dallas driver weaving and speeding. On weekdays when I face bedtime with utter exhaustion wondering if I will be able to make it through the rest of the week, I often call on His grace and yet another miracle to maximize my sleep when I hit the sack at 11 and plan on rising at 4 to hit the gym. As I approached TAKS Writing for the first time with my 22 4th graders and could name a handful that I was not certain would pass, I prayed in, yet again, in desperation, that God will somehow help them to know what they need to even though it seems like they haven't retained anything I have taught - but that still they would pass and help me to not be the reason my school drops below Exemplary Status. AGHH I am not used to TAKS being so early...

I pray FOR other people, asking God to give them the grace they need to endure trials, and offer them up to Christ that they may enjoy the friendship with Him that I so desire. I pray for Andy and our marriage that it continue to grow closer in mirroring the "marriage" of Christ and the love He has for His Church and that he is continuously assured as the super wonderful husband and father/provider for our family that he is but also that his faith may continue to grow as the spiritual head of our family. Still making requests though...

As I write all this I am reminded of something I was told in high school, "God is not Santa Claus." Probably stated by Fr. John Dick, a wonderful priest who always got straight to the point on things, but also spoke so much truth to me. How often am I asking God for miracles as opposed to spending time praising Him, and nurturing that friendship that He so desires to share with me?

As oftentimes we do experience in life, I find myself more in that spiritual valley than on the mountaintop with God these days. Not to say that He isn't here but that, I don't even know what it is, I am just craving and wanting more. I also am struggling with feeling like I am not perfect enough at ANYTHING I do. I have a very controlling and perfectionist personality, most know, and because of this, never seem to be satisfied. This transfers to my "jobs" and since the birth of our first daughter, Eleanor, have had a very hard time being "perfect" at my teaching job along with my job as a wife and mother. Thus leading to the ultimate predicament, balancing and being perfect at all three jobs. How in the world do I devote the time I normally would before becoming a mom to my job, staying up here until after dark and getting here early, while also being the mom I am called to be - spending the time with Eleanor I live my days for and caring for her as she needs, ALONG with being there for Andy to chat about whatever is on our minds, cook, and clean the house just to mention a few of the duties of a wife?! The answer is, I don't do it perfectly. I do it as God wants me to and with His grace do it imperfectly with Him perfecting it through me.

Fr. Alfonse, one of our FAVORITE and dearest priests along with Eleanor's "Baptist" if you will (he baptized her...) was once again God's most beautiful instrument and allowed God to speak to me (and I am sure many others but I like to think He was talking to me) about my perfectionist tendencies this past Sunday in his homily. A version of it is seen in his daily blog post if you would like to read: but the gist that I took away from it was that I did not need to worry about having the perfect body (I don't think I will ever have my pre-baby body again...I am trying to grasp the UN-importance of that when my mind and the world around me is telling me that it IS I said, working on accepting that...pray for me!), the perfectly clean house, perfectly folded laundry, the perfect amount of money in savings so we can buy the perfect house and have perfect furniture, the perfect job and handling every situation/planning every lesson perfectly, the perfect marriage, perfect clothes for Eleanor with the perfect matching bow for every outfit, raising a perfect and polite who eats everything perfectly healthy and loves it child...the list goes on.

These are all areas of my life I try to perfect and DON'T necessarily let God perfect in his own way. Fr. Alfonse reminded me so much of what I forget to think about on a daily basis. There is nothing perfect except eternity with Christ. I should be longing for that every day and should think of Him before ANYTHING else. There it is - His revelation to me! I can't live without Him and my prayer must constantly be that He remain in me and I in Him. I can't function the way He created me to be (this perfectionist I for some reason am) without Him working through me, without His plan and desires for me being followed. How can I have Him constantly by my side, guiding me? "Seek ye first, the Kingdom of God"

I am so thankful God put this on my heart as I have been pining over what to sacrifice for Him for Lent. I LOVE that Lent is late this year as I always feel like after the 1st of the year it comes so quickly and I have not prepared through prayer, what God would like me to accomplish during it. I LOVE that Lent is our wonderful reminder as Catholics, as what our lives should always be - a living sacrifice for Christ, a tiny meaningless (compared to what He endured) offering in repayment for His life He offered for us on the cross. I am SO excited for Lent this year as, stated above, I really need to re-focus my life on Him.

Andy and I have quite a few decisions ahead of us, buying a house, determining how I could someday stay home with our children, and determining, with God's guidance, when we will welcome the next member of our family (I don't mean a pet...hopefully that will never happen...I mean a child ha in case there was confusion). I don't know if it is just that I am feeling like my little baby is so grown up considering she will be 1 in a couple months that I have this desire for another child (infant) or what it is but I do have that desire even though everything else is telling me that is not a good idea right now...we will see, like I said, prayer is needed. OR maybe, like He did for Eleanor, God will just make the decision for me and that would be welcomed as well! All these decisions paired with a desire for that friendship with Christ and His guidance are why I am SO EXCITED to take some time and really focus on HIM this Lent.

I read a blog a friend referred me to and it REALLY made me think about and decide upon what I am going to do for Lent. There are a few things Andy and I are doing together as a family but I have decided that I need to clear distractions that I am putting before me in place of spending time with Christ. I also find that Andy is often kind of neglected by my "bug staring at a blue light" eye lock on the computer once Eleanor goes down. I often go straight to online shopping/bargain hunting, blog reading/writing, and of course, facebook stalking. I don't spend time with him talking like we should and certainly don't leave time to have a conversation with God.

SO I am copying the girl in this blog: and I am not going to get on the blog or facebook until EASTER! AH this is going to be tough but clearly not and I am prayerful that the fruits that come from this sacrifice will be WAY better than the quick fix I get from posting pictures or reading other people's blogs, etc. I am going to spend that time with what matters most, Christ, and my family. I know I will want to be recording things so I have decided I will handwrite anything I might like to put in the blog and then after Easter, will type those reflections up for either a long or various separate entries. My in-laws and grandparents and sisters will miss the pictures of Eleanor so in that case, will email if need be and then will of course have a large album of pictures missed over Lent. If not, we will live! I MUST not give up on this and REALLY want to use this break from distractions for what it is, a break and a "vacation" if you will, with Christ. We really have a lot of catching up to do :)

Praying that anyone reading will also make the decision to clear their lives of distractions, whatever they may be, and focus this next 40 days on the only perfect thing in life, the only person who will guarantee utter happiness, our Lord and Savior! Let us remind ourselves to, as Fr. Alfonse reminded me in his blog, to allow Christ to remain in us and be one with us. Even more, let us pray that this Lent carries on afterwards as well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Independence Day

Last night was the first meal Eleanor fed entirely to herself. We are still planning on feeding her most of her meals run through the food processor still but last night, decided to do otherwise. I make her "Turkey Apple Loaf/Sticks" from an awesome baby food making website:

The recipe is in the link but you know me, I of course altered it...I also meant to add some sort of greens and will in the future (processed spinach/peas/green beans/broccoli...whatever I have on hand)

The recipe came out pretty wet and they say to add more breadcrumbs but I really just put enough to make it stick together...she doesn't need any extra carbs...she gets plenty from eating bread and her fave, pancakes.

Here is what I used:

- 1 lb. ground turkey breast

- 1/4 cup applesauce (pureed cooked apples or you can use natural organic applesauce)

- 1/2 cup (or in my case two beaba baby food sorage "pods") of cooked pureed butternut squash

- 2 egg YOLKS beaten (no egg whites until they are one)

- 2 pieces of whole wheat bread food processed to bread crumbs (use the heels, perfect way to not waste them since I HATE eating them on a sandwich..

- 1/2 handful of rolled oats

- 1/4 c. processed rolled oats

- pinch of dried basil

- pinch of garlic salt (I didn't have any powder though powder would have been better)

Use your hands and get dirty mixing all this together in a bowl. Then, pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet (with sides just in case there is any grease dripping but it will be very little since it is turkey) and make it about as thick as half your thumb (doesn't have to fill the cookie sheet). Bake at 350 degrees until cooked thoroughly (about 20 - 30 min depending on the thickness).

When cooled, slice into strips and either serve that way for older toddlers or cut into small pieces for finger food babies :)

It isn't exactly appealing to the eyes but Eleanor liked it and it is a good way to get foods in they can't eat without you serving it to them - especially when they like feeding themselves :)

Another good finger food Eleanor has enjoyed is rice. It is a good size and is soft enough that she can smoosh it with her gums! A dear friend shared the recipe with me and if you love Chipotle's rice, you will LOVE this one! PS, when I did my shopping, I was in a rush and grabbed fresh parsley instead of cilantro. Super bummed, I used the parsley in place of the cilantro and it brough a very fresh flavor to the rice. I served it with tilapia and everyone enjoyed! Here is the recipe if you want it:

So Eleanor's meal consisted of Turkey loaf cut into little pieces, whole cooked peas, and parsley lime rice. I will add that after I made such a big deal out of independent eating, I did remember that Andy fed her some yogurt afterwards for dessert...oops...and we still have to feed that little stinker her bottle...she never has had the desire to hold it...would rather scratch her head or the person's face who is feeding her.