Monday, April 30, 2007

Frijoles Negros

This recipe is for Eryn. It's my version of Cuban black beans and rice.

2 16 oz. cans of Goya black beans
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 finely chopped onion
1/3 finely chopped green pepper (optional)
1 garlic clove finely chopped
3 tbs red wine vinegar (necessary)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin (also necessary)
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium size sauce pan. Cook onions, green peppers and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes until onions are soft and clear. Add black beans and the remaining ingredients. Lower heat. Mix black beans well and let them simmer for about ten minutes or until the rice is finished cooking in your other pot :D

Serve it over white rice. Sometimes we eat this as a complete meal. Other times I will also make some sort of Cuban style meat to go with it. As you will find out from this recipe, Cuban food is not spicy at all. It is salty. Cumin is the main spice that you use in many of their dishes. Bon apetit or shall I say "buen provecho".

Google Reader

Enoch introduced me to the wonderful world of Google reader. It's great. All you do is plug in everyone's RSS feed and you're set to go! There's nothing too fancy looking about it, but it allows you to keep up with as many blogs as you can handle, without having to click through links one by one and without cluttering your own blog space. On the left they have all of your subscriptions. The newly updated ones are bold and have the number of new posts in parentheses. When you click on the blog you want to read, it pops up on the right. So if you want to, you can read all the updates without leaving the one website. Of course you can play around with things, change them up if you want. You can put a star on posts that you want to keep handy or share others that are cool. Check it out today, it's as easy as!

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Last Thursday we drove to Philadelphia for that boy's funeral. We went up and back in one day. The kids are still kind of recovering. The funeral was not nearly as upsetting as I thought it would be, given the circumstances. Yes, there were tears shed and yes, there was sorrow, but among everyone there was an underlying sense of peace. Even among the parents. I think it was a relief to know that Lucas had made a profession of faith in Christ and his life proved it. It's sad to realize that we won't get to enjoy him on earth, but right now he's with the Lord and that is wonderful.

This coming Tuesday we'll be driving 9 hours to Michigan. Enoch's cousin is graduating from Medical School. We're both a little apprehensive about it. This will be our first big car trip with the three kiddos. I'm taking Tabitha to the doctor's tomorrow to see if she has an ear infection. She's had a fever two nights in a row and was complaining about her ear today. So, it is quite possible that we won't even make it up there. So much for the hand washing habit!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Newberry Challenge

I'm planning on participating in this Newberry book challenge. The idea is to read six Newberry books between May 15 until the end of the year. I always plan on starting things, so I'll let you know if I actually finish this one or not! Anyway, go here to read about the challenge and sign yourself up.

Here's my list of books:

1. 1940: Daniel Boone by James Daugherty (Viking)
2. 1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (Harper)
3. 1981: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (Crowell)
4. 1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum)
5. 1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field (Macmillan)
6. 1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (Viking)

I also want to read Rules by Cynthia Lord. It wasn't a Newberry medal winner, but an honor book.

The Writing on the Wall

The other day Seth wrote on the wall for the first time. That is a serious offense in our house. I don't think he'll be doing that any time soon again! Another serious offense is lying. Tabitha is not learning her lesson as easily!

Anyway, he wrote with chalk, so it was pretty easy to clean up. The two times that Tabitha colored on our colorless wall it was with crayon. After trying every cleaner in the house and failing I did some research. It came off almost effortlessly with this little trick. Take a damp rag and dip it in baking soda. Rub away and it's gone! (I believe that's the secret ingredient in the Magic Eraser that they sell).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sad News

About an hour ago I received a phone call from a friend of mine. Her first words were, "Michelle, I have some sad news for you." I was sure I knew what that news was. Something I'm kind of expecting to here at any time. You see, the woman who called me is from the church I went to in Philadelphia. Her husband is in his late 80's. They've been married for over 60 years. Over the past few years his health has been slowly, but steadily deteriorating. She recently told me that he was in the hospital with heart trouble and his memory was fading. So, when I heard those words out of her mouth, I was prepared to hear that Harry passed on. My heart broke when she said, "Lucas Santos died". WHAT!!?? Lucas? He's so young. Here's his story:

Lucas is the youngest of three children. He was going to have his 13th birthday shortly. I remember him as a rascally 2 year old running around church. I don't remember how old he was, but at a fairly young age he accepted Christ as his Savior. Shortly afterwards he wanted to be baptised and so he was. There was even a family at the meeting who left the assembly, because they thought he was too young to be baptised. In retrospect, I can see the Lord's hand in it. Fast forward to this week, he got in trouble a couple of times at his Christian school. His father told him to go to his bedroom and spend the weekend there. He told him that he loves him and that's why he had to punish him. Later his sister peeked in to see what he was doing and found him hanging from his top bunk with a belt around his neck. His father took him down and he was still breathing. He tried to revive him for 10 minutes. The doctors tried again later. He didn't make it. The woman who called me is very gracious, she's convinced that Lucas just wanted to see or wanted to scare his family, but that he didn't mean to take his own life. Please keep this family in your prayers, as you other parents may have a glimpse of how dreadful this must be.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Confession

Just this past weekend I made a conscience decision to have the kids wash their hands before every meal. I didn't realize how infrequently the kids were doing so. They have had A LOT of sicknesses over the past two winters. I want to see if I can make a difference with this act. There's a short article from the MayoClinic about hand washing. To read it click here. The concept is simple and it's being displayed in public bathrooms everywhere: Wash your hands to prevent germs from infecting you!

I hate admitting this for two reasons. I don't want people to think I'm gross for not having implementing this habit sooner. Also, I don't really want to think that it's been my fault that my kids have gotten so many colds. I guess that's what makes this a confession. :D

Monday, April 16, 2007

Speaking of baseball...

Enoch bought three mitts today. One for him, one for Seth and a pink one for Tabitha. Seth had his first real game of catch with Enoch. Sure, he's thrown, kicked and caught a ball before, but today it was official. It was outside, in the cold, with his new mitt. He's such a natural. Prior to that he was crying his head off for more than five minutes and nothing would calm him down. Enoch was able to lure him outside with the baseball. It wasn't too long before I looked out the kitchen sink window and saw the two of them laughing and having a good time. Seth was thrilled to have the ball land in his mitt, instead of the millions of misses he usually has. I'd say we are an American family, wouldn't you?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Leaps and Bounds

Tomorrow (Sunday) marks an important day for many baseball fans. They will be celebrating the 60 year anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first baseball game. He was the first African-American allowed in the National Baseball League. We don't think much about color nowadays, but back then it was a huge deal. Enoch had a commentary on the other day about him. They were interviewing his teammates and every one of them said that in the beginning noone on the team dared to talk to him. Imagine that.

In just sixty years our society has grown in leaps and bounds overcoming racism. When my husband and I are seen in public, we don't have to divert people's stares, because our relationship is accepted by many. I have to actually explain to Tabitha what racism is, because she's never experienced it. I'm glad there are laws protecting people from discrimination, so now we can all work, eat and play together. God made a diverse world. We see diversity in plants, animals and landscapes. Just as I can appreciate how beautiful and different the world is, I'm thankful I can also appeciate the differences He made in people, both in looks and culture.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Frugal Friday

Does your cell phone have internet service? Cellfire is a service that lets you get free coupons. You can either text "C" to 22888 or visit there website to learn more. Apparently you get over $300 in coupons every month. All you have to do is click on the coupon you want then show it to the cashier. Our cell phone is old and doesn't have the capability, otherwise I'd be jumping at this offer.

I'll tell you something silly. I found out about this in a magazine that comes to my house for free. Right next to this piece was an advertisement for a kid's chair that costs $850!!!!

For more great tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

100 Things about Me

1. My initials have always been MMM, before and after marriage.
2. I was sad to give up my maiden name, because it was unique and I was proud of it.
3. I was happy to give up my life for the Lord.
4. Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior when I was 17.
5. I grew up in inner city Philadelphia with my mom, grandmom, brothers and cousins.
6. Summers were spent in Florida with my dad.
7. I'm Cuban and Irish.
8. Cubans are known for being hot headed and crazy. Did I mention I was Cuban?
9. Irish people get all worked up over petty arguments. Did I mention I was Irish?
10. Apparently an Irish queer is a man without a beer. I must be an Irish queer.
11. I didn't grow up speaking Spanish.
12. I majored in Spanish in college.
13. My college was in Nova Scotia, Canada.
14. Yes, I studied Spanish in Canada.
15. No, I don't have any family in Canada.
16. My husband asked me to marry him before we dated.
17. After 3 weeks of prayer I said yes.
18. My dad said I couldn't get married until I turned 24. Our wedding was less than 2 weeks later.
19. One month into the wedding I was pregnant. I've been pregnant and/or breastfeeding ever since.
20. I'm ready for a break.
21. I've struggled with fatigue for over 10 years.
22. That problem has been compounded since parenting began.
23. My favorite smell is butter melting on the stove clarify- in a pan on the stove top.
24. The name of my fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Schmidt. She was special to all of us students.
25. Tabitha's first name is Enoch's mother's name. Her middle name is my aunt's. Both of these women are dead.
26. Patricia's first name is my mother's name. Her middle name is Enoch's aunt's/stepmother's name. These women are both alive.
27. Seth is named after Adam's 3rd son.
28. Growing up I always said my favorite color was clear. I guess I couldn't decide!
29. My husband is 9 inches taller than me.
30. I grew up in the same house my mom grew up in. She still lives there.
31. We bought most of our food from the corner store. It took less than 2 minutes to walk there.
32. I'm very thankful, and a bit surprised, when I see positive qualities in my children that I know they learned from Enoch and I.
33. It grieves me to see that they're also picking up on our bad qualities.
34. I wear a head covering during church meetings.
35. I prefer the King James Version of the Bible, but automatically translate it to NKJV when reading it to the kiddos.
36. I don't answer all of Tabitha's "why" questions. Many times I make her figure the answer out herself.
37. I don't have any close friends that are moms.
38. I like to hike, but haven't been on one in ages.
39. I don't drink hot liquids that often. Maybe twice a month.
40. I grew up drinking milk and water. Those are still my main sources of fluid, though I do enjoy juice and sweetened iced tea.
41. My favorite tree is the weeping willow.
42. I've read through the Bible more than 4 times.
43. Whether it's how to put a bike together or brew a cup of tea, I have to read the instructions and follow them very carefully.
44. Disorganization stresses me.
45. My house is disorganized.
46. I love to start new projects or crafts. I work on them until they are almost finished and then it takes me forever to do the last little bit.
47. Repetitive tasks are enjoyable. i.e. folding towels or making birth announcements.
48. I love singing hymns.
49. My ears are sensitive. I'm constantly adjusting volume buttons, so they are just right. I know what the kids are doing downstairs, when I'm upstairs.
50. I'm halfway finished!
51. When I was first saved a couple in their 70's took me under their wing.
52. I love traveling.
53. I hate packing.
54. I've never had a passport.
55. When I look at the stars I see a dot, unlike my husband who actually has deep thoughts.
56. For years I was an ENFP. I think that's changing. What's your personality?
57. I like to think I have a high IQ.
58. I have a bad memory.
59. Before I became a Christian I smoked marijuana regularly.
60. I have NO desire for such things now.
61. Most days you'll find me wearing skirts, but I also wear pants.
62. All three of our kids sleep in our bedroom. Tabitha and Seth have their own toddler beds. Patricia gets to sleep in "the big bed" with us.
63. I feel secure and loved having them in our room.
64. I want my kids to obey me because they want to please me, not because they fear the consequences.
65. We love rice in this house. We recently finished a 40 pound bag.
66. When I was in college I made a choice to learn to eat spicy food. That came in handy when I married into an Indian family.
67. I used to want to be a missionary. Now I think I know too many of my imperfections to go. I'll be content being at my home mission field.
68. My dad and my husband are both computer programmers.
69. I like blogging. (Can you tell?!)
70. I don't like cleaning bathrooms.
71. I do like to talk on the phone, except when there are screaming kids in the background, which is always.
72. I LOVE getting mail.
73. Enoch can always make me laugh.
74. Unnecessary baby items for me: pacifiers, boppy pillow, bottles, baby bath tubs and burp cloths.
75. Essential baby items: Huggies diapers, baby wipes, baby clothes, car seat and mommy.
76. My eyes are brown with one spot of blue.
77. I straighten up like there's no tomorrow when I know people are coming to the house.
78. For the most part, we sit at the table to eat three times a day.
79. My favorite subject in school was math.
80. We don't have any pets and I don't want any. That's unbelievable considering how many cats and dogs I grew up with.
81. Favorite line from my favorite hymn:
"And when I think that God His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burdens gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin."
82. I practice comfort over beauty.
83. I get sad when I think of how godly others are in comparison to me.
84. I know I'm not supposed to compare myself with others.
85. The quality I dislike in others the most is Pride.
86. I think mental illness is a disease. I don't think it's all in the mind and I don't think it's always demon possession.
87. I prefer pen and paper over the computer.
88. I have no self control when it comes to chocolate and baked goods.
89. I can't look at a Monet or Picasso for more than five minutes, but I'll examine a cross-stitch for hours.
90. Olives are gross, but I'll eat them if they're in a dish I'm served.
91. Fruit is yummy, but I can't incorporate it into a main dish, because my husband won't eat it!
92. I'm afraid that if I start to homeschool, I'll fizzle out before too long.
93. I love my husband and he loves me.
94. I work well under pressure, yet I enjoy getting things done early.
95. I enjoy driving.
96. I can't believe my life has come down to this list.
97. When Patricia is 2, I want to adopt a 2-year-old boy from India.
98. People still make fun of the way I say water. I think that's the only remnant of my Philly accent.
99. I want my life to be lived for the glory of God.
100. I can't think of anything else.

If you made it this far, you've been tagged. Let me know if you write a list for yourself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Date Night

I noticed Seth developing signs of jealousy toward Patricia over the past week or so. Mainly he cries when I pick her up. Enoch and I both agreed that he would probably benefit from some one on one time with his mommy. We had a great time going to WalMart and Arby's all by ourselves.

Many times people have told me that Seth would probably be talking more at his age if Tabitha would let him get a word in edgewise. I never really thought much about it, since Seth isn't actually behind in his speech. Let me tell you, that boy talked non-stop from the time we left until we got in the car to go home. He mostly repeated himself, but he always made sure he was saying something.

I'm sure Enoch is going to read this and wonder when his date night is coming up. I'll have to think of something special for him.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Morning Conversation

Tabtiha: Eric is my boyfriend!

Mom: No, Tabitha, don't say that. He's your friend. A boyfriend is someone who you are planning on marrying and Eric is too old for you.

Tabitha: Oh, well, Alejandro is my boyfriend

Mom (a bit confused): Who told you that? Why do you say that?

Tabitha: Because I'm going to marry him.

Her future hubby, apparently. He's from her Spanish Immersion Pre-School

Happy Resurrection Day

Today should not be the only day that we contemplate Christ rising from the dead, but it does give us a little push to spend more time thinking about this wonderful fact.

Conqueror over the grave
He is alive FOREVER MORE.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

What is a blessing?

In the Old Testament being fruitful is directly called a blessing over 20 times. For example in Genesis it says, "And the Lord blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said be fruitful and multiply."

Here I am with three little children. Days are difficult. Nights are not always easy either, especially when sickness is involved. Mealtimes are messy. Discipline seems never ending and never seems fruitful. Energy is lacking. Housework is always behind. Phone calls are more stressful than fun. Crying and whining is loud and consistent. Yes, there are joys, but I have many times heard the question posed, "How can this be a blessing?"

Hearing this question has caused me to meditate on the meaning of blessing. I think that we, as Americans, automatically assume a blessing is something that makes life easy and gives us constant joy. In other words a blessing is something that's there to serve us. Seeing that in writing immediately sends up red flags. Jesus said He came not to be served, but to serve. Shouldn't that be our attitude? I think the true meaning of a blessing is something that brings us closer to God.

Now, I re-ask the question: How are children a blessing? When we first see our new born babies we can praise the Creator for this little one who is fearfully and wonderfully made. On a daily basis they bring us joy in little ways that can bring about thanksgiving. In all of the difficult stages we have a choice in how to get through them. I can say with confidence that the best way to get through the trials is with prayer. Prayer does not make the difficulties suddenly disappear and it doesn't always make us feel better, but it ultimately draws us closer to God and that is what a blessing should do.

Crazy Spring Weather

Monday was too hot for the kids to wear even a light jacket. It was a good 80 degrees all day. That's the day we played in the park and had our picnic. It was super windy, but not an ounce of cold. Tuesday was the same. Wednesday started getting a little chilly. Thursday in the late afternoon while I was driving I saw a woman walking her dog. She was wearing a winter coat and scarf. I saw snow flurries and I kept wondering to myself, "Is that snow or is that flower petals falling from trees?" I couldn't tell. The temp had dropped to 30 degrees. What a huge difference for just a couple of days. I feel comfortable blaming the weather for the cold that all three of my kiddos have.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Our Little Chunker

Patty Poo-Poo had her two month check up today. She weighs in at 11 pounds. Yesterday I caught her trying to grab a tag off of the side of her favorite chair. She's such a sweetie. Her smile is genuine. And she is definitely a girl. You should here the coos we get out of her. She already seems like she's jabbering with all the different sounds she's making. She'll be speaking in sentances by 18 months. Enoch calls her our little can of coke. She's got lots of gas!

Frugal Friday

We're not as frugal in this household as many others. My husband makes a pretty decent income. We buy nice things occasionally. I spend quite a bit of money on food. We don't mind eating out. We don't skimp on electricity or heat. We drive without worrying about paying for the next full tank.

In many ways, I admire many other women who are able to keep costs down. There is one thing I do, though. I often refrain from buying unnecessary items. My shoes are over 4 years old. I've never really cared for them, but they're not falling apart, so I refuse to buy a different pair. (Speaking of shoes, my daughter has a pair of sneakers and dress shoes. Coming into the summer, she'll probably only have one pair of sandals and that's it. Even though she's a girl, I'm not raising her to need multiple pairs of shoes.) We have two couch sets, both of which were handed down to us. They are not the most comfortable or attractive couches around, but again, these ones are still functioning, so we haven't invested in others. The other day the kids broke one of our kitchen cabinet doors. The cabinets are old. We could've gotten ourselves into debt because the "cabinets need to be updated anyway" and had them refaced. Instead I bought a couple of good clamps and some heavy wood glue and fixed it myself. Most of my clothes were given as gifts or handed down to me. So, while we do tend to spend liberally, we also withhold from overspending... I think.

For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Who do you know?

I ran across Nan's blog today. She encouraged us to blog about other bloggers that we know personally. I don't know very many people, but here they are.

My handsome husband comes first. I've known Enoch for about 6 years now. Last October we celebrated our 4th anniversary. He's got a pretty cool blog. It's not really about personal stuff, but has many interesting topics.

My brother, Fabio, is a good writer. He's been extremely busy lately juggling family, work and school among other things. I think it's safe to say that he has a good reason to be sparse on his blog entries :D He lives in New York. Here he's pictured with his youngest son, Phoenix.

Coincidentally, I also know Glaucia, who is Fabio's wife. Recently she's been able to work art into her busy schedule. Check out her blog and enjoy. She is pictured with their oldest son, Willik.

Lastly, I know Eric. I mentioned him a few posts ago. He and Enoch have known each other for many years from their days back in Kansas.

Living with Pre-schoolers

I just realized today that I am in a wonderful stage of life. The kids and I have no set agenda, so we can do whatever we want on a regular basis. Yesterday Tabitha wanted to go exploring, so we went to a nearby battlefield. The trail wasn't very long, but it was fun to be outdoors. Today we're going to spend time making a meal for a family who just had a baby. If they were in school or if I was homeschooling them, I wouldn't be able to do these things on a whim. I'd like to cherish these moments.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Life Verse

A few days ago I read a blog entry that inspired me to write about my life verse. For many years I have clung to Hebrews 12:2, which says:

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

What was the joy that was set before the Lord? Was it heaven itself where He would be back with His Father? Or was it us the redeemed ones? I believe it was the latter. If it was just heaven, then He wouldn't have needed to endure the cross. He belongs in heaven. It's hard to imagine that we bring Him joy. I know my own sinful self and it's hard to understand how I can still be pleasing to Him. But based on many Scripture references I know it's true.

If we are a joy to the Lord Jesus, HOW MUCH MORE should He be a joy to us. If we set that joy before us we can endure our daily cross. Since I've been thinking about this the past few days it's given me an opportunity to try and practice it. Every once in a while when I'm in a self pitying mood, I think about being with the Lord and all of the troubles seem to disappear. If only we could always remember to look unto Jesus, I think our lives would be a hundred fold easier.

Little Surprises

We had a fun filled weekend with my brother and his family. Sunday we all went to church for the morning. It was Patricia's first time! I'm so glad we can start going as a family again. Afterwards we ate lunch at Cici's Pizza. They have good cheap food! We rushed home around 2 so that Enoch and Tabitha could get into more comfortable clothing. They went on a "date" to see a live Diego show. Seth, Patricia and I went to our neighbor's for a birthday party. Monday was another full day. The kids played at a very crowded park for a little while. We had a picnic with Chik-Fil-A food. Then we went to my dad's and the kids decorated Easter cookies. We had dinner at an authentic vietnamese restaurant and parted ways.

The kids went to bed later than usual every night. They were exhausted. I thought today would be a nice relaxing day at home. We could catch up on some shut eye and laundry. I didn't really think we'd get much else done. Tabtiha surprised me twice this morning. You know how most Christmas pictures come longer than a normal photo with the extra space sharing Christmas greetings? Well, I usually cut the wording part off and put the family photo in an album of mine. Yesterday I received my brother's Christmas pic. This morning Tabitha showed me that she cut it out for me. I could've been mad at her, but she did such a good job and she was definitely trying to help. Normally I just lop off one end, but she carefully cut all the way around the picture. Of course there are zigzags all around, but she didn't cut into the picture area at all.

Later in the morning I was giving Patricia a bath. When I was done Tabitha came up stairs and told me that I had to come quick, because she and Seth "did a job for me". I had no idea what to expect. Whatever it was I thought it was something that I would have to clean up later. Boy was I wrong! They took it upon themselves to completey tidy up their toy area. I was soooo happy to see that. I probably hadn't had all of the toys off of the floor in over two weeks. I tell you, I have one sweet little girl.