Life's Sweet Journey

Friday, November 7, 2014

Food and Wine Favorites!!

I used to despise Epcot. I would beg my grandparent's not to take me there as a kid. "Please, pleeeaaase, take me to Disney instead?! Please!" As a young child Disney only meant one thing, Magic Kingdom. As I emerged into teenagehood and then into my early adult years, it broadened to MGM Hollywood Studios and then Animal Kingdom. But never, ever Epcot. And then our year of Disney living began and my world was opened to the wonderfulness that is the World Showcase... especially during 'Flower and Garden' and 'Food and Wine'. My poor Mimi, she just wanted to try to teach me the wonders of it at an early age. Apparently, I wasn't having it though. So when I said to Babe, "I love Epcot, it is my new favorite park!" And he responded in kind, I had to follow it with, "We are becoming my grandparents." And I am more than fine with that. Though it is doubtful, maybe I will have better luck convincing my grandchildren that Epcot is a glorious place. Kids?! Let your grandparents take you to Epcot!! I wish I had spent more time there with mine.
The necessities of the "Food and Wine Investigator"= sunnies for before the sun dips down, the Food and Wine Passport, a pin for jotting notes and the phone (my ever present companion)
While I doubt we will obtain our goal of trying every food item at Food & Wine, we are well on our way there. I loved playing Food and Wine investigator and apparently played the part as it was joked that I made quite the investigative reporter with outfit to match and so this shot was snapped. So, now that I have had the immense satisfaction of exploring the World Showcase and attending Food and Wine, who knows how many time in the last few weeks, here is a sampling of my Food and Wine recommendations: 
Our documented passport... A smiley face= well liked, marked GIMB!!= Get in My Belly!, not good= ick, and others received general notes (i.e. Canada, which we found just alright, though I really enjoyed the fish)
My Top 5 Five Food and Wine Treats
1.) Kalua Pork Slider in Hawaii- This was so yummy and takes the top spot for my favorite hearty food item. 
2.) Beijing Roasted Duck in China- I am waiting to go back and get the whole one to myself. A friend got this the night we went with a group and I tried a bite. So yum!! 
3.) Grilled Lamb Chop in Australia- I would have eaten the bone if it wouldn't have broken my teeth! I couldn't get enough of it and it's a good size portion for one person. 
4.) La Passion Martini Slush in France- I am not much of a beverage person, I prefer the food, but this was my favorite drink and I would get it again. 
5.) Seared Sea Scallop in Scotland- I am not a scallop person, but this was quite delectable and a favorite of everyone in our group. To quote: "That one needs a smiley face!! Do it!! Put a smiley face!" 

Those 5 above all received a smiley face, but the overall winners of our Food and Wine experience, receiving the only two GIMBs (Get in My Belly) so far were... 
Croissant Doughnut (my choice) at the Refreshment Port 
and the Lamb Meatball (Babe's Choice) in New Zealand

The only item to aquire an ick rating has been the Pineapple wine in Hawaii, I guess everything can't be amazing right?! Also, while honey and cheese would typically be a favorite of mine the cheese in Greece was just a little too much for me; too cheesy, which I didn't think was possible. Not cheesy enough for an 'ick', but I didn't eat the whole thing, way too rich. 

With the final weekend of Food & Wine looming ahead of us I hope that you find time to do some investigating of your own before it comes to a close for the year. We plan to try to check off a few more items on Sunday and Monday. Any recommendations? Anything we must try?! 

Our top 5 want to try items:
Mussels in New Zealand
Pavlova in Australia 
Salmon in Patagonia
Bobotie in Africa
Mahi in Singapore 
Fisherman's Pie in Ireland

Linking up with the 5 on Friday gals! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Call Me Like You See Me

We were running late. We usually are. 
I know it drives Babe crazy sometimes. He loves me for it though. 
We walked in and sat in overflow, just as the sermon started. 
I got up again to fix my coffee. I am trying to cut back on sugar, but it was too bitter. 
When I got up, I got waylaid. That can happen when you work where you attend service. 
I missed a good portion of the sermon (though I can and will catch it on podcast). 
So this is what I was left with... 
I left the sermon right after hearing, 
"How do you want to be described?" 
And heard words like oxymoron and living how you are perceived, as I walked out to sweeten the bitter taste in my mouth. 
I walked back in on these words, right as the sermon was wrapping up. 
"... I am mortal, sinful man." Said a prince, who had previously been denied entry twice before when trying to enter using his title. 
"Then let him come in." said the same monk who had twice turned him down. 

I know the middle of that sermon had to be great. I had heard it was wonderful. But even the little I heard has stuck with me. I found it fitting, the parts that I was able to take in and how they wound together. In a lot of ways that's what it is all about, isn't it... grace? 

We mess up, we falter and- often- we pray that the world will miss it. We pray that they will see us by "titles" or by things that help boost our self-image. But God always knows when we miss a step. He knows our sin and yet, He still lets us come in. In fact, He asks us to bring our sins to Him. To leave them at the feet of the cross and carry on. He has forgiven them. But have we forgiven ourselves? Are we still trying to hold onto titles or are we laying things out in the open so that we can leave them behind? 

The last few days I have wondered about how I would want to be described by others. Wondered about what I value most in myself. And I came up with two things... 

I want to be described as loyal. Loyal to my friends, loyal to my husband, to my family and to God. I want people to know that they can depend on me and for them to know how dearly I value each of them.

But I also want to be known as someone who can sin well. Does that sound strange? It did to me, the first time I thought it. But I want to be a person who can ask forgiveness. I want to name my sin. I want to hold my human nature on my sleeve so that I see if for what it's worth. I know I will sin. I will fall short of Godliness, all the time, because I am human. But I also know that I can strive to be more like Jesus; to hold closer to the "still, small voice" inside my soul and hear it with a deeper clarity. 

And so, I want to ask forgiveness for the things that I have done. Not just to God, but to whomever it was that my sin hurt. Even if it is just myself; though I find that often times, someone else has been hurt in the process. I want to be described as someone who isn't afraid to share her heart, her struggles and her mistakes. 

I sit here typing with sweaty palms, because that scares me. Sharing my sin with God- my failures, my mistakes- seems somewhat easier than sharing them with the world. 

He IS forgiveness. He wrote the book on it. He sent Jesus to let us know that we are always forgiven when we turn to Him. 
That is a different story. I know people, because I know my own heart. Forgiveness can be a hard thing for people. We are broken, we are human and we are easily hurt. 

So to show up at someone else's door, with a heart full of broken apologies, can be terrifying. But I want so badly to be known for that. 

I want to be known as someone who can knock at a door, with trembling knees and a shaky hand, and say, "It is me; broken and sorry and praying that you can forgive me." I want to be described that way. And even more than that? I want to be described as someone who, should I be the one standing on the opposite side of that door, never even needs to hear a knock before swinging wide the door and letting that person know that it is already forgiven. 

That's what I want to be described as... a loyal, humanly-broken, righteousness-seeking, well-sinning, forgiver. 

What about you?
How would you want to be described? 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Fun in the Classroom

Since I haven't really made this well known on here I guess it's high time you know that I put my teacher hat back on this year. No, I did not go back to teaching for the county. It would take something seriously drastic for that to happen. Instead, I am teaching preschool to 3 years old. I love it! I think God knew I needed a little bit of redemption on my faith in the classroom setting. It has been restored, tri-fold! I have the sweetest group of kiddos and I have been having fun exploring and learning with them. Where I work makes it just that much better! I love the community at Weekday School! I have no children currently, but since I am a super "think-aheader" I constantly think about homeschooling vs. classroom schooling. I still don't know what I will do about K-12, but I can tell you, without a doubt in my mind, that my children will attend school here. I have worked for WDS for over a year now and I love it more and more everyday! The Christ-centers learning, the kids, the staff, the parents, and the people... it is a place so filled with love that I could go on for days. 

Well, in honor of all things Fall and Halloweenie I thought I would share some of our pumpkin fun!!

Our Top 5 Pumpkin Fun Activities
Shape Pumpkin Puzzle 
After first reading "Spookley the Square Pumpkin" (one of my favorite Halloween stories) during circle, I introduced the kids to our classroom shape puzzle. We talked about the differences and similarities between our pumpkin and Spookley. Then I took out all of the shapes, that had been previously carved into the pumpkin. The kids each came, up found the shape I told them to find and then put it back in the correct spot. The kids were entranced and waited patiently for their turn. Once circle was over, we put the pumpkin at the science/ math table and they took turns (two kids at a time) playing/ exploring our shape pumpkin.

Candy Corn Counts
My kids loved this candy corn math activity! It helped with number recognition and 1-to-1 correspondence. I also had them count out 10 candy corns before starting. Their favorite part? Getting to eat a candy corn when it was all over! 

Scooping out Sin
Today we carved a pumpkin with a happy lil' face, 
we scooped out all his bad stuff and put light in its place. 
Ok, so we carved a jack-o-lantern. We used our week long exploration into the 5 senses to explore as we carved him. More importantly though we talked about how similar we are to the pumpkin and how, just like we scoop the yucky stuff out of the pumpkin, God sent Jesus to scoop out all our sin. We read a sweet story called "The Pumpkin Gospel." It is the perfect companion for carving a pumpkin and teaching how we can ask God to forgive us when we make mistakes and how His light can shine in our hearts for the world to see. I couldn't recommend it more! Unfortunately, upon searching for it on Amazon I have found that it is no longer being printed. If you can find this sweet book somewhere you should acquire it. Our happy lil' fellow then found his spot on my front stoop, just in time for trick-or-treaters (fingers crossed, as we had none last year). See those circles on the side of his head? Those are his ears for hearing God's word, which were used as the kids shouted our bible verse to him during our second circle time. 

Pumpkin shaped sugar cookies!! Big ones!! With a table full of orange icing and cupcake tins filled with sprinkled and gooey eyeballs and chocolate chips galore!! Just picture it!! Mainly because I have no pictures. They (ok, who am I kidding, I made one too) were having so much fun decorating and making piles of sprinkles that I didn't think to grab a picture with my phone. I love the wonderful parents who come up with amazingly sweet snack ideas for the kids!! 

Taste Testing
I am not exactly sure how much the kids loved this one, but if you need a little comic relief in the classroom this is a good way to find it. We started with apple chips, red vs. green, and that went over pretty well. Today's taste testing? Not so much! But the faces, of the faces!! In talking about our pumpkin and using our 5 sense I gave each kid a roasted pumpkin seed to try (my favorite, coated in honey and salt). For a hot second it looked like they might like it, but then the smiles started to turn. You could tell they were trying to think it through, "do I say I don't like it or do I just try to swallow it?". I told them if they didn't like them then they could spit the seed into the bowl with the pumpkin guts. It was quite the spit contest! But oh was it humorous! 

I hope everyone has a glorious, treat-filled night!! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Savage Soul

So I guess I always knew that a part of my soul was a bit savage. It beats faster when I least want it to, it breaks without prompting, it will long for things that my mind knows are only going to break it further- but that is a different post for another day.

My soul is now a bit more savage, and always will be, because this weekend I took part in the Savage Race. It was set to be a 6.7 mile, 25-obstacle-filled race of impending doom. Except it was everything but that...
  Did it kick my fanny? Yes! 
Was a I sweaty? You bet!
Was I covered in mud? Oh, just from head to toe! 
Was I sad about any of it? Not in the least! 

I was enthralled!! I loved it! Minus the part where I almost threw up at breakfast and some cramps about a mile in, I lapped it up! It was no where near as bad as my nerves had let me believe. Not to be graphic, but I was literally on the egde of vomiting all through our carb loading breakfast. I thought, "If I can just throw up I will feel better." But I knew I needed my food! I was able to keep down every bit of my breakfast and then I continued on with my psyche my brain race prep by eating some beef jerky and a couple bits of banana during the 1.5 hr ride to the race. I pinned a few things, read that protein and bananas are good for a race, so of course I rolled with it. My race companions thought I was crazy, but considering they are also some of my life companions this wasn't anything new to them. I am weird and I embrace it- they've learned to also. But my protein and banana (and the avacado I added to my breakfast sandwich) must have helped me some (well that and mostly my prayer to up above as we pulled into the parking lot), because I felt like a Savage Queen!
Sna Squad (our team name; consisting of Babe, Oliver- said bro-in-law discussed here, Kerri- Oliver's girlfriend/my friend, and Queso/KC/Kevin- Andrew's youngest brother; also not to be forgotten was our honorary team member, Queso's girlfriend Morgan, who walked practically the entire race with us as the "professional" photographer and whose pictures I can NOT wait to see) took off at a Babe approved pace, which meant we were running. We made it almost all the way to the first obstacle and then the non-Babe approved pace set in, a nice leisurely "power" walk with intermittent spurts of running. This is the pace that consisted for the next 5.5 miles. Though we did get  a good burst of energy when we popped the electrolight chews that I had been saving in my sports bra for mile 3 (the same ones that everyone laughed at but then were wishing for more of after they helped immensely- and don't worry they were well wrapped in their original packaging I assure you) I would say we walked the good majority of the race.

I would like to say that I love running, but I don't! We are not friends!! Though I plan to partake in the wonders of obstacle races again, I can assure I will still not like to run. I have tried to learn to love it, it has just never hooked me. But alas, I will continue to try. My original thought statement, spoken to multiple people, before Saturday had been, "Yes! Come Saturday I never have to run EVER again!" Guess that's out the window now.

Did I train? Sure.
Was it consistent? Hardly! 
How far did my trianing go? Oh, I made it up to .9 miles running in one stretch (before I had to lay flat on the ground and let my body regroup for 10 minutes).
My main goal? Finish the monkey bars!! I was up to 39 monkey bars when I trained, the Sawtooth only has 32. 
Was I ready for the Sawtooth? Pshh, nope!!! You got me this time, but I am coming for you!!!
This was my last attempt, after going back when we looped around at the end of the race and were almost to the finish line. Officially Sawtooth was done for the day, but they let me give it another go. It still won.
Honestly, I am very proud of how I did (completed every other obstacle including the 40 foot Colossus and the tombs of claustrophobic nightmares, aka Colon Blow 5000). But I had wanted to beat those bars!! When Andrew and Oliver ran it by themselves last year, while I took photos, I only saw a handful of girls complete the Sawtooth. I wanted to be one of them. Unfortunatly this time that was not my moment. My goal for next year is at least to make it to the middle. I tried multiple times and almost got there, but our heat was so late in the day the bars had lost all their grip. It was wet hand on wet metal and it didn't go well. But I will be back!!

Lesson learned: 
Sometimes in life, you have to set a new goal. It doesn't mean the old one is impossible, it just means you have to work your way up to it. 
Overall, this was an amazingly empowering, bonding, fun experience! It is a great way to enjoy trying to stay fit and it helped me knock one thing off of my invisible bucket list- being able to complete a 'Real World/ Road Rules Challenge' like race. Babe has always (jokingly) told me I would never be able to do one and I was set on proving him wrong! And I proved it, not just to him or anyone else who might (ok, do) say I would be one of the first ones to "fall out", but I also proved it to myself. And that it a wonderful feeling!
Sidenote: My dear sweet husband and the man I love dearly is not necessairly built for large team races, at least when it come to the run vs. walk decision factor. He was probably a full "lap" ahead for a good portion of the race. We were all (save him) not really in shape for a full on run for almost 7 miles. We all knew this going into it. We all knew there would be lots of walking involved. However, his pure and loved soul was under the impression that if he ran ahead it would motivate the rest of us to do the same. But the trick was, if even one person was determined to be walking, then it just made sense for the rest of us not really wanting to run to slow back down. You see, either way, even if you ran to the next obstacle, we would still stop to wait on the rest of the team. So there was really no point in wearing oneself out and instead we just chatted, saved our energy for the next obstacle and embraced the mud- all while Babe enjoyed the solitude of his pounding feet, which he probably enjoyed anyways. That and helping us over hurtles- literally. Even when he chooses to forge his own way, he is still my hero!! See?
Lesson two learned: 
Sometimes in life, you have to hold on tight with both hands. So tight that your hands are bleeding and still you don't let go. You hold until someone can come along who can help, who can be that pull you need to keep yourself from going back down the hill you just fought tooth and nail to climb up. 

Because sometimes God gives you the strength to do it on your own and sometimes He knows that you are going to need a little extra help. So He extends the hand of someone that He has given you to walk through life with. 
With our cheer squad, Babe's mom and sister! 
Weekend Recap
Linking up for the Weekend Recap! with the Grapefruit Princess who had a race of her own this weekend... Think Pink! And go check her out! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

While the Husband's Away the Wife Will Play...

While Babe is away, the wife will play... 
loads and loads of movies on Netflix!! 

She will also consume copious amounts of popcorn!! As in, I ate it every night for a week, save one when I went to dinner with my sis-in-law (for all intents and purposes). And I was NOT sad about it. 
Don't get me wrong, I miss him when he is away, but I also LOVE the hog all the bed space and covers to myself  (each morning you could have found me cocooned like a papoose), love the ability to have no shame in eating said popcorn and love that I get to choose movies without the consideration for mankind in my household. Here was what I chose for my viewing pleasure this week: 

1.) The One: I am loving Anne Hathaway lately, after her performance in Les Mis. So when I saw this on the Netflix feed I figured I would give it a go. Two seconds in I was about ready to turn it off. Lots of cover-your-eyes scenes, lots of English (like the proper kind from across the sea) talk that I didn't quite grasp and I could kind of tell it was going to be a movie that I typically don't like. Mostly because I could tell it was going to be somewhat realistic and tragic and I usually like my movies to take me outside the realm of "this would actually happen in life." I'm a Breakfast at Tiffany's meeting Hunger Games type girl. However, this movie somehow kept my interest and I was unable to turn it off. I just had to see if my predictions were correct. And while they mostly were (I am usually pretty spot on at movie predictions) I found that I was glad I watched it. May or may not be your cup of tea, but I think if you are in the mood for a good rainy, wallow day you could give it a try. 
2.) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: So I found this one when scrolling through Netflix for Rex Harrison movies. It is an old black and white, in which Rex plays the role of a ghost. He is the ghost of a sailor that haunts the seaside house he once owned. When a widowed woman moves in with her young daughter he is determined to scare her away like other occupants who tried to purchase his home, that is until they form a friendship that goes deeper. I watched it in two parts, started it at night and finished in the morning because some parts were slower. Overall though I thought it was a sweet film that is worth a go. 
3.) My Fair Lady: I don't really think I have words for this. If you have seen it, you understand why and if you haven't? Well, what are you waiting for?! I LOVE this movie!! It is the reason I was searching for Rex Harrison. His combination with the always wonderful Audrey Hepburn makes for a perfect movie night. 
"Let a woman in your life and you invite eternal strive..." and then that closing scene?! Oh! It gets me every single time!! 
4.) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: Also in need of no explanation, other than I was able to watch it without having to hear, "Not again!" In his defense, he has watched those movies with me probably over 50 times, maybe even nearing 75. It's a problem I may need to get looked at, but I will wait until I can find someone to invent a charm for that- and there are far more important things that one may need a charm for, like finding out how I can get a Dobby! Just want to squeeze him and give him hugs! 

5.) Scandal: My new found Netflix show that I am not sure if I should keep watching (I can not start another show)... I started watching season 3 with a girlfriend this afternoon, as we cleaned out my closet (she made me remove 30 items!! It is so bare, but she was under the impression that clothes owned for over 10 years should be gotten rid of. Crazy girl!), and I was hoooked!! Hooked!! Granted, this is probably a show Babe would also enjoy so now that I am four episodes in he may have some catching up to do. 

What about you? Watch anything noteworthy lately? 

Linking up with Christina and the other lovely ladies of the 5 on Friday!