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We have been on the road in our motorhome, affectionately named T.J. now for 10 days.
We named it TJ because my nephew Brad, upon seeing it for the first time proclaimed that it was the Taj Mahal, and it was nicer than his house! It isn't the Taj Mahal, but it is nice. And it has air conditioning, and I am camping, but not sleeping on the ground. After all, I am a city girl with a country heart. I don't do sleeping on the ground and this is my idea of "roughing it". Navy Showers in T.J. or showers in a public restroom are about as close to a wilderness experience as I will ever come. Not to say that I don't enjoy the great outdoors. I love to bike, hike and enjoy nature. Just not from a tent. Or a pop-up camper. Been there, done that. And I did love it at the time. But at this stage in my life, this is the only way I want to go. Unless we are going to a lovely Bed and Breakfast. Without the kids. Then I will go by car and enjoy the ride since my hubby doesn't say anything unless spoken to, or he needs me to read him the directions. It's usually a nice ride with me chatting away and him occasionally nodding or commenting politely just so I know he is still listening.
But I digress. This post is supposed to be about our last 10 days. So here goes.
We left our steamy south Florida home on July 6, headed for Savannah, Ga. to tour SCAD with our oldest daughter, Alicia who is going to school there in the fall. It is a beautiful campus, and we are so excited for her to begin her new life there. However, we did not get to enjoy Savannah, because Little Faith had been eaten alive by mosquitoes at a July 4th fireworks party and ended up with an allergic reaction so bad she looked like she had chicken pox and hives all over her arms, and she couldn't be in the heat or it would break out worse and itch like crazy. And if you've ever been to Savannah in July, you know that there is one thing they have no absence of: Heat. So she and her brothers ended up staying in T.J. while Hubby and I toured SCAD with Alicia. I didn't worry, though 'cause the campground had wi-fi and they all have technology tools, so it was all good. Or so I thought. I texted my sons in the afternoon to find out how Faith was doing, only to get a message back saying she was fine, but the internet was down. All day. I smiled to myself, thinking that they needed to "unplug" anyway, and when we arrived back at the park, I spoke to the manager about the situation. Indeed, they had been having trouble with it, but didn't know the extent reached our area and she would call Comcast, but that they had been out fixing the transponder in the front area earlier that day, and gee, she wished she had known 'cause she would have had him check our area when he was here and it would be a week or so before they would be out again. So No Internet. I really didn't mind, but they did! I assured them that the next campground would have it. I mean, what are the chances? We left there on July 9 to our next destination.
In NC, a lovely campground for 1 night. No internet.
In southern PA, an interesting campground for 1 night, and "no honey, we don't have cable or internet here. They won't let us. Only for the long-termers". No internet.
So, we checked with Windmill Point Campground in Niagara, Canada, our next destination for 4 nights. Internet was important, because we would not have phone service internationally, so in case someone needed to reach us, email was a good option. And usually we use one of our cell phones as our rolling wi-fi hotspot. Not the fastest internet, but internet none the less but since we would have no cell service, that was not an option. Yes, they assured me they have internet.
Most people know that I am the mother of 5 wonderful children. And that their ages range from 28 to 10. And that there are 3 girls and 2 boys, and the boys are in the middle, flanked by 2 older sisters and 1 younger, thank God. Cause if they were at the beginning, there would be no girls. And that the reason the girl at the end is a girl is because God loves me and knew that we needed more estrogen, not testosterone in this household. And that I don't think I could have lived through another boy. Especially since the pregnancy was a total shock. I tell everybody that 'she was the best surprise I ever got.' My 50th birthday party was a close 2nd, but that is another story. Today's post is about birthdays. And children. And the wonder of it all.
Alicia, my first born turned 28 today. She is a joy, and such a wonderful young woman, and is leaving me in September to pursue a degree in art at SCAD. I am both excited and depressed, so filled with mixed emotions for her. I don't know what I am going to do without her, yet I so can't wait to see her blossom. It has been a long road for her, but she is ready and I am so excited for her to shine and use the talents God has given her.
This is our 4th family birthday this year: Sarah is April, Josiah in May, Sam in June and now Alicia in July. My hubby is August, and then the summer of birthdays is over! Whew! Anyway, since Alicia is going to school at SCAD, she has been pining away for an iMac. So the boys and Faith and I went together and got her a gift card for the Apple store. She was so excited, and wanted to go right to the store and get it. I tried to talk her out of it, since we will be leaving for vacation soon, so she could wait till we get back, but she really wanted to go. So we all got in the car and went.
When we got to the store, the guy who sold me the gift card happened to be working, so he was helping us. My hubby asked me which one I had been looking at, and told the guy to get that one out too!!! I had been pining for the MacBook pro, but really didn't plan to buy it for several reasons.
1. because of the expense. I could get a PC for way less money, and it would do everything I need, and more.
2. because my hubby is a PC man. And I feel like I am abandoning him, since he and Faith are now the only one without Macs. And Faith wants one so bad she can hardly stand it.
3. I just hate to spend that much money on myself, on something I really don't need. Even though every time I turned my computer on, after 10 minutes it would just shut off. I mean, off. No warning, No beep, just off. In the middle of something. ARGGGG!
So I needed to do something, even though I wasn't sure what. So the kids were pulling for a Mac, trying to convince me that it was so much easier, and that I could do it, but I was scared. Could I learn to use something new? What would I do if I messed something up? So I was just going to wait and see what God brought. And look what happened.
God showed up and honestly, I think I am going to do fine. I am on it now, and I do think I am going to fall in love with it. In fact, I think I already am.
As for Alicia, she was excited to get her new 21" iMac. But I think she was more excited for me than she was for herself!!
Thats just the kind of girl she is. I can't take any credit. Its just the way she is. And I am so thankful for her and who she is becoming. She is amazing. And I love her so much.
Thank you, Alicia for the incredible woman you have become. I am so proud of you. And thank you God, for all you have done and are doing in her. You are showing me so much of who you are as I learn to love and care for your blessings I call my children. I am so blessed. Today was an amazing reminder of that. And I am so thankful.
I had no doubts, but we made it! And no one fainted from a lack of food at lunch! I really don't think anyone really missed it either. Except perhaps, Faith, who watched the clock all afternoon, reminding me how many hours until dinner :) Our One meal for One Child was a piece of cake. Not cake, since we were not eating. Perhaps that was not the best metaphor. Anyway, it was easy.
I promised the kids a big breakfast, and an early delicious dinner. And I don't think they were disappointed. For breakfast we had scrambled eggs with green onions, shallots, and cheese with gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes. I was a bit worried about the pancakes, wondering if everyone would like them, since they were gluten-free, but they were amazing, and the kids didn't even use syrup. They were that good. I wish I had taken photos, but you will just have to take my word for it. They were amazing. I adapted a recipe that I found in a great cookbook, so the recipe that follows at the end of this post is an original!
For dinner, with the help of my great kids, we made Arroz Con Pollo (chicken with yellow rice). It was absolutely amazing. I think it was the best I ever had. I know it was the best I ever made. I used brown rice, so it was healthier that using white rice. I also used carrots, so it had hopefully had a little more vitamins, too. Here's how we did it:
This past Sunday, our Pastor challenged us with a sermon based on Luke 12:32-34, calling it simply, "I'm Rich!" It was a message that was nothing new, but somehow, God used very familiar scripture to illuminate my sin once again. We live in the richest nation the world has ever known. Yet we hoard our resources like no one else. Why? For me, it is because I am selfish and in love with stuff...this world stuff. I use stuff to placate my loneliness, pain and feeling sorry for myself. So I buy myself something and justify that I 'need' it for something, or that since it is on sale, or inexpensive that it is somehow ok for me to have it. Or that I am going to use it for someone else. But God has been teaching me that it is not ok, and that I do not need more stuff. In fact, if I buy something I don't need, someone else who does need it may not be able to get one. And that when I do need something, he will provide it. I do understand that our Father gives good gifts to his children, but I am learning that good gifts are not what I suppose they are. Good gifts are sometimes physical gifts, but the ones I really want are the ones like he really wants to give: Spiritual gifts that I cannot be ready to recieve until I am empty of my self and my desires for anything other than Him.
All that to say, that our Pastor without knowing it, spoke straight from the Heart of God to my heart Sunday. Basically, he said, in a nutshell to offer all you are and all you have, giving as you have been blessed. I loved the way he explained the verse that says, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." He said that your heart will follow your treasure, not the other way around. So we need to store up our treasures in heaven because that is where our heart is.
At the end of the message, he quoted something from "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It was something that had hit me square in the heart when I read Crazy Love last month. He said that people are always saying that if God is such a loving God, why doesn't he do something about the hunger in the world? Then he said that God is probably weeping and looking down saying, "yeah! why don't you do something? You have the world's riches at your disposal. Why don't you do something?"
As we were driving home, I asked the Fam: "what are some practical things we can do to 'do something?'" What can our little family (which isn't so little) do when there are so many needs? Then God struck us with an idea: One meal for One child. We could sacrifice one meal a week to support a hungry child through the One Child program at our church. (want to know about One Child? click Here.) So we are going to skip lunch on Wednesday and give that money to feed and clothe 'one of the least of these'. I got to thinking about this and realized that we eat about 90 meals a month. Most of the world eats less than 30. And our meals are not cheap. We eat good, healthy, mostly organic food. I figure we spend on average, for the 6 of us who all eat like adults, (not including breakfast, which is a cheap meal at about $10.00 unless we eat out, then all bets are off) about $30.00 a meal, especially when we eat out. And we eat out alot. Now for most people, that is a huge amount of money, I know. But that is not the point. The point is what we can do. We decided that our Wednesday lunch could support One Child at $30.00. Thats 4 children that we can support per month! or we could sponsor a national pastor for $100 and still have enough by adding only $10 to support one child.
Then I was thinking: What if everyone embraces this concept? What if every Christ follower in every church would give up one meal a week to support hungry people around the world? We could really do something about hunger. I know some people have medical issues, and other reasons they cannot go without a meal. Some people don't have enough themselves. I am not talking about them. I am talking about people like me, who have more than enough being willing to sacrifice one meal for the One who sacrificed it all for us? Because like he said, "if you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto Me."
The kids were worried about being hungry, but I assured you that we will eat a late breakfast, then have an early dinner, and no snacks in between. I let them know that a little hunger wouldn't kill them and that it was good to know what other children must feel all the time. And that the little hunger pains would be nothing compared to what Jesus suffered for us.
Tomorrow will be our first Family Fast. One meal for One Child. Could you do the same? Or maybe One Fivebucks for One Child. Or maybe you, like me might not need that new gizmo or book or whatever. Will you join us? What will you sacrifice? How will you make a difference? There are lots of great organizations that would be worthy of your contributions. http://www.compassioninternational.org/ and World Vision are two of my favorites. Whatever God leads you to do, do it with joy, as unto Him!
Well, my honey and I just returned from a 3 night getaway celebrating our 29th anniversary. It was so much fun, and so relaxing to just do nothing for a few days.
We escaped to Miami, actually to the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove. Most of our time was spent wandering around the streets of the Grove, shopping in the quirky little shops and eating. I think we went from one meal to thinking about the next. There are so many great restaurants in Miami that we did not even scratch the surface (or the flat-top). But undaunted by that fact, we gave it a valliant effort. We checked out Urban Spoon's recomendations, and off we went. I won't bore you with all the delicious tidbits, but here are the best meals we had:
For Breakfast: The Grove Spot
We both chose the Kiwi Sampler. It came with 1 Egg, (we chose to have it poached light), homefries, which were flecked with BOTH bacon AND prociutto, as well as sauteed onion and tomato, toast, and an authentic English banger (sausage). All for only $7. I also had the yoghurt and fresh fruit which was a massive bowl that I think I could have gone for a swim in. The yoghurt was a little thin, but tasty just the same. And, how sad for us that, according to the waiter the chef felt like giving us 2 poached eggs instead of one! Lucky us! (I can imagine why two eggs, since you are going to the trouble to boil the water, add the vinegar and mess with poaching, might as well do 4 instead of just 2. Why bother with all that fuss for just two eggs?)
For Lunch: Gardeners Market
What a great little market! Fresh bread, cheese, wine, deli, and a huge salad bar. 4 different kinds of soup. (The carrot bisque was divine!) I had a hard time choosing, but my hubby knew exactly what to order. I eventually decided on the salad bar, fruit and the soup. Don got the Capri sub, on a whole wheat baguette. It had pesto, prociutto, buffalo mozzarella, and thick heirloom tomatoes. Delicious!
For Dinner: It was a toss up between Two Chefs and Georges in the Grove
The reason it was a toss up was because Georges had better appetizers and their dessert was just as good as Two Chefs, but the Meatloaf at Two Chefs won over the lamb shank at Georges. We had Roasted beet with goat cheese at both places, and Georges was better. More beets, better roasting, and better dressing, which gave the whole dish another layer of flavor of buttery deliciousness. Two Chefs crusted and deep-fried the goat cheese, which was totally unnecessary, and a bit disgusting. Made it taste greasy and flat.
We also had the Buffalo Caprese salad at Georges, and other than a couple of the tomato wedges being a little mealy, it was fantastic.
For our entree at Georges, we chose the 3 hour braised lamb shank with white beans. It was seasoned with Garam Masala, which gave it a gingery clove flavor. A little sweetness, but good. It was served with white beans, which for me did nothing to add to or take away from the shank. They were just there. I think a risotto might have been nice instead, but what flavor? Maybe thats why they chose the beans. At Two Chefs I had the Coc au Vin, which was good, but not great. It was served with Potato Croquettes, and they were yummy, but I could only eat one, since they were deep fried and I was saving my fat quota for the dessert.
Don had the Meatloaf served with Horseradish mashed potatoes and prociutto wrapped roasted asparagus. And I thought I should save my fat quota! His was the winning meal of all, because the meatloaf and potatoes were the most delicious things we ate the whole week. Besides dessert, of course. The meatloaf was extrordinary, and I am going to crave that for the rest of my life. I hope they serve that in heaven. And I hope I have 2 tummys. It was that good.
Dessert was equally as good at both restaurants. Two chefs: chocolate souffle, with creme anglais AND chocolate ganache. Don told me that he didn't think you were supposed to eat the creme and the chocolate ganache with a spoon. How else were you supposed to eat it? Perhaps you were suppose to turn it up and drink it? I could have, you know. But I settled for the spoon. I tried to spoon it over my souffle, but the spoon had a mind of its own and kept diverting itself directly into my mouth. Eventually I had to put the spoon down....I had reached my fat quota for the decade. I did decide right then and there that I was going to have to teach Faith how to make the perfect souffle. After I learn how to make them. I cant wait to get started. My fat quota will be getting a workout. So will my muscles, since I dont want to wear the quota around my waist!
Georges had a great Creme Brulee. Little tiny portion, too....NOT! It was served in one of those side dish containers that was twice, maybe three times the size of a ramekin that it is usually served in.That lent itself to hold Lots of nicely browned sugar on top. It was enough for 4 people. Which was nice, since we ate with Dons brother and his wife who live down south. Which made the meal even more delightful.
But now we are back to reality, and I have lots of posts of projects to put up in the next few days. Hopefully I will get to it soon. In the mean time, stop drooling and go visit one of these fine places. Or find your own and let me know about it! Enable my food addiction!