28 September 2012

God Provides

In the last six weeks or so, I've been trying to sell various things around the house that we don't need on Kirtland Swap, which is this FB swap page where people post different stuff to buy, sell or trade. I've also participated in a yard sale twice.

This is good for two things: it gets stuff out the house that we no longer use or need and it makes money. Yay! I've been squirreling the money to get the kids stuff for Christmas because I really don't want to use the credit card to pay for any part of Christmas this year. That will take some self discipline - let me tell you!

However, I found myself getting anxious when things wouldn't sell or I had to use my squirreled Christmas money for other things, like babysitting or some other need that would pop up.

In the last two weeks, whenever I was near the stuff I was trying to sell and thinking about giving it away to the Airman's Attic (a thrift store where everything is free for E-5 rank and below), I would feel torn about whether I should hold onto it and try to sell later or give it away. Part of me wanted to hold onto it because in a way that is a stream of revenue (albeit a very small trickle of a stream) and makes me feel like the Proverbs 31 woman ("She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night" Prov 31:18). Another part of me wanted to give stuff away because the Lord has obviously blessed us abundantly if I have extra stuff that we don't need.

I started to hear that still, quiet voice of the Lord: "I will provide for you." Okay, yes, I know, I know and all that, but I want to make some money! I know, it sounds terrible, doesn't it?!

A few days later, I heard that still, quiet voice of the Lord again, "I will provide for you." This time I listened. The Lord has always been faithful to provide for us.

Skip ahead a few days, and I'm worrying again because Little Man is ready to move up from size 2T clothes to 3T clothes (time flies!). Which means I'll have to be spending a pretty good chunk of money on new clothes, even if I buy them at thrift stores. I did, however, have a big storage bin where I'd been putting away 3T clothes as I acquired them (read: as friends gave them to me), so this week I decided to go through that and write out what I had and I what I still needed.

As I laid everything out on the dining room table, I began to see that I had acquired quite a bit. Once I was all finished, I realized that the Lord had provided just about everything that Edward needed! I was completely blown away. The only things that we really need are a few pairs of summer PJ's, and those can be bought at WalMart for $5 each and shorts for next summer - and that can wait until next summer.

The Lord never ceases to amaze me in what He does and how He provides. He does things in His own timing and we just have to trust in Him. He will do the rest. I am very slowly learning this lesson over the years of my life, and I hope that you are as well, my dear readers. :)

Matthew 5:25-34 (NIV)
 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Surprised by Laughter by Terry Lindvall Ph.D. - Book Review

When one hears the name “C.S. Lewis”, many thoughts might come to mind – humor, Christianity, satire, wit and more. Lewis is the author who penned The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters and more. But how many of his readers really know him? The man behind lion Aslan, the once atheist and then turned Christian? Terry Lindvall Ph.D. is a man who does indeed know Lewis, and very intimately. And he invites us to join him on a journey exploring and discovering the humor, the wit, the satire, the stories and the genius that is C.S. Lewis.

Lindvall’s book, Surprised by Laughter: the Comic World of C.S. Lewis is an intimate portrait of the man who penned literary works read by so many. Using quotes from Lewis’ books, letters to family, friends and fans, and more, Lindvall takes his readers on a guide through the different styles of humor and wit that Lewis uses. After reading this book, I can see how humor thoroughly saturated Lewis’ life, which in turn spread to the pages of his books and essays.

I enjoyed Lindvall’s book, although I found it at times to be a little over my head in vocabulary and literary references. I would recommend this book for any person who is a C.S. Lewis enthusiast.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

19 September 2012

The Vulnerability Hangover

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about that feeling that you get after you have presented yourself to others in complete vulnerability - maybe you shared something from your past, told someone you loved them, got up in front of an audience and shared some of yourself - and the next day you think to yourself, "What did I just do? Did I say that?!" and you want to crawl back under the covers and hide from the world.

I'm sure we have all had those moments. I know I have had many, many such moments in my life. Sometimes those moments lead to rejection and pain. Sometimes those moments lead to personal growth and growth in a relationship.

My response to the Vulnerability Hangover in BlogHer's book discussion was about how I feel after I write a deep or very personal blog post. Blogging, for me, is a catharsis. But it is a double-edged sword in some ways. I use my blog to share things going on in my life for family members and friends who are far away (that's just most of them since we're military), but I also use my blog to vent my thoughts, to share dreams and aspirations, to chart my spiritual journey on this earth as I strive to be like my Savior Jesus Christ. So putting myself out there requires vulnerability.

I admit that there are times when I stay away from my blog because I just can't handle the vulnerability that goes with writing a blog. Even if no one reads it, someone might read it someday.

So why not I have my blog be closed?

Because I want to be real. I'm human. I make mistakes. I do wrong. I don't want to put up a picture that I have a perfect life because I don't - far from it. Grace requires acceptance of the good, the bad and the ugly. I have the good, the bad, and the ugly. Jesus Christ accepts me completely as I am. I want to show the world His love. One way that I can do that is by writing about my struggles. Yes, my husband and I don't always get along. Yes, I'm not a good mother sometimes. Yes, I'm not a good friend sometimes.

But in all of that, Jesus loves me and chose me to be a child of God. Jesus uses those struggles for growth in my relationship with Him, in my relationship with my husband and my children and in my relationships with my friends. When I'm feeling vulnerable, and I write anyway, I also feel courageous. And my strength comes from the Lord.

Do you get vulnerability hangovers? How do you handle them?

Blogger Guest: April writing on the Armor of God

Hi Lovely Readers!

I have a special treat for you tonight! My sweet April over "It's Just That Good" wrote an amazing blog about the Armor of God. I was just so blessed by what she had to say, I asked her if I could share it on my blog. So here you!

(And thank you so incredibly much for the beautiful illustration April - thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit as you teach your children, and then share with us in fellowship!)

From April:

The Armor of God

Today was a lesson with my children that I hope I never forget.  We talked about the armor that God gives us.  I think it is worth it to write it down.

I figured my son would get a kick out of this lesson.  On the worksheet was pictured a Roman solider in full gear.  So we read the Scripture Eph. 6:13-17, and Katie (my oldest daughter) asked how can the Word of God be a sword...and that was all it took to get us started!

First we put on the helmet of salvation.  Emily said since we believe, we are sealed and so we wear the helmet all the time.  However, I know this is not true.  Sometimes we forget that we are saved.  We forget that God has sealed us up so that no one and nothing can take us away from Him.  We forget He has given us a new name.  When we forget that, we forget to put on the helmet that leaves our minds vulnerable to the evil one.  He starts to whisper that God won't forgive us for that sin...that we are not worthy of the thing called salvation.  He twists us around and makes us think that we must earn what was freely given.  We must remember the helmet of salvation.

Then we have the breastplate of righteousness.  In our class, righteousness means "right with God".  We can forget to put on the breastplate if we do not do what God asks of us.  If we turn away from what God wants because it is too hard, it is uncomfortable, or we think it is not possible.  When we forget the breastplate, we leave our hearts vulnerable.  The evil one starts to tell us that God does not love us, and that He might leave us.  God's love is the basis of our faith...if we forget the breastplate, then we forget to treasure God's love for us.

Next comes the belt of truth.  What do belts do?  They hold up your pants.  My children decided that we would all look pretty foolish if we had our pants around our ankles.  When we forget the belt of truth, we forget that God's Word is true.  The evil one finds ways to make us look and feel foolish when we get caught in our lies and "half-truths".  Always buckle on the belt of truth to keep the truth of God close to you.

Then we have the sheild of faith.  We use our faith to sheild us from temptation, from lies, from harm.  When we forget to have faith in the God we cannot physically see, then we allow temptation and lies to creep into our lives.  We are pierced by arrows of hurt that are flung by the evil one.  When we hold up our faith, nothing can get through.

The sword of the spirit.  The Word of God.  Nothing cuts through lies faster.  Nothing slayes the enemy quicker.  We must know what God says to us and for us, in order for us to be able to live in the world without falling pray to the lies of the evil one.  When we are tempted, just like Christ, all it takes is the sword, the Word, to cut that temptation down to size.  When we forget the sword, we leave ourselves open to assault without a weapon to fight it.

Finally the shoes of peace.  We when go forth in this world it is not with that of a warring nature, but that of a peaceful one.  When we stop needing to fight with our neighbors, our family, our friends, and even ourselves, we become peaceful.  It is so hard for the devil to get through to those who are at peace.  I think it makes him jump up and down with fury, that he cannot ignite us with harmful passions.  When we put on the shoes of peace, not only is our life better, but we improve the lives of those around us with our peace.  Does this mean that peaceful people agree with everyone?  No.  It does mean, though, that a peaceful person accepts their faith, without needing approval from others.  It means you can disagree and teach others the way, without being sidetracked into warring emotions.

Everyday, get up and think that you are putting on each piece of the armor.  Everyday, think to yourself, these are the weapons God has gifted to me in order to make it though this life.  If you can do this, if you can live a life of peace and faith then you will become a brilliant light in the darkness.  People will surround you and want to know your "secret".  Then you will be able to carry on the Great Commission...to tell all the nations the Good News...that Christ is risen, the grave could not hold Him, and for the price of your faith and acceptance in Him, you can have life everlasting.

Be that light!  God has given you all you need to be the "lamp on a stand"!

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Join me over at the BlogHer Book Club as discuss Daring Greatly by Brene Brown!

Vulnerability - we all struggle with it. Should we put ourselves out there or keep quiet? Should we try to get to know that new person or walk the other way at a social event? Should we share a part of ourselves knowing that we might get rejected or judged, which both lead to shame?

Brene Brown delves into the world of vulnerability, as well as guilt and shame, and how to live vulnerably and deal with the issues of shame in her latest book Daring Greatly. Using over a decade of grounded theory research, she draws her conclusion poignantly from the data, weaving in personal experiences and interviews from real people who struggle, and shine, in vulnerability.

Using a quote from Theodore Roosevelt about those who get into the arena, fight the fight, and strive to be, in short: dare greatly; Brene developed the theory of what she calls Wholeheartedness: a way of engaging the world from a place of worthiness. To be Wholehearted, Brene says that we should cultivate authenticity (in ourselves), self-compassion (letting go of perfectionism), a resilient spirit, gratitude and joy, and more.

In researching vulnerability, it became inevitable to research shame. As she says, “We have to be vulnerable if we want more courage; if want to dare greatly . . . how can we let ourselves be seen if shame has us terrified of what people might think?” (p. 63). Shame is that silent killer of creativity and trust that keeps us from stepping out, trusting and feeling worthy.

I learned a great deal from her book and I am really looking forward to blogging more on this subject in the coming weeks for BlogHer. What it feels like to me to be vulnerable. Where I have experienced shame – and I can tell you firsthand that shame will definitely silence you. How I have tried to be Wholehearted in my life and how I’ve failed at that and achieved that.

I whole heartedly recommend Daring Greatly to anyone and everyone who has ever felt ridiculed, unworthy, or stepped out and exposed their vulnerability – whether the reward was a great friendship or terrible heartache and pain.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed her are my own.

14 September 2012

Autumn is on its' way!

This week we have had unseasonably cool weather here in Albuquerque - today it was only in the 60's! We had jackets on and everything!

After an unseasonably hot summer, I am so ready for the cooler weather! Fall is my absolutely favorite time of year (although marrying one particular awesome military man does have something to do with that - almost like romantic imprinting I think), but anyway, I am so ready for fall!

I love the cooler weather, the change in the trees, the colors, the smells, the food, the holidays (Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!). Last year we didn't have this kind of weather until October, which was great, but it is especially nice that we are getting a preview of what is to come.

This morning the kids and I went on a prayer walk with some of the PWOC ladies on base. This is something that is new this year with PWOC and I am very excited about it. We just walked around the chosen neighborhood praying for the people in it. If you are interested in doing a prayer walk in your neighborhood, it's really easy. You just get out there, walk, and pray! We have a hand out with different Scriptures to pray over about different areas, such as Salvation of the people, God to be glorified, commanders and units on base, the Chaplains, marriages, military personnel deployed, children, schools and so on. If you aren't sure what Scriptures to pray, grab a Bible with a concordance and look up key words such as those listed in the previous sentence and then look up those Scriptures and incorporate the Word of God into you prayer. It isn't hard, I promise!

For example, Salvation, we'll use John 3:16. Here's the verse: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." So you might pray, "Dear Lord, thank you so much that you loved the world, including me, my family, and my neighbors, so much that you sent your Son, your only Son - Jesus Christ-, to this world, so that any one who believes in Him will not die, but will live forever with You in Heaven. I pray Lord that the people in this neighborhood would hear this truth, that they would believe in Your one and Only Son, Jesus Christ, so that they will not perish, but have ever lasting life. Thank you Lord Jesus so much for this promise. In Jesus Holy and Precious Name, Amen." 

I brought Butterfly, Little Man and Flower with me because I want them to be apart of this. Butterfly is old enough to pray and has prayed a few times on her own (without prompting), so I'm really glad that she is witnessing this prayer in action.

Well, I'm off to get some stuff done. I'm really looking forward to making some new fall soup recipes this fall, and some new bread recipes too. Yum!

Is autumn your favorite season? What do you love about autumn?

13 September 2012

Lunch at Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A has been in the news a lot lately, especially on the day on the great Chicken Eat In. But I'm not going to write about all that and the political stuff that surrounds it.

Today, my two year old son and thirteen month old daughter had been out running errands while my oldest was at school and rather than drive all the back home and have to rush to fix and eat lunch, I decided to go to treat my son to some Chick-Fil-A for lunch.

I have always had a positive dining experience when eating at Chick-Fil-A (or going through their drive-through), but today was an exception, to say the least. It's not what you might be thinking though. . . .

I was absolutely blown away by the kindness of the employees at Chick-Fil-A. From the time I neared the front door pushing the stroller (as my daughter was asleep in her car seat) toting my two year old and the manager ran to hold the door open for us, until I left the parking lot, I was met with nothing short of smiling faces and the truest of kindnesses.

One particular employee, Janice, went out of her way to be kind to us, and I was just astonished to find such a genuine attitude of helpfulness and joy. It wasn't just the refilling of my drink; she went out of her way to make sure that I got a place to sit in the busy restaurant, got a high chair for my son, brought us our food and just really helped me out.

As I ate my lunch and shared precious moments of bonding with my son while my daughter slept peacefully in her car seat, I reflected on my previous experience in fast food restaurants, and never have the employees at fast food restaurant, or really any restaurant for that matter, gone out of their way to be so kind. I got the impression that their kindness did not spring from a motive of being a paid employee, but out of a genuine heart's desire to be kind to the patrons who visited the restaurant.

More than that, there was an ambiance of love and gratitude that seemed to be shared among the diners - something that is rarely felt in this rushed and busy world where most people seem to be out for number one. It was as if, in some way, the kindness of the employees had reached out and touched each person in a heartfelt way and each person, in turn, was relaxed, smiling and truly enjoying just being there. To some it up in one word, it felt like love.

Surely, you must by now think I'm joking, but I'm not. Kindness, joy and gratitude stem from a heart filled with love, love for fellow person, love for service and most of all, love for God. I have no idea if the staff employed at this particular Chick-Fil-A on this particular day are Christians or not; all I know if that their joy in serving was genuine.

Truly, today's lunch was one of the most peaceful that I have experienced and I am so grateful for that. I was lifted up by the attitude and manner in which I was served and in turn I lift up praise to the Lord for this. I was also motivated to share such kindness to others I meet in my day. Chick-Fil-A, way to pass it on!

So, with all this being said, Thank you Chick-Fil-A for all the ways that you serve our community! :)

12 September 2012

Hearth and Soup BlogHop - Apricot Fajitas

It has been a really looonnngg time since I've done a post for a recipe and linked up with Hearth and Soul Blog Hop. It's not that I haven't wanted to, it's that time factor thing . . . I have been taking pictures of some of new recipes that I've made, just in case I have a chance to write about it.

If you'd like to link up, head on over to Premeditated Leftovers - she has an amazing blog and every week she hosts a blog hop. I've found some amazing recipes (and blogs) through her blog hop, so I encourage you to head on over and check it out! 

So here's a recipe that I made a few months back. Apricot Fajitas.

Yes, that is a fruit before that word "fajitas". I like to experiment, what can I say?

 Basically, it's just a slight twist on your classic fajita recipe. So here you go:

Chicken or beef - about 3/4 pound for a family, thinly sliced. I used chicken.
Red bell pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
green bell pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
purple onion - thinly sliced
avocado -   pit removed and thinly sliced
apricot - about 6, halved with pit removed
olive oil - 3/4 cup
vinegar - 1/4 cup
cumin - 1-2 tsp
paprika - 1-2 tsp
juice of two limes

The tortillas shown above were actually baked in the oven, as opposed to being cooked on the stove top in a pan or grilled on a grill.

Preheat your oven to about 400*F. Line two baking sheets with foil.
Combine oil, vinegar, cumin, paprika, lime juice in a small container with a spout. Lay meat, peppers and onion on the foil pans. Drizzle oil and vinegar mixture lightly over everything. Bake 30-45 minutes until the meat is cooked through. (The chicken should have no pink.) The vegetables will no longer be crisp.

Remove from pan and transfer to serving plate.

Wrap meat, peppers, onion, avocado and apricots in a tortilla. Sour cream and refried beans highly recommended as well.

Eat and enjoy!

Serve with refried beans and/or Spanish rice and/or black beans and/or Mexican rice and sour cream. (Yes, sour cream is not really an option.) :)

10 September 2012

Jemez Mountains National Scenic Byway

For Labor Day we decided to take a little day trip to explore some more of the Land of Enchantment! And let me tell you, I was enchanted!

We decided to do the Jemez Trail National Scenic Byway which winds through the Jemez Mountains. We ended up only doing half the loop, and instead took a little scenic detour through Los Alamos to Pojoaque and then back again, stopping at the Valles Caldera National Preserve. It took the entire day, and it was wonderful!

White Mesa off of US-550/NM-165
 We took I-25 North from Albuquerque to Bernalillo and then headed west on US-550 and followed that to the small town of San Ysidro, where the Jemez Trail Scenic Byway starts and ends.

Church in San Ysidro, off of NM-4

From San Ysidro, we drove through the Jemez Pueblo, stopping at the Walatowa Visitor's Center. At the Visitor's Center we learned about the Hemish people. I wondered about the difference in spelling and found out that the Spanish explorers changed the name of the Hemish to the Jemez, hence the different spellings between the geographical location and the ancestral peoples.

Directly across from the Walatowa Vistor's Center were the spectacular Red Rocks of Jemez. The red color of the rocks contrasting against the blue sky littered with puffy white clouds and green cottonwoods in the foreground were nothing short of magnificent.

The Walatowa Visitor's Center had a small museum about the Hemish people. It was hard to read everything with a toddler and a preschooler not being very patient, but what I was able to read was really neat. From a very young age, the Jemez Pueblo people learn how to be Hemish by watching what their parents, relatives and friends do. For example, the boys learn to Hemish by playing the drums. Drums are an important part of Hemish life, especially in spiritual ceremonies. The narrator of one pictoral display said that her son had his first drum when he was six months old and then received a different drum when he was a toddler and so on. Another display showed young girls learning to make frybread and tortillas. They learned by watching and then doing, even if they made mistakes. I found it really interesting that the narration said the people were not born Hemish, but learned to be Hemish by what they did, and also by learning the Towa language. I really want to go back and learn more.

After leaving the Red Rocks area, the road wound its' way down to the valley floor, following the Jemez River.

After leaving the Jemez Pueblo, still on NM-4, we gradually descended into the valley of the Jemez Mountains. As you can see in the pictures, the mountains are striated with varying colors, making them incredibly beautiful. My pictures truly do not do them justice.

In the two pictures above, we are right by the Jemez River, which wound around to the left (that would be west) of us. When you are in the desert, you can always tell where the water is because of the cottonwoods. They are like a green ribbon of vibrant life that winds through the landscape, serving as a beacon for the source of life to all living things. These trees can grow up to 100 feet tall and have blossoms that float through the air like white cotton candy in the spring time and have beautiful hues of yellow in the fall.

We stopped at River's Bend, one of the many little out posts that serve as fishing areas or access to hiking, to take a little scenic route on foot. The trail wasn't very long, not even 100 yards, to the river. There was quite a bit of brush at the particular trail that we picked, so I didn't venture down to the water. (I was wearing Daphne and didn't want to accidentally knock her against a tree or get her scratched.) Mike, always the adventurous one, did blaze a trail. Sophie and Edward were hesitant to follow him through the underbrush, unless carried. The River was surprising small, but very pleasant to look at and listen to.

As you can see in the picture, the mountains rose right up from the river bed, on the opposite side of the river.

We passed through the town of Jemez Springs, which had some small art galleries, a few B&B's and some restaurants. There are also some bath houses that are over the hot springs in the area, which are heated by the geothermic activity that runs under this area.

Eventually, the road rose up in elevation and the trees changed from scattered cottonwood along the river to full groves of evergreen (see picture above). (Are they called groves when there are a lot of evergreens together?) At some point, we crossed over the river (probably at Soda Dam, which we did not get to stop at because of the lack of parking - people were parked alongside the road for quite a ways and the parking lot was full). Soda Dam is a small water fall that is formed where the Jemez River meets the hot springs in the area and forms some incredible rock formations. The glimpse we saw from the road was enough to make me really want to stop and explore more.
Battleship Rock - can you guess why it is called that?
Battleship Rock, in the picture above, was formed by a huge volcanic eruption and is the end point of the lava flow which originated in the Valles Caldera (more on that below). The Navajos call it Tse' Bit'a'i (The Winged Rock) and consider it sacred. (I apologize if the posting of this picture offends anyone.) It is truly magnificent.

At the mountain village of La Cueva, we continued on NM-4, instead of heading towards Fenton Lake State Park and the town of Cuba on NM-126, which would have kept us on the Scenic Byway. Most people take a little detour to the Jemez Falls and then turn around, but we just kept on going, as you will see. 

 Towards the top of the mountains, there was a turnoff to head toward the Jemez Falls (see above picture). The wooded pines and clusters of prairie grasses and flowers were like an oasis, especially for the nose - the smell was so incredible. We drove through this area with the windows rolled down just inhaling the wonderful scent of pine and fresh mountain air, which was also considerably cooler than at the bottom of the mountains.

The Jemez Falls is at the end of a three quarter mile hike. The hike was pretty easy and the path very well traveled. I was hoping to see some wildlife, but alas, we did not. This did not come as a surprise to me, considering the number of people that were traversing the trail that day.

 Originally, we were going to have both Sophie and Edward walk, but after a few hundred yards, it became pretty clear that if we wanted to have a peaceful hike, Edward needed to be worn. Either that or he might run off the trail, which we did not want. While the path was pretty level, the mountain sloped down to one side and would be a nasty tumble for a toddler.

Yes, I'm hiking in a skirt. It was comfortable and cool, and did not hinder me at all. :)

 Our glorious destination: The Jemez Falls, a hidden gem in the majestic mountains. The falls are about 70 feet high and you can actually swim/wade at the top or the bottom. That would have been another mile hike (one way) and probably somewhat steep, so we did not venture to either.
 The Park Service had some of the area fenced off (as you can see above), which was a really good thing, because it was almost a straight drop down the mountain side from the viewing area.

After hiking back up to the van and refueling with some much needed snacks, we headed off towards Los Alamos to look for a place to eat lunch. Mike didn't want to pack a lunch and wanted to explore this area of New Mexico through his stomach (not that I mind at all). The problem was, we were on top of a mountain in a rural area. We decided not to backtrack towards the tiny mountain town of La Cueva and NM-126 and instead opted to continue to follow NM-4 through the Jemez and come out on the other side which would take us right into Los Alamos. I thought for sure there would be food in Los Alamos, where the world renowned nuclear laboratory is located.

Hence: After driving through the rest of the Jemez Mountains and through some peaceful mountain top meadows and beautiful mesa-filled terrain . . . (both pictured below) . . .and deciding not to head towards White Rock (where Bandelier National Monument is located) but to press on toward Los Alamos . . .

 . . . which took almost two hours . . . 

. . . we arrived at lunch! The Roadrunner Cafe in Pojoaque (I still can't pronounce that name!) The food was delicious! I had flat, beef Blue Corn enchiladas with green chili and boy was it good. New Mexican food is really growing on me! Not that it had to grow that much, considering how much I love Tex Mex. What I have really grown to love and am sure will miss when we leave, is green chili. Red chili is still a little hot for me, but green chili is not and it is so good! If you are ever in New Mexico, it is a must try.

Speaking of chili, Red or green? is actually the official state question, and yep, you guessed it, it is referring to red or green chili. If you want to have both, you say "Christmas". 

Pictured above is part of the Valle Grande, which is part of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Valles Caldera is a massive (and I mean huge!) volcanic caldera that was formed from a volcanic eruption a long time ago. Geologists will say millions of years, but since I'm a Creationist and not an evolutionist, I don't believe it was that long ago. Maybe 6,000 years ago . . .Anyway, the point is not to debate here . . .the beauty of the Valle Grande was just immense. The road in the picture above is a few miles away, if that gives you any indication of how big this valley is. It is deceptively huge.

 The picture above is looking to the far northeast (?) side of the Valle Grande and the mountain peak in the distance is also several miles away. If you are into elk observing or hunting or just learning more about those incredible creatures, this is the place to come. There about 7,000 elk living in this area of New Mexico. There is actually an Elk Festival coming up in October that I'm hoping to go to. It coincides with the Balloon Fiesta and some other stuff, so I'm not sure if we'll make it this year. Whether we make it back for the Elk Festival or not, Mike and I really want to come back up here. We were both just in awe of this place, how quiet it was (we drove to the geographical center of the Valle Grande and visited the visitors center) and just the majesty of God's creation in this particular corner of the Earth.

The East Fork Jemez River, which runs through the Valle Grande.It's about three miles to the mountains in the background.
 After we left the Valle Grande, it was about 1700, so it was time to head back home. We ended up not completing the second half the Scenic Byway, which would have taken us on NM-126 to Cuba (the town, not the island nation), then south again on US-550 to San Ysidro and then I-25. We'll have to save that for next time!
Driving back through the Jemez Mountains at sunset.
  And thus we came to the end of another Grand Adventure in the Land of Enchantment! The more I explore this diverse state, the more it enchants me. Mike and I are going to miss New Mexico when we PCS. We'll be excited for new adventures to come though, wherever it is that the Lord will have us move to!

I hope you enjoyed my little blog tour of the Jemez Mountains Scenic Byway. Until next time! Have a good night and happy trails!

07 September 2012

Life is funny

Having babies, toddlers and preschoolers in your life can bring many challenges, of different varieties. On the flip side, however, is the humor it brings.

I love how children look differently at the world then we adults do. They haven't been molded by "the system" yet and are learning how to figure things out in their own way. The world is new and exciting to them and there is so much to learn.

The things that kids say and do are absolutely hilarious. To me, anyway. Here are a few examples of late:

We were watching Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron together last night, and there is a scene where the train locomotive slides back down the mountain after the horses break free from their harnesses. Edward loves trains. (And by loves, I mean, LOVES and adores trains - everything is trains trains trains). I look over to the couch where Mike is sitting with Sophie and Edward, and Edward has this look of great concern on his face and he is repeating over and over in a sad tone, "Poor train, poor train". He was quite concerned for the train. It was so precious!

The other day I had finished folding a load of laundry in the living room, and before I could put the laundry basket back in its' place in the laundry room, Edward started using it to push things around the living room. Then he turned it over, climbed up on top of it and stood on the laundry basket. Daphne, who was extremely interested in all this, scoots over to Edward, looks up at him, and says, "No no no no no" is this sweet little voice. "No" is Daphne newest word in her vocabulary. She always says it so sweetly though!

Whenever Edward is in trouble and is going to get a spank, he immediately starts trying to come up with excuses to not get spanked. "Poopy! Poopy!" I'll check his diaper - no poop. "All wet! All wet!" and any other number of things to try to get out the spank. It doesn't work, but it is so funny!

Sophie has really taken off with her talking and loves to regale us of her latest tale of adventure or woe. Over the weekend Mike took Sophie and Edward to the playground while I got dressed and got some stuff done. I hear Sophie crying as they are coming back through the open window, so I get downstairs just as Mike and the kids are coming through the door. Sophie is really upset, so I ask her what happened. "I fell off trike and bump head and hurt arm." And she had. She didn't tell me that she was standing on her trike, which she shouldn't have been. We got her all cleaned up though. I got her a nice band-aid. There's just something about a band aid to make it feel all better.

Speaking of band-aids, anytime Sophie or Edward get a tiny bump or small "owie", they immediately ask for a band-aid. So our new rule is: if it isn't bleeding, you don't need a band-aid.

Sophie has entered the world of pretend play and I love to watch her as she plays with different pretend things. She has a doll that she got for Christmas, and she is so gentle with her doll as she changes her diaper or holds her. It's great to see her exclaim about what a yucky diaper her doll has or get some food for her doll. I love how the Lord created children to learn at all their different stages.

And of course, there is the silliness and humor we adults have in life.

Mike asked me why I didn't like GPS devices. My response: "Because they tell me what to do!" (There's some insight into my personality for you!)

Mike and I were discussing making jambalya last night for dinner. I'm thinking to myself, we don't have any red or green pepper or sausage or the number of other ingredients homemade jambalya calls for.  I tell Mike that I can't make it.

Mike's version: that box and some sausage. I burst out laughing at just the difference in our thinking. Mike thought it was pretty funny too. (We ended up eating at McAlister's Deli- yum!)

There's more, I just can't think of it right now . . .of course, when I have a chance to write it down. Ce la vie, eh? :)

Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In

 It's been a while since I've done one of these! Head on over to WifeOfASailor if you want to participate! :)

1. What's one thing in the past month you would have changed?
Hmmm . . . . I would have packed a lunch for the kids for when we took our day trip to the Jemez Mountains (more on that later). We decided to stop somewhere local to eat. When you're in the middle of the mountains, there isn't always a place to eat at all, local or not. So we ended up eating lunch at 1430. Luckily I had snacks and the kids were good about it.

2. What was your favorite thing that happened in August?
Seeing the joy and excitement in Sophie about going to school and hearing her tell me about her day each afternoon when I pick her up. I love to see how much she is learning and how she is thriving in a school environment.

3. What did you do to celebrate Labor Day?
We took a day trip as a family to the Jemez Mountains and Valles Caldera. Talk about stunning scenery!

4. What do you HAVE to have handy by your bedside?
Glasses, cell phone (doubly functioning as an alarm), Bible, water, teething gel for Daphne, a few books.

5. What are you looking forward to it September?
My birthday! :D