Sunday, October 30, 2011
PandaGirl has literally DEVOURED the first four Harry**Potter books and the first two movies. She is a fabulous reader which is a huge accomplishment for her since at the beginning of first grade she scared me by not picking up on the skill very well then in the last six weeks of first grade she hit her stride and hasn't stopped. She loves to read!! I can tell you that there was NO WAY I would have EVER read a book as thick as the HP ones in THIRD grade. NONE.
This pic of her alongside the real ChoChang is brilliant and also shows just how gorgeous this girl is! I am so thankful for not just one beautiful daughter, but TWO. Both girls are so stinkin' beautiful!!! I drool over their flawless brown skin since I have always struggled with my pasty white, freckled, always-burning-in-the-sun skin. PandaJOY was a DARLING angel, which was all her own idea and she was to die for, too. So blessed with these beauties!!
Saturday, October 22, 2011
This was the 3rd annual Pumpkin Party that my friend throws just for fun! I adore fall so much so this small gathering to carve pumpkins and eat fun fall foods is right up my alley. Makes me wonder WHY I have never thought of doing before myself! Duh! Well, I'm just glad she does it, because she goes all out with the cute food as you'll see in the last collage. (Reckless, I missed you, greatly. )
I have THE MOST gorgeous and adorable pic of PandaJOY that I want to share, but the whole point of it is her beautiful little face and I just am not allowed to show that yet. Boo. Hopefully soon and very soon this whole appeal process will be over. You can tell by the extra padding on my face that I've been dealing with all of the stress by eating. Yuck. GOT TO LOSE WEIGHT! AHHHH!
This is a random side note, but you know how life just happens sometimes and you'd swear that if there were gods....they'd be against you? Well, our entire summer was filled with that from gobs of money spent on vehicles and house repairs and it hasn't stopped. It seems like one thing after another that sucks up extra money or just plain drives us crazy is always crashing through our door. On the way to the party we stopped at a store that starts with W and ends in Mart for some pumpkin carving tools. As PP was quickly getting into the car (can't go in the Tahoe because the air is still out and the temps were bleh!!!) he grabbed the door handle like any normal person would do and with his Incredible*Hulk strength ripped the metal covering of the door handle OFF. Love my man's strength. Really? The DOOR HANDLE? So I had to crawl over and open the door from the inside. Great times. PP's jaw was CLENCHED the whole rest of the way to the party. Yikes.
The kids and a few of the grown-ups went on a hayless hayride....used blankets instead and that threw me back to when I went on real hayrides as a kid in the freezing cold weather. Made me feel warm inside to think of it. After the ride the hosts put up a movie on their garage door with a projector. Total fun for the kiddos. PG & PJ gobbled up popcorn, sodas and more sweets. They loved it!
My friend sent out on the invitation that we were to dress like lumberjacks and vintage flannel. I read that about an hour before we were leaving and wanted to punch myself!! I am one to always go for the theme or dress up or something that is extra fun and would have totally gone and gotten a red plaid flannel shirt from the thrift store and been all lumberjack-y, but we had to settle for PandaPop's plaid shirts instead. I think we still turned out cute, though. It was hotter than expected. The past two years was a perfect coldness allowing us to wear coats and even a scarf or gloves. Alas, this party was holding at 75 degrees at 8:30 pm. Not so fallish, but fun none-the-less. Happy Fall, Y'all!!!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
So you think I look like a crazed maniac?!!
Well, have a good belly laugh at my expense. I don't care! I have already fallen in the floor laughing at the face of a five year old who just saw Santa Clause come down the chimney with presents.
Go ahead. Laugh.
Our church's mothers of preschoolers group had Lisa Whelchel* as the guest speaker today. I'm not even in the moms group because PandaJOY goes to public preschool and her schedule doesn't allow me to attend not to mention that 90% of the attendees are so much younger than me and I am at a totally different stage in life.....I just happen to have a preschooler, too.
Anyway....back to the excitement! I have loved and adored Lisa since I was 10 years old watching The Facts of Life when she played Blair Warner. When I was an adult I read her autobiography and learned that she is a Believer. She has since led women in ministry in several different arenas selling numerous books and speaking with Women of Faith conferences.
She actually lives just down the road from me in the two communities over and away from ours, but I've never crossed paths with her in our shopping area as have some of my friends. I know she's not a superstar to most people, but I have truly adored her since I was a kid. She was PandaPop's first TV crush when she was a kid on the NEW Mickey Mouse Club in her pre-Facts of Life acting days. I know he was dying to meet her today, too, but his gutsiness level isn't as high as mine and he had a staff meeting. Poor guy.
I went in the meeting and saw that she was sitting at the same table as our pastor's wife and lo & behold there was an open chair right in the middle of them that was screaming my name!! I sat down with my heart beating about 1000 times a second and feeling so completely stupid that it was doing so. I took a deep breath and introduced myself, small talk, blah-blah, smile-smile, shake hands and NICE TO MEET YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thanked her for her ministry and couldn't help but tell her that my hubs had a crush on her in his wee years of boyhood. She laughed.
I flew back to PandaPop's office on my magic carpet and could hardly breathe!!!
He was laughing at me. I so wanted a picture, but felt stupid going BACK in there for it. I certainly did not want to distract or take away from the actual moms meeting. Heck most of the girls in there had NO IDEA who they were in the presence of!! lol!! I knew I'd regret it forever if I didn't get a picture and PP said the same thing, so I went back in and asked if I could be so crazy as to have a picture taken with her. Of course, she obliged and a friend took the picture. Apparently, I was so overwhelmed with bubbles of giddy elation that they overflowed through the picture. I even laughed and told her I was acting like she was Elvis or something to which she replied, "Well, thank you very much" (only oldies will read that with the correct intonation and "get it"). She must have some kind of system as to where she memorizes people's names because she remembered my name from the earlier meeting and said, "nice to meet you today, Jana".
WHAT????????? She remembered my name? I think I fell on the floor.
No I didn't, but I so wanted to be invited to her home for coffee, or tea or a sleepover.
As for the title of this post? You have to have seen Despicable Me* to fully understand the intensity of it. The smallest little girl of a trio of sisters goes to an amusement park, sees a very fluffy stuffed unicorn and wants it sooooo badly that upon seeing it she squeals in delight with teeth clenched and body tense yelling, "That unicorn's so fluffy I'm gonna DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" And she says it in the EXACT tone that I do when I come upon something that I really, really like. I know. I should probably be too old to act like that, but I can't help it. I'm very passionate about things that I like and in the moment that I see it or realize that I super-uber love it I jump up & down, squeal and thrill in delight and feel it to my bones......that I like it. Whatever "it" is. I like that I have that much passion. And I love that I got to meet a lifelong idol today.
I know she is just a regular person. But she is a beautiful godly woman who has impacted my life and God allowed me to meet her today. I am thankful. I'm not one for autographs. I think those are so stupid. No offense to anyone who does like them, but a person's signature does diddly-squat for me. A photo taken with Lisa Whelchel* or Beth Moore* (which I did in 2001!!!!!!!!!!) makes my millenium.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
When PandaGirl was three I started the tradition of going to a tearoom for her birthday and then purchasing a teacup so she could have her own collection of teacups when she got out on her own in the big world since one of her Chinese names means, tea.
The picture below is the cup PG chose today. She is very dainty and loves girly, elegant, old world kinds of things. The ones just below that are her collection so far. The small blue one with the lid is actually from China (not the "made in china" kind, either.....I know that ran through your head!) and was a gift from my BFF to represent her first birthday since we didn't get to celebrate it with her. We are missing one year, though. Last year our special guest (we have a special guest each year) was her Aunt Gi and we wasted time and didn't make it to an actual tearoom, but rather to the Cheesecake*Factory......then we never bought a cup for her 8th birthday, so that is still an adventure waiting to happen in search of that cup. I love her collection and want one of my own!
I started going to tea rooms around 1997-ish when my friends and I (and PandaPop!!!) discovered how fun it was to eat great food, drink out of beautiful or cute teacups and then go around the antique mall or store just browsing since most of the tea rooms I've been in are in such places. PP and I have millions of memories going antiquing. That was one of our pre-children past-times and I deeply miss it sometimes. We never bought any fancy antiques, but we both love browsing through the old stuff and new junky stuff to see what we can see. Those just are not the kind of places to take children.....and have fun. It's mostly "don't touch that!" or "hang on, we'll be done in a minute.....". I even have a charm on my bracelet that is of an antique cash register just for the memories.
Though PG's birthday was a couple of weeks ago, we all set out today for a tearoom in our very own backyard, basically. FABULOUS antique mall, too!!!! I have no idea who that little child with the pink hat on is. She just sat down with us. However, when we were all looking around the store for PG's annual teacup purchase, that little one kept following us. Hmmm.
The food was delectable! PG & PP shared a turkey melt sandwich and tomato basil soup while I had the chicken salad on croissant with the same yummy tomato basil soup and that little pink hat girl asked if they'd make her own special noodles with butter. They must have known her, because they complied.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
UPDATE: just by claiming the scripture mentioned below and changing my entire mindset from all about my loss as a mother and her dreams to a true ministry to my girls and making it all about their needs I can say that today ROCKED & I totally tried to do everything emotionless and FOR them with out reacting in defense!! One day at a time is what it takes. ; )
What do you think about my life? You probably don't sit around all day pondering about PandaMom, but in some teeny-tiny way you think about me for a second or else you wouldn't visit this blog and read my ramblings or peek at my photos.
Are you curious as to how real I am or what it's like being a minister's wife? Do you think I have it all together? HA. Those who know me in real life know better than that. But with just pictures on a screen and text on a page that can be read in the way I intended them to or completely misinterpreted and come across different that my original thoughts, do you think you know me?
I do try and be real on here. One of my better qualities is that I am a transparent person. I don't like hiding things and I feel an urge to spill my guts just so that someone doesn't think I'm being fake about something. I'd rather come across as one who lays it all out there and risks being made fun of rather than be pretentious in any way. My transparency has bitten me in the behind before so I am much more aware of what I hang on the laundry line.
Though part of me wants to, I do not feel released to type out all there is to know about PandaMom. I am married to a minister and I'd never want to bring any negative light to my Man, our precious church or anything that would hinder the beauty of God. Some things are meant to be kept private no matter if I want to blather on about them in cyber space.
Why did I ask your opinion of my life? I often visit other's blogs and sum them up in about a five second scan of the blog. How shallow of me. I do the same when people watching. As horrible as it is, I can't seem to stop. I see someone and have their whole life pegged in an instant. Stupid me. How many times have I been 100% wrong??? Probably 99% of the time.
Do you think that I have such a great story to tell with the beautiful girls with whom we've been entrusted? Well, I do.
Do you sometimes wish that you could have been infertile and have adopted outside your race?.....like maybe it's glamorous to have gone through the pain of years of infertility, millions of tears, disappointment after countless disappointment in trying to build a family, entering the tragic foster system and have your world rocked? What about having your dreams of how your family would look and act be utterly shattered?
Like I look at Beth*Moore and see her precious self being all cute and beautiful and spunky. She has two grown daughters who adore her, do ministry with her and they all three seem to have THE BEST relationship ever. She has this unbelievable gift of making God's Word understandable to everyday-janes like me and she's totally hip & cool, too. However, her testimony is hard, hard, hard. Hard. Why would I be jealous of her when she's lived through so much heartache? You know she raised a son for seven years (from age 4-11) and he was taken from their lives for some loophole reason. That's some serious heart-break right there, that I'd never, ever want to go through.
I'm writing this all out tonight because I have been struggling so very much with raising these girls. We are still in the appeal process with PandaJOY so I battle feelings of "raising someone else's kid" while we wait out this crazy, useless legal process. PJ is quite a handful because she isn't just a typical (whatever that is) 3 year old. She comes with many emotional issues from her tiny past. With each discipline she needs, which is multiple times daily just like an other kid this age, I have to instantaneously make the mental shift from my own way of doing things to what is going to be best for her. I fail miserably most days. There is some high drama in our home and I don't mean the funny kind. On the times that I actually DO get it right and she is successful and I am successful I wish there was someone there clapping and handing out stickers or something to recognize that I DID IT!! I actually DID IT and I made a great mark of improvement on this child's life!!! YAY ME!!!!
Then there's PandaGirl who has her own past experiences. I forget that she, too comes with a load of issues that stem from being abandoned as a baby, living in an orphanage and then the trauma of being ripped from her loving nannies at the orphanage and put in our foreign arms. We moved on as if this darling little toddler was a newborn and we were starting fresh. No way. She had 15 months of who knows what under her belt before she ever set foot on American soil.
So I have two daughters (let's just call PJ that for the sake of ease) who have unhealthy, non-Americana backgrounds. I have my own issues that I deal with adding more stress to the day and before you know it.......sometimes I want to SCREAM!!!!!!!!! Sometimes I do.
Like I stated earlier, I feel like a complete and utter failure to these two girls on a daily basis. That's what I'm getting at with all the questions and comparisons. I don't want for one minute for anyone reading this blog to think that I have it all together just because I'm sometimes funny and have a quick wit or that I take some pretty pictures. I was at my wit's end today and begged God for a Scripture to help ease my wonky unsettled, un-peaceful feelings and He gave me this:
"Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
It might not make any sense to you, but it does to me. I took it personally and fully believe He blessed me with this peace at just the moment I needed it. He also led me to Face**book. Yes, God led me to Face**book. A friend posted a link to a pastor who wrote an article from his new book coming out and the title of the article was "Don't Adopt!". That's an attention getter. I clicked on the link and read what he had to say.
I totally agreed with him.
I even signed on to make a comment.
Here's the link. "Don't Adopt!" Let me know your thoughts if you have an opinion on this.
I am posting because I do want some other thoughts. Until I had experienced what I have with my girls and until I read his post I would talk til I was blue in the face with PandaPop about this issue and he & I disagreed. We rarely all out disagree on much, but this was one such issue: are all Christians called to adopt to fulfill the scripture that says to take care of widows and orphans? I've stood my ground saying that there's no way that God wouldn't want every Christian to adopt, meaning you don't have to wait on "God's will" or permission to adopt. Just do it!! PP's take is that, NO, not everyone is called to adopt. It baffled my mind......until I read this article and I like how he stated it. PP knows that I now agree with him. He just rolled his eyes when I told him. That was a kind gesture to me suggesting, "You drive me crazy, Blondie. I've been trying to tell you this forever."
After the gift of the scripture verse and after reading this, I felt empowered to minister to these two girls in a different way. To be their mom, but to stop trying to make them into the American dream family that I thought I'd have. I will never have been pregnant. I will never have carried life in me nor have known my children from birth. I don't have the privilege of having bonded to my daughters in their infancy making them feel safe & secure deep down in their core. I will never even remotely look like my girls. I will never be the first mother they knew. I can't ever rest in the sacredness of birthing them. They absolutely have issues. I have issues. I have to parent them differently than what might seem normal. If you 've followed at least since January you know that my word for this year has been ENTRUSTED. I got a new vision of that today and am renewed.
PandaPop and I have been entrusted with these beauties. They need extra love & care. They need to be disciplined differently. They need Jesus. They are such a gift and I lost sight of that for a while.
I'm praying the battle for these two will find me faithful to the calling on my life. It's not about me. It's about them.
Thanks for sticking around with me, friends.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
....the naughty little girls will play!!
How blessed I am to have PandaPop and his ability to work all day and then come home to care for the girls when I need to do a photo shoot. I have quite a few to do in October and November and can't wait for them!! I had a few in September just to get the creative shutter-bug juices flowing (that sounds funny to say bug juices flowing).
For several years I wore nail polish that was a metallic cappuccino color that I purchased for 99¢. Of course, any time we girls find something that just "fits" us the company stops making it. Has that happened to you? I loved this color and wore it for a long time. I got in the mood to try and find something like it and this is what I came up with. Though it says copper penny, it really looks more gold than anything. It's fun for a fall treat and change of pace.
The girls LOVED it, especially PG since GOLD, not yellow, but shiny g-o-l-d is her favorite color. Right before I left for my shoot I painted their nails and toenails (kinda hard to do on PG since she gnaws each to the bone basically meaning that I painted her skin).
Yay.....we're all happy and bouncy because we look cute in our gold polish.
I leave for my shoot.
I come home to the dog spinning in the living room floor, PandaPop chasing him with the look of rage on his face, one child (the little bitty one) is crying in time-out and the bigger guilty party is crouched in a chair staring straight ahead.
I hate that this happened while I was gone, but it helps PP see how quickly it can go from the hills are alive with the sound of music to honey, I blew up the kids in nothin' flat.
He is a great Mr. Mom, but after he told me what happened I had to giggle. Well, after I read the girls their Miranda Rights.
Apparently, PandaGirl wanted to repaint her own nails so she got.my.polish.
You can see where this is going.
Who copies everything PG does?
That child will certainly be the death of me.
PandaJOY fears nothing and thinks that if there is something to be experienced then, she too, will experience. If no one helps her.....she will take care of that herself.
She got the polish, too.
The counter was covered, I was told and her ladybug pajamas now sparkle with metallic gold splotches.
The bathroom reeked of nail polish remover.
All was cleaned up by the time I made it home but the kicker is that this all happened after PP got them out of the bath, dried, fresh clothes, etc.
Then she tee-teed in her panties...right in front of the potty.
God bless my Man.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Nooooo......not on her birthday!! Especially the first year that she is NOT having a big birthday bash. Especially in the year where she's seen PandaJOY get gobs of gifts for her shower and birthday that happened in the summer. Boo. That is yucky. Well, we are keeping her home and hopefully she'll be all better today so that tomorrow her good friend can come over as planned for a fun-filled sleepover and shopping trip on Saturday for a new purse.
As for these cupcakes that I made upon request yesterday, I wanted to share THE BEST and I do mean the scrumdillyumptious best buttercream frosting recipe that I got from LMM. I told you I have no original thought......only borrowed ones. That's what the internet basically is, right? Just a gazillion borrowed ideas. Well, LMM is one of my favs and I copy her stuff a lot. It makes me smile.
This recipe is a hybrid from LMM's Oreo* cupcakes where the cookie is in the vanilla cake batter. This time PG requested chocolate cupcakes with just the cookie infused frosting. Be prepared to gasp when you see how much butter is involved.
Before I give out the goods I must say that I cannot stand that cool-whippy kind of frosting on a cake. Gaggity-gag-gag-gag. I'd rather not eat the cake, which is saying I have an enormous amount of disgust, than to eat the fake cool-whipped icing. Bleh.
When I made this frosting back in the summer when trying LMM's recipe, I think I may have fallen down in the kitchen floor after tasting it. It was my favorite kind of frosting. Super, uber rich and creamy sweet, sweet, sweet.
Beat 4 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature......I nuke mine in the microwave for a minute at power 30% or 40%......you do not want it melted, just soft) and 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (that's powdered sugar!!) until pale and fluffy. ("That unicorn's so FLUFFY....I'm gonna DIE!!!!".....do you know what kid movie this is from? I squeal that line a lot. And giggle. The little girl sounds JUST like me when I see something that tickles my fancy).
Gradually add an additional 5 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Add 1 1/2 Tablespoon milk
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat until pale and fluffy (I'm gonna DIE!!)
Now for adding the crushed cookies or any other flavoring you just fold it in and enjoy.
What crushed cookies? Oh yeah, the oreos* that were crushed in a little bag. I had a little bitty helper get mine all crushed up. She so wanted to lick the frosting off the beaters, but I made her wait until PG got home from school where I, mother of the year, had saved two beaters filled with frosting of the year. The children squealed in delight. I was happy, for a moment.
I think I might have crushed up about 12 cookies and only used HALF of the frosting base. The rest is in the fridge awaiting something new and wonderful to cover.
Did you notice how much butter you use? Yes, that IS a lot, but it takes all of it. Also for a fun treat, remember to put a full size Oreo* in the bottom of the cupcake liner. Makes for a surprise when biting into the cupcake.
As I type this PandaGirl has since come downstairs, fever free and just fine. She is excited that she doesn't have to go to school....on her birthday. This kid blows my mind with her gag reflex. I really need to take her to the doctor. She has some kind of funky something that happens where she'll starting coughing in a certain way and then.....woops.....trash can, please. Apparently, that is what happened last night. She has never been able to take medicine very well. Last night she was hot and has a hurt back so I gave her children's Tylenol* melt-aways. She started her usual gagging, which sometimes I have no sympathy for and want her to just "get over it", but then comes the pukity-puke and I feel sorry for her. She is just fine and looks like we'll be having the fun sleepover after all.
Monday, October 3, 2011
How was your weekend?!!!
Ours was filled with doing busy work here at home along with just relaxing a bit. Good thing, because I am about to go into overdrive with photo shoots. Back in the summer I posted a notice on Face**Book for Christmas Mini-Shoots that I'd be doing in the fall so people could sign up for something fun and chilly-sounding while baking in the 114 degree weather we were enduring through the dog days of summer. It filled up with 23 thirty minute mini-shoots!! Yay!! Then last month I did a three-people-only post for a full family session at a super-UBER discount and it filled in less than half an hour. This weekend I posted another great deal for three full family sessions and it filled up (plus I allowed one more!). Plus I have several other shoots that will take time as well. How's this for fun?!!--I was asked to do a special shoot of a local high school choir, architecture shots of their campus and choir faculty. Woot! Cha-ching$$$! That gig is in full gratitude to my friend who is a graphic designer and is starting to hook me up with commercial business shoots.
I think it came down to me realizing this weekend that I really do have a photography business.
The list of things I need to learn about my camera, photography, editing and plain old business sense is endless, but.....right here-right now......I have a business. And I need to work it as such.
Procrastination is going to have to wait. (pun fully intended...haha)
What in the world does this information have to do with a smoothie, you ask?
I just wanted to share with you this Super-Food Smoothie recipe that one of my BFFs from this little shindig gave to me. It is very clean and healthy. According to her, everyone has boasted about her skin looking so much younger. That was within days of having one every day.
Let's be totally honest, though. My friend happens to be of Latin descent (ie....Mexican) and she loves to rub it in our gringa faces that her skin hasn't really started wrinkling like ours has. Gracias, chica.
BUT.....the point is, is that the spirulina algae powder and the bee pollen granules truly are considered super-foods and uber healthy.
Is uber really a word? The little red dotted line keeps coming up under it as if I made it up. Any clue?
PandaPop was watching a freebie documentary on Net*flix yesterday about this guy who lost a lot of weight by doing a juice detox. Basically, he drank raw fruits & veggies for so many days. We want to try it just to get some energy back into our 40-something bodies, but we don't yet own a juicer. Maybe next paycheck.
This recipe is so yummy that my PandaGirl (Miss Picky!!!!) loves it!! PandaJOY just says, "No sank-you" while curling her lip up and shaking her head. The spirulina (found at our health food market) does have a tinge of algae/grassy taste, but all the flavors of the fruit overpower it. That's just fair warning so you don't make the thing and gag because it didn't taste like a chocolate malt or something. The original recipe calls for apple juice, but all we had yesterday was grape, so grape it was. Not as good as the apple and it changed the color. When using apple juice it is vibrant green. Yesterday's was grayish-purple and not quite the same flavor.
You can get the bee pollen at the health food store, as well. Bee pollen is supposed to be the end-all, do-all greatest thing on the planet. Not quite sure why the whole world has not taken hold of this phenomenon. Maybe it really, really is good for us and the billion dollar crap-food industry doesn't allow for it's promotion.
Here are just a few of the benefits of bee pollen: click here for a great site.
Here's the recipe:
10 blueberries (Please don't sneak in another blueberry. You might spontaneously combust)
2 heaping tablespoons of plain organic yogurt (I prefer Greek because it is thick and much better for you than any other kind)
1 scoop whey protein powder (I use vanilla flavored)
1 tsp spirulina
1 tsp bee pollen granules
1/2 to 1 cup of organic apple juice (I'm sure organic everything is better.....but I can't afford all organic!!)
two handfuls of ice (unless the fruit is frozen, then I only use one handful)
Put everything in the blender and blend away!! It makes about a 16-20 oz cup of healthy goodness and is quite filling.
I'd love to know if you try this and if you use any other fruit variations!! I used frozen peaches instead of blueberries a couple of times and it makes for a great flavor change and makes the green a yellowy green. In case you wanted to color coordinate that day.