Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Purpose

Tonight I watched this video podcast of Rick Warren at the TED Conference in 2006. He is the author of the book, The Purpose Driven Life. At the conference, he was reflecting on his own crisis of purpose in the wake of his book's wild success. He explains his belief that God's intention is for each of us to use our talents and influence to do good.

I really enjoyed listening to Rick's talk. I am a big fan of the book and recommend it often. I've even given a couple as gifts (although Kevin still hasn't read it). Tonight, I was encouraged by Rick's talk. Just like the book always does, this talk sparked something in me that I'm determined to pursue.

At one point he brought up the story of God turning Moses' staff into a snake. [Exodus 4:2]

1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"

2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?". "A staff," he replied.

3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers...has appeared to you."

God asked Moses, "What is in your hand?". A simple, wooden staff. Part of Moses' everyday life. Right?

With that staff Moses defeated the magicians of Egypt, stripped Pharaoh of his power, humiliated Egypt's gods and brought Israel out from slavery to freedom*.

Rick went on to ask the audience: What is in your hand?

At that moment, I was holding Mia. She was in my hands.

Q: What do I have that God has given me?
A: My children

And what am I going to do with what God has given me? I don't have the perfect answer for this. But I know that I will work every day to influence my babies by example, by education, by discipline, by unfaltering love...I will influence my babies to make this world a better place. To love the Lord with their whole body so that they might be used by him to be a light in this world.

My children aren't mine just like this world is not mine. But I've been given the great pleasure of helping guide them thru life. They. Are. In. My. hands.

What has God given you? What are you going to do about it?

I'm going to re-read The Purpose Driven Life with this new perspective. I've always read the book with an 'all about me' slant. And that is exactly how I needed to read it at those times in my life. I'm excited about what God will reveal this time? My babies are my passion and part of my purpose in life.

What can do with what has been given to me. I'll keep you posted.

* sentence copied from here

I May Never March In The Infantry...

Brody has been singing this classic church song for the past couple of weeks. Last week, at Aunt Sharron and Uncle Don's house, he & Cousin Malena danced around and sang it at the top of their tiny little lungs while Aunt Sharron hammered it out on her gorgeous baby grand. "Sing with me!"

I may never march in the infantry

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never zoom o'er the enemy

But I'm in the Lord's army. YES, SIR!

I'm in the Lord's army, YES SIR! I'm in the Lord's army. YES, SIR!

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never zoom o'er the enemy, But I'm in the Lord's army. YES, SIR!

I love that he's learning these songs so early. The best part is that he learns a lot of them from his preschool where they have weekly chapel. He learned Deep & Wide there - hand motions and everything. And I Gotta River of Life. How precious is that? He even learned the "Johnny Appleseed song" (as the Johnson/Sturm family calls it) from school and now it's our nightly prayer before dinner.

On our way home from church this morning, I pointed out a wake boarder to Brody (yes, our drive to church is along the Pacific coast!) and he of course asked, "Why?". Not knowing how to answer that question I proceeded to explain the process of being pulled by a boat and being able to stand up on the water and ski, surf or even walk. He said, "Like Jesus?". I mean, seriously. The kid is paying attention!

Kevin an Brody read Bible stories every night from Brody's children's Bible. It is so rewarding when he says things like this. He's listening. He is understanding. Even though he doesn't realize it completely, he's learning. I'm thrilled that Bubba has the influence of Sunday School, preschool chapel and home (Veggie Tales counts, right?) at such an early age. We pray for him every day. Most nights, I try to stand outside his room as he sleeps and thank God for the little man he is and the Godly man he is to become...and that I'll have more patience with him tomorrow than I did today.

Keep singing, son. You are a precious gift. YES, SIR!Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrate Your Next Gen Dad!

My Honey was invited to participate in a book giveaway by Hachette Book Group USA! You should know that his Next Gen Dads blog has also been published. He's practically famous, I think!
Anyway, if you write a short essay about a Dad you know (yours, your baby daddy, someone elses baby daddy...) you might win a set of 11 great books! What a great Father's Day gift for the reader in your life. To check out the rules go here. These are the books - Kevin describes each on his blog.
Hurry, deadline is 11:59 PM on Friday, June 13th and there will be 5 winners! Good luck :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mia: Month Two

Dearest Mia,

You are two months old. How can that be? Can I just start by telling you that if you knew better you'd be so proud of your dear old mom! When your Bubba was your age today, I was a mess. Your Daddy would come home from work as close to 5:30 as possible to find me sweating, on the verge of tears, and probably a little blurry eyed. Brody never slept. You are always sleeping. I spent the first year of Brody's like trying to get that baby to SLEEP. Once he was asleep, the house had to be completely quite. No one was allowed to speak, move or think too loudly lest we wake the baby. Because I was insane. When he slept, I slept. This is not a luxury I have you, my sweet but that's ok. And I'll tell you why.

Your Dad.

When I was pregnant with you, I was terrified I would be a stress-case like I was with Bubba. I worried that at the end of the day I would be doubly exhausted, doubly moody and doubly depressed. I thought, "We have to move to Texas". I thought I needed a larger support group and the only place I would be able to get that was in Texas. What I hadn't really understood at the time was how perfect our situation was going to be. And that even if we wanted to move to Texas the market was going to tank and we weren't going to be able to sell our house for what we need to sell it for anyway. But that's for another post...

Your Daddy left his company in October of 2007. I was already two months pregnant. This was not what we expected. We were trying to get pregnant but didn't think for a second that it would happen on our first attempt! You see, it took us a year and a half and lots and lots of prayers with Brody. We anticipated a longer 'trying' period with you. Lo and behold, God had a better, more perfect plan.

I found out I was pregnant when I was 6 weeks along...because this is when I became very sick. We were shocked and ecstatic and worried and nauseated but 100% thankful for God's goodness. Two months later, Daddy went solo with his own company and started working from home.

While I was sick he picked up ALL the slack. He did most of the cooking, cleaning and shopping. He took and picked up Bubba from preschool. He found errands to run with Bubba in the evening so I could moan and groan in solitude. He was patient and understanding when I couldn't exactly explain the feeling ("It's a mix of the flu, a hangover and food poisoning...") but knew for sure that I needed to sleep A LOT. Your Dad is and always will be my knight in shining armor. He'll be yours too, Mimi.

Because he works from home he is (unfortunately-for-him at times) always accessible. I'm able to work while Brody is at school or go somewhere with Brody when he's not at school because you sleep for the three hours that I'm gone and when you don't, Daddy will get you and take care of you. I get to run errands when you are both asleep in the afternoon. And I can take you somewhere while Bubbas napping all because your Daddy is here! If you're awake and it's time for Brody to nap, he'll often take over with one of you. He does Bubba's night-time routine every single night so that I can get you to bed. It's truly a tag-team partnership. We're the Iceman King Parsons and Rocky Johnson. We're the freaking Von Erich's, Sweetheart. It's beautiful! Most Mommy's don't have these luxuries, my dear. I am so blessed.

So, for now, Santa Barbara is where we get to be. I don't feel like I need that support team. I'm not worried for my sanity or your safety! And we'll live in Santa Barbara as long as we can so that you get to think that living on the beach, hiking in the mountains, year-round perfect weather and weekly festivals are normal things. We get to because God is good and He gave us your Daddy.

This post sort of turned more into a Father's Day praise report but I'm good with that. It's all true. {Honey, can this count as my Father's Day essay?}

We are so in love with you, Sister. Your precious new 'coos'. Your plump little thighs. Your sweet smell. Your strong little neck that holds up your always moving little noggin which houses your extremely observant beautiful little eyes balls. You are mild and cuddly and can swak like a parrot on crack. This week you started sleeping form 8pm to 5am and then again till at least 8:30am. You're the best, Baby. The best baby ever.

Green Bottles are ORANGE!

Who knew eco-bottles are orange? Apparently they are made with Polyethersulfone (PES) plastic, which gives them a natural golden color. They are actually quite lovely.

We finally bought some bottles for Mia. I gave away all of our Avent bottles to a woman who said she has an orphanage in Mexico. Should I feel badly about giving away bottles that are known to leach harmful chemicals? Maybe I should have just recycled them and been done with it. But I would feel worse knowing that there's an orphanage somewhere that could use baby bottles and I threw them away instead. And maybe they hand-wash all their dishes at this orphanage? This gives me peace.

I really wanted the Green to Grow bottles that I posted about a while ago. They have a really great-looking website full of excellent information. I learned more about the dangers of plastics on their site than anywhere else. Alas, they were really expensive ($10.50 for one 10oz bottle!)and I had a credit at our local (also very expensive) baby shop, Chicken Little.

I was able to buy two 10oz Thinkbaby bottles and two extra fast-flow nipples for just under $25.oo. I know. But I feel good about Mia using these bottles and I can put them in the dishwasher w/o worry. We're rocken and rollen now, baby!

Stay tuned for product review!

Friday, June 06, 2008

I've Been Tagged honey tagged me. He accurately 'outs' me in my desires to be tagged. The problem is...I don't have anyone to tag since he tagged my best friend and she and he are the only people who I know that both read my blog AND keep a blog. Oh, and Staci just got tagged so I can't tag her again and besides....she didn't tag me so I'm mad at her. There are a TON of people I would love to tag if they would get off their butts and start a blog including Aunt Tammy, Julie M, Dana, Miss Vicky, Mikey, Alexa, Andy, Nooch, Cara, Julie A., or Sarah to name but a few.....

First, for my answers to Kevin's questions:

1. If you could change one thing about a major event in your life what would it be?
Well, this is an interesting question because it would be my wedding day. I know, that sounds terrible. Besides wishing I had been less stressed for the weekend leading up to the day of our wedding...

I wish I had had my sister stand closer to me during the ceremony. We paired our b'maids and g'men as couples. One day I'll go into how perfectly they were paired but that's for another post. For some reason, we paired them with the guys upstage to the girls which meant that Andy was the closest person to me on stage (besides Kevin). I love Andy but not like I love Cara. I wish I had seen the photographs before my wedding so I could see how far she was from me on stage. That wasn't the place of honor I intended her to have. Sorry, sis. If I could do it again, I 'd have you riding piggy-back.

2. What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire? (I stole this one)
This is hard b/c I want to do so much...

1. I'd give to the causes close to my heart: Autsim, women's cancers research, women and children's welfare and microfinance lending in third world countries. How 'boutcha!?
2. I'd pay my mom's debts and buy her a gigantic house in Texas with regular landscapers, house cleaners and interior designers. I'd also pay for her to go to school to complete her degree and get her an assistant to help her pursue her dreams of working for herself...
3. I'd buy my dad a home (w/staff as well) where he could live and create works of art for himself and others. And we'd go on cool art vacations together...France, Italy, New York, etc.
4. I'd buy Cara a new car and provide seed money to help her start her own business in the fashion world. Prolly get her a house in SB too but it would be an investment for us, really.
5. I'd lend money to friends (with no expectations of getting paid back) so they could pursue their dreams of living self-sufficiently
6. Tithe 10%, of course, and give large gifts to my home church, Westmont, certain other non-profit Christian organizations and some Santa Barbara non-profits which I love so dearly (zoo, Eilings, library, local festivals, etc.)
7. Fully fund birthday parties for all my friends and family on their BIG bdays: 40, 50, 60. And plan many exciting travels for fam and frenz as often as my billionaire lifestyle can afford.

Whew. Big filthy rich is exhausting!

3. What are your three worst habits?
1. I'm extremely lazy. I hate this about myself but have yet to determine to change it.
2. I'm short tempered with the people I love most (except for Brody who I seem to have buckets of tolerance with. I saved it all up for him.)
3. I watch too much TV. This is probably my biggest offense. I love TV and make no apologies. Thankfully, I'm a multitasker!!

4. What are the three things you have to have within reach at all time (think bedside, car, etc.)?
This is actually a question that Sue Sue asked me a while ago. It's a great question and one that i actually know the answers to immediately...

1. Lotion. In California we have hard water. My hands are constantly dry and crackily and my legs are ashy and don't get me started on my heels!
2. A pen. I have pens all over the place: in my car, by my bed, in all my bags including diaper bags, by the just never know when a thought will need to be recorded urgently.
3. A drink. I'm breast feeding and insatiably thirsty. Beverage of choice has been Tazo Zen green ice tea with two Splendas [thank you, Lita, for introducing me to it!!]

5. If you could have any job what would it be and why?
First of all, I call BS on Kevie's answer. You would want to be anything athletic over a successful business entrepreneur or inventor? I'm not buying that for a minute, my love.

Any job? I would be in the entertainment industry or a celebrity scrapper like my hero Ali Edwards or I'd own a restaurant in a quaint vacation town or lake resort or I'd act on any one of my many business ideas.

That said, I absolutely love what I'm doing now and the life-situation we share. I'm thrilled to work part-time for an incredible family and to be able to be with my babies mostly full-time. Wouldn't change My Life Today for anything. ;)

Now...who to TAG?
1. Kristin Bull, miss you girlfriend!
2. Kevin tagged Tim so I'll tag Cheryl!
3. I'm sure she's been tagged a million times & we've never met but I've been reading Natalie's blog and really appreciate her honesty and style
4. I know Kristy has been tagged b/c I recently read her entire blog and would love to know her answers to these questions
5. I only got 4.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008



I am PROUD to call my sweet angel a Bow Head! Do they say "Bow Head" in California or is that a Texas term? I've never heard it used here. Curious.

My girlfriend Julie M (I'd link her blog here except she's too lazy to create one) from back home sent Mia the sweetest collection of bows last week! I was so excited that I just grabed one right out of the package, slapped it on her head and took some pics. She didn't fight it one bit either. Look at her. She's a diva. Hello! Thank you, Julie. We love them!!

In Texas girls wear hair bows. The bigger the better. We used to wear bows so big our neck would get tired holding our heads up! But pain is beauty, my friends. Mia doesn't have enough hair to clip bows in yet so I was thrilled with this head-band concept. You can attach bows directly onto the band. Any color. It's genius. Seriously. How cute is this baby?!
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Monday, June 02, 2008



I had a very sad day last week. On Saturday, May 24th my dear friend and neighbor, Georgina "Georgie" Gracia-Medrano moved away from me. She and Jose ("Sho-Shay" in one-year old Brody-speak) moved to a near-by town so that her commute to work wouldn't be as long and miserable. Georgie has been my best friend for the past couple of years. She was literally my day-time sanity for the first year of Brody's life. She was a sounding board, advice giver, companion and dear friend. Kevin would come home every day to find me, Brody and Georgie playing either outside or at Georgie's - two houses away. Georgie went with us for Brody's 2-yr pictures. We roasted marshmellows together. We played family scrabble together. We mostly sat on our patio and visited. Georgie has the youngest spirit of anyone I know. She's ten years older than I am but she has such a precious playful disposition that our age difference was never, ever an issue. It is also the reason that Brody loves her so much too. We knew exactly where to go when any of us were having a chocolate craving - Georgies. M&Ms being the house staple.

Georgie is a 1st grade teacher. I can only pray that Brody has a teacher in his life like her. She loves her job so much that she chose to work 40 miles away (rather than continue to stay home and play with us) so that she could continue her life's passion. It just occured to me that maybe she went back to work BECAUSE of us!? Maybe she got tired of me bothering her every single day to come play with us! ;) I'm sure that's not the case because if we were outside when she got home from work (after an hour drive) she would often come sit and visit with us before even entering her home to take off her shoes or go pee!!

We will all miss Georgie and Jose very much. They were very-much like family. We had keys to their home. Their dog roamed our house and ate our cat food as she pleased. I borrowed food from them regularily. The FED us when they cooked, which wasn't often but we always were rewarded when they did! They loaned us their movies [in fact, Brody's infatuation with CARS all started b/c we 'borrowed' - and subsequently ruined and post-subsequently replaced their DVD]. They burned us CDs from their extensive music collection. They let Brody 'jam' with them in their very cool garage turned music studio. They bought Brody random prizes just because they love him. When Kevie was out of town and Jose had to work late we went to dinner and got ice-cream together. I'm getting misty.

I can't end this post w/o mentioning Dominico, their oldest son (pictured). He is Brody's super-hero. I always say that if Dom, a musician, were in Teenie Bopper magazines, Brody would have his photos plastered all over the walls. Dom and Brody are buds. He was never too busy to give Brody attention. He played soccer with him, played the drums with him, made paintings with him...basically, if there was fun to be had, Dom was there. Most guys his age would have been annoyed with Bubba but Dom was always game. Dan, Dom's younger brother, wasn't around as often but he was also very sweet to Brody and indulged his many questions patiently. He's also a really good Scrabble player!

For the people who will be fortunate enough to have this family as their neighbors, I envy you. We are praying that their successors will be even 1/2 as generous, fun and interesting as the Gracia-Medranos. I hope I'm spelling your last name right!?
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Kissy Lips


I was trying to get a pic of Brody in his new "train hat" and by lucky accident caught Brody doing his white man's dance face. Sometime last year Grandmama taught Brody how to do - what she called - "The White Man's Dance". I think she was going for the over-bite-double-fists thing but he translated it into this kissy-lip version. It's a show stopper. When he gets his hair cut by Bob the Barber he has to do his White Man's dance before he can get his sucker. He pretty much does it upon request so the next time you see him ask for a little show. You wont be disappointed!

I just like it because it show cases his adorable little kissy-lips!! I told him recently that he's not allowed to let all the little girls kiss his lips. When they try, he's to say "No!". Computer, do you think this is too over bearing? I swear, I'm going to lock my kids in their closets till their 30.

By the way, the hat tilt was all Brody. I put it on him with the bill facing foward and he immediately cocked it. The kid has style.
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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Last week we received a mailer envelope from an organization called Cell Phones for Soldiers. When you send them your used cell phone (...any condition or brand and do not need to have batteries) they give the phones to a company which pays them enough money to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad. How cool is that?!

Their goal is to to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas in 2008. I love this idea. We have several dead phones laying around our home thanks to a precocious baby boy named Brody. Normally we would deposit them in an e-waste receptical. Now we can donate them to this great cause.

I've asked all our local friends to help us collect as many phones as possible and offered to box and ship them myself. I hope you will do this in your own communities or at least send your own used phones to this charity. For the shipping labels, go here. You can even set up a Drop Off Point at your own business, school or organization.