The Miracle of Freedom

What a read!  I truly haven't had such an eye opening read in a while, and I can't recommend this book enough..  The Miracle of Freedom - 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World by Chris & Ted Stewart was both enlightening and sobering.  At times the stories relayed in it were hard to take in, but challenged my mind in ways that strengthened my sense of being and my dedication to all that I believe and hold dear.
As this was such an in depth book, it's hard for me to not quote the entire thing in my "favorite passages", but alas I will refrain:

"Noted American scholar Thomas Sowell relates that once a student asked his professor of history, "Where did slavery come from?"  The professor replied, "You're asking the wrong question.  The real question is: Where did freedom come from?  ..Slavery is one of the oldest and most universal of all human institutions.  Slavery has existed among peoples around the world, as far back as recorded history goes.  ..It is the idea of freedom for the great masses of ordinary people that is relatively new."  How was freedom born?  And how does it survive?"
"We content that freedom exists because Christian Europe created an environment where an incredibly rare combination of values - commitment to reason, personal accountability, individual freedom, equality, rule of law, the right of self-government - provided a philosophical nursery that allowed these ideas to take root and then to flourish.  Because of this evolution in human thinking - which took place uniquely in the West, along with a commitment to expend blood and treasure in its defense - billions of people today enjoy the blessings of living free."
"The rarity of freedom is matched only by its fragility, its ebbs and flows unpredictable and unsure."
"We are living a life that the vast majority of the earth's historical inhabitants could not have imagines, a life they never could have hoped to enjoy.  Do we have proper appreciation of that fact?"
"Do we want these things?  Will we still work to claim these blessings?  Will we fight to preserve the miracle of freedom that we enjoy today?  In fact, could the answer to these questions be the thing upon which the future of the entire world depends?"

If you are fascinated by culture and religion and the psychological ramifications of them, how they shape who we are (sometimes without even realizing it), then this is a must read.  It will challenge your understanding and change the way you think about things that we all too often take for granted.  LOVED it!


RECIPE: Nutella & Sea Salt Fudge

I LOVE to cook.  I LOVE to bake.  Pretty much I just LOVE food!  I am always looking for new recipes to try and have subscribed to more food blogs than I care to admit.  Although there are many great recipes out there, sometimes they are hard to sift through.  Not all of them become staples in our home, but the ones that do are near and dear to my heart (& stomach). :)  I thought it might be fun to post a favorite recipe each month just to save you the trouble of having to ask me again, and again, and again for it because I keep forgetting to share it with you (sorry)!  This recipe for Nutella & Sea Salt Fudge is probably the one that I have promised to give to the most amount of people and forgotten.. really, it's embarrassing . nothing personal, I'm just spacey sometimes.  Anyways, don't cry, because you can officially find it by clicking here!  You're welcome. :)  I know the picture makes it look all Christmasy and whatnot but I assure you, you can eat this any day, any time, and for any meal you please.  The hubster likes to melt it back down and pour it over ice cream too.. like I said, you can do no wrong with this one.. accept that is, if you opt to not make it!
And for all of you non-bakers out there, don't worry, this is such a cinch to whip up and it's truly divine!  Even my friends who don't like Nutella (GASP!) love this.  It's a win-win.  *For those of you who live in Brazil (or any other country) and don't have access to chocolate chips, just use a chocolate bar instead. ;)

Now I am perfectly aware that it isn't advisable to eat fudge for dinner.  Not completely sure why, but I'll trust the nutritionists on that one. ;)  SO, because I love you, and because I have a major craving for it right now, feel free to whip up this AMAZING lasagna recipe to serve as a prelude to that amazing fudge!  This is the recipe I use when I whip up 10 of these to freeze - it's a perfect freezer meal!  My lasagna loving husband goes gaga for this, The Best Lasagna. Ever. Click here, and thank me later. :)
*In Brazil I make a few changes to the recipe, but it is still utterly perfect!  I omit the sausage and just use ground beef as the sausage here is quite different.  I also use 1/2 cottage cheese & 1/2 ricotta cheese (the spreadable kind in the container, not the fresh ricotta) due to the crazy price of cottage cheese here!  I also omit the shake-able parmesan cheese as it is a crime against food and top with mozzarella and a little fresh grated parmesan if I have it on hand, but it still tastes awesome without it.  Also, "extracto de tomate" is the closest thing to tomato paste. :)  Bon apetit!



This post, for a myriad of reasons, will not contain a picture.  Elaboration?  I thought you'd never ask..

Once upon a time I gave birth to a little boy in Brazil.  Without getting political (I know everyone has different views on the topic, and I don't harbor strong opinions on the matter other than "do what works best for you and your family".), we had him circumcised 24 hrs after his birth.  Having had 2 boys previously, I thought I knew how the whole ordeal would go down.  I was wrong.  In the States, the procedure is done by the child's pediatrician.  Here?  The plastic surgeon.  Oh yeah.  Never thought I'd be writing a check to the plastic surgeon for my 1 day old!  Anyhoo, the procedure itself was a different method than I was familiar with.  The surgeon went on and on about how wonderful it was because it leaves no scar (never investigated thoroughly enough to notice one with the other two..) and the result is, and I quote, "beautiful".  No offense boys, but flowers are beautiful.  That.. well, I'm just not even going to go there.  

Fast forward a month and everything looks the same as I had expected.  Now, as a mother of 5 kids there isn't too much that sends me running for medical advise anymore.  I pretty much know how to take a 104 degree temp back into the safety zone, stop heavy bleeding, and keep a child with the stomach flu hydrated.  I also know when enough is enough, and help is needed beyond my abilities.  So when the plastic surgeon called and insisted that I drive across the bridge, in Sao Paulo rush hour traffic (we're talking HOURS in the car here people!), with 5 kids in tow, just so she could look at it and tell me what I already knew, that all is fine n' dandy, I had to decline.  The verbal approval of both myself and the pediatrician didn't satisfy the need to see the aftermath firsthand and determine if indeed it was "beautiful", and shortly after, we received emails insisting on pictures, so she too could put her stamp of approval on it.  I dodged the emails.  I dodged the calls.  I guess I thought that it would just go away if I didn't address it.  I mean, truly.  People get thrown in prison for that kind of thing were I come from!  Did she really expect me to photograph my little man's.. uh, little man?  Yes.  Yes she did.  So, in a very awkward mother-son moment, I did the unthinkable - I took pictures.  And then.. I emailed them.  Afterwards I quickly deleted the evidence and swore that if the US authorities ever come knocking on my door for exploiting my son I will take her down with me!  Lol.  Who knew a Brazilian circumcision would be so eventful??  Sorry Baby C, I swear it wasn't my idea..


Nursing Shocker

You know that moment when you're nursing your baby in the comfort of your 14th story apartment bedroom, sharing in the special bond of mother and child, when you suddenly notice the hand of a man on your windowsill? Yeah. Seriously scared the crap out of me!  I understand that not everyone feels inclined to cover up while nursing, but I am one who enjoys a certain degree of privacy in my personal, if not intimate, endeavors..  Thankfully, my shutters were mostly closed to to the wretched heat we've been experiencing and my lack of AC.  Lol.  Just one of the perks of high rise apartment living! :)


Moment in Time

Last night I went out to dinner and remarked to my husband that our waiter was a nice "kid".  Then I realized that he was probably about 20..  when exactly did a 20yr old become a "kid" to me??  Sometimes I catch a quick glimpse and feel bad for the woman in the mirror.  She has the dreaded mom butt and the whites of her eyes look pink sometimes from lack of sleep.  I'm just thankful that it's a problem with my mirror and not a true reflection of myself..  When I close my eyes I see myself SO much clearer than that!  Clearly, I'll be 18 forever! :)

But even if it was a true reflection of myself, mom butt and tired eyes aside, I wouldn't trade these precious gifts of mine for all the idealistic beach bodies in the world!  I LOVE being a mom, and truly, I've never felt so beautiful.  Motherhood brings a beauty that never fades!  And I get to kiss on these little lips every day!!!
It doesn't get much cuter than a tired naked baby in a laundry basket with a blanket!  Blanket courtesy of my incredibly talented Grandma DeGroot.  Thanks Grandma!!! :)
3 1/2 weeks old and already a ladies man!  #motherhoodrocks  It's hashtagged.  It's official!

Seven Years

Once upon I time I threw Miss B a birthday party.  It was in December.  I was pregnant.. don't judge me.  Her birthday is in January, but I figured I wouldn't be in the mood to entertain 16 giggly girls a week or two before the baby was due to arrive, so December it was! :)

Thanks to a trip back to the US, and one of my most favorite stores in the whole wide world (aka"Target"), we decked out the house in girly hues and pom pom balls.. My man hung those streamers for me, and so uniformly too!  DEFINITELY a keeper!
I solicited some teenage help to help us "make over" our party guests.  Hair, mani-pedis & makeup.. what more could a soon to be 7yr old want?!
Okay, so this lovely lady isn't a teenager - she's one of my dearest friends who just happens to look like one..  And though I'm sure there are times when she doesn't like hearing that, when the rest of us are all old and wrinkly and she's got the fresh face of a 35yr old while in her late 90's I'm sure she'll learn to embrace the gift that is hers!  Love you Amazing A! :D
The "after" shots of a few of our clients :)
I do so love home parties.  So quaint.  SO fun!  
Thankfully, the big belly didn't stop us from having some old fashioned family fun on the real big day come January!  Breakfast in bed was served to one VERY happy 7 year old! :)
And who could forget lunch out with mom?!  ..I'm starting to wonder if they realize that we don't have to go to McDonald's EVERY year!  Olive Garden anyone??  ANYWHERE else??  Probably not until others start giving out toys with their kids meals..
Sadly, daddy was on a business trip on the big day..  Not so sadly, we were able to Skype with him on a 60" television screen.  Giant sized daddy head = one happy birthday girl!
Cake and presents followed and didn't disappoint!
After our Skype session, Miss B had a play date with two of her good friends.  The older of the two decked out the back deck in painted decorations for the occasion. :)
..while the younger one helped Miss B tackle her new Lego sets!
It's hard to believe another year has come and gone.  This girl makes my life so complete.  I truly couldn't imagine a single day without her in it!  A true blue sweetheart, she would do anything for anyone and is my saving grace in so many ways!  She helps with her siblings, not because she has to, but because she WANTS to.  She is so in tune with others' emotions and wants everyone to be comfortable and happy.  She is responsible, incredibly mature for her age, and growing up too darn fast!!!  I took a glance back at the past 3yrs bday breakfast in bed shots (ages 5, 6 and this years' 7), and my word how quickly they change!  I love this girl so much and am so grateful that she's mine! :)  Happy birthday Miss B!