Dec 31, 2007

Christmas 2007

So much has happened since my last post. My family arrived here on December 19th to spend Christmas at our house! This was our first time hosting family for Christmas and our family's first time traveling for the holidays. It was such a blessing to have everyone here. I'll cherish it forever!
On the 21st my sister, brother in law, Matt and I left all the kids with my parents and drove up to New York City. We spend two days walking around the city, doing some shopping and catching the Broadway show Wicked. It was fabulous!
Over the coarse of the next few days we celebrated my mom's 57th birthday with dinner, attended a Christmas Eve - Eve service, went down to the National and Capital tree, and my family had time to fit in a visit to the air museum and Mount Vernon.
Christmas day was so fun. Everyone stayed in their jammies until at least noon. We opened gifts, Katina made everyone an omelet, and we squeezed in some Guitar Hero before getting dressed and ready for dinner. Matt and I took on the "roast beast" or prime rib, while mom and Katina helped out with some side dishes.
We were joined by our pals the Swansons for dinner and all sat down together to enjoy a really tasty meal. I just can't say it enough - it was so special for Matt and I to be at our house, with my family, and our friends enjoying a really great meal time together on Christmas.
We spent most of our evenings during their visit playing games, laughing, eating, and just enjoying our time together. As usual, it all came to an end too fast. Everyone left on the 29th.
We had a wonderful time these past few weeks getting ready for Christmas, the parties, family visiting, Christmas, and so many fun times and memories. We hope your season was filled with love and joy!

Dec 17, 2007

Costco Doesn't Serve Dinner

The other day I was at Costco around noon and enjoyed a delightful lunch. They served chicken noodle soup, smoked Gouda and Champagne cheese, herb crackers, Lemoncello cheesecake, shrimp, chicken tenders in BBQ sauce, creme puffs, cookies, prosciutto and mozzarella wraps (yum) and a few other treats I don't recall. Oh it was delightful. Around every turn was another bite sized treat to sample. By the time we were done shopping I had a four course meal and was stuffed!
Tonight I was in Costco finishing off my Christmas shopping for the boys and I left hungry. I learned a valuable lesson today. Costco doesn't do dinner.

Dec 14, 2007


Below is an article I recently wrote for our church's MOPS newsletter:
Christmas means a lot of different things to different people. Some enjoy the wonder of Santa Claus, as he soars through the sky in a sleigh pulled by reindeer giving gifts to children around the world. Others treasure the picture of Jesus laying in a manger with cows and sheep surrounding him, while a bright star shines in the sky above. People love the Christmas music that plays in the malls while they shop for the perfect gift for everyone on their list. And the beauty of holiday lights brightening the winter sky. There are decorated trees, family gatherings, parties, gifts, special foods, and favorite holiday movies. No matter what it is that moves you, most people find something or everything truly special about this season.
But what is Christmas really about? Is it about Santa, gifts, lights, music, the Nativity? The answer is yes all of the above. All of the trappings and traditions that have grown over the years are part of what Christmas is about. Christmas is a man-made holiday—since that is the case, Christmas is what you desire it to be. It is about a man named Santa Claus who gives gifts to good little boys and girls, it is about exchanging gifts with friends and family, and it is about a scene with Mary and Joseph looking down over their baby in a manger, while an angel looks lovingly toward the new family.
Christmas is a celebration filled with romanticized stories and customs created to commemorate Christ’s birth. But in reality Christmas has little to do with any of these festive traditions. Even the story of Jesus’ birth that is told in songs and children’s books is full of man-made interjections. The story most people come to know is the one where “2000 years ago on the evening of December 25, Mary rides into Bethlehem on a donkey, urgently needing to deliver her baby. Although it's an emergency, all the innkeepers turn them away and they have to deliver baby Jesus in a stable. Afterwards, they all join three kings with camels in worshiping the quiet, newborn baby”.
Truth be told Jesus was probably not born in December, though anything is possible, shepherds usually would have brought their flocks home in the fall. Mary may have ridden into Bethlehem on a donkey but the Bible doesn't actually say how she got there. The bible also does not suggest that Mary gave birth upon her arrival into the city, she could have arrived weeks earlier. God's Word simply states, "while they were there [in Bethlehem], the days were accomplished that she should be delivered" (Luke 2:6). Arriving in town well before her due date would have made much more sense. And Joseph probably never spoke to any innkeepers. Although innkeepers play a prominent part in many Christmas plays, no innkeeper is mentioned in the biblical record of Christ's birth. Most likely Mary and Joseph actually stayed in a house with relatives. Some researchers suggest that Jesus was born in or around the home of a family member but not in a place that would normally be considered guest quarters. It was common for animals to be brought into a home for the evening and therefore a manger would be present. The bible does not specify how many Magi or wise men came to offer Jesus gifts, and they most likely would have arrived to see Jesus as a toddler rather than a quiet baby in a manger.
If you believe God’s word to be factual, and you accept His account of that first “Christmas” night, then the only thing we know to be true is that a baby was born in Bethlehem, he was named Jesus, the Savior, Christ our Lord. Just as prophesied his mother was a virgin and Jesus was conceived by the holy spirit and his father was named Joseph and was a descendant of David. Following his birth angels appeared to shepherds in the fields and declared that Christ was born in Bethlehem and could be found laying in a manger.
When you strip away the glamour of Christmas you are left with one thing and that is Jesus. His story doesn’t have much to offer in the way of a play or a song but the healing, power, and majesty that can be found in that one simple name will change your life, if you let it. The son of God became human flesh so that he could one day walk the road to Calvary and take on the sins of the world to set us free.
It isn’t really about how you celebrate Christmas, what your family traditions are and what you include in your telling of the Christmas story— Christmas is just a day of joyous celebration that changes and evolves as time passes. But Jesus is our source of hope, life and love—take time this season to thank God for His gift to us.

Dec 8, 2007

December Birthdays

Effective 01/01/2008 all persons with December birthdays will no longer receive gifts from the Hernandez family on their birthday in December. This shift in gifting policy is based on the fact that Hernandez family can only come up with one good gift per person in the time span of a month. All parties whose birthday falls in the month of December will receive a call and heartfelt wishes on their birthday, however, all gifts will be received 6 months prior to their birthday. For example people who decided to be born on Dec 23rd (mom and mika) will receive their 2008 birthday gift on June 23rd.
All objections to this ruling will be considered, however, if you opt for birthday gifts and Christmas gifts to both be received in December - one of those gifts will be a "plan B" or "fall back" gift and the Hernandez family will not be held liable for the fact that you will have to return it.
Happy Birthday to all of our friends and family born in December. We hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Nov 27, 2007

A good read.

A good friend of mine gave me a delightful basket of her favorite books for my birthday. It was so thoughtful and creative and I really appreciated the gift . . . . initially.
These were four of her favorite books, I didn't have to worry if they were good, they were pre-screened and determined to be among the best. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy. I started my first book (a short one since I was going on vacation and not sure how much reading time I could get in). It was good except the main character died in the end and that is always unfortunate. The second one - a disaster. Now, I'm not saying the book was a disaster, MY LIFE became a disaster somewhere around chapter 5.
Let me explain. I don't read like normal people. There are quite a few people in my life who keep a book by the bed and read a few chapters every night. That is just not me. I'm an all or nothing reader. I start a book and initially give it a chapter or two a day but as soon as it gets good say goodbye to me because I'm lost in the pages and just can't draw myself out.
Today was one of those days. I've been chipping away at this book for the past three days and then last night my quick chapter turned into a dozen and I made it to bed sometime around 2am. I got up and got the kids ready for school, out the door and in the car when I remembered I left something in the house . . . MY BOOK! I raced back in, left my cell phone on the table and grabbed my book. I read between dropping Eli and Gabe off for school, I dropped Gabe off and read in the car in the parking lot for 20 minutes, grabbed coffee and read in the car some more, ran some errands, read a little, tried to read while driving, read while Gabriel napped, and then it got ugly. After I had both kids home from school I completely neglected them. They were hungry, needed their booty wiped after going potty, were asking for help with homework, fighting, running naked through the house, you name it they were doing it and I was reading my book. At one point Eli went upstairs to Matt and proclaimed "Dad, Mom is never going to fix us dinner . . . . never ever, she's down there reading a book and it is taking a long time". At that point Matt gave in and made us all dinner. I finished my last chapter. Took a deep breath and promised I wouldn't start a new book for a few days.
I have no self control when it comes to a good read. So I just wonder, how do you do it? How do you read a few chapters, get to a good part and then just tuck the book away for another day? The answers to all your questions are already written and all you have to do is keep turning the page to find out!
I promised I wouldn't get into another book yet, but I did take a peek at which titles remaining in my basket would be the next to make it to the nightstand! There is another short one in there that is looking pretty tasty!

Nov 14, 2007

We made it!

Our space-a journey has come to an end and I can't call it anything other than a complete success! Now, there were some snags along the way, but in the end we made it to and from our destination with minimal delay.
The trip in a nutshell:
October 30: celebrate Riss's birthday in Va, drive 1 hour north toward New Jersey and return home due to misplaced paperwork and canceled flight.
October 31: Matt back to work, kids in school, depart in the late afternoon with plans to overnight in Jersey and catch an early AM flight to McChord. One hour into the journey (very close to the same spot we were in the night before) we find out the am flight changed to a pm flight and proceed as planned. Upon arrival in Jersey, we find out the flight is canceled all together. We settle in at the hotel and pout for an hour or so.
November 1st: drive 30 minutes into Philly to see some sights and eat a real cheesesteak. We head home early to miss traffic and end up causing our own traffic jam when Gabriel has a seizure on I-95 (see posting below for details).
Nov 2: Arrive home from the ER at 3am, get some rest, and leave for Norfolk NAS where we were the only space-a passengers on a flight bound for Whidbey Island, WA. We made it! Tom and Mika picked us up and we headed to their house.
Nov 3: Mika impresses me with her crafting skills at the local Holiday Craft Fair, Matt surprises me with a delicious feast of Round Table for lunch, we hang out for the day and I pass out at 8pm.
Nov 4-6: We drive up to Blaine to visit family.
Nov 7: Stop in Seattle to walk through Pike's and grab some clam chowder and sourdough bread, then on to see April, Trevor and Morgan in Puyallup. We topped off the day with dinner a Mika's parents' house. We feel like we know them since we know Mika so well, but this was a great chance to actually sit down with her family and put faces to all those stories!
Nov 8: We spent the morning with Maureen and her boys William and Lucas in Issaquah. We also had the chance to have lunch with her mom and had a video conference call with her husband Stacey who is currently deployed to Kuwait.
Nov 9-10: We hung out with Mika, Tom, and Madison, and Tom's parents Ken and Cyndi also joined us for a bit too. Tom and Matt played NASCAR at a go cart track, Mika and I did what we do best - shopped, an then Mika's sisters watched all the kids so Tom, Mika, Matt, and I could go on a date. Wee!
Nov 11: Off to Port Orchard to visit Matt's cousin Gabriel (the original) and ended the night in Renton with Tom's parents, his sister and brother-in-law, and Tom and Mika for a lovely Mexican feast followed by a jam session at Jamie's house.
Nov 12: up and out the door around 9am for a noon departure to Dover. No competition at the terminal and we were comfortably seated and in the air without much ado. Upon our arrival to Dover a really nice guy "Mike" gave us a ride to the hotel, where we stayed the night because the car rental company was already closed.
Nov 13-14: We sleep in . . . a lot and then drive down to Va without anything exciting along the way. On Wednesday Matt drove the rental car down to Norfolk to pick up our car, had lunch with Tim, and then drove our car back home.
It was busy and not at all relaxing - but we had a really great time!! We were so blessed to be able to go visit family and friends and our friend's family. We had a great time, made memories to last, and look forward to our next adventure.

Fifteen Minutes

Below is somewhat of a journal entry I wrote on the flight from Norfolk to Whidbey.

Fifteen minutes is 900 seconds, one quarter of an hour, one-onehundreth of a day - not nearly enough time to accomplish much of anything, not even a good nap but when you find yourself in a moment of crisis fifteen minutes is hours, days, an eternity.
I recently experienced the worst fifteen minutes of my life. The date was November 1st, 2007 – my birthday. The place was Baltimore, Maryland – more specifically I-95 around mile marker 20. My family spent the first part of our day in Philadelphia, PA visiting some of our nation’s most treasured and historic sites and were heading back home with hopes of being just ahead of rush hour traffic. The event is etched in my memory forever, it keeps replaying over and over in my head. We were driving along just getting into Baltimore when I noticed Matt look back at Gabriel and then call his name. I immediately turned to see what was going on and caught my first glimpse of Gabriel convulsing. Being the calm, cool, collected person that I am . . . I started screaming hysterically. I think I was yelling at Matt to pull over (which he was already doing) to call 911 (which he would do as soon as we got to the side of the freeway) and yelling Gabriel’s name hoping that my sheer will would pull him out of his current state. Once we were on the side of the road I jumped out of the car and began trying to get Gabriel out of his carseat. As I was struggling with the buckles all I could do was watch as his eyes were rolled back in his head, his lips were turning blue, and his little body was jerking out of control. I pulled him out of the seat and out of the car and just held him as his seizure continued. He was breathing, and with that knowledge came slight relief, even in that moment. His body jerked one last time, his legs went really stiff, and then his whole body went limp. I started crying out to God “Please God, please make him be OK”. Gabriel was listless, unresponsive and unconscious for the next 7 minutes or so. I couldn’t get him to wake up. Matt was trying to direct the ambulance to our specific spot on the freeway, and I just held Gabe begging him to please just say “mommy”. Oh, just to hear his sweet little voice say my name! He never called my name, but he started to moan a little and by the time the ambulance arrived at the scene he was conscious and crying.
He and I traveled by ambulance to the closest hospital and Matt and Eli followed in the car. At the hospital he quickly received IV fluids, antibiotics, a chest x-ray and some blood tests. After a few hours at the hospital in Baltimore, his doctor transferred him to Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C. for further tests. Matt stayed with Gabriel while I took Eli to a good friend’s house so that he could sleep and later I caught up with Matt and Gabriel in D.C. After a short stay at Children’s, Gabriel was released to our care.
His seizure was determined to be caused by fever. As quickly as he went from being a feisty three year old playing in the leaves in Philadelphia to having a seizure he transformed from being a sick little boy to a hungry, playful three year old far too wide awake for it to be 3am.
Matt and I couldn’t stop looking at each other, reliving the incident, and realizing that yes, we did just make it through the most traumatic day of our lives as parents, if not in our entire life.
We wanted Gabriel to sleep with us so that we could check on him throughout the night. Gabriel took Matt’s spot in bed, Matt squeezed over to mine, and I was on the floor. There are other beds in our house that I could have used, but I really preferred to be near Gabe. I watched as Matt held him, looked into his face and said nothing. I don’t know exactly what he was thinking but I’m sure it was something like “I’m so glad you are here.”
It wasn’t the best birthday ever, but I did get a really great gift . . . more time with Gabriel. It could have all been much worse. Watching him in that seizure and the unconsciousness that followed was the longest fifteen minutes of my life.

Nov 4, 2007

Space-A Victory

Space-a means "space available" or "free". I like the free part but with most free things, there are some strings attached. When attempting to fly for free, compliments of the US Airforce or Navy, there are some pretty crazy strings attached.
We don't have any cash flow left for this year designated for travel or vacation but we want to go to Washington and see family and friends we haven't seen in quite awhile. What is one to do? We decided to attempt taking a space-a flight from some base within a 3-4 hour drive from our house to an airbase within the same distance of friends in Washington. Our first attempt date was set at Nov 1st with a plan of only trying until Nov 3rd before giving up the journey.
The challenge in space-a travel is not just whether or not there will be space for us on a particular flight, but finding a flight that is going where we want to go and that flight actually taking off.
Our first attempt ended up being on the 31st but that flight was cancelled when we were about an hour from the house. The second attempt was on Nov 1st and delayed to a later time that day, then cancelled upon our arrival and our final attempt was on Nov 2nd with a success!
We ended up arriving at a location much further than we hoped, about 4 hours from our friend's house BUT we made it. We kept tabs on our expenditures for fast food, gas, snacks, tolls, and hotels during the few days of trying to get a flight and the grand total for four passengers was . . . a whopping $200. Not bad for four one-way tickets.
We tried to stay positive and enjoy the excitement of the journey while we were trying to find our flights. Matt wasn't really confident and was ready to throw in the towel a few times, I was really having a good time - my own private "Amazing Race", and the boys were a little confused but seemed to buy into our "treasure hunt" explanation.
We made the best of our overnight trip to New Jersey and stopped off in Philly to see some sights and eat an original cheesteak sandwich. Yum.
Now that we are here, I am going to enjoy every moment we have with our friends and family and start the hunt for our return a few days before time to go home. If all goes well on the return you can bet we'll be taking our next space-a vacation to Spain!

The Small Group Halloween Party. We had our Halloween party the Monday prior to Halloween. I had every intention of getting pictures of the boys on Halloween, however we started the space-a journey earlier than planned and spent Halloween night passing out candy to people at toll booths along the Jersey Turnpike!

Oct 17, 2007

32 Loads of Laundry

I think I did 32 loads of laundry in one week. It all started when I ran out of my monster Costco container of detergent. I already had a few loads waiting to be washed, but instead of rushing out and picking up some detergent, I put it off. One thing led to another and by the time I purchased the detergent I had the leaning tower of jeans to deal with. But 32 loads? Really? As laundry began making it's way from the hampers to the washer, to the dryer, to the couch (my folding spot) into the drawers I began to feel like I was sure doing a ton of laundry.
Just a bit ago I started another load and noticed the laundry detergent was feeling low. I looked at the magic number on the container and it said that nice little container could do 32 loads!! So either the Tide people are lying, I can't measure properly, or I actually will accomplish the task of washing, drying and folding 32 loads of laundry in 7 days. Unbelievable.
I know, you are wondering what kind of dirty pig am I do have 32 loads of laundry laying around. That is the thing, it isn't that it is all laying around - it is that laundry is an endless cycle of dirtiness.
Genesis teaches us that painful labor was a direct result of Eve's "craving" in the garden of eden. Eve often gets the blame for the drama involved in delivering our children. Quite frankly, I'd like to talk to Adam and Eve about sewing clothes that I and women throughout history have to wash, dry, fold, and put away over and over and over again.

Oct 9, 2007

Good things CAN happen in Alabama!

If you are reading this blog, you know me well enough to know that I often refer to my time in Alabama as my "dark age". Tonight, I was reminded how bright those dark times actually were. So, I decided to make a list of some great things that happened in Alabama.
I learned the terms "might could", "carry her to the store", and "buggy" - as in shopping cart.
I shopped at Piggly Wiggly. Admit it, you have to smile when you say Piggly Wiggly when referring to a grocery store.
I saw how peanuts and cotton grow. Tasted fried Okra, turnips, and fried cornbread.
I survived two tornadoes - they touched down within a few miles of the house.
I learned how to play poker and competitive monopoly.
I saw my first Shakespeare play.
I survived my first and ONLY NASCAR Race at Talladega,Alabama.
I fell in love with southern thunder storms.(Up until that point I thought I knew a thunder storm but I didn't.)
Mika and Tom met at a wedding in Alabama - the rest is history.
Katie is from Alabama - she's coming tomorrow to visit for a week.
I got pregnant with Eli in Alabama.
I met Maureen and Stacey and CJ and Laura.
Which brings me to why I was thinking about good things in Alabama. A few weeks after I arrived in Alabama we met CJ and Laura. We were only together in Alabama for about 8 months, but in that time we built a relationship that has lasted over miles, years, and long periods with little or no contact. They've been in Texas, Korea, Texas, and you know where we've been. We've seen each other a few times over the past 5 years and try to keep up with each other through emails, blogs, and photo galleries.
Tonight, Laura and her girls came by for a visit. Her parents live about an hour from us, and during her visit with them, she made time to come see us. The kids played together, Laura and I caught up, and I was reminded of how special it is to have her as a friend. As she left I was a little sad. I thought of how much more of our lives we could share and enjoy if only we lived closer. Good things do happen in Alabama, friends are one of them.

Oct 4, 2007

Grandpa's Baptism

In the Christian faith, baptism is a symbol of dying to yourself and being raised up from the waters as a new life in Christ. It is a step that Christians believe is a public profession of being a follower of Christ.
Five years ago my Grandpa was baptized. It isn't everyday that you see an old guy get baptized. Getting someone who is mobility-challenged down some steps into water and back out required some work and planning, but Grandpa was willing to find a way to do it. When the pastor asked why he decided to be baptized my grandpa's response was simple "I love Jesus."
Today as Grandpa's health deteriorates he and the family take comfort in knowing that when his time on this earth is done, he will go home to be with his Lord and Savior. I like to look back at these pictures and remind myself of this really special day. The sweet smile and total joy upon my grandpa's face was priceless - today he only faintly resembles the man five years ago - but when he is gone this is the grandpa I will remember.

Oct 1, 2007

Promotion Day!

Matt was promoted to CW3 today! Yeah!

Sep 30, 2007

RTE 123

My van has a fancy little warning light that tells me if my tires are low. What a great feature! I don't even have to kick the tires before I head off on a road trip because the car will tell me if I need to get air.
Once in Clarksville, I was driving along and suddenly I noticed my low air pressure light on. I did what I knew best. I whipped out the cell phone and called Mika. At the time she was 7 months pregnant, it was 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity, but she still came to my rescue. I don't know how to put air in my tires, so she was coming to help. Turns out, I had a nail in the tire and ended up taking the van across the street to a tire shop for a speedy repair. That was the last time, and only time, my cute little tire light worked properly.
Enter - route 123. Route 123 or Ox Road is a road I travel on often. It is nearly a straight shot from my house to the church - and a road I travel on at least twice a week. At least half of the time that I am driving on rte 123 my tire light comes on. Never on Fairfax County Parkway, I-66, I-95, or any of the other roads that I travel on, only rte 123. What is the deal? Is there some weird gravitational anomaly on that road that confuses my tire light?
One time it was snowing and I was on my way to church, halfway down the road I see the tire light. This is not good. I was wearing heals and had no gloves, umbrella, or any other snow related items. I pulled over, looked at the tires and they looked fine. Now my feet were freezing, I was soaking wet, and my tires were fine. A few miles down the road I noticed the light turn off.
One day this summer my tire was so low that a kind passerby got my attention at a light and alerted me that I needed to pull over. Sure enough, my tire was really low, and wouldn't you know it, my tire light was dark as could be. But I was on Prince William County Parkway, NOT rte 123.
Once or twice would be a fluke but regularly? That is a mystery. Now I just think of the light as a friendly reminder that I have tires and leave the condition of my tires up to random strangers

Sep 26, 2007

Gabriel Turns 3

Gabriel turned 3 on Monday! Every time I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, what he wanted on his cake, where he wanted to eat for his dinner, or what he wanted to do for his special day he answered "you choose". I would have rather him answer with something next to impossible than give me no ideas at all. In the end I don't think it would have mattered what we did or what type of cake he had, he was just so happy to have his cake, open his presents and PLAY!
He was blessed with so many really fun and great gifts from family and friends. Thank you to all that send cards, gifts, or called we really appreciate you being a part of his celebration even though you couldn't be here in person.
Gabriel is finally interested in telling people his name . . . "Gabriel Hernan" . . well he almost got it right!

Sep 21, 2007

Off to school.

This month I sent both of my boys off to school. Eli goes to full day Kindergarten all week and Gabriel is in Preschool two days a week for four hours a day. I thought this was going to free up some of my time and make completing chores and running errands easier. It did free up some time but then I quickly filled that time up with other things and now I am busier than ever. How did that happen?
Eli loves school - really loves it and is learning so much already. I'm so happy for him. He likes his friends, teacher, and I think he really likes just being on his doing new things.
Gabriel likes school too. He isn't nearly as excited about it as Eli though. I'm glad he is only in class two days a week for now. The biggest thing Gabriel is learning is how to sit in one place for an extended period of time.
I'm looking forward to working in the boys' classrooms, accompanying them on field trips and all of the other fun stuff that comes with school.

Here we go!

I am formally launching our family blog this weekend! I wanted our own website but - one thing led to another and we decided to blog instead. It's free and easy which suits my budget and schedule.
It seems as though every possible blog name that remotely related to our family's blog was taken so I did what came natural and switched it up to Spanish. "Como se dice?" translates to "how do you say . . .? "
My plan is to keep this thing as current as possible giving you a window into our lives. I'll try and post weekly, we'll see how long that lasts. If you want to post a comment you will have to create an account and sign in, but you can peruse the blog as much as you want without doing either.
Check back often and enjoy the view!