Cooking in a Restaurant

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a pupuseria in El Salvador, doesn’t that look pretty? 

It was Saturday afternoon and Nate and I were on a mission. Much like the special training missions he goes on at West Point, my OS and I were focused and ready, steely-eyed and single-minded. Our task was significant. Nothing was going to stop us.

Our task – to procure ingredients and learn how to make a traditional Central American dish worthy of the fine country from which it hails. (Proclaimed in a loud, official voice with great gesticulation) A country whose name is on our lips more than I ever expected. A country I visited on a true mission trip from the Lord and while there serendipitously met a beautiful girl with whom my OS is now in love. The girl is Lu. The country is El Salvador, the dish, mi amigos(cue dramatic music)

a pupusa
a real pupuseria in El Salvador

the adorable couple in El Salvador during Christmas

Nate had announced his desire to make pupusas for the family prior to arriving home for a brief visit. With two trips to San Salvador under his belt, he has embraced both his girlfriend and these thick, hand-made tortillas with gusto. A few months ago, Aaron and I happened upon a local Mexican restaurant that makes pupusas. A coincidence? I think not. Aaron was getting his driver’s permit and this restaurant is literally next door to the DMV! How convenient that it is only ten minutes from our house!

So my Soldier/OS and I drove to Tarascos Restaurant and went inside. 

Good salsa, great pupusas, lovely people!



Without hesitation, we each ordered a pupusa. A casual conversation began between us and the employees. Nate practiced his Spanish per my prodding. I think it’s so important to speak another language! As a French major, I actually understood some of the conversation. These people were warm and friendly especially when Nate explained that his girlfriend was Salvadoran. It appeared that they weren’t used to Americanos coming in and ordering pupusas.


Nate making his first pupusa

We inquired about how to make the perfect pupusa and before we knew it, the cook had invited us back to the kitchen. We had personalized instruction from Lillia who showed us how to make pupusas! Honored that she was taking the time to demonstrate the technique, Lillia invited Nate to try to make a pupusa himself. Pupusas aren’t hard to make at all but seeing her skilled hand prepare them was invaluable.

I predict that one day this guy’s gonna open up his own
pupuseria in the States! 





My little cutie-patooty and his pupusas!

So how did OUR pupusas taste? Aaron and Ike were rather unimpressed. Nate felt as if he was tasting play-dough. I didn’t think they were that bad. They were definitely better than the pupusas the Hubs tried to make a few weeks ago. Can you say “blech!” 

We did everything according to her instructions. I was a keen observer and despite the lack of flavor when we tried to make pupusas at home, we need to not give up. There wasn’t a secret ingredient mixed into the corn flour but maybe it was the seasoned griddle Lillia used, I’m still trying to figure it out.  I’m not giving up on mastering this dish though, I assure you! I just finished the book The Art of Eating In and feel more compelled than ever to master tasty, interesting, economical meals for my family. 

We are praying that one day, Lord willing, Lu and her family will come here for a very special cooking demonstration.  

Even though our pupusas weren’t as good as the ones in El Salvador and at Tarasco’s, we remain blessed and optimistic about the future of cooking and of love. When the world feels so close and people get along, it is cause to rejoice!

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Reader’s Choice

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Reading allows us to steal away to a different time and place. I find reading so peaceful and transportative (is that a word? If it isn’t, it should be!) I go to places in the pages that I will never visit and some that don’t even exist. I usually prefer non-fiction but depending on the first few pages catch me, I can easily enjoy fiction.


And I tend to think of reading as a gift because it sym- bolizes time where I am not busy. We are blessed beyond measure to live in a country where books are bountiful and many of us are literate. I am disheartened to have encountered many teenagers who cannot read at a grade appropriate level. Reading, in my opinion, unlocks your mind and gives you opportunity.


I am proud of myself because in a matter of about pages, I will soon finish one book, purpose to finish other and complete a book I’ve been reading with Isaac for oh, say, the last 18 months.


Here are the books that I will soon have read in their entirety. Drum roll, bugles, fireworks, balloons, please…

Three Cups of Tea – the author came to West Point for a book signing and my OS got me an autographed copy! Amazing story!

The 2 Degree Difference – a book I bought at a marriage conference that’s been quite inspiring

and finally

Pistol – The Life of Pete Maravich – a book I NEVER would have read by myself and when Ike announced that there was an F-bomb in the first page, I promptly grabbed the book out of my 12 (then 11 year old’s hands!), thank you very much! Surprisingly, we have thoroughly enjoyed this biography for the last, oh say, 18 months with my OS Ike.

I can’t wait to tell you about them because each, in their own right, has been a changing transformative experience. Please note the ever-so-subtle word-smithing I used – transportative/transformative. Wow.

But I thought I’d enlist your help and see what YOU think I should read. In an attempt to be resourceful with the things I have at home that do not require an additional purchase, I have the following books on my list.

Which one do you think I should read next?
Here are your/my choices:

Off the Deep End – The probably insane idea that I could swim my way through a midlife crisis-and qualify for the Olympics by W. Hodding Carter

Come Back to Afghanistan – A California Teenager’s Story by Said Hyder Akbar

Around the World in 80 Dinners – 50,000 Miles, 10 Countries, 800 Dishes and 1 Rogue Monkey by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger – a book that is on my mom’s and husband’s lists of best books of their lives

I would appreciate your suggestions. Now back to reading! I look forward to the results!

Feeling better – mama of a soldier presses on…

34 Comments
RDay 063

We are currently experiencing a drought in our part of the country and if I had collected my tears in some type of container, (an incredibly large container), I think I personally could have solved the problem two days ago.

Today is a better day although it was quite painful walking into the house and past my son’s room. 

This picture is of the two OS and me while still at West Point featuring four items of USMA gear along with the jade necklace my friend whose husband is serving in Korea.

The last thing I want to be is maudlin so I’m concentrating on good things. 

I don’t even like the the word maudlin, therefore I’m trying my best to not be characterized as such. 

Instead, I’m going the other extreme by wearing  

– my West Point Mom Class of 2012 t-shirt with
– my West Point Class of 2012 matching canvas bag
– while driving my mini-van with the Proud Parent of West Point Class of 2012 bumper sticker
and reading Absolutely American (an amazing West Point book, highly recommend) and sporting my West Point Class of 2012 baseball cap.

My husband has – 
– a West Point Parent license plate holder
– a West Point Dad Class of 2012 t-shirt

– a West Point golf shirt

P1020552– an Army baseball cap and

– a Proud Parent to be a West Point Cadet’s Parent bumper sticker
along with an Army lapel pin.

Can you notice a theme here? Does it seem just a little over the top? Who cares! 

In some way, it connects us. I might wash my West Point Mom shirt in a couple of days if it starts to stink but I will stay in the laundry room and put it on as soon as it comes out of the dryer. Do you think I’m kidding!? I’m not! 

Despite hundreds of miles that separate us, I am tethered to my child by these small efforts.
Since I like to sew, earlier this spring, I made Isaac a pair of camo-boxer shorts and a camo-pillow case.

My nephew Josiah now has a camo-bib. I also sewed a camo-apron.

Suddenly my favorite colors are either red, white and blue or black, grey and gold. I can’t be there with him while he is learning “knowledge” or doing push-ups or making his bed with incredible speed and execution so in spirit, this is my mama’s way of showing support. 

He doesn’t know it but I do and it makes me feel better = less tears.

I cried so much on Monday that I had salt deposits under my eyes.

My two OS said, “Mom you have this white stuff under your eyes.” I went to the restroom at West Point and it wasn’t Kleenex, it wasn’t makeup, it was dried up tears. Yeah, it was that bad. 

While at the Panera Bread line today, wearing my West Point Mom Class of 2012 t-shirt, a man approached me and said that he used to attend the Sunday night concerts up there by the tip of the Hudson River. I saw that place just a few days ago and it brought me a measure of joy. I felt connected and held back the floodgates.

During this time of transition though I have to share this with you.

I haven’t been able to collect my tears and find a useful purpose for them but someone has.

It is God.

Scripture says in Psalm 56:8 “You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle–are they not in Your book?”  

I can’t tell you how many times I have clung to that truth. If you know people who are hurting, sad or lonely, share that timeless message with them. God is recording their tears in His bottle, on His scroll.

They matter to Him. And if you see me, for goodness sake, please compliment me on my new USMA fashions, it will help this mama of a soldier!

Go Army, Beat Navy!

Check out how things are going as we now await “the phone call” and a silly way we included our NC into a little family fun!

Link to a newscast about R-Day at West Point, I wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes!

Btw, I love all your comments and stories and want to put them in a future post. They are inspiring even to non-military folks! Keep ’em coming!

Books for 5th grade boys?

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Isaac and I have accomplished a nearly impossible feat…we have finished reading a book together! Taa daa! This is not an easy task, especially with my youngest, orange-haired, freckle-faced olive shoot but I was determined to succeed. Despite countless temper tantrums, drama galour, Ike and I read every page of Roald Dahl’s book The BFG.

As a fine purveyor of words, I find great joy and peace reading to my sons. With a dictionary somewhere nearby, some of the most cherished moments I’ve had with my boys have been cradling a book in my hands with one of my olive shoots (sons) tucked closely by my side. I love digging into the dictionary and learning new definitions, words fascinate me. I should have been a linguistics major!
And I can’t resist adding funny accents to the characters in the books. When Aaron, Ike and I read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Tale of Despereaux (amazing book!) by Kate DiCamillo, I had countless crazy voices. Sometimes I’d change the accent mid-sentence when I realized that the character had an American accent instead of a British one, or it was a female

character not a guy but my boys put up with the inconsistencies and indulged me nonetheless. While reading The BFG, I had a lot of fun using quirky British lilts as I read the scrambled words of the Big Friendly Giant. The BFG said words like “bobsticle” instead of “obstacle,” he was quite a colorful fellow. Occasionally Ike would allow himself to grin in the midst of my silliness. Even if he’d rather be outside playing basketball, I think deep down inside he was enjoying himself.

We turned the final pages of our book and I’m wondering this…Do any of you have any recommendations as to what we should read next? Ike is an 11 year old boy. I need a book that is interesting, clever with some surprising twists. Do you have any ideas? Let me know, I’d appreciate it and I’ll let you know what we pick. I’ve got one in mind but it might not be a good fit. Your suggestions would be great.