Monday, December 28, 2009

Feeling Child-ish

I am not a cook. I like to say that I am pretty good at assembly—meaning that I can put together a delicious meal. I start with an entree from Dinner by Design or Entree Kitchen. Then I buy a yummy Corner Bakery salad and put it into my own bowl, some bread from Panera and a cake from Portillos on a pretty cake plate and set a nice table and we are good to go.

When preparing food means using a recipe, I get a little nervous. During Christmas, however, it is worth the risk to use a few recipes. One weekend in particular I used many recipes. I cooked on Friday, Saturday and Sunday--twice. I used Lou's corn pudding recipe, of course, which is not intimidating because I have made that lots of times. But I called Bev and got her recipe for Foolproof Sirloin Tip roast, Cindy's twice baked potatoes, Ellen's baked asparagus, Nancy's Bing Cherry and Cream Cheese Balls salad, Margits Lettuce/Apple Salad, Lou's Egg Casserole . . . that might be all but still that was a lot for me.

So Sunday morning, I told Bob, "I am so Julia Childs this weekend, that I am wearing pearls all day today."

When I got to church carrying two casseroles, I decided to take the elevator to our classroom. Just inside the elevator, somehow, I dropped one casserole. It went on the floor and up the sides and even splattered on a few buttons.

It was a good thing that I was wearing my pearls because I remembered that Julia would have said, "I'm glad that happened. . . " And that made me smile.

I could also smile because I don't know how or why but none of the casserole spilled on me.

I could also joyfully smile because though I fumbled a bit, I kept the other casserole from the same demise.

Another blessed coincidence is that I was the only person in the elevator.

I had brought two serving spoons so as the elevator opened on the next floor, I was on my knees spooning casserole back into my Pyrex. A dear person ready to ride the elevator, instead ran to get some paper towels for me. The elevator moved before she returned but as I was still in that prone position when the elevator returned to that floor, I could easily grab the large stack of paper towels sitting just outside the closing door.

On my third or fourth ride on the elevator, I was standing nicely composed holding my one remaining casserole as about six people joined me on the elevator. Several remarked, "It smells really good in this elevator." I could smile again.

I wore my pearls all day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By my side and got my back . . .

I was thinking about Mr Rogers today.
Remember . . .

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor . . .

I've always loved having a neighbor just like you.
I always want to live in a neighborhood with you.

Cindy is my neighbor that lives directly on the south side of our home. Mary is my back door neighbor.

We like each other. We borrow; we loan; we rejoice over good news; we study the Bible together; we listen to the long stories—sometimes more than once; we admire each other's home projects; we shovel each other's drives and water plants; we cry over disappointments and the loss of our dads. We love each others' kids and celebrate when they graduate, marry and have their own kids. We know each others quirks and deal with them gladly. We celebrate birthdays and go for lunches. We diet and walk together and have exercised together although not now—sad to say. We share recipes and good books. We tell each other if we find a good sale. We have history. God put us in place as neighbors. We are so blessed!

We have a Christmas tea tradition. None of us can remember when it started but it was lots of years ago. Usually we have to carve out just an hour from here or there. Today was our day.

It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling,
The feeling you know that we're friends.

I think I will go put on a cardigan zipper sweater.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

That's too far . . .

Tomorrow, our guests will have been with us for eight weeks.

They have helped us see things from new perspectives.

They have brought us great joy.

Tomorrow, they officially move to their own home ten minutes from our home.

We wish that they were moving next door.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Warning . . . This may bring on candy craving

Our gingerbread house decorating is an annual Candy Land Smorgasbord. We load the counter with a never ending supply of sweets. Some children covertly slip candy in their mouth and appear to consume very little. Others, like Seamus, boldly put a favorites bowl to eat at his place and another bowl of candy for decorating. The moms are only moderate candy monitors on this special day. It would be tough to be much more than that.

Every now and then I notice a child, that I won’t name, smiling and sifting candy corn through his fingers—Fagin-like. There is something dazzling about the sheer volume of candy.

Sometimes the kitchen is relatively quiet as kids and adults alike contemplate how to get the look they are striving to create.

Occasionally there is some frustration over structure collapse syndrome but actually that is becoming more rare as the children become more experienced.

Some just start out placing candy and then see what patterns begin to develop. It is fun how putting the candy end to end makes one pattern and arranging it another way gives an entirely different look. Others plot and plan before beginning.

Each building looks entirely different and each year there is a new technique to try. This year we made stained glass windows with jolly ranchers.

Kent’s building has a curved awning for his recognizable replica of the Heritage Field House and Warrior Dome at his high school.

The girls made sprawling houses with tunnels and dog houses and lots of landscaping in somewhat of a race to see who would use the most candy. (This is Morgan's house. I took a photo of both girls and their houses but somehow I lost that photo?)

Steven made dormers and a porch and candy cane pillars.

He also made a garage with a motorcycle in the garage.

Seth meticulously put a piece of candy on his house using his frosting paste and then admired it briefly and plucked it off and put it in his mouth. That is why his house is now void of any candy decorations. No problem, this project is all about the process not about the finished product.

Josiah proudly announced, "This is the best house I ever did."

It is quite good. It is also the only house he has ever done.

A few of the kids like to store some of their favorite wrapped candy inside their building to have a stash after Christmas when the buildings are demolished and tossed. Seamus used the same technique as last year and stored some in a canon on his roof.

During clean-up, we wrap and tie left over candy for the next year. We don’t worry about expiration dates. As far as I know, no one has become ill or lost a tooth on old candy.

The grands say that we are going to keep doing this for lots of years. Yay! I pretend this is a kid-oriented tradition but you have probably gathered the truth by now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Preliminaries

Morgan's play at the middle school.

Seamus's kindergarten play.

What a turkey.

Jessica's Grandparents' Day Thanksgiving play.

Turkey Trotters!

And it is only 9:00 a.m.
More to come . . .

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kids Under Construction

A few days ago Jessica came to help me make gingerbread houses for all the grandkids to decorate on Friday after Thanksgiving.

It was clear, within a few minutes, that Jessica was much more interested in customizing her own gingerbread house than helping me do assembly-line, cookie-cutter houses for each of the grands.

That got me to wondering if the other grandkids over five years of age were big enough, patient enough, and interested enough to construct and customize their own houses.

“Yes” was the enthusiastic, diligent and creative response.

And so today—on maybe the last pretty day of the season—when most of our neighbors were outside putting up Christmas lights—grands were inside constructing.

No candy was consumed today. Decorating does not begin on our gingerbread houses until after Thanksgiving. On that day, candy is placed creatively all over the houses and consumed in large amounts. That is not to say that no sugar was consumed today.

The frosting does harden in the end of the tips requiring a suck on the end of the frosting tube to get it moving again. Our two little guests decorated cookies after the grands went home. It was clear that they had been observing and learning and knew what to do when given their own tube of frosting.

These grands are a talented group. I couldn’t resist a few photos of the undecorated gingerbread houses. I will surely need to post again after Friday’s decorating and landscaping event.

And just in case, you read the title of this post and are wishing your could remember the words to the children’s song played over and over and over again in Christian homes on records and cassettes in the 80’s, I will print them out. Go ahead, let me hear that refrain.

Kids Under Construction


Kids under construction -
Maybe the paint is still wet.
Kids under construction -
The Lord may not be finished yet.

We’re more than just accidents without the cause;
We’re more than just bodies and brains.
God made us on purpose; we’re part of a plan.
He cares and He knows us by name.


Now, mister, I know that I get in your way;
I’m noisy and just bug you so.
But there’s lots of questions I just have to ask
If I’m ever going to know.


Dear Jesus, please make me more patient and kind,
And help us to be more like You.
And make room for all other children of Yours,
For they are still growing up, too.

by Bill Gaither and Gary Paxton

Friday, November 20, 2009

God's Theatrical Encore

One of my favorite bloggers is Wanda, Moments of Mine. I believe she lives in Camelot. Recently she posted some gorgeous sunrise photos. You can look at her post here.

On certain occasions with cousins and on my own, I have gone specifically to wait for a sunset. Sometimes when I am not looking, I am surprised by the heavens. A few days ago I tried to capture the beautiful sunrise that I was enjoying. My photo is less than spectacular. I needed to wait until I could pull off the highway for a quick snap. All the while, the sunrise did turn my heart towards the glory of God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19: 1-4

I was also reminded of one of my favorite quotes by G K Chesterton.
It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Circle

For a few years, we used the ABC's to get our family involved in remembering Thanksgiving. I think this year, we may try something else in our family. I adapted this from a group mixer-type game taught at FRU.

This is not a memory game and everyone that is old enough to talk ought to be able to participate.

The first person will begin by saying something that they are thankful for such as, "I am thankful for my parents."

Someone else that is thankful for his/her parents should run up and link arms and say what they are thankful for--it should be different than what was already mentioned, i.e. "I am thankful also for my parents and I am thankful for Thanksgiving turkey."

Someone else that really loves turkey should run up and link arms and could say, "I also love Thanksgiving turkey and I am thankful for a sunny day today so we can play football."

This should continue everyone has had a chance to join the circle. If someone says, "I am thankful for my dog." and none of the remaining people are thankful for a dog, the person will have to keep naming things until someone is able to link on to the circle.

The last person to join the circle will need to find some common thankful item with the first person. They will just have to talk together until they find something in common.

While all are linked, Grandpa will lead us in a Thanksgiving blessing.

I am not sure if this will actually work. There will be twenty-two together at our Thanksgiving meal. It seems to me that it is worth a try. I'd love to hear if you have another idea.

Thanksgiving Day Postscript:

Are any of you wishing that something more spiritual and thankful could have occurred today at your Thanksgiving festivities? I had hoped and imagined and planned for some sharing today as indicated by this bold post. It did not happen. I was disappointed.

I sensed the voice of God quietly in my heart, “I don’t need you. I am in control. You do need Me. Let go of your own plans.”

Ouch. Okay then. I will release my grip and open my hands.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dotted Lines

At FRU last weekend, Holly in marketing, encouraged participants to invite non related friends to family reunions. She gave an example of inviting the friends next door to Grandma with whom we always played who might enjoy seeing the family again.

Afterwards Mary, the Guest Services Director, shared a cute story. I love stories like this and so requested permission to repeat it here.

Mary has a close friend that had been pleading with Mary to attend her family reunion in Texas for the past six to eight years. This family always invites extra friends to their reunion and they call the special unrelated guests their Dotted Lines.

Finally after many invitations, Mary went to her friend’s family reunion this past summer.

She met her friend’s brother.

They will be married in March of 2010.

In the summer of 2010, she will joyfully attend the reunion again—this time as a Solid Line.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nothing understated!

In the space of about five minutes, Lilly wrote some notes for me to enjoy on the airplane.

Later, here is what I found . . .

She almost has mastered writing her name in cursive.
This is amazing!

What a friendly mountain climber.

Guess who is tickled!

Say Hi
to my cousins
for me!

She is only in kindergarten!

Don’t you love her!