Tuesday, February 16, 2010

All's right with the world.

This is my bed where I thought I might spend the night.

Teeth were brushed.
Dolls were tucked.

Each doll was given a tiny stuffed animal for nightime comfort.

The girls placed their own special sleep buddies
in bed with them for the night.
Morgan likes to sleep with Baby Jesus.
Jessica chose to sleep with her special dog, Baron.

All other stuffed animals were curled up and cozy.

Morgan read a mini mini mystery aloud for us to guess.
Jessica read aloud our Bible story.

    New bulbs were found for nightlights in the bedroom,
    in the bathroom,
    in the rec room,
    making it nearly as bright as daylight.

    Morgan had her own flashlight.
    We found a flashlight for Jessica.
    We found one extra flashlight for Morgan, just in case.
    The girls practiced turning them on
    to see if they were bright enough.

    We talked about our highs for the day.
    . . .the fun valentine foods?

    the crafts?

    . . . having Aunt Kathi with us was special

    Jessica's high was a game that we played right after dinner.

    Morgan's high was the whole dinner.

    Morgan's low was that she had to wait for hours after church
    before it was time to come for our sleepover.

    We prayed.

    Kissed good night.

    I talked to the girls about sleeping as long as possible in the morning because we took quite a long time going to bed.

    The girls wanted the bedroom door closed.

    One more thing, when I woke them in the morning, I was reminded that they would like to be awakened with the woodpecker knocker.

    I closed the bedroom door.

    I went upstairs and sat down to the computer
    for the first time all day.

    Within a few moments there was a knock on the study door.

    Morgan was having chest pains.

    I encouraged her to take a drink of water.

    I asked if she would like me to come sleep in their bedroom.

    “Would you grandma? You’re the best.”

    We got out the air mattress.

    Found sheets and blanket and pillow.

    Once again, we turned off lights
    except that it was still quite bright in the room.

    I got permission to turn off the night light
    right by my head, shining in my face.

    Good night, Morgan.
    Good night, Jessica.

    The girls called Walton style good nights to all,
    including the animals . . .
    Good night, Max
    Good night Cidney
    Good night Luna
    Good night Cadbury
    Good night Jane
    Good night Monet
    Good night May
    Good night June
    Good night July
    Good night Marilee
    Good night Jenny
    Good night Emma
    Good night Mulan
    Good night Penny
    Good night Julianna
    Good night Marley
    Good night Baby Jesus
    Good night Baron
    Good night Grandma
    Good night Morgan
    Good night Jessica.

    There were a few giggles.

    I was very quiet, hopeful that sleep would come to all.

    Jessica quietly asked, “May I blow my nose?”
    Of course.
    She found the tissues.
    Jessica climbed back into bed.

    All was quiet for moment.

    Morgan asked, “May I go to the bathroom?”
    Of course.

    She returned.
    We all lay very quietly for a moment.

    I heard Jessica get up and walk around a bit.

    Soon she brought a soft little brown dog, Max,
    so I could cuddle with an animal.
    I thanked her, and wrapped Max in my arms
    so that we could all sleep well.

    Morgan soon asked,
    “Would you like to sleep with one of my animals too?”

    I thought I was fine
    until I realized that one of her animals
    really was needed for me
    to be quite complete and comfortable.

    Who would I like to sleep with?
    I didn’t care. Probably someone soft and cuddly.
    Morgan’s pig, May? or her poodle, Marilee?
    I chose Marilee.

    I closed my eyes and
    snuggled up with Max and Marilee.

    All was quiet for five minutes. . .
    Then for ten minutes.

    The girls were asleep.
    I thanked God in His heaven.

    In the morning, I asked the girls,
    "Will you do something special for me?
    Will you never get too old
    to have sleepovers with me?"
    They promised.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Is Once Enough?

    It is difficult to figure out what triggers an idea.

    It could be that my sister and niece labored over mom's recipes, typed them and put them into a lovely books and gave them to each of the clan women for Christmas.

    It could be that my mom's birthday is in February. She would have been 93 years old today.

    Or it could have come from God--but I don't think that I should attribute this one to Him.

    At any rate, on Saturday, I remembered $500 Dollar Cake and went searching among my tattered recipes which were well used before 1988 and then all but discarded and to my surprise, I found the desired recipe.

    $500 Cake
    aka Waldorf-Astoria Cake

    ½ cup shortening
    1 ½ c white sugar
    2 eggs
    2 ozs. red food coloring
    1 tblsp. vinegar
    1 tsp salt
    1 c. buttermilk
    2 ½ c. flour
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 level tblsp. cocoa
    1 tsp soda

    Cream shortening and sugar. Add whole eggs. Add food coloring. Sift together flour, salt, and cocoa and add alternately with buttermilk beating after each addition on medium speed. Add vanilla. Mix and stir in at last without beating the vinegar and soda. Bake in three eight inch round cake pans at 350° for one half hour or till done.

    1 cup milk
    ¼ cup flour
    Cook until thick and cool.
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup butter or oleo (2 sticks)
    Beat till fluffy with high speed on mixer.
    Add first mixture and flavoring (I am assuming a bit of vanilla)
    Continue beating until light and fluffy.

    This recipe is from my mother, Bernice, but I am quite sure that she received it either from Aunt Doris, Aunt Vera, Aunt Arvada, Aunt Violet or Aunt Fanny. Then again maybe she got it from the Farmland News. We are not so good about documenting the origin of all of our recipes.

    I do remember the story. In the 1950’s, a lady dining at the Waldorf Astoria, a famous luxury hotel in New York, asked for the recipe of a delicious red velvet cake. She got the recipe along with a bill for $500. The lady was appalled but could not get out of paying for the unbeknownst to her, very secret recipe. So she did what any they-got-me-so-I'll-get-them woman might do. She shared the recipe with as many people as she possibly could—publishing it in newspapers and ladies magazines.

    Such a good story sends you right out to the kitchen to bake the cake. My mother made it . . . on several Valentine's Days and on request for a few birthdays, that would be my birthdays. But never once did I request it in the shape of an armadillo or any animal that would look like it was bleeding when it was cut. Although I did love the surprised voices when the cake was cut. "Oh my, that cake is really red!"

    And so I made it. Yes, I did. I ground the wheat and made it into flour. Okay, not quite, but I used raw ingredients like flour and shortening and eggs.

    Do any of you have wonderful old cake pans like these? They have handles that go around the pan and loosen the cake from the bottom for layer cakes—quite a clever invention, if you are not comparing it to the computer and cell phones, don't you think?

    The hearts are all my own idea. I was in JoAnne Fabrics one day--no not because I sew but because Jessica needed an Abe Lincoln hat for her book report.

    While there Morgan noticed these cute little Junior Mints shaped like hearts and so I got a few boxes and happened to be able to hold on to one box until Saturday.

    And all of my guests bravely tasted the cake.

    I was so busy serving that I did not get to photograph a piece of cake looking so pretty on a plate as I served up dessert.

    Below is all that was left over. My husband tactfully said that I did not need to keep it as we do not need the calories.

    I was just wondering . . . how many times do you have to do something before you can add it to your resume?

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    In the Beginning . . . His Story

    Eric wanted a Bible story book. I was touched by his sincere interest and did what most of my friends would do. I told him that I would purchase the book and he could have it but not take it home immediately. He would have to earn the book.

    Eric was excited, concerned, and anxious, focused on the book and “knew” that I would forget his book. He was sure that what I said was too good to be true. I could not convince him.

    I gave him my phone number and told him that he could remind me.

    The following day I got a sheepish call from his father. He told me Eric was very excited and persuaded his father to call me.

    I understood. Eric was more than excited. He was completely consumed and focused on The Book.

    I assured father and son that I would not forget.

    On Day One,
    I took three books
    so Eric could choose his prize.
    It was good.

    He chose the easiest book to read. It also came with a cover.

    The plan was for Eric to earn the book by reading aloud 350 pages (of approximately 500 pages) to a tutor, at a normal speed, and to be patient when the tutor asked questions about the story. We made out a contract, and Eric was excited.

    For this special guy, delayed gratification, is incredibly difficult—nearly impossible.

    Eric nearly wore me down.

    He argued that he would bring it back every day until it was read.

    Eric just wanted to show the book to his sister. . . to his dad.

    He put his head on the table and cried, convinced that I was just trying to keep him from earning the book.

    He read very fast.

    He hit his hand on the desk because I was asking too many questions.

    He put his head on the table and sobbed a bit because it was too many pages to read.

    We took breaks.

    We came back and tried again.

    I was exhausted—but we persevered.

    The first day we completed about a quarter of the pages.

    Eric thought I was tricking him.

    He thought that I would never give him the book—to keep.

    It was impossible to persuade Eric of my good intent.

    He found a spot in the book that was not perfect.

    He thought there might be a dent in a page because he turned the page too fast.

    He begged me to take the book back and get him a perfect book.

    Eric did make me smile. He was convinced that Isaac's servant praying by the well had cancer. Even when I argued that some men get bald even when they are healthy. Eric still insisted, he could tell just by looking at the illustration, "But that man has cancer!"

    I stayed with the plan.

    I did take breaks to breathe deeply, to get a drink of water, to straighten my shoulders and then go back and try again.

    Sometimes, I made Eric take breaks, a drink of water, a walk to the end of the hallway and back.

    We survived.
    Eric read.
    I asked.
    That was the end of Day One.
    It was good.

    On Day Two, I was hoping someone else would work with Eric but he was waiting for me, with a big grin.

    It started all over, just like Day One.

    He begged, he complained, he worried, but in between we read and I asked questions and sometimes I gave up and just tried to make Eric listen as I summarized the story and pointed out details in the pictures.

    We took breaks. I took deep breaths. We made progress. Others praised Eric on how many pages he completed encouraging him that he would be done in a short time. Eric was not believing—not quite.

    Day Two ended.
    It was good.

    Another tutor read with Eric on Day Three

    Today, Eric was excited to greet me. He was three quarters done with his assignment.

    Day Four began the same as the other days, a few tears, a bit of anger, reading fast and stumbling over words until . . .

    We came to the New Testament stories.

    Eric told me, “This book I like! I like Jesus! Now you can ask me questions because I like Jesus.”

    Then Eric asked hard questions of me.

    Was Mary a young girl?
    Do you know how to say pregnant in Spanish?
    Mary does not look beautiful. Was Mary beautiful?
    Where is Mary’s mother?
    Where is the grandmother of Jesus?
    Why did she not go with them to Bethlehem?
    Is this the same Jesus that died?
    Eric responded, “But he is a baby!”
    Is God the father of Jesus?
    Why did Jesus get another dad? Was that his stepdad? Did Joseph like Jesus?
    Why did King Herod want to kill Jesus when he was just a little baby? He was not even a king yet.
    Was King Herod drunk?

    Frequently, Eric reminded me, “I like Jesus.”

    I reminded him, “And Jesus loves you.”

    And then we got questions from other students.
    Does Jesus give everyone a guardian angel?
    I pray to my guardian angel.
    Why do some people get hurt?

    As we read about Jesus being baptized, one boy told about his baptism as a baby at a very famous church in Mexico, Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    So today,
    Day Four,
    we completed the task . . .
    350 pages.
    It was good.

    We celebrated as did the other students in our group.

    Afterwards, a more accomplished student, offered to keep reading with Eric. I wish I had that picture.

    One of my favorite scripture passages is from Isaiah 55. I like the verses preceding these as well but was particularly reminded of verses 10 and 11.

    As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
    and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
    and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

    so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
    but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

    Three other boys want to know if they may earn a book. Their tasks will be harder. Marko must complete all of his homework for four weeks in a row. He must start over if he does not complete it one week. The home room teachers will help us make worthy challenges for the other boys.

    Hubby Bob teased with a smile, “So is this just the beginning? Are we buying Bibles or Bible storybooks for all forty-five children?”