Thursday, November 19, 2015

Things You Learn

Today I learned that there are new ways to use your ironing board.
If you turn the board "backwards" you can iron a shirt faster. Use the square end and the whole front of the shirt is on the top of your board.
That's what you learn when you tell your friend to bring her kids over and the ironing so she can stay longer and we can solve the world's problems.

This week I improved my pizza crust!
I was reading how to make Chinese  scallion pancakes here and the author said that the trick is to "laminate" your dough. Now in the woodworking industry  laminates are sort of "fake" and "not the best"  but let me tell you, in cooking "laminating" is quite tasty.
I oiled my pan, stretched out the dough, spread a thin layer of oil on top of the dough.
Then fold the dough in quarters. Now you have 6 layers of dough with a thin layer of oil between!
Carefully pull/push your dough back out to the pizza pan size the viola! After you bake that, you have crispy, chewy layers of dough.
BTW the Chinese pancakes were tasty too!

Did you know? If you irritate your five year old she will draw house plans that  have you living separate from your spouse and she will live in yet another house (above).
BUT if you are nice, she will relent and build just two houses with mama and daddy living in one  and "me and my husband" living in the one beside.
We don't know who "T" is.

I am thankful tonight that she had her "feet hurt" fit while daddy was home and we could share duties.She ended up allowing me to rub her feet with peppermint oil and give her a dose of  "medicine". The medicine is pancake syrup in a syringe. I was suspicious that the pain was in her heart and not in her feet when the dose of Motrin the other day worked in mere minutes. I'm pretty sure that tonite's episode was set off by extreme tiredness.

Pray for Ben's decision making: He is considering a ten day stint with Samaritan's Purse in Greece before he comes home. Pray that if he is to come straight home it is clear to him and all doors are firmly closed.

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Learning Curve and other Fun Stuff

This year I was a bit on edge during the month of October because last year Shekinah did a lot of crying during October, it was also the 2nd anniversary of her leaving everything familiar.Last year daddy and I went away for a weekend in September and the children stayed with their cousins. I always sort of wondered if that had anything to do with it.   This year she is in Kindergarten and I really wondered if that would help or make things more difficult. This year we also had an out-of-state wedding to attend in September, so we took Shekinah with us. October raced on by and I really didn't think I was noticing any extra crying or grieving. The dreaded "my feet hurt" that I heard over and over last year, didn't show up until last week.
My heart sank when she sat on the sofa at nap time and pointed her toes and said "my feet hurt". I cuddled her and read her a book. After her nap I asked if her feet still hurt, she gave me a grin and said "no".
Yesterday our congregation had an ordination for a bishop. Our Mennonite churches (maybe all Mennonite churches) use the lot to allow God to choose the man that is to be the next minister or bishop. Anyway, it is a very sober service and yeah, we decided to take our children with us. After all the big kids can sit and the little one will be sleepy and she will probably crawl into my lap and sleep. Right?
Well part way through she started her funky sighs that she makes when I know she is building up to something. I settled her a bit, and then "my feet hurt!" After awhile I decided we need to do a bathroom break and see if we can slow the coming storm. Her little feet pitter pattered with no pain down the steps to the bathroom. Even tho she didn't "have to", she did. I asked if her feet hurt only when she is sitting. She didn't answer such a silly question.  Finally I realized that this she is worried, she really didn't understand what was going on and it worried really wasn't about the snap on her purse or the velcro on her shoes. I knew if I didn't settle her soon I would miss the whole reason we came to the service.
I sat her on my lap and quickly thought "how do you explain an ordination to a 5 y.o.?...they are going to make a bishop ( I know that is a very PA Dutch phrase) that won't work, she can clearly see they are not making anything up there. They are that takes too much explanation." So I settled on, " they are waiting to see who God picks to take Dwayne's place, you know they are going to Thailand, watch, the men are going to put those books up there and then Dwayne is going to open the book, can you see?"

Now her attention was caught, she had been off-balance ever since we sang a song in the middle of the service , "mom we going home now?" Strange church, different minister- he had a ringing voice and a missed afternoon nap. I almost didn't catch the next worrying thing, after the book was opened and we realized who God had called, she glanced at me. "Mom why you crying?"(There were really only a few tears) Then she looked up front and all the ministers had gathered around the new bishop to pray for him and his wife. I have no idea what was going through her mind. She looked worried all over again. I tried to explain what she was seeing. Then finally we sang and the service was truly over. We made it!

I have seen her pull things together a lot lately, I'm not sure if it is just maturity or does it have something to do with the vitamins and probiotic we started her on? Whatever, I am just thankful that not all the hard stuff comes at once.

Things she is learning:  "mom that is a NEW-nited States flag"  "That sign says four-zero"  "Did you know that people need to give the mail even if it is raining or snowing every day, but not Thanksgiving" "The teacher has a Toyota."
"When this baby came to me his name was 'Zel, now her name is Teddy."
And tonight she brought home papers with the words "mud" "man" "men" and "mop". She will soon be reading!

Things I am learning: There is a place called Office for Vocational Rehabilitation who very well might be able to help us figure out how to fund some very expensive driving lessons and adaptive driving evaluations that a certain son will be needing in the next year. We were very thankful to find out about them.  I also learned that it is illegal, at least in PA, for a person to drive using a prosthesis. Meaning that the prosthetic limb cannot be touching the controls of the car. I also learned that it would be illegal for me to use the adaptive driving paraphernalia in a car unless I am trained to use it.

I also would like to see someone write a piece contrasting self- esteem and self-worth   also, humility and worthlessness.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Our Boring Hum-Drum Life

Life in these parts is just moseying along. Last Thursday my hubby came in from splitting wood with his hand dripping blood. He looked a tad pale. We got the bleeding controlled. He told me he was using the wedge to split a log and a piece of the wedge must have split off and hit him.
"Do you think there is anything in there?"
"No, I think I could tell. It just hurts- the whole way up my arm!"
I left the decision up to the expert, after all, he deals with splinters and foreign objects more often than I do.
Then five days later when it wasn't healing up quite as expected, he was playing with a magnet and ran it over his hand. Guess what!? The magnet stuck to his hand!
He thought I should just use my skills and carefully incise that spot and take out the piece of metal.
"Sorry dear, I'm not that skilled."
The doctor was impressed with the magnet trick though and took a picture to use in a future speech.

Since this one goes to school, I normally go shopping alone.
But this week I took her with me to W-mart, I forgot how loud she is!
AND that she has no filter.
We walked in the door, "MOM, EWW! look at that guy!"
I froze, and looked around whew it was just a Halloween decoration and it was "ewww".
Walked past the toothbrushes and she declared that she needed one.
"no dear, you just got a new one ,"
"You never get me anything!"
" I know I'm terrible."
Next aisle, loudly with an audience "You are just a terrible mother!"
Turned the corner and needed to wait until some little girls moved out of the way
"Mom they are just standing there!"

Next aisle a lady with no hair and a kerchief on her head, 
"Hey! She's wearing a covering."

I had enough, I stopped and talked very quietly and close to her ear, "It is NOT OK to just say everything you think. You need to talk quietly."
I thought I had told her this before.

Maybe it worked, because she missed some announcement opportunities on the way out.

Blowing the milkweed seeds.
We didn't find any Monarch caterpillars this year.

Then Thursday night I got a text from Zeke (who was in a nearby inner-city kids club) saying 
"We're not exactly sure of motive but there was an attempted shooting outside. Karen (one of the teachers) had a bullet hole through her skirt. Caused general chaos. And we had to take all the children home in car rides. Check Fox news."

I figured that it was a case of "wrong place at the wrong time"
But it turned out that it almost could not have been a case of mistaken identity.
So really not sure what was going on. 

Between the boy that is sleeping in a bamboo house on stilts somewhere "over there" and the boy that sends texts like this, I'm getting some extra prayer time.

Gotta remember the Praise story too
A number of weeks ago, Ben was headed out on the first missions trip from Bible school he is attending. He was headed to a desert that has yurts for houses.
The day before he left, he sent a "urgent prayer request"
"A small pimple that was on my knee has suddenly grown and is getting painful. Advice please."
Since I sleep when he is awake, he got my advice when he was sleeping.
When I woke the next day, the e-mail said.
"going to the hospital to have it seen, it grew to the diameter of a baseball."

Finally caught up to him mere hours before he was to leave on a fourteen hour journey of layovers and plane flights.
"It feels better, they lanced it and irrigated it and wrapped it. Gave me antibiotics and told me to come back for the next ten days to have it wrapped."
Umm, "so are you still going?"
"Of course"
"Well Lord, he's yours, but take care of him for me."

Got a precious e-mail, text message "we're here, knee looks good"

Eleven days after they left, we were able to Skype again and it turns out that God had it all taken care of before they even left. The contact that they met, was a medical doctor.
She took care of him.

So the fact that I'm not quite as worried while he is on this trip is because my faith muscles are stronger?  I hope so. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Auspicious Day

Three Years ago

Four Years Ago

It's her birthday too, but I don't have pictures of her from then.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When Mennonites Cook Chinese Cuisine

First off, it's a trip to the Chinese food store.
I've been wanting to try bubble tea after having it at a local noodle house.
The recipes online make it look so simple (beware of those recipes).
The first attempt was sort of a fail because I had tiny little tapioca and that was just strange.
I even found the huge fat straws at an end of summer discount.
This time I thought I'll get fish eye size tapioca at the Chinese food store and then I should be good to go. Well, when the dry tapioca hit the water, they fell apart into powder and then proceeded to cook into glue! There were a few big pieces swimming in there but then they started to stick together tool
I added them to peaches and decided I'll just have to go on Amazon and buy the $10 bag of tapioca.
This is my garbage dish, but the white stuff is the tapioca after I added a bit of water to the rest of it and found out that the whole bag was like that!

The other thing on the "most requested" list was steamed buns
sorry for the poor picture, I thought of taking pictures after most of them were gone...
and ALL of them had huge bites missing. I filled them with a beef roast that had "roasted" 18 hours in the crock pot. Normally steamed buns have pork filling but, I didn't have pork.
Flavored the beef with sesame oil, char sui seasoning (from a packet- turned the meat a day-glo pink in places- tasted good tho) soy sauce, and a bit of oyster sauce. They disappeared like magic.

Then Zeke thought maybe we could make steamed buns instead of my traditional egg roll for his senior hot lunch at school.  Wonder if you can steam buns for 130 people?

Then because a certain someone was coming I made mashed potatoes and green beans to go with the bok-choy. He decided that sweet chili sauce tasted very good with steamed bun. 

For desert we had steamed bun with lemon curd nestled that is a keeper!
we had "cream-cream cones"

That boy can eat.
This post reminded me of the cook in China who told me about the filling in the delicious buns we ate every morning. I knew enough Chinese words to figure out that they had, eggs, milk,and lemon.
Aren't they all so cute? 

"My" kitchen while we stayed in Beijing

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In Honor of Sensory Awareness Month

When I heard snores coming from behind me, I turned around and saw
Faith up-side-down in the hammock swing.
I'm sure it was filling some sort of sensory need.

Friday, October 2, 2015


The other week I met my aunts at a local Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) warehouse and we made diapers and baby blankets.
When my mom first told me about this, I was a little confused, "Why would you need to MAKE 
diapers?" They are available all neatly packaged in plastic already sewn and folded.
(Yeah, I know they also come in "disposable" too but you can't re-use them)

CAM has a program where you can put together a "layette bundle", it includes 
a few items of baby clothes, 6 cloth diapers, a receiving blanket (lightweight) and a heavier blanket.
All items are to be new, it says that on the literature.

I used to be a little bit annoyed about the "all new" idea, thinking "if it would be good enough for my baby, why isn't it good enough for their babies?"

I found out the reason, it has to do with shipping regulations, CAM has to say what is in each shipment going to a country and they have to be honest.

AND it costs the same to ship new items as it does used ones, so why not get the most out of each dollar.

These bundles are quite fun to put together, you get to shop for baby clothes!
They are also quite fun to hand to a new mother, according to my niece who helped to hand these packages to new mothers in Liberia.

The reason my mom and aunts spent a day making diapers and blankets is because  well-intentioned  donors in an effort to save money are giving un-shippable products.

Each bundle is examined before it is shipped and a quality control person checks that the correct number of diapers, clothing items, and blankets are included.

Diapers that are very thin are worthless to send and end up needing to be replaced 

Baby blankets that have skull and cross bones on are.... also replaced
It is such a shame to let good quality fabric go to waste, but before you go to the work to craft a baby blanket for someone, take a look at the print on the fabric.          
...bones are probably not a good idea
strange looking cartoon characters with or without x-ray images,
strange looking beat up women, or zombie fabrics are just not cool.
(The zombie fabric is the only one that has actually not shown up...yet)

I know there are enough of CAM donors that read this that it is worth sticking my neck out. I guess through this I learned that it is important to follow the directions of any organization when you give this type of donation, they have reasons for their "rules".

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Slow Learner

Me that is....

This year Shekinah started kindergarten, she loves it. I was a bit concerned whether her physical differences would cause any problems at school, but it seems that she isn't hearing too much from others. She did say that one little boy asked, "what happened to your hands?" and another little girl spoke up and said "she was born that way."  Shekinah seemed to be OK with it, but she did bring up the "I want hands like yours." the other day. I think we will hear that for a few years, hopefully we can support her and assure her with the proper words and actions.

Just this last week tho, I asked her about her "cards". It seems as if the teacher has a discipline/reward  plan in place for the classroom, if the child needs reprimanded she takes one of his 3 Popsicle sticks and if 3 sticks are taken, she then takes a card. I'm unclear about when the prize the end of each day or at the end of the week. But anyway, it seems as if my precious little girls has a tad bit of trouble remembering the rules. Y'know, the "raise your hand", "stay seated", and "be quiet"...those pesky rules. (Anyone that watches her in church could probably see how that might be a challenge). I had hopes that this last little one of ours would magically turn into one of those angelic children when she walks into the hallowed halls of learning, but not this one.

So we had a little chat on Thursday morning, I thought we could "practice" , I had some school papers that were not quite finished and we "might even have a prize in our cupboard".  So I set the timer and we made our goal 10 minutes. She did pretty good and when the timer went off, she was wanting to finish a paper, so I added another five minutes. We then moved to the chalk board and she drew huge sweeping letters (not those tiny ones that have to fit between those little lines). Her timer rang, but she kept drawing, I got distracted by a sound from the computer and she joined to read messages.

I really don't know what set her off, but suddenly she was crying and reaching for one of the upper cupboards in the kitchen, she stuck her little foot in the drawer pulls on one side and some door handles on the other side and was crawling the cabinets. I pulled her down and said "use your words, what do you need?" (Perfect K. Purvis wasn't it?)  More crying, more animal-like noises, certainly no "quiet hands and eyes" even though I crouched down to below eye level. I walked out of the room for a time, I came back and tried went through my mind that she wants candy, but "that isn't how you ask for candy".  After about an hour, of trying to hold her, trying to talk to her, taking a video (it crossed my mind that if she hurts herself, I want proof that she really gets like this), and finally asking some leading questions.  Do you want balloons (we keep them there) and the child that I thought was beyond hearing , screamed "NO THEY'RE ALL GONE!"  I stood there trying to think and she screamed "STOP IT" by that time I had tears too and a sudden light bulb. Her crying had been reminding me of the day I met her, it was frantic and fearful....and I had promised a "prize" if she did well on her "practice" and I HAD FORGOTTEN!   She apparently had suddenly remembered.

But do I give her candy NOW!? After all that!? This was more than a whole hour wasted, more than a whole hour making her little voice into her classic Shekinah rasp.  I asked, "did mama forget your prize?"  Then I got a response, the quivery lip and the little nod. I gave her a choice of three miniature peanut butter cups or  three sour gummies. She chose the chocolate...I was wishing for some too. She sat on my lap and silently stacked those candies and re-stacked them, then slowly ate them. I hugged her and told her that I was sorry I forgot, but if I ever forget something like that she can use words to tell me. I asked her if it bothers her when she doesn't get a prize at school. I asked if she is the only one that doesn't get a prize. She told me that  it does not bother her, and other people don't get a prize.

But somehow....unless I am totally off base here, it mattered very much that day if mama remembered the prize.
Later on, she gave me a hug and said "I'm sorry mama."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Some Progress

It seemed that I could finish nothing this summer. I have quilt orders quietly lying in 
their boxes and bags waiting. A beautiful crazy quilt with its silks and wools and all sorts
of embroidery to be added, a red and white star quilt begging me with its simplicity, a 
simple but tedious quilt to be made from a mother's (not mine) left-over scraps.
Then there are charity projects, little dresses, sturdy soft diapers, and thick fluffy comforters.

Two orders that are to be Christmas gifts for some lucky people,
got my nose to the needle
and I finished them.

The compass design is a miracle to tell....
My boss ( an Amish lady who owns a shop) gave me a computer printed copy 
of a wall hanging I made years ago. "Can you make this again?"
"Sure" I said, hoping that I could find the pattern I'd used.
I fully expected to need to re-draft the pattern and reluctantly cleared my cutting table 
and the floor around my sewing machine.
"What is this rolled up sheet of freezer paper doing under the wheels of my chair?"
A corner of the sheet unrolled enough to show me a slightly familiar design...
Could I wish?
Surely not!
Yes it was...the original design that I drafted to make the design the first time...
the cut out pattern pieces still stuck together with their little rolls of scotch tape.

OK, you might not think that is much of a miracle
those of you who have seen my sewing room will KNOW that that was a miracle!

This one needed to be figured out and CAREFULLY planned because I did not have the luxury of extra fabric in case I mis-cut something.
Tomorrow I will satisfy my curiosity about making diapers for a charitable project then I need to finish another quilt.

This was the work of a slightly fidgety daughter on the first night of revivals.
The amazing thing is that the braid stayed in her hair overnight and was not un-raveling in the AM when I needed to comb her hair.

This past weekend we took a flying road trip to a nephew's wedding in Illinois. We took Shekinah because we felt it would probably be best for her security. Tho I wasn't sure what she would do on a trip that long. We drove 9 hours to Indianapolis and then 3- 1/2 hrs to the wedding the next morning.
Five hours later we reversed the process. 
I think we pushed her to her limits but she did amazing. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wise Words

This morning we were the host family at church, this means we need to get there early and stand by the door and greet the worshipers. As we were getting ready Faith was getting things out of the refrigerator, "oh, you know what? We could give each person a piece of cheese as they walk in the door."   (good protein snack?)
Shekinah added, " we can take the water squirt bottle and wash out their ears so they can hear the preacher better."

The other day I was reviewing some Karyn Purvis DVD's and Shekinah joined me in watching part of it.  Later I was giving orders to the children and a little voice piped up, "mom, are you asking or telling?"

Life is not boring around here.