Friday, December 15, 2006

Cooking Lessons

A child is called into the kitchen to slice apples with the cool tool that the kids love to use. She has a hard time placing the apples on the tines straight, so that the corer cuts out the core instead of the good part of the apple.

Lesson the child learns? If you can't get the apple on straight, the machine often breaks the apple into big chunks instead of slicing it nicely.

Lesson the mom learns? If you have to cut cores out of already-sliced apples, it would've been easier to do it yourself.

A child is making the topping for Apple Betty. He needs to measure the brown sugar. What's left in the container "looks about right." So he asks the mother. She says it's not enough and that he needs to open the new bag to get more sugar. So he dumps the contents of the container into the melted butter and proceeds to open the new bag of sugar.

Lesson the child learns? Once you've dumped sugar into a liquid, it is very hard to measure the sugar to know how much is there, and how much more you need.

Lesson the mom learns? Sometimes it's easier to do it yourself.

The child who is neglecting to measure the sugar plops the tightly packed brown sugar into a bowl of melted butter.

Lesson the child learns? Throwing a huge clump of brown sugar into melted butter surprisingly causes the melted butter to splash violently out of the bowl. (Who'da thunk it?)

Lesson the mom learns? Sometimes it's easier to do it yourself.

Now, how does the mom unlearn the lesson that her children so thoroughly taught her today? Because if she doesn't unlearn her lesson, the children will never get a chance to make more mistakes and eventually learn to do it right.

Oh, but melted butter splashed all over.....

No Room in the Inn

I had always thought of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem and finding an overcrowded city, so that there was no room available for them. But Pastor has pointed out the last year or two that Bethlehem was the place Joseph's family was from. The reason Mary & Joseph were there was because it was time for Joseph's family to be registered in the census. It wasn't necessarily strangers who were refusing a pregnant Mary a place to stay. It was the extended family. And it's very likely they were disgusted with the behavior of Mary & Joseph, not wanting to countenance the apparent adultery between the two that resulted in Mary's huge tummy.

He came to His own, and His own received Him not.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hospital Update - 13

We took Maggie to cardiology for her follow-up visit today.

The good news is that her "conduit" (the new pulmonary artery) is working perfectly, according to the doctor.

The bad news, though, is that the bottom 2/3 of her left lung is collapsed. This explains the weird pain in her shoulder. I'm wondering if it might also explain the serious lack of appetite.

The x-rays from her next-to-last day in the hospital showed some lung problem. It was a little bit increased the day we took her home. She was given instructions on how to use the spirometer to exercise her lungs. She was told to cough a lot. She was told to take deep breaths. But she didn't. It hurt to do so, so she just didn't. I would remind her to use the spirometer, but she would use it for a brief time and then put it down when I wasn't looking. The x-ray today was far far worse than the x-ray from two weeks ago.

The doctor explained to Maggie that there's nothing he can do to help her. There's nothing her parents can do to help her. SHE has to do this. SHE has to cough and blow up balloons and exercise with the spirometer. He also explained to her that neglect to exercise her lungs will lead to pneumonia and possibly spending Christmas in the hospital. That certainly got her attention. I think she made herself cough about every 2-3 miles on the way home. Good!

Doctor is skeptical of the likelihood that the rash was a penicillin reaction. But he had no other explanation. A late reaction to the meds is pretty rare, but neither is it impossible.

We asked about the hypernasality (the change in her voice after surgery, with her voice coming out her nose again instead of out her mouth). He suggested we go back to ENT who did her palate surgery and get his opinion. Another appointment....

We also noticed at pre-op that her scoliosis is worsening. We should have taken her to the osteopath prior to surgery, but it didn't cross my mind. Now we have to wait another 2-3 months for an adjustment to her spine. Can't very well have a doctor yanking bones around and popping vertebrae into place when the breastbone is still knitting itself back together. So I hope the scoliosis doesn't worsen too much in the next few months.

Maggie asked about going to Sunday School, in hopes of still getting to sing with the rest of the kids for the Christmas program. But because of the likelihood of contracting pneumonia, she is stuck in her confinement for another week. We have to go back to the hospital on Tuesday for more x-rays, looking for improvement or worsening.

Suuuuuure We Communicate Here

We're having company on Friday night. Rachel's boyfriend's family is coming over. Sounds good. At Didache on Monday night, Rachel (my oldest daughter) and Matt (her boyfriend) invited Katie (my second daughter) to join us on Friday night for the festivities. It was naturally assumed by all involved that of course Nathan (Katie's husband) is also invited. So at lunch yesterday, the conversation got convoluted. If anybody ever wanted to see an action plan for How Rumors Start, he ought to observe our family communicate for a while.

Mom to Dad: Rachel and Matt invited Katie to come on Friday night.

Kid #6 to Mom: What about Nathan?

Mom to kid #6: I don't know. What about Nathan?

Kid #6: Why can't Nathan come?

Mom to kid #6: Who said Nathan can't come?

Kid #5 (around the corner in another room): Nathan can't come????

Mom to kid #5: Who said Nathan can't come?

Kid #5: WHY can't Nathan come?

Mom: Nobody said Nathan can't come! They didn't invite Nathan on Monday night because Nathan wasn't there at class to invite. They invited Katie, and she will...

Kid #6 (interrupting Mom): They didn't invite Nathan??

Mom: They didn't talk to Nathan on Monday because Nathan wasn't at class. That doesn't mean he's not allowed to come with Katie.

Kid #4 (relishing the chance to tweak younger people): Nathan wasn't at class. That means he didn't come.

Kid #6: WHY can't Nathan come??

Mom to kid #6: Nathan didn't come on MONDAY night. He can come on Friday night.

Dad (joining in with kid #4's tweaking): Why can't Nathan come?

And so forth and so on. After all this, some of us were laughing hard enough that there were tears in our eyes. We finally managed to get a grip on ourselves, breathe deeply, get everybody straightened out on the Monday night situation as well as the Friday night invitations, and start clearing the table.

So, after church on Wednesday, we're sitting around eating cheesecake ... as well as fighting with cardboard boxes in an attempt to overpower their newfangled technology. Rachel proceeds to tell us that Matt invited his brother Greg for Friday night too. And she invited Katie. End of statement.

Mom: You invited Katie. Matt invited Greg. Uh, Matt IS aware, isn't he?, that Katie is married? We don't need to set her up with his brother.

Rachel: I didn't say that!

Mom: Sure sounded like it to me. You've got two people inviting two other people of the opposite sex. Sounds like attempted matchmaking. But Katie's already taken.

Rachel: What's with the matchmaking?? There's no matchmaking. Nathan is coming on Friday night.

Kid #4 (still tweaking): Who says Nathan is coming on Friday? I thought Nathan wasn't coming.

Kid #5: Wait! Nathan isn't coming? But I thought you said he WAS!

Rachel: Yes, Nathan is coming.

Dad (still tweaking): But did you invite him on Monday night?

Rachel: No, he wasn't there.

Mom (tweaking too): See, he wasn't there. You didn't invite him.

Kid #6: WHY didn't you invite Nathan?

Mom (still tweaking): I think we should invite Nathan so he knows what's going on.

By this point, most of us from the lunch conversation are laughing uproariously, while Rachel is getting more and more confused. We proceeded to explain how the earlier conversation had gone, and how her comments just re-ignited the whole thing, along with geniune confusion on the part of the youngest member of the family.

They say good families communicate.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

OCD Jogging

While Maggie was in the hospital, I skipped jogging eight times in a week and a half. After that, especially with the cold air and the cloudy & foggy days, it is SO hard to make myself go out and jog.

It's like I have failed if I skip exercise just one day. One transgression seems to give me "permission" to skip again, since I've already failed. The same thing happens with washing dishes, or prayers, or dusting, or the kids' math. Something similar happens with horizontal surfaces after the living room is cleaned. The end table and the coffee table and the buffet will stay clean for a while ... until one person puts one item there, and then it's like everybody has permission to leave mugs and socks and books and pencils and drawings on that particular horizontal surface.

It seems like maybe I'm beginning to learn that a person can keep starting over, and that one failure does not mean that we will be forever consigned to ditching family prayers or jogging or vacuuming or whatever. There's also the benefit of harnessing that obsessive-compulsive tendency. If I know that allowing myself to skip jogging today means that I will be giving myself an excuse to skip jogging every day for the rest of the week, that gives me more incentive to discipline the flesh and do what needs to be done NOW.

Harry-and-David Boxes

We received a gift of Harry-and-David fruit in today's mail. As we're sitting around the supper table being silly and eating leftover wedding-cheesecake, one kid tries to open the apple box to pull out an apple. She couldn't. Now, surely you would think an adult woman should be able to open a fruit box. After struggling for a moment, one of the other kids gives her the helpful hint: "Push on the circles on the sides, and then lift the lid." Hey, it worked. Then second-kid announces that these are Technologically Advanced Cardboard Boxes. Next, second-kid announces that they are Child-Proof Fruit Boxes, so as to prevent children from getting into the fruit box and overdosing on vitamins. I can barely work the VCR or the alarm clock, and now they're making cardboard boxes too complicated for me to figure out!

Frugality and Underwear

Oh darn -- how do you talk about underwear without thoroughly embarrassing the owners of said underwear?

Someone gave me a tip several years ago with regard to laundry. With a bunch of boys in the house, she said that I could distinguish whose laundry was whose by utilizing the different name-brands and their unique features. For example, one boy gets gray socks, another gets white socks, and the third gets white socks with gray heels. It makes it easier to get laundry sorted and back to its owner.

It seems like I'm buying underwear all the time. Enough friends have mentioned that the gifts will be an "underwear and socks Christmas" that I think other people get stuck buying underwear "all the time" too. Today while doing laundry, I noticed something. One of the males in my household hasn't needed new underwear since my mom bought some as a gift over three years ago. (See, that's my excuse for buying underwear for Christmas gifts. My mommy taught me to do it!) That fellow's 3-yr-old underwear is still in fantastic shape. So I web-hunted. Towncraft is available at JC Penneys, and it costs three or four times as much as Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. But it lasts SO much longer that it's cheaper in the long run.

And thus ends the embarrassing frugality observation of the day.

My next job is to find out if there's enough variety in Towncraft that I could buy it and still figure out whose laundry is whose when I'm sorting and folding. OR I could start making these guys do their own laundry. But that would probably be more work than it's worth. Besides, they cook for me sometimes and clean my bathrooms and mow my lawn; surely I can wash their laundry.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dead Mushrooms

A while back, someone asked about kombucha mushrooms that had been in the refrigerator for several months. Sadly enough, I think I learned today that it's not a good plan to try. Better to get your hands on a new mushroom.

I left one batch of kombucha brewing while we were at the hospital for that week. I set aside some mushrooms in the fridge, in glass containers, covered. Using those "saved mushrooms," I set a batch of kombucha to brew last Tuesday and another batch on Thursday. Neither one has done anything but sit there. No new mushroom has grown. No carbonation has developed. No tangy taste. No nothing. Bummers. Now I have to go about multiplying my mushrooms from the ONE that I have.

Next time I have to save mushrooms, I will keep them at cool room temperature (50-65), with a breathable lid. That hasn't worked well for me in the past, but at least my mushrooms didn't DIE.

Mom Brag

Paul came home from work a month or so ago, a little worried by managerial complaints about the stockers, one of which is Paul. So he was happy (and I was so proud) with the comments made recently about what a good job he's doing!


My men are spoiling me. My husband made dinner yesterday while I was running errands. One son made pizza and salad for dinner today. Another son is making meatloaf for tomorrow's dinner. All their cooking has enabled me to get some Christmas shopping done, and some decorating, and catch up on bread-baking and laundry and some other chores.

My son makes pizza so much better than I do. So today I asked him for times and temperatures, in hopes that I can do a better job copying his nice pizza crusts.

The recipe makes 3 pizzas that are about 11x14" each.
Stir together
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar or honey
1/2 Tbsp salt
Add 2 cups white flour. Beat well.
Add 2-3 cups flour, mix and knead.
The crust doesn't have to rise.
Pat crusts onto well-greased cookie sheets. (We use thin ones instead of the air-bake ones. With air-bake pans, the crusts must bake for a lot longer.)

Parbake crusts at 500 degrees for 7 minutes. Top with whatever's desired: we use about 10 oz of spaghetti sauce and 10 oz of grated mozarella for each pizza. (Adding 1-2 oz of cheddar and/or parmesan really perks it up.) Bake pizzas for 10 minutes at 500. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing.

Anonymous Posts

When Beggars All ceased their blogging, one of the explanations given was the lack of time. Although the men enjoyed blogging, although they enjoyed reading theology and talking about it, they also had their families and their jobs that needed attention. Jon called blogging a "black hole" that sucked time away from what should be our priorities.

I can easily get caught up in debates. But I ought not. It's not that I cannot provide evidence. It's not that I cannot give reasonable arguments for what I believe. It's not that I'm afraid of the name-calling. But I have other things that are more important to me. Besides, carrying out these debates via writing is a process that takes much time; such discussions work better in person, over a cup of coffee or a beer.

This blog was not started as a forum for arguing politics. It's particularly hard to "argue" with someone who resorts to name-calling and who will not actually engage the ideas and discuss the merits of the different viewpoints. I understand that people have different opinions. I doubt, though, that those who hold to a "non-religious" faith recognize that their beliefs are every bit as much BELIEFS as are my beliefs.

I cannot try to convince people of the shortcomings of their belief system. Not that I wouldn't like to try, but I have my priorities about how I spend my time. I'll say on my blog what I want to say. Comments are welcome. But I can and will delete posts from those who are anonymous and antagonistic. (Mom, I'm not talking to you. When you post "anonymously," you're not really anonymous. I know who you are. That's how it is for most "anonymous" posters. Besides, you're not antagonistic.)

Insulting me isn't a big deal. But don't be surprised when I delete posts that dishonor my Savior and His Word.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Found: A Leather Coat

Before I start bubbling about why I'm asking -- who left a coat here? It's a very nice leather coat, either black or dark-brown enough that it's nearly black, and has a silver-gray lining. It's a woman's coat, and it says "large" but it looks to me more like a medium. Long enough to come down to mid-thigh. Name on the label says "Adler Collection." On the hanger with it (around the collar of the coat) is a hand-knit dark-gold scarf that's about 8" wide. The coat has no belt. Below the waistline, there's a slit (or "vent," I think my mom called it) in the middle-back seam.

Next, a man's jacket. Like a suit coat, but tweedy. It's a lightish brown. No size in the label.

Any claimants? For some reason, I'm thinking the leather coat may be Maria's. And SHE won't need it where SHE is because SHE is WARM!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I'm taking a coat inventory right now. We seem to have a hall closet and a coat rack that are just FULL of coats and jackets. But I think some of them are unclaimed. Y'know, somebody outgrew his coat, found a bigger one in the hand-me-down bins, and didn't take the old one out of the closet. So there are piles of coats and jackets all over the living room, and I'm trying to figure out who owns which coats. Part of the instigation for this process was my bonanza at Goodwill today.

I found two nice wool coats, a leather coat, and a Christmas gift there. Two of those items would normally sell for $100 or more. The other two would be more like $200 each. And I paid $73 for the whole shootin' match! Yee haw!

AND on top of that, we took Zippy [my 93 Corolla] in for repairs. Turns out that almost every problem she was having was connected to a flaw in the exhaust. Repairs were only $400. Okay, $400 is a lot of money, but it is a whole lot less than any of the el-cheapo replacement vehicles I was test-driving. We can put off Zippy's funeral for a little while longer. And the greatest immediate relief in this is that I don't have to go gallavanting around tomorrow (again!) test-driving yet more vehicles!

Wasn't there something in Day By Day recently (or did I read it on somebody's blog?) about God providing for all our temporal needs, much more abundantly than we could ever expect? I know I read something like that recently. And today, I experienced it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Arrival Time of the Magi

When I was growing up, I always assumed the Wise Men showed up at the stable alongside the shepherds. That's what the creches and Christmas cards always showed. And at Sunday School, we always talked about the stories as though they were one.

I heard later that it was possible the Magi came later. For decades, I heard good arguments for both sides of the issue, and never knew which one was right.

In the last couple of weeks, I've seen several reviews of the movie The Nativity Story. Every time, I've heard how it's faithful to the biblical text. But a friend who saw the movie told us that the movie shows the wise men and shepherds arriving together at the stable, and how the movie skipped the Presentation of our Lord. Now, having not seen the movie, I will refrain from commenting on those things. But what has somewhat shocked me is the widespread refrain of how this movie is biblically accurate.

I didn't realize until recent years that the wise men arrived later. But now, I just can't imagine thinking otherwise; it's clear from the biblical text.

Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple, according to the law of Moses. That happened when He was 40 days old. The family was still dwelling in Judea for at least six weeks after Jesus' birth.

Matthew tells us how Jesus' Father sent word to Jesus' step-dad to "get outta there because Herod wants to kill the Messiah." Do we really think Joseph dawdled around for a month or more, having gotten word that the hit-men were on their way? No. The magi must have arrived after the Presentation.

That was enough to convince me. But my husband pointed out evidence that is irrefutable. At the Presentation and for the purification of Mary, they gave the offering of two turtledoves. That's what people in poverty were allowed to give, instead of the prescribed gift of a lamb and a turtledove (see Lev 12). If the wise men arrived before the Presentation, then Mary and Joseph had gold and frankincense and myrrh. They were devout and holy; if they had the financial means, they would have offered up the lamb instead of the pigeon. But they didn't have the financial means: the magi hadn't yet given their valuable gifts. The Magi hadn't come yet.

Hospital Update - 12

Rash is all gone.
Swelling at the incision site is nearly gone.
Most of the scabs have fallen off incisions and chest-tube sites, and are looking good.

Only concerns at this point are a lack of appetite and a sore shoulder. Maggie's eating very very little, and often feels nauseous. I think part of the sick-tummy feeling is due to hunger, but not much sounds good to her. When she does eat, she can eat only a tiny fraction of what she was eating prior to surgery, and then gets too full.

She also complains of her left shoulder hurting. I can't figure that one out, other than the fact that it's near where her central line was inserted. We'll ask on Thursday at the cardiology follow-up appt.