Showing posts from November, 2014

What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers... or who doesn't like more pie?

The obvious thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers is to make turkey sandwiches with cranberry-orange relish. Some people in my house truly believe with every ounce of their being that turkey sandwiches with cranberry-orange relish are the whole reason we fix Thanksgiving dinner in the first place. In fact, there have been some years when we have been away for Thanksgiving without sufficient leftovers that we have come home, cooked some turkey and whipped up some relish to satisfy the cravings.

What? You do not make cranberry-orange relish?! Well, you need to, because how else will you make the delicious sandwiches mentioned above? It's easy, here's how J.'s aunt taught me to make it. Take a bag of fresh cranberries, wash them, and pick out any bad ones. Then take a navel orange and chop it coarsely. Now put all of this into your food processor, add sugar to taste (I usually put in ~1/2 cup) and let it get chopped until everything is chopped fine.

But if you have had turk…

Well, drat.

The right port in H.'s head continues to be a problem.

Last Wednesday, I felt it and could feel the rim of the port (it looks like a little circular disk if you see one not in someone's body) and so decided that I would go ahead and try to do the expansion. I got everything ready and had H. sit down. Now, as much as I don't like doing this, I'm pretty good at it and have never had a problem getting the needle in the port at the first attempt. On Wednesday, I tried five different needle sticks and couldn't find it. H. and I were both close to or in tears by the time I decided I just wasn't going to find it.

This morning was the first time I could call the office and when I talked to the nurse, she mentioned that she thought perhaps the port was flipped due to all the fluid that had been around it. The nurse had time to see us, so we got ourselves ready and headed back up to the office. I knew the nurse was going to try to turn the port manually if it was flipped…

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

For home and love and all things true,
(There's been lots of game playing.)
We give our thanks, O God, to you.
(And silver polishing)
For food that's sent to us each day,

(20 for dinner... the tables are ready)
(Plates and serving dishes waiting for food)
Accept this grace that we now say.
(And a little Minecraft)
(Don't worry... it's still festive. They're in front of the fire.)
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Fun with Gomez... or what happens when Mom is busy

I've been working hard to get ready for Thanksgiving which leaves some smaller types with a little time on their hands. Since Mommy is preparing for the holiday, they thought they would, too. When filling the mini-muffin cup liners (which we had leftover from a project) with white glue to make "pies" to decorate the table lost its luster, they moved on to Gomez, our resident skeleton.

Notice the holiday decorations so he is already for Thanksgiving.

I bet you wish you had metal rings hanging from your rib cage.

Stickers, pipe cleaners and even a little decoration on the end of his tail bone.

He's decorated from top to toe.

Now, be forewarned the next picture is a little startling. M. had left some fake squishy eyeballs in my desk. (No, I don't know why. These things just seem to happen.) Well, the littles and not-so-littles decided that Gomez needed eyes. So they gave him some. Let me tell you, it is a little distracting to have your children inserting eyeballs i…

Another visit to the plastic surgeon

We just returned from the plastic surgeon's office. (Yes, I do go there a lot, if that is what you were thinking.) The nurse was able to expand the expander that is under her scalp, but the port which attaches to the expander under her forehead is still being funky. It was swollen again and the nurse drew off ~8ml of liquid. Hopefully this will be the last time. If it looks better tomorrow, I will do the expanding and then we'll be set for a once a week schedule for the next several weeks. We're also going to keep her on the antibiotics for a while longer. H. is a great patient and thought she doesn't like the process is as good as gold during the procedure.

Now I can move along to the next item on my to-do list... making 6 dozen rolls. I'm pretty sure that I could forget nearly any other part of the Thanksgiving menu and life would continue, but if I forgot the rolls, the holiday would be declared void and we'd have to do it all again.

And the countdown begins

It's cleaning day here in order to get ready for the holiday. Tomorrow is going to be baking day. Let me tell you, everyone is very excited. Excited in that 'this is going to end in tears' kind of excitement. So I think I'll be a bit busy. Since I won't have time to write novel-length blog posts for your enjoyment, here are some links to other interesting things which have come across.

20 Signs of Unresolved Trauma (I know, not a lot of fun, but I found it interesting.)

Why Church is a Burden for Special Needs Parents (Blessings on the Sunday School teacher who appears in this story.)

How to Deal with Anxiety, Tragedy, or Heartache - 4 Steps from Research (Or why I won't be quitting the blog anytime soon.)

Homeschooling woes... a set of haiku

This is for P., who is feeling a little behind.

The Tale of Genji
Over one thousand pages
Medieval Japan

Not often is read
A novel rarely opened
And then only half

My girl loves Japan
The desire to learn is strong
A class created

Lesson plans are made
Books and study guides arrive
There is excitement

The book grows longer
The prose is difficult and dry
Too many haiku

Time is growing short
The excitement grows short, too
But not the novel

I am proud of her
It is good to try to reach
Grow and stretch your mind

She is diligent
The schedule is left behind
But she keeps going

Do not lose heart

I haven't shared about what my girls' Bible study that I lead has been talking about recently. As always, I am quite sure that I get far more out of it than the girls do, but you never know. We've been slowly working our way through Luke. This is year two and we're just about to get to the triumphal entry, so we're getting there.

What I have been spending a lot of time pondering is the parable of the persistent widow. (Luke 18: 1- 8) If you are not familiar with it, here's the brief version. A widow persistently hounds a local judge insistently asking for justice. He was an unjust man who cared neither for people or God. The widow is so persistent that the judge eventually gives her what she asks for just to get some peace. Jesus then asks, if the unjust man can eventually do what is right, how much more so will God?

I will admit to misinterpreting this story for a long time. I saw it as a need for badgering and persistence. If I didn't diligently hound God…

It's that time of year again... but I won't mention the "C" word

I know what I'm spending my weekend doing and that would be spending significant time figuring out the details of Christmas, oops I mean the "C" holiday. I need to take stock of what I have already stashed away, make lists of what I still need, and take a look at the calendar and figure out what we're doing when. As much as I don't want to do this, I know that I will feel better to take all the swirling thoughts out of my head and put them down on paper. My goal is always to have a grip on what will happen in December before Thanksgiving. This means I have nearly all the gift shopping done, or if it is not done, at least I know what exactly I still need to do. This not only frees me up to make the things which need to be made, but also, and more importantly, allows me to enjoy the holiday with my family.

I've written about all my advance planning before. You can find the posts at Advance Planning - Get a Cup of Tea, This is the Long Version and Advance Planni…

Can you stand more about doctors and health?

I'm not sure I can... I'm pretty done with the whole thing. Yesterday saw me driving H. back up to the plastic surgeon's office. I didn't like how she was looking and she was feeling horrible. If it was another child, one who had not just had surgery and had large foreign objects implanted in her head, I would have just tucked her in and let her sleep. But she had had surgery and foreign objects in her head and really, truly, the last thing I want to have happen is to have any of that get infected and land us in the hospital. Or worse, have to have the infected expanders removed. Ugh! I can't even imagine.

The good news? No infection! I was so relieved. There was a lot of fluid that had collected around one of the ports (fairly common) and that was what was making the port particularly squishy and painful. The nurses drained the area (5ml of fluid.... imagine having that much fluid collected at your temple) and it should start to feel better soon. The fluid showed …

A book report

Every so often we check out a book from the library that I just love. I always mean to share these books with you, and sometimes I even remember. Today is one of those remembering days. It only took us checking out the book a second time from the library. And the book? Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems.

Now I will be the first to admit that I run hot and cold on Mo Willems' books. I adore Knuffle Bunny (the first one, not so fond of the sequels) and Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She was Extinct, but I really don't like the books about the pigeon. (Collective gasp... I know I'm the only one.) I do love the Goldilocks book. It makes me laugh out loud and who doesn't want to read a book that makes them laugh?

It is the rare book that both parents and children can find equally amusing. I find that if the book elicits chuckles from the adults, the humor is completely missed by the children. (The humor is often far too snide for my taste as well.) A…

The Plague House (with apologies to T. S. Elliot)

We are the plague house We are the coughing house Sick together Lungs filled with goo. Alas! Our hoarse voices, when We croak together Are husky and painful As a rasp on metal Or sandpaper over skin In our sick home
Everyone here is sick with one sort of distress or another. Sore throats. Coughs. Constricted chests. Laryngitis. And yes, even vomit. Do not come and visit. Save yourselves. The worst of it? H. has come down with her own version of it and that explains the low grade fever I was concerned about over the weekend. I've talked to the nurse and we're just going to keep an eye on her for right now. It also means we won't be doing the first expansion tomorrow. I had forgotten that they don't expand when a child is even remotely under the weather. Poor H. She is truly miserable. 
I'll now go back and try to read aloud with my croaky throat. I suggest when you finish reading this that you wipe down any surfaces with disinfectant. Just to be safe.

A good example of why I shouldn't write at night

I could write an article that's due tomorrow or I could procrastinate, write a blog post, have a cookie, do some crochet instead. Guess which one I'm picking. It's not complete procrastination since the holiday sweatshop that my life becomes in December has begun a little early. Once again, I have vague misgivings of whether I have over-estimated my time. Since it's only November 15, I will not allow myself to begin panicking... yet.

One thing I did not procrastinate about (though I was cutting it close) was sorting through the winter wear. I can't think of anyone who likes this particular job, but it needs to be done. Even after living in this cold climate for the past 30 years, it is hard to shake off my desert roots. What?! It's going to get cold? Again? When M. was born, I wasn't even quite sure what all she needed to keep her warm. I know now what is needed, of course. I also know that you can save every pair of snow pants you've ever bought and yo…

A moment to breathe

I've been on the go for longer than I want to think about today. I've been grocery shopping, waited for the repairman, and went to the Big Box store among other things. But as vital as having toilet paper in the house again is, I know that's not what you really want to read about. What you really want to know is how H. is doing.

Well, among all those other things, H. and I also made it up to the plastic surgeon's office to get the drains removed. Hooray! This always feels like such a big step. After we are sure the that holes where the drains were have completely stopped draining, H. will be allowed to take a shower and wash her hair. On top of that, H. is also feeling a lot better. Yesterday was a difficult day pain-wise and it took while to get it under control. I take it very seriously when H. tells me when she doesn't feel well, because letting me know she is uncomfortable is still something that we are working on. If she says it hurts, it must really hurt. Tod…

Practicing hospitality

I'm sure you don't need me to remind you that the holidays are quickly approaching. We all get busier and busier planning for various family events and dinners. It is easy to forget that no everyone has a place to go or people to celebrate with. Last year, when I wrote the post, He Sets the Lonely in Families, it had a huge response. (My stats made me very happy for those few days.) If you haven't read it, go and click on it now and read it. It will save me from repeating myself.

We are now three weeks away from Thanksgiving. One of the most useful comments on that post was from the commentor who made the point, that while asking others to join a family for the holidays is great, to do it sooner rather than later is even better. Instead of the build-up of that person wondering what they are going to do... is anyone going to invite them... of making plans to make the holiday less dreadful, ask that person NOW! Then they know and can enjoy the anticipation of having a place …

The End in Mind

(Ugh. Late post today due to internet difficulties.)

I have been a contributing writer for the online homeschooling magazine, Heart of the Matter, for quite some time. This month the magazine has gone through a change and is now called The End in Mind. Each of the writers has been asked to write a post about what this phrase means to them.

Having the end in mind when we are homeschooling or raising our children or doing whatever it is that is important to us is not a bad thing. It gives us goals and guidance and encouragement as we travel on our journeys. Yet I worry a bit that it can also skew what is really important.

We all like positive outcomes. We like good results. We like to see the fruits of our labors. This isn't bad and it certainly is human. The trouble is, if we base the worth of what we did solely on results, we are bound to be disappointed. This is particularly true when we are dealing with people. I know this sounds a bit heretical to Western ears, but bear with me…

Hello Frozen... or this is your brain after surgery

At our last library visit, the children picked a picture book using the words of the "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" song. (If you don't know it or have forgotten the tune, here's the link to Allan Sherman singing it. You need to know the tune to get the rest of the post.) Now the song is amusing, but it is a terrible ear worm and it has been running around in my head for days.

Then, in the recovery room yesterday, H. wanted to watch Frozen (of course). It was my first time to see it and I took an unreasonable dislike to the film. Plus it contains the #1 ear worm of all time, "Let it Go". (OK, maybe the "Everything is Awesome" song from The Lego Movie is worse, but it's short.)

This means that I have two competing ear worms running in my head. So that combined with decompression from surgery and too much coffee, leads to this. Sung, of course, to the Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah tune.

Princess Elsa, Princess Anna
Build a snowman, do you wanna?
Life wa…


Just a quick post for those of you not connected to me on facebook.

H. did very well with the surgery today. The surgeon placed two expanders, one in her forehead and one under her scalp, the same places as last time. He also removed the two nevi which ran from her eye down her cheek and jaw. Everything went well. After several hours of recovery she was awake enough to watch Frozen and have a pop-sickle and some juice. By 4pm, the nurses were making noises that she was doing well enough that we could go home, so we did.

The stitches in her cheek should start to dissolve within the week and the drains will probably come out in 7 to 10 days. The expanders will be in 12 weeks just like last time. So far, H. is not in any pain.

Thanks everyone for your prayers during the day, they are much appreciated.

The next post will be after surgery

The best thing about having surgery on a Monday is that you get the hospital call as to what time to be there on Friday instead of the night before. It gives a person a little more time to plan. So, the details are: H.'s surgery is scheduled to begin at 8:45 which means we need to arrive at 7:15. Not too bad until you factor in the hospital is about 45 minutes away and we have to drop children at our (very good) friends' house first. I expect we will need to be leaving with everyone at 6:10 or so. Have I mentioned that we are not morning people?

I will be bringing my computer so I can update when we have news. I'm also bringing an outlandish collection of yarn and crochet hooks and knitting needles. I'm a fidgeter, so knitting and crocheting is pretty much the perfect activity for hospital waiting rooms. Plus, I have several Christmas projects I need to get going on.

H. is doing pretty well with the whole thing, considering. Last night she was marching around the bathr…

Life is Beautiful

So the attitude reset is just about complete.

Clean(er) house. Check.
Bills paid. Check.
Desk cleaned off. Check.
Calendar updated. Check.
Morning run. Check.

The only think left to do was to create art with my children...
(We traced leaves onto watercolor paper, added color, and then added details with fine-tipped pens.)

K. (Can you tell he still has a tendency to turn all his watercolors black?)
E. (Everyone was pretty self-sufficient, so I had a chance to paint, too.)
while listening to this on endless repeat.

It's a good to remember to see the beauty all around you; to appreciate the blessings that you already have. It's good to remember not to let worry rob you of what you already have.

And some days...

you just need to cancel school and clean your house.

So we did.

I guess now, though, I cannot put the bills off any longer.

Fun times, I tell you. But at least the thirdfloor is clean and surprise, surprise, suddenly everyone wants to play up there again.

Well, that was fun


We just got home from H.'s pre-op appointment with the plastic surgeon. On Monday she will have her 4th surgery here (7th total) to have more tissue expanders put in. I had put off telling her about until today, figuring ignorance is bliss and why should she need to worry about sooner than she needed to.

As we were riding in the car to the appointment we were talking about why we needed to go the doctor's office. As she thought about having surgery again, it was such a strong emotion that it caused her to have a seizure. (This is not the first time I've seen this connection and it can happen with strong good emotions as well as negative ones.) It was just too much for her. It's a very good thing that TM is my constant travelling companion because it was really, really helpful to have an extra pair of capable hands at that moment. He jumps up from his seat and moves next to H. so he can hold her upright so she doesn't hurt herself. He was great and calm and ver…

TM's birthday pictures

Blowing out candles (He chose ice cream sundaes, so once again, candles had to be held.)

B. holding the candles... if you add the numbers, they equal 12
TM reading the card that K. wrote all by himself
TM opening the very small package from G. of a 1 RMB coin she had found kicking around the house.
"Thank you Grammy and Grandpa.... I love all my robot kits!"


Now, I know you have all read about the nurse fighting the quarantine order in Maine. It is a serious topic and the debate and tension between individual freedom and corporate responsibility is not one to take lightly. There is always a tension between what is good for the individual and what is good for society as a whole. I do not take these ideas lightly.

That said, am I the only person who hears '21-day quarantine' and thinks, "Who the heck doesn't go for that?"

Think about it. Twenty-one days where you cannot leave your home. That's twenty-one days of not having to drive to classes and doctor's appointments. Twenty-one days of not having to go to the grocery store. Twenty-one days of not having to run errands. Twenty-one days of not having to go to meetings. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Think of what I could do! My mental list of projects that I never get to is long. There are sewing projects, knitting and crochet projects, organizing projects, …

Costumes 2014

Chicago was wet and cold and very, very windy last night, but J. managed to take people out so they could collect their candy. At least they all didn't come home dripping wet like they did last year. Just cold. Snow will do that.
K. (as fireman) and G. (as panda... of course)
K. (notice the soot)
G. (This costume was such a pain to make last year, I was glad she was getting a second year out of it.)
L. (as Iron Man) - M. made the costume out of milk jugs and cardboard (her preferred mediums). In the middle of summer L. announced this is who she would be and told her sister she was going to make it, which M. did.
HG4 (as the Hulk)
H. (as a ladybug)
The backside, since that is the interesting part. (L. was a little bit smitten with this, but did not try to put H. into a bucket.)
TM whipped together some antennae for her.
and HGbaby was a bear. (She is the 7th child in this house to wear this costume. Had I but known when I was making it 20 years ago...)
Am I the only one who thinks…