Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cooking School

I am embarrassed to say I forgot to blog about this! Back in March a friend and I decided we would take our girls to a cooking school...just for fun and for a bonding experience. Things did not quite go as expected and the other mother needed to spend time in the hospital, but her daughter was able to attend with her aunts. We chose The Culinary Classroom and we decided "Asian Appetizers" sounded like fun.

We gathered around her huge butcher block island and measured and mixed.

We made sushi (California sushi without raw fish)

Made steamed dumplings

and Vietnamese Spring Rolls

We loved it and came home to make more food the next week.

Discovered that you really should grate your ginger or run it through a food processor or your family will make little piles of ginger on their plates when they eat the steamed dumplings.

Shekinah cut out the circles of parchment for the steamer baskets.

The effects of watching cooking shows live on in her play-dough creations.

Someone turned 14 during this month!

This week I went to a quilting with my aunts and their daughters- my younger cousins- was an interesting noisy commotion.  At the end of lunch we were served coffee and this was my mug. 
I worked there  from 1984-1987 and I never saw mugs like this! I sat at a sewing machine 8-9 hours a day and sewed the binding at the bottom of Onesies. You sewed about an inch, inserted a "Onesie" label and sewed to the end of the front half of the shirt. The machine was advanced enough to have an electric eye and a cutting blade that cut the binding and then we started around the edge of the back flap of the shirt. We got paid by the dozen and you hoped for mostly size "small" because your pay was better with that size. In those days $7-8 an hour was good pay...but then I filled the tank of my VW Rabbit with a $10 bill.

 Last night hubby and I went to see Sight & Sound's production of Samson. At the beginning of the show they announced that they did add a few characters to the show and some details, so I set out to see if I could find them.  This morning I pulled out my Bible and read the account of Samson in Judges and am still a little embarrassed. I didn't know the story of Samson's life very well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April Thoughts #2

We can't forget Ms/ Mr Snowman from the first weekend in had a hat and scarf with  an umbrella, but after it started melting we removed the scarf and umbrella. Kinah suddenly noticed all the pine needles that were stuck in the snow noted, "It's all naked and hairy!"  After the snow man melted there was a lonely pile of pine needles.

Should have taken a better picture, but this is probably the last time she can wear that dress. I bought it for her in China, she didn't get much wider since then, just longer.

I share a birthday with at least three other people that I would think I would buy appropriate birthday cards before that would think.

Hubby took off work today to be my chauffeur, he took me to pick out a new (for me) office chair to replace the chair that was 20+ years old, then we went on a hot date to S*m's Club to stock up on groceries. We ate at Frie*dly's,  paid a fine at the library. Then had conversation without interruption. This conversation thing happened twice in a span of eight days!
Bought my b-day cake at Sa*m's, I mean who wants to bake their own. Joe got very excited when he heard it was cheesecake. Faith said, "No, Joe it isn't cheesecake." She was sitting beside him at the table and watching his expression. And when he responded in typical-disappointed-boy, she said,  "Mom, I made his ears go down!"

And this will be the biggest number you see on any of my cakes for a long time....

Things I like:  Lunches with my husband and FB phone chats with Parker.
Things I don't like:  Ticks that hide behind my daughter's ear and the next day one on her chest.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Thoughts in April #1

Thoughts running through my mind...what there is of it.

This morning my phone and my son reminded me that son#4 had a follow-up appointment at his Dr to get a second Hepatitis A vaccine. As I told's because one day he might want to go to an area that was damaged by hurricane and help clean up the mess....or maybe return to Ch*na one day to volunteer. At any rate, he will have that vaccine off his list.

Before we could get out the door for the 8:15 appointment Shekinah needed to have her day-off-school-fit. Not sure why she does this, even she notices when she doesn't have them and comments, "mom I didn't have a fit today."  Getting out the door dressed and combed on a non-school day usually brings it on.  On another week, I needed to drop supplies off at the high school and she was only half in one pig-tail and one side a wavy mess.  I told her that we need to go to school and she is welcome to come just like that, but "what will Zeke say?"  She quickly decided to pick up all the things she had shoved off the table and pick up the chair and sit on the bench and ask nicely to finish the other side.  Inside I was dancing a jig, outside I said a pleased "thank you".

This morning the basement was too cold to go pick a dress, the food in this house was too unappetizing to choke down, and life was bad. But in the end, I was able to pick a dress (no choosing on her part) I put some dry cereal in a bag and chocolate milk in a cup. Offered to let her go to the doctor's office in her old ratty nightie and messy hair, but I think she worried about what Joe would say and with minutes to spare, we made it out the door with only a few tight muscles in my neck.

She apologized  while we were driving and we had a good day.

Two years ago, well things were a bit harder then.

We went to a big food discount store, selected goodies for the school lunches and after school snacks.

Didn't find the grape juice that DH likes, nor the 10# can of pears that Zeke needs for his upcoming senior trip to Grenada.

Mulling over curriculum choices for homeschooling Hope next year.
She loves the old Kindle I bought from a friend even if it isn't touch screen.

Spent Shekinah's nap time trying to write an article about the different types of adoption and brief description of what it entails.

Son#1 and his family were here for supper tonite. We made ham and cheese roll-ups (in pizza dough) and pizza stromboli.   Marveled again at Parker's language...tonite when Faith asked him what he was doing he said, " I'm working on...daddy's green car."

It's amazing how people's 9:30 bedtime never gets honored anymore.

Last night after managing to force her small hand through the handle of a mug and apparently struggling awhile before Shekinah noted "mom, I'm gonna have to sleep like this tonite!"

Sunday, April 17, 2016

How Does He Do That?

On Friday night our elementary school students had their Spring Program. Elementary school programs are usually....well...just OK. I mean you have little kids with wobbly voices, loud voices and/or off-tune voices. They are usually only exciting because your kid is in it.  Another thing I've noticed over the almost-eighteen years we have had children in school, are the stories that come home from school about the stress of practicing for the programs. "Mom, the boys were SO BAD in music today, the teacher got SO MAD today in music, we had to stay in for recess today because we aren't getting the song right.  (Keep in mind, my kids have gone to a number of schools and had a number of teachers for music and these comments have happened over the years)

Until this year, this year we had a new music teacher and I sorta rolled my eyes (inside my head) and thought, "poor guy". Middle school students vary so much. Then I started hearing Mr S quotes...."Mr S. did this, Mr S did that, Mr. S is funny, we got to play a game during music, he told us we are awesome."  I jokingly told my husband that I would get rich if I had a quarter for every time that teacher's name was mentioned.

The Christmas program rolled around and I waited for the frustration stories. I heard none. I wondered if they would get ready for the Christmas program, if they kept playing games during music class. They had a wonderful Christmas program!

Then the Spring program happened and I was IMPRESSED!  Sixth grade boys singing out and singing well. Seventh and eighth grade boys singing audibly, not just audible they song was great! I expected the girls to sing, but they outdid themselves.

So how does this teacher pull that kind of cooperation out of the students?

Somewhere between Christmas and Spring, I had a few opportunities to eavesdrop and I heard a few things that might play into it...a few lessons for me too. I don't believe I ever heard a teacher so full of compliments to his students, they weren't fake-y empty ones he seems to genuinely like his students. I pondered how he kept order in his classroom, wouldn't the students just run all over him. Somehow he knew just when to get serious and just when to tell a story. Possibly he needs to write a book.

Thank you students and Mr S for a very enjoyable evening.
Dear Shekinah sporting her new glasses and her new dress.

Ready for the performance

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool's Day

People in this house have been looking forward to this day for a variety of reasons. Hope had a Current Events speech, but she has them about once a week so that isn't anything new. Ezekiel had chapel this morning and I was scheduled to feed 110 students and staff at the high school.

This is the fourth time I've made this meal. It is traditional at our high school for the senior's moms to make a lunch sometime during the school year. If each mom takes a turn we have "hot lunch" almost every Friday for a whole school year. The students each pay ($4 this year) and the money is used to help fund the senior class trip and graduation expenses. If there are more Fridays than moms you can choose to do a second hot lunch to help your child's fund. That would be why this is the fourth lunch, I did it twice for our eldest.  After that I had too many children that I DID know what to do.

The very first hot lunch that I made was the Chinese/Hmong/American meal meal similar to what I made today. It was totally my suggestion and totally my choice...but then it was a TRADITION and you know what we do with TRADITIONS!

If you start a month ahead of time, it really does not take a lot of work to throw it together. Who am I kidding? It was work, but I enjoyed it.

I made 250 egg rolls and put a sign out limiting them to 2 egg rolls until all were served, I should have just let them eat, we would have been fine. I cooked rice this morning, I tried a different method from last year and I think I like it the best so far....well tho' the first year my friend Houa cooked the rice the proper Hmong way and I picked it up at her house all hot and ready to go. Last year I baked it in the oven, covered with plastic wrap topped by foil, it worked but I thought the rice was more gummy.  This year DH lined the ice chest with 2 layers of foil, I preheated it with a jar of hot water (covered), then I cooked the rice in batches of 4 cups at a time and kept it covered  with a layer of paper towel. Extra moisture is your enemy when you are making rice, that is why your rice will turn gummy and glue-y. ( Jasmine rice is the BEST and you cook it one cup dry rice to 1-1/4 cup water)

Then the chicken with a General Tsao sauce and mixed veggies, chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

I had great help today, my hubby, my friend and my niece and we actually finished a few minutes before 11. It was great to not run around like...

Anyway Zeke had the school chapel topic and picked April Fool's day as the subject. He gave examples of different familiar "good" quotes by famous dictators and despots. He had them look up  a few Bible verses and then had them look up Hezekiah 7:14 , paused a bit then started reading " And in the fourth month, on the first day of the month, ye shall put that day aside for the public humiliation of those who know not the scripture."
Some people were a bit annoyed at being caught.

Now I can concentrate on the rest of April....things like finishing up the taxes, my newsletter and maybe that dress that is cut and laying on the sewing machine.

Quote from Shekinah: "It's just rain, you won't melt, sugar melts and you're NOT sugar."

PS: We don't share a family toothbrush. Joe got a job for the summer with more hours!!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Getting a Driver's License

Haven't blogged about prosthesis in awhile. Haven't blogged much at all lately!  Not that life is so boring or anything, more like, I have to filter it so much there isn't much left.

My book stash might give you an idea about life:  "The Teen-age Brain- A Neuroscientist's survival guide to raising teens and adolescents " By Frances Jensen and Amy Ellis Nutt

The Road to Little Dribbling- The Adventures of an American in Britain  by Bill Bryson....
a cookbook entitled "Bake it Like You Mean It"

Oh and I'm halfway through a book called "Addicted to Life and Death"  written by a local paramedic, but I find her descriptions of things distasteful. Yeah we might talk about stuff after an ambulance call, but you don't need to write it in a book.

I might need help. Or maybe I need less screen time and more reading time?

I still like Qustodio if anyone is wondering, I didn't say my whole family likes Qustodio, but I do.

Anyway, back to getting a driver's license if your child wears bilateral (both legs) prosthesis,and has a  fist for his one hand... I couldn't find this stuff earlier when I did web searches, so maybe it will help someone.  When you go for your physical before you take your "knowledge test" (this is how we do it in PA) there are questions that refer to amputations, mental disabilities, or anything else that would make the patient have a problem driving safely.   Our doctor checked the boxes next to "amputations" and out next move was to take the knowledge test.
Taking a knowledge test is a very interesting event in our area. I have learned a long time ago, that I really do not enjoy taking my young children along because the wait is beyond their endurance. (What an understatement) I took some stitching with me,but found that the seating was so tight, I didn't want to run the risk of poking someone with a needle.  So I sat back and watched the people. I should have taken my tablet along and wrote some descriptive terms. People of all shapes and sizes, burly truck drivers renewing something on their commercial license, skinny little sixteen year olds nervously clutching papers, first-time-parents-of-sixteen-year-olds finding out they forgot the actual social security card, tiny little babies who cried, bored office workers trying to be patient.  The smells were interesting too.... I smelled garlic, onions, tobacco, pot, alcohol and other questionable scents.

Anyway, our hour of waiting was finally over and we made our way to the desk. "Joel" behind the desk was a relaxed man. He filled in the blanks that I had missed- height and social security number. Had Joseph sign his SS card. They looked over the form and realized that he needs a non-driver number. That information had to come from Harrisburg and of course those people were gone for the day.
Meanwhile, Joe took the questions and came back looking a bit upset. "The computer didn't work right! I selected one answer and it chose another, twice."  The supervisor told him that if he has trouble the next time he takes the questions, he needs to tell them right away and not try just go ahead.

No matter. I had to come back another day to get the proper numbers anyway.

We were able to get a "No Wait" ticket and were seen almost immediately the next day. He passed his questions and I got the "Learner's Permit". The trip home from DMV with this sixteen-year-old was not nearly as stressful as the first three times I did this trip.

Next step was to fill out a form from Office of Vocational Rehabilitaion (OVR), did you know that office existed? Neither did I.  Supposedly they can help us make this driver training stuff affordable. Having someone else teach your child to drive at $125 an hour (that was the lowest quote I've seen) is a bit over the budget. We are hoping to use Mumma's Driving School, but they've never worked with a person with three limbs affected and we may end up driving further for the evaluations.

Now we wait on an appointment with OVR and then they will send info to Mumma's and THEN maybe Joseph will sit behind a steering wheel.

Questions people have asked: "He walks so well, why can't he just drive?"  True he walks well, but prosthesis do not have ankle movement, try driving sometime without using your ankles. He also has no feeling in his "feet" and according to what I'm learning, you cannot use a prosthetic appliance to operate any part of the car.

QOTD: "Everyone is going to FL, but us! But we're the cool ones we don't have to pack." --brought to you by Shekinah     I know there were more quotables, but I can't remember.

Tomorrow I have a date with my hubby at lunch!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I actually don't know if that is a good title, but we'll go with it. Life is spiced by that girl in so many ways.  Just recently:

We were scheduled to clean a section of out elementary school, so as soon as the students were out of there I hiked the girls in there and we started. The teachers were still roaming the halls and one of them found me scrubbing the toilets. She said, "we were talking out there, and wondered, did you name Shekinah before or after you met her? She is so aptly named!" Irascible? yes she is!

There is such intensity in this child, and one day she spouts, " I hate this family, I don't like anyone, I don't want my sisters!" sometimes she adds "I want to live somewhere else."   (Now this usually comes after one of those incidents where someone crossed purposes with her.)  Later the same day she will smile broadly and proclaim " I like this family."

On Saturday, Ben planned to bring his girlfriend (J) in the afternoon and she was staying for supper, energy ran high all day. Shekinah raced around cleaning and willingly cleaned "the big living room". If you know my house, you know that is quite a job, it needed a few touch-ups but she did great. At one point during the day I ended up in a bit of an argument (who me?) with one of the older children and she marched out to daddy in the garage and told him, "do you hear that!? Mama is in there dealing with that all by herself! I think you should check!"

Then finally the great moment! Poor (J) couldn't rid herself of Little Miss. To be fair this wasn't the first meeting so I'm not worried about attachment and all that, but somehow Shekinah sorta thought that Ben brought his friend over for her entertainment. Unfortunately, the funniest moment can't be blogged.
The other week my DIL saw the cutest sock owls on pinterest, so of course

since the looked so simple

we had to try them. They're not really simple.

Even Joe got in on the challenge...his remained wingless
as did some of Hope's. We still have more socks 
but somehow they aren't begging to make more.

Then we had a birthday...Fun times around the corner!
We are finding out exactly how easy or hard it is
to get driving license when you wear bilateral prosthesis.
I may need to do an informational post on that cause it isn't easy 
to find this information out there.

The other very cold Saturday we went bowling

" It was FUN mom!"
I didn't know the ball could roll that slowly and still manage to rattle all the pins.
She loved the shoes and thought we should get her some.

The boys/men were along,but somehow I don't have pictures of them, they had a lane beside ours
without gutter bumpers. They needed a challenge :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

What Makes a Family?

I know there are all sorts of things that make a family, and there are probably many articles out there about family.
This is my observation- when you add a family member that has lived a substantial amount of time outside of your family be it an older child adoption or even a daughter-in-law it takes time for them to feel like part of the family.
One thing I noticed with one of our additions is that families have a lot of inside jokes. We have punchlines, quotes, and routines.
For example, in our house if someone says (British accent) "with bare knees!?"  Another member will surely intone solemnly "with bare knees."
If someone starts in a whiney voice " a crust of bread, a piece of cheese". Most of us know that comes from a Hank the Cowdog audio.
Whole passages of Adventures in Odyssey will be quoted.

Anyway, you get the picture. One night after a wild supper-table exchange, Joe said, "It's weird mom, Zeke just finished your sentence, it's almost like he reads your mind."

We needed some memories, but it is hard to explain old sayings and somehow listening to old Odyssey CD's didn't quite do it for some of them.  We applied for SWAN (state-wide-adoption-network) input. Yeah, it feels a bit like adding another outsider because we have a social worker again. So far it has been good, she has input and experience from talking with other families in our situation. We also have a monthly dollar amount to spend on activities for our family. We went to the zoo in December and saw the apes actually running around their cage. (you know- memories)
We went bowling on Saturday night and made more memories. I never knew a bowling ball could roll so slowly and still knock over most of the pins!  We also found a cooking show contest online that we started watching as a family. It is British, so the accents catch their attention. It involves food that's good too. We cheer for our favorites and groan when their bakes flop.

It inspired Shekinah to lift her McD's chicken nugget on Saturday night and say...with accent in place..."I think this needs a little more spice."  Immediately the others picked up fries and said "this needs a little more bake time, it should be crisp."  We all got the punch lines. If someone ever says, "I've learned not to put my bakes in the bin."  We will all remember the contestant with red beard who got so frustrated and angry that he dumped his entry in the trash can and stalked out of the tent.

We need to keep it up...I have a cooking class scheduled for me and the girls . Any ideas are welcome.

some other memories...failed taffy

Big brother coaching push-ups
Zoombini-like valentines...they were fun.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Internet, Digital Games and Security

Touchy topic
At our house the subscription to a popular filtering program expired. I chose not to renew because we discovered the time limits did not function properly and a few of our children need the time limits because mom has a terrible memory.
One day when the children were in school I installed some trial internet filters. Wowza! they worked and we had some fallout.
Some children decided that it would be better not to have the device at all than to use an device that worked like that.
Surprise! we had a wonderful weekend enjoyable actually. Children played games that did not involve electronics and actually had fun. We watched a cooking show--- together and actually discussed which contestants we liked and who was cool. It was a British Bake-Off so plenty of great accents as well.

But then I was puzzled, if my children were using computer time to separate themselves from us/me why were they being so happy?

Hubby and I discussed it while on a date (three hours stolen in the middle of the day while the paid staff was on duty- otherwise known as school). He had great insight. Certain games that our progeny engage in are very competitive and involve throwing a ball harder, or racing around curves faster than the computer. Guess who normally wins and guess who always gives you a higher level to compete in? Hubby reasoned that those driving forces don't magically shut off when the time limit is reached and thus the reaction to firm time limits. (There is actually research out there that agrees with him.)

So for now we will enjoy the reprieve and anticipate the end of the month when there will be a 16th birthday in this house.

Since we are on the subject of limits and things....I almost had a conniption this week when one of my searches for an article/video on empathy vs sympathy also turned up images that I'd rather not see. I realized that our favorite search engine thought that since my 20-ish year old son was looking at basketball and football stuff he possibly is a young male interested in such things and I  was searching using his G*ogle ID.  Because when I put my g*ogle ID in and switched accounts the same images did not show.  I realized that we had not engaged "safe search" on our g*ogle search pages.  Go to and scroll down to search settings at the bottom of the page and choose "on". No it is not a way to KEEP  people off objectionable sites,but it definitely keeps the craziness to a minimum.  You Tube has a similar feature, scroll to the bottom of the page on you tube and select "restricted mode". It is super sensitive and sometimes blocks videos that would be can easily click "off" and watch that video, and usually the restricted setting kicks back in again.   Neither of these is enough to PREVENT someone from accessing gross sites you need a password and accountability for that.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blizzard 2016

Yes, I know, the internet is flooded with pictures of snow, but this is my diary and an event this great should not be ignored.
The weather prophets were correct this time!
This was the storm that actually lived up to and exceeded the forecast.
I predict that the forecasters will be insufferable for the next two years. They will be riding high on the success of this prediction.

Friday night after it started snowing I took one last run to the grocery store for milk and baking supplies. I didn't get bread because we aren't into milk sandwiches--actually I baked bread on Saturday evening and made yogurt with the milk.
I sent a text to Ezekiel telling him it is snowing and he should head home from his quiz-team-shirt-shopping expedition. Received a text from Ben saying he successfully completed the first leg of his trip to the cabin. 

Then the bored people of the house settled into "doing-something-other-than-playing-mindless-computer games" The ones that don't appear on these pictures were playing mindless computer games.  Faith started on a cross-stitch piece.

Hope used up all my baking supplies. 

Shekinah tried her hand at sewing on buttons.
I worked on my quilt-that-is-taking-forever.
Until we got a call from Ben saying they were in an accident halfway to the cabin.
No one hurt, except for his car.
No other car involved. BUT his car is in a garage two hours away and they were waiting at a McDonald's until one of the youth advisers could come and rescue them. (Yes, "he" became "them" he has a girlfriend)
Talk about feeling helpless.
His phone of course had no coverage when they arrived at the cabin, but thankfully I found out that they did arrive safely at 2AM.

Saturday was a gray snowy actually snowed for 24+hours.
It must have been the weather, but I couldn't settle down to do anything worthwhile.
Shekinah struggled to walk in the stuff.
The 24" ruler that Faith stuck in the yard disappeared and the drive needed to be snow-blown at least twice.

Toward evening we dug out the cars that were buried in the driveway.
Zeke could just pick up huge chunks off the roof. The snow is a strange consistency.

Sunday AM the world looked better with the addition of sunshine. Church was cancelled.
I was supposed to be on ambulance duty, but our street was not plowed until too late and then they closed our drive when they did plow. I worry about the lady who took my place tho...she is about 5', they might need rescue to dig her out of a snow drift!

All the snow angels were made at the edge of the drive, cause the girls were afraid of losing a boot if they ventured into the yard.