Sunday, May 15, 2016

Of Anniversaries and Birthdays

In the past six month my parents each had a 70th birthday and also celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We decided to have one big party, but what? How?

Soo after procrastinating awhile we finally nailed down a plan. With about 40 people I was amazed that it still worked for most of us. 
We started out with brunch at our place. Egg casseroles, fruit and yogurt parfaits, toast, iced and regular coffee, a cake made from long john donuts, a 50th anniversary cake. Much food. Then an almost-disaster when one of the cousins made a flying run down our long drive on a scooter. The parked SUV at the bottom of the drive did not make for a soft landing. We worried and hovered, but in the end she seems ok.

We cleaned up the kitchen quickly and then drove "downtown" to a small chapel with a high ceiling. The acoustics are great and the decor is from late 1800's. Found out that the chapel was built specifically for singing lessons and Sunday School for the local kids because in those days churches did not have Sunday School. It was to remain non-denominational and for the community.
Today the Mennonites made the rafters ring! My parents love acapella  singing and so do their children and grandchildren. My brother and most of his children play some type of musical instrument. So part way through the afternoon, we gave our voices a rest and brought out the violin, guitar, banjo, harmonica, mandolin and bass guitar. They played a bunch of favorites.

"Little"- should I say "youngest"? brother did the recording.

A thunderstorm rolled through and the little kids had to run out and get wet.

Around 4 o'clock we headed to a family restaurant for a buffet supper. The food was great the kids loved that they could pick what they wanted and we pretty much just enjoyed the chatter.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Aquarium, Mother's Day

This past Thursday there was a little-known date on the Christian calendar, it was 40 days after Easter and according to the Bible it is the day that Jesus ascended to Heaven. For whatever reason the more conservative Mennonite churches celebrate this date, we have no school and (some) Mennonite owned businesses have a vacation day. We had a church service in the evening - we did not attend though.   We decided to visit the N.J. Adventure Aquarium. It was delightful, I didn't expect to see a hippo but I think they were a highlight. The ever-circling sharks were just a bit dangerous looking, but they say that he big sea turtles are the most dangerous to the divers.

The drive isn't too bad, but you do have to travel the wonderful Schuylkill Expressway.

It was also the day that Ezekiel and his senior class left for their class trip, he managed an e-mail at 36,000 ft. What won't they think of next? We haven't heard directly from him since, but the one chaperon has been sending out e-mail.

Then we invited the grandparents and Son#1 and his family to supper on Saturday evening. I was presented with  a mini-cheesecake tin with the removable bottoms so you can pop the little cake out of the tin, can't wait to use it!

Four Generations
We were missing one person on here (Parker's mommy)

We also finally got the paperwork so Joe can move one step forward toward the goal of driving.  We met with an OVR representative 3 weeks ago and we were approved for assistance. It will dramatically decrease our financial responsibility in paying for the adaptive driving evaluation and the installation of the needed equipment. The interview with the representative was painless, the most impressive thing was his ability to read an entire document upside-down! We had the benefit of the right-side-up side.

Last night Ben's truck finally decided to start! He had taken the old engine and seated the new engine just before he left for Thailand. Then it sat all winter while being a playground for squirrels. I wasn't sure it would be able to start. He put in a few Saturdays along with some help from a special young lady and then on Saturday night his oldest brother noticed a broken wire and a disconnected plug. He refastened the wire but still didn't find a place for the plug. It was definitely a learning experience.

Today I had one more meeting with the social worker and we tried to lay a plan of action for this summer. There would be use for one more part-time job around here.

While the moms solved the problems of the world in 3 hours, the little girls gave the kittens a see-saw ride (they're in that box) and slid them down a dirt pile and I think a ride in the stroller.

QOTD: "Can I have the tweezers, I want to pull out your leg hairs ."

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 :)