Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Slush

Traditions - the making of them and the keeping of them - elude me. Unless, of course, you can count being grounded to your room until your chores are done or yelling all the time or making you do your homework right after school or mowing lawns every night or taking you home from church and putting everyone to bed or popping a Neil Diamond cassette tape in and cranking the volume way up when you started fighting in the car traditions. For the most part, I don't realize I've got a tradition going until I forget and don't do it one time. Which is what happened with the Christmas Slush.



Not sure what possessed me to start making it {or exactly when} but I know the kids were little. It was an instant hit and from then on, there was always an ice cream bucket full of slush in the freezer and a supply of Sprite in the fridge at Christmastime.



For whatever reason, one Christmas season it didn't seem necessary to make it and everyone who came to the house had come expecting it. I sorely disappointed them when I shrugged my shoulders and tried to explain my reasoning for not having slush in the freezer. And, as usual, I had no rational reasoning. I just hadn't made it. Lesson learned. I haven't missed a year since then.






The brew. Looking like it should.

Hunter got a last minute sleepover and ended up getting to be Grampa's official Christmas Slush-Making Assistant. I think he's hired - gonna be a tradition now!




Before they could start the slush, they had to wash

the dinner dishes.




Hunter getting instructions from Grampa that the

green design around the outside edges would not

wash off no matter how hard or long he scrubbed.




The Sacred Book of Secret Family Concoctions is brought out and

opened to the right page.




Getting all the supplies and ingredients ready to go.




Hunter couldn't get the strip started on the orange

juice can. When Grampa offered to help, he was told,

"No, that's okay. My teeth can do it." And they did.




Scooping the orange juice into the pan while Grampa tries to instruct

Hunter on how to do it so it doesn't flip all over - specifically on Grampa.




Another series of instructions on how to keep the ingredients

contained to the pan and not all over the floor - or Grampa.




Measuring the water.




Adding the sugar, counting each one while listening

to Grampa complain about how heavy the pan is

getting. Probably because "someone" had repeatedly

told Hunter to pour it slowly so it didn't splash. Hmmm.




Wow! That's an "I'm so happy to be helping" look

if I ever saw one!




Hunter's trying to explain to Grampa his way of

mixing the ingredients together and convince him

he knows best.




Probably wouldn't qualify for an OSHA training video, but Hunter

is trying to get high enough to be able to stir all the ingredients

together while they cook.




Checking to make sure it's all in there.




He looks a bit awkward, but, all in all, I think he did pretty good for

having confusing and conflicting instructions and warnings shouted

at him. "Don't get too close to the stove - it's hot!" "Get close enough

to the pan so you don't splash!" "Make sure you're not on the edge

of the bucket - it will tip!" "Don't touch the pan - you'll get burned!"




Grampa filling in. Hunter's arm got tired from

stirring so much. Given the angle he was at, I

don't doubt it!




Enjoying the aroma of the slush before it goes to the freezer.

Hunter said it passed inspection.

 Can't wait to enjoy our Christmas Slush!

Landing Pads and Gluten

Sorry to say, when my kids were little, they pretty much grew up in my sewing room. My sewing cabinet drawers got reorganized more times than I care to remember. They were using scissors and needles long before other people allowed their kids around anything sharp. Joe and Nathan knew how to sew with the best of them. So, when Hunter slept over and I still needed to do some sewing, I set up a table in my sewing room for him to do whatever he wanted to do. He chose to read books. Duh. He's Amber's child.



He had quite a stack of books he sat and looked through. When he'd finish one, he'd throw it over his shoulder to the floor. Every so often he'd look back at the finished pile and say, "Wow, that's quite a mess back there." Anyway, when he was done with all the books he had brought in, he was tired. So tired, he voluntarily told me he was going to get in pajamas so he could go to bed. I was a little shocked {but naively hopeful} and at the same time knew I was being scammed.




He did get in pajamas. He did get a drink. He did go to bed. Second or third time he got out of bed, it was because he needed a book read to him. Since it was Mike Mulligan that he chose, I was easily convinced. My joints not being as young as the rest of me, I threw a pillow down on the floor to sit on. Hunter's comment was, "Oh, is that my landing pad?" Me: "What?" Hunter: "Is that my landing pad? For when my head goes here {showing me how his head could possibly roll over the side rail} and I fall out of bed?" Me: "Yes. This is your landing pad. But Gramma's going to use it for her reading pad right now. Is that okay?" Hunter: No response. So I used it as a reading pad and, fortunately, he didn't end up using it as a landing pad.




Hunter ready for bed {ha, ha} complete with his "landing pad".








Again, sitting in my sewing room.















Aspen also likes books. Her favorite, however, is not Mike Mulligan or even the Berenstain Bears. At least not at my house. Her favorite book? A gluten cookbook. She will find this book every time! And then she just sits and turns the pages. Julia Child, look out!!!



Monday, December 12, 2011

On Innkeepers and Second Chances

I recently realized the only thing worse than trying to blow a hole in my belief in Santa Claus is to suggest that possibly the way we hear the story of the Innkeeper's actions on that First Christmas night might not be a totally correct version of what happened. I was totally flabbergasted when my sister suggested {rather harshly} that perhaps the innkeeper didn't actually offer his stable to the weary visitors {Mary & Joseph} he so roughly turned away. Maybe they just stumbled upon it or were led to it or it was just there where they were when their energy gave out.




This is our nativity from 2010. I had Grampa make an Inn door for the

express purpose of having an Innkeeper. As you can see, Carter is not

pleased to be the Innkeeper. He kept asking if he was a bad person.

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! The Innkeeper is the epitome of 2nd Chances.

 I don't like to think about the Christmas story without the innkeeper having the chance to redeem himself, to make amends, to give of himself, to right a wrong, to ease another's burden. I mean, seriously, that's what Christmas is all about, isn't it?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Early Christmas Present

I ordered my Christmas present shortly after Thanksgiving. The truck delivered it to the dock at IFA; Alan loaded it onto his truck and we unloaded it into our basement.



I didn't get serious about taking pictures at the onset of this project because I felt it was in my best interests to lay low. Survival is a basic instinct, you know. I think it was actually walking in on this scene and seeing LOML actually perusing what appeared to be instructions that made me choose to risk my life. Half in shock, half in disbelief, I threw caution to the wind and ran for my camera.



Upon closer observation, it was confirmed LOML was unbelievably - but most assuredly - referring to the instruction manual. Wow!



This is not a tool you will find listed or pictured in the manual. This is a DIY tool creation for when your own tool falls into the internal recesses of a semi-constructed exercise machine and needs to be fished out. Luckily LOML is an avid fisherman!



I guess you could say this particular post is based on time lapse photography because:


WAHLAH!!!


THE FINISHED, WORKING PRODUCT!


 
Much better than a doll stroller I remember from years past. Santa's Elves better watch their backs!

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Am WOMAN!

Probably not the first time I've used that as my title. Definitely won't be the last time. It's pretty much my mantra.



I am Woman today because I actually found Joe, Mandy and Reagan in Salt Lake! Directions were flying at me right and left and north and south and I still did it!! Something about staying on 4th South until I reach 8th South and then going West until I hit East and pass by {emphasis on the PASS BY} a Northern Exposure Nightclub. I only panicked once and that was when I PASSED BY a Southern Exposure Nightclub. Wasn't sure if I was heading the wrong direction or if the Giver of Directions had misspoke. Actually my biggest concern wasn't necessarily my directional disability but more that I would be on the nightly news as the latest victim in a TRAX collision.



As it turned out, finding Joe & Mandy in Salt Lake wasn't my only victory, though. Without any GPS whatsoever, I actually walked right up to them in Sears. Duh. The tool department. They treated me to supper and we had a fun, if not way too short, visit. Then I went North and they went South. After, of course, going East to a West road and turning right onto another road that turned into a Beck that would magically dump me onto the freeway. Somehow I lost Centerville on the way home but, oh well, I found Riverdale's Target.



It was a spontaneously fun afternoon.



However, something else that stood out to me was how quickly Rememberings came back. A lot has changed and rearranged and closed up and moved but the basics were still there. In my mind anyway. We spent a lot of time in Salt Lake when Nathan was growing up. Every three months, every six months, once a week when they were making/fitting his legs. Some of the main Rememberings that refreshed my mind were:


  • The row of trees by Sears where a man was sleeping on the ground and Joe was sure he had fallen out of the tree. I'm thinking he couldn't have climbed the tree, even if he'd wanted to.

  • The KFC where we ate lunch a lot when it was just me and Nathan and I dumped Nathan out of his wheelchair onto the sidewalk - more than once, I'm afraid.

  • Lunches spent at Sizzler where everyone could get what they wanted and all they wanted of it.

  • Looking at all the mansions up in the Avenues by Shriner's. Unfathomable.

  • Driving up to the shop in the middle of winter with the hood of our Suburban wired down and the fender wired up and Joe's Micro Mini car set scattered in pieces.

  • The sleepovers at Grandma G's the night before.

  • Feliz Navidad. Over and over. And over.

  • Pound puppies at Christmas.

  • All the other children with physical problems that left me grateful for what we dealt with.

  • The traffic and congestion that made me grateful we lived in small-town USA, aka Delta.


Okay, so maybe I did kind of get lost on Memory Lane for a bit.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Revived

I've allowed myself to start feeling a little overwhelmed and thinly stretched and grinchy and ... well, basically depressed. I tell myself I didn't choose those feelings, they just dumped on me, but I know better. It starts as a small indentation and then pretty soon Mike Mulligan and his mighty steam shovel {another of my favorite children books} have dug an entire basement around me. I had a couple of clues that I was succumbing. In a recent telephone conversation, Joe told me I didn't sound like my normal self. Then Krisy made a comment about the way I was talking about the eleven pairs of pajamas hovering over me. I must have sounded a bit ... hmmm ... well, let's just say, not very happy.



As usual, the upswing got its start in Primary today when the kids were singing about stars and how each star is different and how we are like stars and each of us is different and how nobody else can be us and there's a reason why we are who we are. Then there was part of the Sacrament song that pushed me a little further.



2. Come, Saints, and drop a tear or two


For him who groaned beneath your load;

He shed a thousand drops for you,

A thousand drops of precious blood.



3. Here’s love and grief beyond degree;


The Lord of glory died for men.

But lo! what sudden joys were heard!

The Lord, though dead, revived again.




Wow! He groaned beneath my load?? I groan a lot but to think I intensified His load?? But then, "though dead, revived again." I know He revives me on a continuous basis but I've never thought of it in the framework of a CPR or Heimlich procedure! I must be a slow responder {or learner}. I'm grateful He is there for me. I'm grateful He doesn't get fed up with my repetitive need for resuscitation. I'm grateful I know He is there for me and that He shares in my groaning.




And then there was the Christmas Devotional and the beautiful video. The angels walked on the earth and weren't flying through the sky! It made me realize more fully that I probably run into more angels on a daily basis than I imagined or can even fathom. 




And then there was the analogy of Jenga. How we try to have the 'perfect' Christmas {or anything else for that matter} and then a vital piece gets pulled out of place and our 'perfection' shatters around us. President Uchtdorf said something to the effect that we cannot offer perfection, but the Savior does not expect it, either. Then he added, “But He does require that we bring as gifts our best efforts to move ourselves, one foot in front of the other, walking in the ways He has prepared and taught.



I can start there ... one foot in front of the other.



President Uchtdorf continued, “He promises to be with us, to come to us when we need comfort, to lift us when we stumble, to carry us if need be, to cry, laugh, mourn, and rejoice with us. Every day He offers to take us by the hand and help transform ordinary life into extraordinary spiritual experiences.”



Wow! I've made His load more grievous and yet He still promises to do all those things for me?? Wait...He has done all those things for me and continues to bless me with them on an ongoing basis.



He heard my groaning and I've been revived.



Again.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day of Thanks Giving

There wasn't a part of this Thanksgiving Day that I wasn't grateful for! Not the aliens and their spaceships or all the activity in the kitchen during the last frantic moments of dinner preparation or the company or the sunshine or the house or the memories and especially not the good food {specifically the desserts!!}.




 WAY TOO LATE THE NIGHT BEFORE:




Joseph prides himself on his innate ability to assist! But Mandy and

I successfully created turkey vultures for everyone. Some of them

had a little more personality than others!






Turkeys or vultures??






















WAITING FOR THE FOOD:




Mandy hopes to graduate the to big kid table but...well...











You have to have a plate to put the food on so while everyone was waiting for the food to finish cooking, they got to put the finishing {and colorful} touches on their plates. Definitely works of art, don't you agree?






  













Some of us were busy mashing potatoes and thickening gravy

and had to eat on blah plates




Scott and Joe had to satisfy some hungry little girls by

giving them a head start on lunch.

The roast and the turkey were done on time {always frightening for me since the year I cooked the turkey the allotted 20 minutes/pound but went off the cost instead of the weight}. Betty's sweet potato casserole was delicious. Mandy's rolls were to die for {inspite of all her stress and worry}. The potatoes were mashed and the gravy was thickened. Yummy broccoli salad {thanks to {Nellie} and vegetable trays {thanks to Amber and Betty} and a fruit salad {thank you, Me}. A spread definitely fit for royalty! Recipes are coming {ahem, Betty and Mandy}.




I think we're ready to eat! Looks like LOML is

circling making sure he is first in line!




Scott and Adam's choice of the turkey. Sorry it wasn't smoked,

Adam!




Garrett, Jodi and Colton enjoying their feast.




Hunter, Brian, Carter and Mariah happy to finally be eating!




Reagan definitely in food heaven.




The one time our family is quiet is when we're

eating!




Looks like Joe caught Betty stealing food from his plate. She

looks innocent enough, right???





Somewhere between finishing dinner and starting in on the table decorations, aliens and their spaceships were spotted. I guess everyone should be allowed to celebrate Thanksgiving. However, Hunter and Brian were sure the aliens were invading us.

The aliens' "Light" spaceship was flitting all over the outer borders

of the room. I guess trying to locate a safe landing spot. Evidently

the mission was aborted before they could land or disembark. Either

that or Uncle Allen quit moving his watch hand around.




Some of the guys got involved in a game of Blockus to combat

the effects of the serotonin. Joe didn't eat turkey, though, so I

think he just needed to be busy to avoid kitchen duty.




Scott just gave into the serotonin. Probably the

smartest one of all.


  THE BEST TRADITION OF THE DAY:


THE BLACK FRIDAY ADS!!!!!!




Aspen is learning quickly about the importance of staking your

claim on the ads you want to keep for yourself.




WAITING FOR THE DESSERT:

It was such a nice day outside, some of the kids helped Grampa

pick his carrots. There was some serious chewing going on for

awhile before we broke out the dessert.

I was either too stuffed or too involved in the ads to snap pictures of the desserts but they were eaten up just like the meal!



Nathan and Krisy and family were missed, of course, but we saved them some table decorations!



What a great day we had! So many things to be grateful for. I need to learn to be aware of all the tender mercies that Heavenly Father so generously blesses me with. This Thanksgiving Day was certainly full of them!