Friday, December 28, 2007

What I did this summer

I do not remember ever having to write a "What I Did This Summer" essay, but on movies, it's always the topic teachers choose for the first day of school. That's what I feel like when I get to this time of year. Most people have already sent cards. If they were going to write a letter, they did that in November. But Late Lori always does this between Christmas and New Year's. I am always left wondering how it is that most people send us single page one side only letters that tell us all about their year, yet I sit down to write and struggle to keep it to front and back of one page. My dad tells me I write too much in my letters. My mom tells me to send her one so she can read it, too (though mine is often a variety of her letter). My great aunt tells me she likes to hear all about our activity. So tonight I sat here and typed out a rough draft. This will now be read by Phil, be edited, be shortened (I hope), and be put into small enough print to fit on the paper, but large enough print that we don't have to include magnifying glasses with it. And I'll add in pictures.

So, if you are one of those, "I can tell the story in ONE page" letter senders, tell me how you do it. Of course, if you are one of those, you have long since given up on reading my blog as it contains entirely too much detail. I would never have made it on "Name that tune", "I can name that tune in 5 notes, but first, let me tell you how that piece of music came to be and why it is written in that key, and one of my daughters can play that on the piano without any lessons, and the other one can burp the entire song."

It's okay to wake up now. I'm through!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Needing Christmas

Last night we went to church at my inlaws church, as we do every Christmas Eve. The sermon was about how we need Christmas. The pastor spoke of how in our world of things going wrong, it reminds us that the perfect Christmas isn't in everything looking like a magazine photo, but in the fact that Jesus came to us because we aren't perfect. What a great gift, the GREATEST gift, we have in Jesus, our Savior!

We went to Horseshoe Bay/Marble Falls area on Sunday night. Phil was feeling bad, but no fever when we left home. When we got there, his temp was 101 & went up to 102.6 or so. Then, the next morning, he had no fever, but stayed in bed most of the time we were there. He & I came home tonight. His temp spiked back up to 102.7 tonight. He's taking some meds to keep the fever down, or at least from going up. Tomorrow at 9 a.m. I have an appointment with the rheumatologist (who will no doubt fuss at me for not having my blood drawn since my last visit!), then I will likely take Phil to the doctor. I can't see him being able to drive there. He had asked for these days off this week (Wed-Fri) but it was too late when he asked & he didn't get them. Let's pray that they know he is REALLY sick & not just trying to get out of work! Please do pray that he gets well. His cough is awful. He's sleeping on the couch tonight so I hopefully will sleep better tonight.

The girls stayed with Grandma and Pop Bill. They had a great Christmas. Neither of them got any "big ticket" item as they have some Christmases. Bethany wants a Nintendo DS game, but came up with the idea to ask for money & gift cards so she can get one! So, she is combining money & gift cards and will go shopping tomorrow. Natalie also got money & gift cards & didn't have a big item in mind, so she is quite excited! I suspect she'll have new clothes when she gets home! Though, she is thinking she might also like a DS now.

& then Natalie made pillows for them all. We just cut the edges & tied knots on most of them. But, we did make one special one for Phil's dad. It all started when I tried to find something special for him. It's easy to find We "made" fleece blankets for the Grandparentssomething for our moms. And my dad loves anything golf related. But Bill is the hardest one to shop for. Since he is on blood thinners & has lost weight from the cancer & chemo, he is always cold, so a blanket seemed the perfect gift. We WANTED to order a fleece blanket. We waited too long to take pictures, though. By the time we took them, it was a day late for ordering, even with expedited shipping charges. So, I pulled out some iron on transfer stuff to see if I could print pictures & iron them onto fleece. It worked! We went to JoAnn's, with multiple coupons in hand, and began shopping for fleece. Pop Bill had to have white on one side, so that was easy. We just needed some for the back, plus some for Natalie to make pillows. WELL, as we looked I saw that no only was fleece 50% off, but so were the blanket kits! We must have looked quite funny with a basket overflowing with blanket kits & bolts of fleece fabric! I told the girls, and they in turn told the grandparents, that these were very "knotty" gifts!

Off to bed for me so I can rise & shine at normal people time. Hope you had a VERY Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Homeschool Family

I have no idea whose family this really is, but this video is hilarious! Homeschool Family

The video appeared on Tim Hawkins site, of whom I've never heard, but he sounds very funny! His bio says he has 4 kids, so this isn't his family (at least not ALL from his family!). I found it quite amusing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Good news on the health front!

From my dad spending 3 weeks in the hospital in January, to my Father-in-law being diagnosed with cancer, and other things in between, this hasn't been the best health year for our family in general. However, I finally have some GOOD health news! About 8 years ago I had allergy testing done and was "highly allergic" to many things. I began allergy shots and was faithful for some time, then during periods when we were without insurance coverage for shots, I would dwindle off of them. When I talked to the allergist about getting back on shots, she asked when I last had testing & decided it was time to check them again. Yesterday I had the pin prick test and am only allergic to a handful of things! Mountain cedar and cats are still up there, which means life in South Texas from late November to South Texas is my worst season, and I'll never have a pet cat. Okay, so that was never a question, but it's easier to tell the kids than, "Daddy really doesn't like cats at all!" Though, I'm pretty sure they've figured it out since he's told them that! I am NOT allergic to dogs now! I always pretended I wasn't since I love dogs, but now it has been proven. Several of the grasses, weeds, and trees are no longer my enemies! Praise God for this new and improved health!

A midnight run to Wal-Mart

Here's the short version. When I have caffeine in my body I'll share the details. Yesterday evening, after a dr.'s appt. I went to 2 stores to pick up the rest of the Christmas stuff, minus stocking stuffers, as I knew I'd be going out even later to shop with a friend. I missed my friend Stephanie's cookie swap, which sounded like such fun (despite the fact that I couldn't eat any of the cookies! LOL!). But, this was my last chance to be alone and shop. So, my friend Kathy & I left her house sometime after 9:45 (we opted for a 10 p.m. shopping spree rather than midnight). We periodically checked the clock. When I got home it was 4 a.m. Yep. And we learned that our over 40 bodies don't do well going around the ENTIRE floor area of Wal-Mart after midnight. But, we are THROUGH with shopping! Almost. hee-hee!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Spirit of Christmas?

Today we had lunch with a homeschool family that we don't see as often as our co-op families. They have 4 kids in the family & one of the girls is between Natalie & Bethany in age. She came home with us for the girls to play. Well, on the way home they were scheming. I mean, um, using their creative thinking skills in higher level thinking capacities. They first wanted a lemonade stand. Do we have fresh lemons? No. Do we have lemon juice? Yes, but we don't have cups. On to plan B. Hot cocoa! We can sell the packets & have hot water for them. Um, excuse me, but we DON'T HAVE CUPS!!!! So they settled on plan C: Dress up in Christmas costumes and sell stuff. Yes, seriously. We got home and soon an angel (complete with halo made of a pipe cleaner & a pen, which I'm sure is completely Scriptural!), Mary with Baby Jesus (the friend, because she "has the same color hair as Mary," no doubt from all the photos they took back then), and a lamb, who probably had the most authentic costume of the three! LOL!

They proceeded to find junk, er, treasures to sell. McDonald's toys, swimsuits that somehow missed the giveaway box, and other delights. They made a poster with "Christmas Carols 25 cents" and "Stuff 50 Cents." They set up shop and waited to make a sale. Did I mention we live on a culdesac? And that we have very little foot traffic on our street at 4:30 in the afternoon? We learned that we have a new couple who bought a house 2 doors down, that the man who runs everyday with his headset on can't hear you no matter how loudly you scream, and that the next door neighbor's daughter who was Bethany's age when we moved in, and is now around 20, has a soft spot for either Arielle (the Disney Little Mermaid) or for 3 little girls acting silly!

These 3 girls, all dressed in their prim outfits, were acting like hooligans jumping up & down shouting, "Come buy our stuff! Great sales!" And, yes, they actually sold songs! One man paid them $2.00 for a Christmas carol! Okay, so it wasn't a carol, but was Jingle Bells. I paid them each 25 cents. I heard a very nasally version of Jingle Bells from Natalie, an operatic version of Joy to the World from Bethany, and our friend sang one verse out of Christmas Shoes that she knows by heart! They ended up earning $4.50, which divided nicely into 3 equal amounts. Thus, we had math class, too.

I will add a picture of the 3 wise girls. I've blurred the friend's face since I've not asked permission to post that. Note the fake look of despair they chose to use in this posed shot. They had not earned any money yet! Look for these 3 to be in Fortune 500 in about 20 years!

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's the most dorkiest time of the year.....

Yes, I know that is not grammatically correct, but if you want to sing it to "The Most wonderful time of the year," you have to say it that way. On Splitcoaststampers I am a part of a group called the "Traveling Dork Sisters." We are all willing to admit our dorkiness & laugh at ourselves. These ladies, though some of us have not met in person, have become very dear friends. Some have even had Pampered Chef shows for me! I just did something so dorky that I had to tell you all about it (assuming I have millions of readers---LOL!).

I had asked for prayers for FIL (that means Father In Law, not to be confused with Phil, who is dh---dear husband) from some friends online. One wrote out her prayer, "Lord, would you do a miracle for this family?" However, being the dorky girl I am, I read it as, "LORI, would you do a miracle for this family?" I wondered what in the world I was supposed to do & what family I was supposed to help! It took me a minute before I realized she had written LORD! Then I laughed so hard I cried!

A dorky girl I am for sure!

Books!

When I was in college, I changed my major, like most college students. I only changed mine once, though. I knew I wanted to teach. I started out as a German major. I loved my German teacher in high school. She was of good German stock & was even named Heidi! About a year into college, I realized I really didn't want to teach high school students, and they don't offer German classes in elementary school, so I changed to an Elementary Ed major. At that time at Southwest Texas State (when it was SWT), they offered a variety of minors to El. Ed. majors. I chose a double minor of Reading & then a Math/Science combo, which really hit all the main areas for elementary school. My greatest desire was to teach kids how to read, and my reason for that was twofold. First, my brother Steve, who died in 1978 in a car accident (he was 17), had learning disabilities. They didn't have the same names for them back in the days when he was in elementary school, but I remember he did a lot of letter reversals in spelling, and I'm sure reading was a challenge for him. It made me sad as I got older & thought of how hard his short life must have been in school & trying to do okay in classes without the ability. So, I was determined to help kids learn to read. Then, it was in my freshman year of college that I understood for the first time what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I'd been in church all my life, but I didn't quite "get" that part til I was in college. My second reason to teach people to read was to enable them to read the Bible. Obviously, teaching in a public school setting I could not teach the Bible to them, but I could give them the knowledge they needed so one day they could do this. Those were my lofty goals 20 years ago when I graduated from college.

Now, I am teaching my own children. Bethany has never learned like any student I've ever had. She has caused me to toss out the window anything I learned about teaching in college. She processes things for the longest time, and gives no indication of understanding. Then one day, BOOM, she is doing whatever the lesson was, flawlessly. With reading, I thought we had a genius on our hands when, at 2 years old, she was reading letters and numbers off of license plates. She knew the entire alphabet. She could count, but she did often leave out a number, I think 4, which was just so cute! We hadn't done much, but had watched many episodes of Sesame Street and had toys that said the letters and numbers when she pressed the buttons. When she was about 4, I decided to start teaching her to really read. We started with the ABeka homeschool K-4 books. A lady once told me, "Everyone starts with ABeka!" Homeschoolers might get a grin out of that! Actually, we'd gone through a preschool book that just reinforced the letters & introduced the sounds of the letters, but nothing serious. At 4, we were serious. LOL! We got through the vowels & the vowel sounds. She could say, "a, e, i, o, u" (short sounds) quick as a whip. Then we started adding consonants to the front. Blank stare. Shut down. autism 101. I thought NOTHING was sinking in. Then, one day she could say, "Ba, be, bi, bo, bu." Then we tried adding sounds to the end of the words. HA! We eventually gave up on convention & tried several things til she was reading simple words & beginning to put sounds together.

Today, Bethany picked up a book to read in the car and at church (yes, I know, she should be listening not reading, but you do what you have to do). By the time we got home, she had read 5 or 6 chapters. They aren't long chapters, but the fact that she will pick up a book & read on her own is just so wonderful!

Then there is Natalie. Nat's a struggling reader, but she has made HUGE strides. The difference is that she TRIES to read. Even more, she enjoys books. I've been reading chapter books to her since she was in pre-K. We are working through the Millie Keith series of Life of Faith books. She can read some easy chapter books on her own, but she loves a good snuggle and to listen to more involved stories.

Friday I met my mom & she watched the girls as I went to a Scholastic Warehouse sale. The girls were just giddy with excitement when I got back. They know I bought them BOOKS. They know there are no toys or clothes in the box in the trunk (that they so cleverly have tried to peek into!). AND, they both wrote a wish list for Christmas that night & included books on it.

This mom is just tickled pink that my girls are excited about books! They may not be up to speed in math, or know all the presidents yet, but I have now imparted the greatest tool for a good learner: the ability to learn on their own. Praise God that my kids can READ and LOVE BOOKS!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Poodley-doodley-doo!

Just a quick post to show you how cute these skirts turned out, and even more, how cute these girls were dancing. they have worked very hard learning these dance moves & did a great job! I'll just post pics of Natalie, since I don't have the other moms okays to post their kids pics. I'll try to crop a picture later so you can see all the girls' skirts. I know you are all waiting with bated breath! Doesn't Natalie look like she's growing up? My baby is so big now!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A few pom-poms short of a poodle!


That is my new saying for someone who isn't quite "all there". That person is "a few pom-poms short of a poodle!" Why? Because I was a few pom-poms short of a poodle today. Not in THAT sense. Well, okay, maybe in that sense, too. I had ONE poodle left to make & I was 4 pom-poms short. As it turns the older skirt we have WAS indeed missing some pompoms, too. I hear that happens as you get older. So, I bought a package & glued them on.

Over the past few days I have attempted, in vain, to find, then try to dye white to be,
TEAL FELT! I think I mentioned before that you can't just go out & buy teal felt. Apparently, you also cannot dye store bought felt teal. You CAN however, dye your hand a lovely shade of teal. And your fingernails. Who needs nail polish? My skin went from slightly dead to a sickly teal color yesterday. It came in handy when my friend Kathy & I were traipsing about Michael's in search of poodle poms and leashes (and we MIGHT have looked at the scrapbooking/stamping supplies), at 9:30 at night. Yes, I was able to see what colors looked nice with teal. The only problem was that no fabric was actually teal, because it would only absorb so much color. Even a 2nd box of teal dye made no difference. That was money down the drain (literally!).

Today I had to go back to the stores (yes, plural, you CAN'T find what you want at just one store, you know). At our last stop, a JoAnn store that we had been to Tuesday AND Friday, lo & behold there were several new bolts of felt. We were looking for a cute girly shade of purple for the last dancer whose preference in color I don't know, so we were guessing. They had NO pretty shades of purple, either. All 3 stores we looked in ha
d DARK purple, not light girly purple. They DID however have something called, "Crystal Blue" which looks like the Caribbean Sea. It was as close to teal as I believe I ever have seen in felt. So, with a 50% off coupon, I scooped it up for Natalie. The other dancer will wear green. She doesn't know that yet, but she will.

I am not up to my elbows in poodles & skirts. I thought you might like to see a plethora of poodles & the 4 skirts I whipped together yesterday. I added they eyes tonight (paint). When those are dry I can put the poodles on the skirts & then add leashes. Oh, yeah, I have to make 2 more skirts. sigh. They will be very cute on Monday night, I hope!

Edited to add: Apparently when it says you can edit this post, it means you can attempt to edit & come up with wonky looking fonts & coloring on the page. sorry!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Not so blue

I just took the felt out of the washer & it is a very very light turquoise color. I'm going to dry it & cut out the skirt for Natalie's friend (her 2nd choice was light blue, so this will be a blend of turquoise & light blue, right????), then buy more dye & do Natalie's. Oh, dear!

We go together like......

It's been many years since I first watched the movie "Grease," but the songs from that movie are forever etched into my brain. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad, but it's a fact of life. Natalie's dance class at our co-op is going to be dancing to the song from Grease called, "We Go Together." It's the one with all the ramalamalama's & kadinkybom's or something! For some STRANGE reason, I told another mom that I thought she & I could whip out poodle skirts for everyone. And, really, they are easy to make. So, I am up to my elbows in felt in a rainbow of colors. It was easy to find the colors for most the girls: pink, red, royal blue. But MY child and one of her best friends wanted TURQUOISE or TEAL felt. I've been to 4 fabric stores and have called any that I could think of. You can't buy those colors in felt in the stores! I did look online and could have bought some "peacock" if I hadn't had a pea brain & waited til the last minute to try to whip these together! So, being the brilliant woman that I am (ahem), I decided I could MAKE teal felt if I bought some Rit dye. I now have 3 yards of white felt in the washer with dye soaking into it. I hope this works!

In the meantime, my fingers look like they are frostbitten. I should go see if Natalie has any blue nail polish & just cover the nails with that. But the semi-dead look of the fingers is a bit unnerving.

Hopefully I will have poodle skirt pictures to show off soon!

Surgery scheduled

New update: Surgery is rescheduled for Jan. 8th.

Today Bill had doctor appointments in Temple, Texas. Phil went with his parents to these appointments. He saw the doctor for the stint he had put in his neck a few weeks ago. He has gone from almost total blockage to almost total capacity blood flow! That is great news! Then they saw the urology surgeon who was very happy to see how well Bill has responded to the treatments. They have scheduled surgery for December 17th! The doctor said he will need to remove part of the bladder, but does not want to remove all of it. He will also remove some lymph nodes that were housing cancer cells. They didn't find out any more about his sodium level or some other issues he's been having. However, Phil said that his dad seemed more alert today, so hopefully his sodium is on the rise. They had to go to a few different locations to set up the surgery and get things done that needed to be done. I'm sure they were glad to be back home tonight! Phil will be back here tomorrow. Thanks for continuing to pray for Bill and Ruth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Another pressure blog

I am posting a blog entry at nearly 3 a.m. Phil is out of town & the girls are in my bed. My goal is for us to all sleep late in the morning.

Mainly I am posting this to be sure my friend who checks my blog daily is doing her work she needs to get done & not seeing if I've blogged. LOL!

Wednesday brings an appointment of Bill to see if he can undergo surgery to remove either the tumor, part of the bladder or the entire bladder (in order from least invasive to most). His sodium had come up another point as of Monday, so they are going to leave him alone & see how that goes. I don't know what that means in terms of surgery or chemo, though. In order to have this surgery, he needs to be off of blood thinners for 1 month. So, Ruth (my mother in law) is hoping that if all is good for the surgery that they can do it in January.

Now, I am going to bed! And so is my friend. Right after she finishes her work. (hee-hee)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Wedding


I realize I have not posted about the wedding. We arrived at the church at 3:30 for 4:00 pictures. I think it was after 4:00 when we started taking pictures. The groom was not there yet. That was a bit unnerving & everyone was saying, "Don't tell Becky!" She was so nervous. She was absolutely gorgeous, but very much concerned about time. She kept telling the photographer, "Skip that picture, we'll do it later with him here." Finally, after all the necessary, "With the Bride" shots were taken, then they whisked her back to the bride's room and everyone relaxed! LOL! Chris was there by then & all the pictures were taken with him. Then, the whole wedding party left the sanctuary. My heart kind of flip-flopped (maybe that was my stomach; what was in that omelette I ate? ha, ha!) as the flower girls left the room. Everyone was taking care of themselves, and I was afraid Bethany would not go up with the girls. I asked one of the bridesmaids whom Bethany knew to please take her with her upstairs. Then we sat & waited. And waited. And waited. I went for water & came back. By then they were starting to seat people. I saw my ex-sister-in-law's brother & his family. We were both teenagers when Becky & Nils were born. In fact, he & a friend of mine & I were at Astroworld (a theme park) while Nils was born! Then we sat & waited some more. And some more. Finally, the groom walked in. He stood there alone while all the flower girls came in, each with a bridesmaid. First came Natalie and her partner. Next it was time for Bethany to come with Katie. I wasn't sure she would do it. I'm sure I held my breath. When they came through the door & she walked all the way down the aisle with Katie, I started crying. I think I was relieved! 3 years ago at Katie's wedding to Nils, Bethany had chickened out & stayed in the back with Grandma (Phil's mom). The song that was sung while the bridesmaids & flowergirls walked in was a song called, "How Beautiful." It was a BEAUTIFUL version because it was sung by my lovely sister-in-law, Robin! How cool to sing at your own step-daughter's wedding! When Greg & Becky came in I was still crying, but they looked like they were about to burst out laughing.

The service was very nice & God-honoring. They asked all the parents to come up to the front, and all the wedding party gathered around Chris & Becky while they had a time of prayer led by my brother (Greg) and closed by Chris' mom, Tammy. Then they lit the unity candle & the pastor finished the service.

The remaining shots were taken (um, pictures, not gunshots, it wasn't THAT kind of wedding!), and we proceeded to the Majestic Metro Theater, which is now used for events like this. After we parked, I looked & realized my purse was missing. It was back in the church. I thought Phil was getting it when he picked up the camera & other things in there, but he didn't see it. SO, my dad & Phil drove BACK to the church after trying to reach Nils to see if they would bring it, but couldn't reach him. They got there & no purse was to be found. So, they called Nils again & got an answer this time. They had my purse! The purse itself was a non-issue, but I really kind of need my driver's license & checkbook!

The reception was interesting. The dance floor was a stage in the front, but just raised about a foot, with a second area, about a foot higher behind that. The bride & groom danced, the wedding party danced, kids danced, old people danced. FINALLY the father-daughter dance came (we were staying to see Greg dance with Becky. Greg doesn't dance.). Greg had learned how to do a waltz just for this event. The music was not in 3/4 time; NOT waltzing music! He did a great job despite that. Jan, Becky's mom, came up at one point & said, "I never unbustled her train!" She said she went to bustle it up for the dance & they realized it had never been unbustled. She felt so badly, but Becky was in heaven & really didn't care if she even had a bustle or a train!

They left the next day for a week in St. Lucia. They should be home tonight, I guess, or tomorrow. Life will be interesting for these 2 very strong-willed people who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds & souls, but who like to be right. Always. Much prayer will surely get them through these first years of marriage!

Another update on Phil's Dad

This week Phil's dad went to the VA Hospital in Austin for bloodwork so they could approve all his prescriptions. They found out that he had low sodium. I had never heard of anyone having low sodium, but the doctors were very concerned. The next day he went to his local doctor who did bloodwork to check the sodium level. I guess since they deal with 2 different systems they have to have separate labs done. His level went from 125 to 135 from Wed. to Thursday. That, or the lab results were off one day. He goes back for bloodwork on Monday. If the sodium has improved, then they will let him just continue as is. If not, they will discuss options for raising this.

Thursday night I talked to one of my customers who is a nurse & a wealth of knowledge. When I told her that he had low sodium, she said, "The chemo will cause that." Then when I told her he had been acting confused, she said that is what low sodium can do. She said they have to raise it VERY slowly or it can cause irreparable brain damage. Then, today, Phil's mom told us that her sister in law was in the hospital this week because of low sodium, too! Phil & I both said we has no idea sodium could affect you that much. Guess there was a reason Pop Bill (what the girls call Phil's dad) always liked to add salt to food!

Hopefully this will self-correct. If not, we'll find out what the next step is. Thanks for continuing to pray.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lazy Lori

I have to write this before I go to bed. It's mostly in case my dad is reading. He told me today he has read my blog. He read the other day when we all slept in til 11. He said I shouldn't tell people I slept that late, as they might think I am lazy. So, if you read this & you think I am lazy, please call my dad & tell him he's right. He figures he is right, so telling him will build his confidence. We call him Boss-Boss. My nephew (now 27 years old) once said, when he was very young, that "Poppaw should be called Boss-boss because he's the boss at work and he's the boss at home." Once my dd, who is third in line for the ruling Boss in our family (my niece is in line just after my dad, though, I might put her on equal standing as the lead boss), found a plaque for Poppaw that said, "I'm not bossy. I just have better ideas." She didn't see the humor & just thought it was perfect for Poppaw. And herself, I might add!

I love you Dad! Even if I sleep late & don't make my bed! Ha, ha!!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lost and Found

I forgot to blog about losing our child at the rehearsal. Since Bethany & Natalie were 2 of 6 flower girls, they had to practice lining up, walking up & down the aisle, and sitting patiently! The way the rehearsal went, they lined everyone up at the front, then walked everyone out. There was one "Lord of the Rings" aka Ring Bearer & 6 little girls. The "cute" idea was to have 3 girls walk out on each side. Of course, the problem with this is that the aisle is only so wide & it is not wide enough for 7 abroad. SO, they kind of got disconnected as they went out.

As they got ready to come back IN, someone came in & asked where Bethany was. WHAT? She went out with all of YOU! I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I suspected she got scared & was hiding. She is 11. She is the oldest of the group. But she is autistic. Mild as it may be, she is autistic. That was a lot of people in a strange place. I did not get up to go look. I asked if Phil would go b/c I knew if she were scared and I found her, she'd not want to go down the aisle, but stay with me. However, when he couldn't find her I got up. I went up to the balcony. Someone up there working with the soundboard asked if she might be under a pew. I looked & didn't see her. Then, for a brief moment, a head full of long red hair popped up, then went back down.

I raced down the stairs (as fast as an overweight woman with bursitis & fibromyalgia can race), grabbed Katie, my niece-in-law, who was Bethany's walking partner in the wedding (each bridesmaid had a flower girl to escort), and went to find her. Between us we pulled her up. She would not show her face but pulled the hair over to hide her tears. Finally we coaxed her to get up & go out to the line. Becky, my niece, the bride, asked, "Would you rather not go first?" She had Katie & Bethany going in first. Bethany said yes, so they switched with Natalie & her partner. Even then, I had to walk down the aisle, but eventually got behind her & from the 4th row, she was able to continue with Katie.

While most the other moms had concerns about if their child would look just right, or smile at the right time, I had to wonder if my child would even walk down the aisle at the wedding. Becky told Bethany, "If you don't want to, you don't have to do it." I really didn't want B. to have that "out" but rather to know she COULD do this. On the other hand, I didn't want her creating a fiasco on the day of the wedding.

At the dinner, we had another "Bethany incident." It was late & everyone was tired and hungry. While we waited for the meal, we ate tortilla chips. If you aren't from Texas, you have to understand that when we go into a restaurant, we just assume there will be a bowl of tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa! Bethany found this tiny little chip. She made a bed for her chip, but laying it on a small plate and covering it with a napkin. Then she started crying. She wanted to keep "chippy" to take home, but she didn't think she should do that. I told her she could take it home if she wanted to. We went about eating our chips & waiting. Then, suddenly, she was crying again. I looked and Chippy was gone. I asked if she lost Chippy, to which she replied, through tears, "No. I ate it!" I just started laughing. I mean, if you want to save something, then you eat it, there is just something humorous about that. Sadly, she did not think it was funny at all. A bit later she said, "You are mean." Then a few moments later asked me, "Are you my real mother?" I assured her I was & asked why she would ask that. "Because my real mother wouldn't laugh about this." OY! What's a mom to do? We made it back to the hotel & she was fine. The next day I avoided the subject like the plague, and she only brought it up once. I did not laugh. After all, I AM her real mother.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday)

Wanting to beat the Black Friday rush, I went to Wal-Mart on Thursday Night. Okay, so it had nothing to do with shopping the day after Thanksgiving. It had to do with a husband who hadn't realized he would need dress clothes for a wedding & didn't think he could fit into anything he owned. So, on THURSDAY, when we were packing for FRIDAY departure, he found some pants. He didn't want to wear a tie, so I hoped I could find one of those band collar shirts that didn't require a tie. This was inspired by watching Hannah Montanna & seeing Billy Ray Cyrus in a "puffy shirt." If you have a daughter who loves Hannah, you probably know what I'm talking about. While Phil didn't want the PUFF, he did like that shirt without a tie. No such luck (though I don't really believe in luck, and Bethany would remind me of that if I said that outloud). I'm not sure WHY Wal-Mart was open Thanksgiving, but they were and they didn't have anything that would match those pants. I did, however, find a bunch of other things we hadn't thought of that we needed to take.

I got home and Phil opted for a nice sweater to wear with his pants. Except the sweater was black & grey & white, and the pants were green. He insisted it was all he had. I dug around & found some black pants that fit him, though he says they are too short. He was willing to wear them. Phew. My 3rd child is so difficult sometimes!

Friday we loaded up the van and drove to New Braunfels to pick up my parents. We got their things loaded in and took off for Houston. We were on a tight schedule. We left around 10:30 a.m. and the rehearsal was at 6 p.m. No, it doesn't take that long to get to Houston. But, we HAD to be there in time for kick-off of the annual match between Texas A&M (Phil's alma mater) and University of Texas (their biggest rival). From 2:30 til about 5:20 Phil sat glued to the TV, and Natalie whined about being bored. I pulled out some of my stamps (this girl never leaves home without some stamping supplies, you know) and let Natalie stamp, then color in her images. That kept her from whining for about 30 minutes. Bethany is never bored as long as she has paper & writing utensils.

At 5:20 we left for the church. We arrived and Phil was relieved to see my brother's car. You see, Greg, my brother, had stopped by the hotel to pick up Nils, his son (my nephew), and while there told Phil that he had a mini TV that would pick up the game. Phil pretty much took off without us and found the game. He was met by several others who were all trying to watch this 6" TV. Once the rehearsal started, he & a few non-essential guests stayed with the game. Turns out, it was not only these few who NEEDED to know the score, but several in the wedding party, as well. For the record, A&M won 38-30. This announcement brought a round of "whoops" as is known to happen at the mere mention of words such as "Aggie, A&M, or College Station." The rehearsal was then allowed to continue in peace.

Becky, my niece, married a young man named Chris. Now, a typical wedding is confusing enough when it comes to family members, but this was not typical. Becky's parents have been divorced for most of her life. Greg remarried when the kids were 3 & 5 to a lovely lady named Robin. Jan, their mom, remarried 3 years ago, shortly before Nils married his lovely bride, Katie. Jan's dad died several years ago and her mom has since remarried. Take notes, as there will be a test at the end. Chris' parents also divorced many years ago. His mom is remarried, and his dad was remarried, but is no longer married. Can you see the confusion all this might cause when planning a wedding? The pastor, who flew in from....somewhere north of Texas (I didn't take good notes, so I failed the test), asked both Becky & Chris to introduce their families & attendants. An hour later (just kidding, but it did take a long time----did I mention there were 6 flower girls?) the rehearsal started.

We had a wonderful dinner at Pappasitos. I had called ahead to check on the menu as far as gluten free went. I quietly talked to the server & handed him a list of what I could not have. They prepared my fajita meat (um, for anyone who doesn't know, it's pronounced fa-hee-tah) without the marinade. I think they prepared it without salt & pepper, too. It was definitely safe to eat! They had some shrimp out that was safe as well & boy was it good! Chris' dad read us a lovely poem written for his son & Becky. After the meal, Chris & Becky thanked everyone & shared a bit about each person. They wanted this all to glorify God and they did an excellent job of allowing that to happen. We got back to the hotel & crashed. Except, the beds were very uncomfortable & I was very congested. Neither Phil nor I slept well, but the girls did. Morning came all too soon. I'll tell of the wedding in yet another post.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our beautiful girls



Before I go to bed, I have to share some pictures of our girls all dressed up for the rehearsal. We think they are beautiful, but we are a bit partial! These aren't the dresses my Mom & I made, but the "store-bought" dresses. That's a rarity for them! With 2 Grandmothers who sew for them, and a mom who CAN sew but doesn't do it much, buying a dress in a store isn't the normal thing to do! Hopefully they can wear these dresses into next year & maybe still next Christmas. One can always hope!

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Ah, it is nice to relax in my own chair, in my own office, at my own computer, in my own house. Well, they aren't technically just mine, but they aren't the hotel's, they aren't the property of a church in Houston, and they aren't at my brother's house, so I will claim them for myself.

There is much to share about this past week and weekend, for anyone who has a desire to read about it, but I will have to catch up bit by bit. This post is mostly about cooking stuff, so if you aren't into cooking, or want to feel sorry for the gluten free people in the world (ha, ha), I'll spare you by telling you to just skip this post! The girls & I spent Wednesday baking. Okay, so I spent most of the day baking & they occasionally popped in to use my cool PC Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer, and to make "cookies" out of leftover gluten free pie crust dough. I splurged & bought myself a Black & Decker food processor early last week (it was on sale!) since my last one died a long time ago. With a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and all my PC tools, I rarely have a need for a food processor. I decided, though, that it would be much faster to make gluten free pie crusts in the food processor than by hand. Now, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Don't tell the kids in my Middle School Cooking Class this because I just taught them how to do it by hand. Living gluten free means a lot of changes and holidays can almost become a burden when it comes to food, but I've tried to make do and make it painless for all involved. Pie crusts are just one sample of this.

I made an apple pie, cherry pie and a pumpkin praline cheesecake pie using my gf pie crusts. I had realized quite a long time ago that bean flour (one of the many gf flours available) just doesn't work well in desserts. Yes, bean flour is ground up beans. Garbanzo/chickpeas are a standard bean used, but often fava beans are added to this. I really am not sure what a fava bean is, but I know some people are deathly allergic to it. Lately, I've also seen a company that makes pinto bean flour and noodles. Gluten free flour isn't like your typical all-purpose flour (which is made of wheat, of course). When you cook gluten free, you have to mix different flours in certain proportions to make them work right. A typical blend includes rice, bean, teff or sorghum flour combined with a variety of starches like potato, corn, and tapioca starches. So, before even beginning to measure out ingredients in a recipe, you have to measure all the ingredients and make a flour blend. NORMALLY I use a simple blend of cornstarch & sweet rice flour for sweets. Without gluten, there is nothing to make the flours really stick together well, so we typically add in some xanthan gum (it's found in things like ice cream, too). For some strange reason, I decided to use a different flour blend to make up a big batch of gf flour. It was fine til I saw bean flour. I had bean flour, but I hesitated to use it. I went ahead & put it in. Pie crust was, well, not the best! But it was edible. I made 2 double crusts with that recipe, then used my standard on the other one for the praline pie. I also made our favorite: Pecan Tassies! The recipe link says butter tarts, but they are the same ones I make. YUM! We very selfishly left those at home! I did make a pecan pie with a normal gluten-filled pie crust for all the others.

I was not feeling 100% yet on Wednesday, or even Thursday, but was able to get the pies made. I ended up making up some GF dressing & green bean casserole. I made my own Cream of Mushroom soup, then used sour cream & onion potato chips rather than the French fried onion rings. It actually tasted good!

By Wednesday night I was quite tired & ready for bed! I'll post about our Big Thanksgiving Day in my next post.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Update on my Father-in-Law

First, this is what my MIL sent out yesterday:
Bill had the stent put in on Friday, not Thursday, as the last "pictures" they took showed some blockage around the heart, so the vascular surgeon wanted to include him in the stent procedure in case a stent was needed at the heart. After going to the heart first, he decided that a stent was not necessary at this time by the heart, so the vascular surgeon went on up to the neck and put a stent in there. He went up from the groin to the neck. It took about l-1/2 hours. Bill was awake, but sedated so as not to feel anything. He was awake and alert when he got to his room. Amazing! That afternoon they gave him a pint of blood to help build up his platlets, etc. There will be no surgery on the bladder at this time as Bill will need to stay on his Plavix to keep the blood flowing as smooth as possible. In two weeks they will check this and go from there, but he said Bill will definitely need to stay on the Plavix for at least a month before he can get off of it for the bladder surgery. The heart doctor put him on a very low dosage of high blood pressure medicine (even tho he doesn't have high blood pressure) to help the flow of blood. So, it looks like it will be January before anything else will be done. Therefore, you all get a reprive from my e-mails. I will not send anymore until something changes and when they schedule the other surgery. We got home on Saturday about 5:30 or 6. Bill seems to be a little more "sluggish", but that could be from the anesthesia. His appetite isn't as good as it was before, but hope it will improve in a few days.
Thanks for your prayers, keep it up! God bless you all and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Today we got a note telling us that he'd gone to the doctor first thing this morning with some problems. He had to have a catheter put in for a few days. He is not feeling well. They are not going to go to the wedding that the girls are in this weekend (my niece's wedding), and I am not sure he will be up to traveling for Thanksgiving even. Good news, though, was that this doctor felt where the tumor was & said it has definitely shrunk & agrees it is now operable. That is a real praise!

The best laid plans of mice and men.....

Often go awry. Today I washed Pampered Chef tools and reloaded them. I labeled new catalogs that arrived just today. I drove to the ink store to get new cartridges so I could print the recipes I'd be making at my show. I found an apron I hadn't worn in awhile. I made sure I had my PC towel and some other clothes washed & dried. We were to leave at 5:00 or so. About 4:45, I decided to use my albuterol as my breathing has been shallow. Within a minute, my stomach began hurting and I got light headed. I finally started feeling better & loaded up the car. We drove off and before we were even out of the neighborhood, my tummy was hurting. By the time we turned onto a main road, I got light headed. I turned around & went home. I had to call Phil to tell him I would not be dropping off the girls. Then I talked to my host & asked if she wanted to postpone, make it a catalog show, or if she wanted me to try to find another consultant to do the show. She chose that one. So, I got on the phone. One of my consultants who lives near her was sick, also. I called the other one that lives near her & she was able to find someone to watch the kids & do the show! YEA! God is so good! My friend told me this was an answer to prayer as she needed some business this month!

My tummy got to feeling worse at home. I definitely made the right choice. I spent some time lying on the couch. I've been up doing some things, but am not feeling super great. I MUST stay well as we have Thanksgiving in 2 days & a WEDDING on Saturday! I need to get to bed to get a good night's sleep.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ah, a good night's sleep!

What a difference a good night's sleep makes! Apparently the air mattress was leaking at the valve input for the pump. Phil pumped it super full of air, then detached the pump. This bed is a make-shift system using cheap air mattresses (which are more comfortable than the original ones that were given to us) and the fancy-schmancy individual air pumps. Phil did some Aggie engineering to make it work. Well, I didn't land at the bottom of the bed this time! I woke up still on top of the mattress, which was still at the top of the bed! In fact, I slept until 11! Uh-oh! Bethany was STILL asleep when I got up! We were all very exhausted. I stayed up sewing & today will continue with that.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Finished with dresses?

I just looked at the list I typed last week. I wanted to be done with dresses by today. HA! That is pretty funny! The dresses just need some hand sewing. But I have little bolero jackets to make up for the girls to wear.

Natalie's party was fun. She had a smaller group than in the past (we try to include so many that it's overflowing in our tiny house). The girls seemed to have a good time. There was drizzle outside & a very wet yard (though it quickly went away & we had no significant rainfall), so we had to do a pinata inside. The new pinatas have magic ribbons & one of them pulls open the pinata. Natalie said it was pretty boring, but Phil didn't want to let them swing a stick while he held the pinata. Go figure!

We had 2 sleepover guests. All kids were up late, so parents were up later. During the night my mattress (an air mattress in a waterbed frame) deflated. I was so tired & was quite the sight trying to hoist my fat body over the edge of the waterbed frame! Phil is testing it tonight to see if it's the mattress leaking or the valve where the pump stays in. I hope for sleep tonight!

I think I will call it a night & do my sewing tomorrow.
1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."

3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:1-8

These words are on my heart tonight. There are some issues that have arisen elsewhere that have tugged at my heart. Everywhere I hear we are not to judge, that there are many ways to God or "gods," that we must accept everyone's beliefs as equal, that me must not make comments about anyone's spiritual destiny. I have listened to and read such words over and over and have tried to respond to such things lovingly and politely. I believe that God does not wish us to lash out when speaking to others. Yet, I also know that Jesus was not "meek and mild" but did, indeed, lash out when He confronted the money changers in the temple. I believe that Jesus got straight to the point. I talk and think like an African. In Nairobi, a man told us that they speak like a coiled snake. They start at the tail and go round and round to get to the point (the head of the snake).

I have been thinking about this for several days and have to say that I cannot, as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior, hide what my Savior says. He said to Nicodemus that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said in John 14:6, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." And in Acts 4:12, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." There are places where we are asked to keep words like this quiet. This IS what I believe! It is not MY words. My words are futile. I could speak or write all day. But, ultimately, God is in control of where someone spends eternity. And He says Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

I want to be kind in what I say. I want to be patient. I want to be loving. I want to be gentle. But in doing so, I want to be honest. In a world and society that is increasingly preaching "tolerance" there is little tolerance for those who believe and proclaim what God's Word says. Come quickly Lord Jesus. But not until after I finish flower girl dresses and my niece gets married!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We've been elfed!

I saw this on someone's blog & had to try it out. Enjoy seeing our family all elfed out!
http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=9516774529

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FIL's surgery postponed a day

In case anyone is checking into my blog, just wanted to let you know that FIL (that's Father-in-Law, not to be confused with PHIL, who is my husband) has had his surgery postponed until Friday, and they are doing 2 stints. They are putting one in near the heart & one in the neck. Thanks for praying for him.

Phil (my husband, not FIL), is going up to Temple tomorrow to Scott & White hospital. He will stay overnight at the hotel with his mom, probably staying til Saturday.

The girls & I will be madly cleaning for the next 2 days. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEElllllllllllllllpppppppppppppp!!!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A whirlwind of activity

I am ready to find some storm gear because I feel a whirlwind approaching. This is what is happening and needs to happen in the next 2+ weeks.
This weekend & Monday:
  • finish working on Flower Girl dresses for the girls for Becky's wedding.
  • Shop for groceries and other items for co-op classes on Tuesday.
  • Help the girls learn their AWANA verses that we have not learned this week.
  • Be sure Bethany does some of her homework for her co-op classes.
  • Pack for co-op
  • Contact people about December Pampered Chef shows
  • Try to get Phil well, because he has bronchitis & keep us well
  • Get haircuts! All 3 girls need haircuts.
  • More stuff I can't think of right now
Tuesday:
  • Co-op. This is an all day affair. We are making pies in Middle School cooking and doing things in American Girls that I can't even remember right now.
  • Pack my PC gear for a show in New Braunfels on Wednesday.
  • Get things ready for the girls to go to a cool Corn "Maize" (maze made of corn stalks) with friends on Wed. while I have a PC show.
  • Get everyone to bed on time
Wednesday:
  • Get everyone up on time!!! Major feat here
  • Leave our house by 9:15 to drop off kids at a friend's house.
  • Drive to New Braunfels & pick up my mom.
  • Go to my PC show.
  • Drop Mom off at her house after the show.
  • Pick up girls.
  • Unload all PC stuff.
  • Begin cleaning the house.
  • Make sure Phil is packed because he leaves for Temple, Texas this night. His dad has an appointment with a doctor who will put a stint into him on Thursday for his clogged arteries.
  • Work on dresses if need be.
Thursday:
  • Phil's dad has the surgery to put the stint in at 9 a.m. (or when the dr. can get to him). I am debating about going, but think I need to stay here for the following things.
  • Begin cleaning the house for Natalie's birthday party on Saturday. This is not just a "dust and mop" kind of cleaning. We live in a 1070 sq. ft. house. We own enough stuff for a bigger home. This is a find a place to store things while we have a party kind of cleaning.
    It is an all day for 2 days affair.
  • Go grocery shopping for things we need for Natalie's party.
  • Work on dresses more.
Friday:
  • Continue cleaning.
  • Make cake and whatever other foods need to be made.
  • Get the house ready for a party.
Saturday:
  • prevent Bethany from dragging things out when we have the house clean or trying to start new craft projects.
  • Get really ready for a party.
  • Feed the family so we don't just eat cake (except me, who gets no cake---wah!)
Sunday:
  • Church
  • AWANA
  • Final countdown to the wedding---am I still going to be working on the dresses?
Monday-Wednesday:
  • Make pies for Thanksgiving & food for me to eat (I have to make separate almost everything for the meal).
  • Start setting out things to pack for the wedding.
  • PC show Tuesday night
  • Decide if we are going to drive on Friday to Houston & miss the A&M game, or find a hotel room for Thursday night & leave after the meal on Thursday to go to Houston & be there for the game.
  • Find a dress for Lori to wear to the wedding. Lori is very fat & doesn't fit into anything that could even possibly be used for a wedding. Lori needs something cheap and big and pretty. Does it exist?
Thursday:
  • For a few short hours enjoy eating & relaxing. Til the dishes are ready to be washed. My brother & sister-in-law normally do that part. They have a daughter getting married this year, so I suspect my hands will be getting soapy!
  • Drive to Houston? Drive home? What will we do?
Friday:
  • A&M plays t.u. This is the same game that Phil was worried about missing when I went into labor with Natalie 9 years ago.
  • Drive to Houston?
  • Rehearsal for the wedding. The girls are 2 of 6 flower girls. Will Bethany walk or balk?
Saturday:
  • Try to find something on the continental breakfast bar that is gluten free. Note to self: pack gf foods to take.
  • Piddle around curling hair & doing nails til it's time to go to the church.
  • Try to find a church we will have been to only once the night before in the middle of Houston.
  • Pray that Bethany will walk down the aisle with Katie (her cousin-in-law).
  • Try to enjoy the wedding.
  • Go to a reception to drool over gluten foods & hope they have some fruit or something on hand. Note to self: take food to the reception (will it fit in a small handbag?)
Sunday:
  • Brunch at my brother's house.
  • Drive home? Drive to Temple? If all goes well with this stint, then Bill will have surgery on the 26th to remove: a) the tumor b) part of the bladder or c) if necessary, the bladder
Monday:
  • Bill has surgery---do we stay in Temple? Drive home?
  • Prepare for co-op---for a sub? for myself? Will Phil stay there & I come home?
Tuesday:
  • Natalie's Birthday---the OFFICIAL birthday when she turns 9
  • Co-op
I'll stop there. I had great ambitions of making fall/Thanksgiving cards. I have some parts of cards made. Is it too late to send fall cards AFTER Thanksgiving? When did life sneak up & smack me? When does it slow down? When do I do all the homeschooling I need to do? Why didn't the doctors and my niece consult ME before scheduling all of this? LOL!!! It will all come together. Really, it will. I think.

Friday, November 9, 2007

To live is Christ, and to die is gain

Paul wrote a letter so some Christian friends in Philippi, and used these words, "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!" Philippians 1:20-22

The other night I wrote that a neighbor of my parents had passed away. This morning when I woke up (we were still at my parents' house) my dad said, "We got a call that Richard McRae died last night." The McRae's are family friends from Georgia that we have known most of my life, since I was about 4 or so (nearly 40 years ago). I told my dad he shouldn't answer the phone anymore! Then, the phone rang. He learned that the wife of a man at their church had died last night. Also, the sister of another couple from church died last night. My heart has been heavy for these families. Yet, there is joy in knowing the lived a long life with those they loved, and while I do not know some of them, I trust that they knew the Lord and are with Him now.

We arrived home this evening, and had several things to do before I could go through our pile of mail from the past few days. In it was a letter from Montana. I hesitated to open it. Our friends who now live in Montana and minister to the people in their area are the ones whose daughter had the baby in October with Trisomy 13, the one I blogged about recently. Tommy & Sue don't send letters out that close together. I suspected I knew what was inside, and I was right. Baby Effie went to be with her Father in Heaven on October 30th. My heart aches for this sweet family. Yet, in the midst of this, you simply must read what Joanna, Effie's mommy, wrote in her memorial album: http://livingwithtrisomy13.org/AlbumEffie.htm The little girl in the picture is their first daughter, Corinna. Joanna counts it a privilege and blessing to have been able to hold their Effie and have her at home for a few weeks. They had not expected her to ever leave the hospital alive.

For me to read what Jo has written is one of those every emotion rolled into one kind of experiences. When we met Tommy & Sue it was 1993. Joanna was their older daughter who was "away" at college in Austin (we lived just about a 30 minute drive from Austin). They had 3 girls in high school at the time. Jo was their "rebellious" daughter. She was the one who defined the stereotypical "Preacher's Kid" reputation. She is a brilliant woman. When I read her words of how "intelligence is not as important as we all are inclined to think," I am reminded of how much weight we daily place on knowing things. She is a very intelligent lady who also wrote, "I was shocked into the realization that life is short and I had better wake up and get busy spending time with my other daughter, training her, loving her, enjoying her. And, I have learned that my parents were right all along – God really does help us through everything he gives us to bear."

My heart is aching for Jeff & Joanna, for Tommy & Sue, for Jeff's parents, for all the aunts & uncles who have lost this precious family member, and for little Corinna who will never know her sister. Yet, my heart rejoices in knowing this sweet one is with the Lord and is complete. I am humbled as I read the words of a young mother & wonder how much time I spend just enjoying my children. And I am left wondering if I truly trust God to help us through all He gives us to bear. I'm encouraged as I know that what Tommy & Sue invested for all those years in these girls is coming to fruition. And even IF we go through a rebellious stage with our girls (I am hoping to skip that part!), we might see the fruit of our labor years down the road. I am also left realizing I do not spend enough time in God's Word. I don't read and devour it like honey.

I feel like my emotions have been through a whirlwind, and it is only going to get windier with things coming up. I will post separately about all the activities to come.

Go hug your kids today. Or your husband. Or call your mom or dad if you have them. Find a friend you can help and love. Life is short.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

From my Parents' house

The girls & I drove to my folks' house tonight. They live about 30 miles away in a smaller town than us (New Braunfels). Mom & I will begin tackling 2 flower girl dresses for my niece's wedding on the 24th of this month. I haven't even measured the girls or cut out fabric. YIKES!

We were greeted by sad news. When we arrived, Dad told us that their 93 year old neighbor, Woody, had been taken to the hospital and then we got a call a bit later that he had died. He & his wife Edna had been married over 60 years. I think over 65 years. He JUST turned 93 this past weekend. He & Edna were over here at my parents' house last night & everyone was having a great time. He'd only started losing memory a bit in the past year or so, I think. Last night they said he was very clear thinking & joking with everyone. Dad said he was glad that Woody had a wonderful fun time on his last night. Apparently, he collapsed tonight completely unexpectedly. He had an aneurism, so we think that must be the cause. It was a reminder that each day is a gift from God.

Now off to bed so we can be the sewing Smiths tomorrow. (I was a Smith before I was a Garrison).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Just postin' to post

One of my friends told me that if she's going to have me in her favorites, I'm supposed to blog daily. But I talk to her so much that I figure she already knows anything that is blog worthy!

So, I am blogging to say that I am very tired. My older child is still up. My hubby is on the verge of bronchitis & my throat is hurting on & off. OH, and I had maggots in my sink today. How disgusting is THAT! I about threw up & you know I don't do throw up, even my own. I flushed 'em all down the drain & ran the disposal. I'm wondering if fruit flies got into the disposal & laid eggs. I feel like I might throw up still. ICK!!!!

There is my short, not so sweet, blog! Good night!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Update on Phil's Dad

This is the note Phil's mom just sent out. GREAT NEWS!!!

Yesterday was quite eventful! We met with the cardiovascular surgeon first and his report was that he would prefer to do a stint in Bill's clogged artery, rather than surgery, because of his blood and platlet situation and a stint is not as invasive nor as difficult to recuperate, nor the danger of a blood clot, etc. And he doesn't have to get off his blood thinners. Also, from the tests last week, his heart beat is slower and not pumping blood as fast as it should, which indicates maybe some heart disease, so now he wants an ecogram(?), another x-ray, a stress test and a new lab report. This will be done before the surgery/stint procedure. He will discuss all of this with the oncologist before doing anything.
We then met with the oncologist who was amazed how good Bill looked from the last time he saw him! Thanks to God and all of you and your faithfullness in prayer! He briefly spoke with the vascular surgeon while we were there. He agrees with his recommendations. The oncologist then did a camera scan of Bill's bladder and we saw the results later. The tumor is dying, so that is very good! He thinks he can do some surgery now on the bladder in a couple of weeks after the stint procedure. He hopes he can remove the tumor, but if not, hopefully just a portion of the bladder. As a last resort, he could remove the bladder.
Our schedule is back to Temple on Monday, the 12th for the above tests. Then on Thursday the 15th, if all is okay, he will do the stint procedure. If all goes well, then on the 26th the oncologist will do his procedure. Yea! no Temple trips next week!!
Thank you all for your prayers!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

1:48 a.m. One fin left to sew. Phew.

Making a costume for Bethany that has required much gathering & sewing & some ripping (as you sew, so shall you rip).

Middle school cooking class made about 40 sandwiches today to serve: grilled cheese & Paninis. What's a panini you ask? Why, I'm glad you did! A Panini is a squished together glorified grilled cheese sandwich with "real" cheeses & meats & veggies if you like. My gluten free bread was mushy though so even toasted mine was kind of icky. Everyone else seemed to like theirs!

Now to bed. I think!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Prayers for Baby Effie

When we lived in San Marcos we attended a small Independent Bible Church called Grace Bible Church. Our pastor & his wife, Tommy & Sue, have retired from the church but work as missionaries in Montana. Their eldest daughter, Joanna, had a baby, Effie May O'Brien, earlier this month who has Trisomy 13. Here is the Wikipedia info: Trisomy 13
Jeff & Joanna also have a daughter Corinna who is, I believe, about 2.
Today we got a letter from Tommy & Sue that is just heart wrenching. This baby's heart has stopped and she's been revived multiple times. They wrote that Lori says it's like watching her die over and over. I'm sure every day is a battle for life. Please keep this precious family in your prayers.

Mermaidia

Did you know that a Mermaid costume is not the easiest thing to make? It's not extremely difficult, it's just so, so, well, so RUFFLY. At least the pattern Bethany wanted. Now, really, do you think any mermaid in her right mind would have a lining in her top, followed by an overlay piece? And how many mermaids actually have Peplums? I mean, they're half fish, right? Though, I suppose to option of dressing her like the original classic style mermaids rather than the costume is out. Though her hair is pretty long. She could wear it Lady Godiva style. JUST KIDDING! I have added the peplum. I have made 3 layers of a top with ruffly sleeves. I have cut out crinoline (did you know that not everyone knows what crinoline is? ahem, that would be me, and apparently the ladies at Jo Ann's, too). Now, I must make my mermaid ready to swim. Or at least trick or treat.

Bethany, ever known for saying the funniest things, tonight said, "I could have worn the crown with my mermaid costumes, but how many mermaids where crowns?" I laughed & asked how many she knew! She added, "Well, since they are just make-believe, I guess they could wear whatever you want them to."

Now I have something to blog!

I have not felt like I had anything new or interesting to blog, even when a friend forced me in to pressure blogging (hee-hee) on Sunday. Now it is officially Monday & I have one of those "things" to blog. On Saturday we had pancakes, which in our house is quite a to-do because I have to make 2 separate bowls of batter for my gluten-free pancakes & their regular ones. Then I have to cook ALL of my batter before I do theirs so I don't get gluten in mine. Bethany decided she would see if we had any interesting syrup. We did have some old Boysenberry from a class LAST FALL! We got it opened & it smelled a bit ripe. I told her not to eat it & throw it away. Did she do that? No. She set the OPEN GLASS bottle on the microwave cart. I noticed it about an hour ago & thought, "I need to put that in the trash before someone knocks it down." But I was busy & didn't do it. Now, an hour later, I came in from the garage (doing laundry, yes, at midnight), and what was the first thing I did? Yep, swiped it right onto the floor. Crash. We exactly 5 paper towels left. Not enough to clean this entire mess & be sure to get all the glass. I couldn't run a vacuum & I had to get all the sticky mess up. I used all 5 paper towels, then wasted 2 partially used sponges to get the rest. I hope I got all the glass.

What's a mom to do with an Aspie girl who thinks we have to save EVERYTHING????

Now, I HOPE I can get to bed without causing any more calamities.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mermaids & roller coasters

That sounds like part of a joke: What do you get when you cross a mermaid and a rollercoaster? Seasick! I just made it up, so it's a real groaner!

Yesterday Phil wanted to take the girls to Fiesta Texas (6 flags) for one last "hoorah" before the park closed. Apparently, so did every other ticket holder in San Antonio. The park was SO packed that they rode 3 rides in about 3 hours. Yep, just 3 rides. I didn't ride any. I was feeling a bit like it would make me sick if I rode anything. Hmmm, I had forgotten that I felt bad early on at the park. More on that later. It was a gorgeous day to be outside. The girls had a great time. We bought a bucket of cotton candy (we rarely buy food at the park) and I let Natalie play a game (it costs extra to do that), so it was a big blowout event for ending the season!

Bethany wants to be a Mermaid for Halloween. We aren't big Halloween fans & don't do any of the witch or things related to death (ie skeletons, gravestones). We do let the girls dress up & go out for candy (then they end up not eating most of it!). Years ago a lady told me she & her husband decided to not give the day over to the devil because everyday is the day the Lord has made. Yes, I do know the origins of Halloween, but I also know the word is Hallow e'en---Holy evening. We take it and celebrate Life and the Lord! So, Bethany has this outfit picked out. Actually a pattern and fabric. I have had it for weeks. Last night I sat & cut out all the pieces except some lining that I need to get. I hope I can finish it by Wednesday!

On the way home I started feeling sick to my stomach. I felt bad after I ate part of my meal, too. I overslept because I wasn't feeling great. Now I have a low grade fever & rumbling in my tummy. Yikes! I haven't been sick since June! For me that is a record. I'm hoping this shall pass quickly.

The girls are getting ready to leave for AWANA, a church program for kids to help them learn Bible Verses. Today is "dress like one of God's creations" so they did. Natalie is a bunny & Bethany is a TREE! Creativity is her strong suit! They're taking some friends along today.

That is about all the excitement I have to post this week. Phew. No ER runs!
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
"Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7

The other day some gals were chatting about feet & hand sizes online. I was goofy & took some pics of my feet & hands. Several months ago I had my wedding ring cut off, and someone asked for an update on how my finger is doing. Here are the pics of when I had it cut off & now. I took one of my finger where it was cut & glued, too, but it was hard to see in the picture. Then, I took some of my feet with my freakishly long toes. We ALL 4 have long toes. We pick things up with our toes. Bethany even played her keyboard with her toes the other day. I told her she could play a duet with herself! But, what crossed my mind was the passage above. My feet are just feet. But God says my feet are beautiful if they are carrying the good news of His Gospel. I want to have beautiful feet. I want to carry good news on the mountains, and in my city, and in my home. I want to proclaim peace, bring good tidings, and proclaim salvation. And with feet as big as mine, I hope I am able to do that abundantly in my life!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

What NOT to do at a Pampered Chef show!

Last night I had a PC show at a home where I've done shows in the past. It's been about 3 years since I was there, and I was so excited to see this host & some of the ladies I'd met before. We were having such a good time. I was really on my dorky best & they were laughing at almost everything I said. Yea, there are times I tell my goofy jokes & they just stare at me like I'm from Mars. Not this group. All was fun til I needed to open a cake mix bag. You know, the plastic pack that the cake is in once you open the box? The one that is sealed so tight you need a chainsaw to open it? That is, of course, unless you have scissors. Kitchen shears would be the perfect choice. Oh, wait, those are the ones I left at my LAST show. The ones I thought I could wait & pick up next week. After all, I had plenty of cutting tools with me. Except my shears. Or my little coupon clipper tool that we sell, the I-slice.

I-slice. Yes, apparently I had my own version of an I-slice. You see, I decided that our green "fun and trendy" santoku knife (or is it santuko? the Rachel Ray style knife) would be great because it is REALLY SHARP. I told them about our cute knives & that they are REALLY SHARP. Then I demonstrated it. Right into my index finger on my left hand. I was fast & no blood got on the knife or the cake mix! I said, "I think I need a bandaid." Then I heard ladies saying, "Get some paper towels," and suddenly I had a new friend holding my finger wrapped in paper towels. And another new friend going for her first aid kit. And yet another new friend finding me a chair & telling me to hold up my finger above my heart. The host moved away from me immediately & said, "I don't do blood!" I thought she might pass out!

So, there I sat, with one guest holding my finger tight as I then continued the show telling the guests what to do to finish the recipe! I think I must have told them 10 times, "I have insurance for this" because of my PC insurance. The ladies were finally able to wrap gauze & about 3 bandaids around it. By the time I left, the bleeding had stopped, or at least we not oozing. Sorry, am I making you feel faint?

I stopped at CVS to pick up some new bandaids & something called "Liquid bandage." I called Phil & told him what happened and to be prepared to take off the bandaids to check it & put this stuff on when I got home. We had to cut off the bandaids (with a VERY dull pair of tiny scissors). As soon as we pulled them off we had a bloody geyser on our hands, or more specifically, on my hand. There was no stopping the blood, so Phil wrapped several bandaids on my finger to keep it under control until I could get to the ER. Of course, the girls were still up (who could miss this excitement) and we had to decide what to do with them. I knew my friend Kathy would still be up. Remember the post about my friend cleaning up Natalie's throw-up? Yep, that friend. Phil called her & while I'm standing there bleeding to death (okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration), they discuss that the cadette Girl Scouts are going to get to fly on Saturday & Phil wants to hear all about it. We dropped the girls at Kathy's house. She told us just leave them overnight and that we come up with the best excuses to be alone! LOL! Off we went to the ER.

We got to the ER about 11:30. Around midnight we went in & gave all the info & got a pretty bracelet with my name on it. The nurse told us it would be awhile. So, Phil went to the van & brought in his computer (yes, really). There was no internet connection, but he did have some videos recorded, so he plugged in the ear buds & we each had one in an ear. We watched almost all of a video about Global Warming not really being caused by CO2. It was interesting to a point, but it wasn't stamping or cooking.

At 2:00 a.m. we got into a room. About 30 min. later we saw the dr. Of course, by then, the bleeding had finally slowed almost completely. He said we could leave it & just put a band aid on it, or he could glue it. He said stitches weren't an option b/c it was so small. He put the fancy super glue on my finger, the nurse put the $1000 band aid on top of it (her words, which we laughed at---um, we met our deductible before our LAST ER visit---we can laugh now!), and sent us on our merry way.

By 4 a.m. I was in bed. I'm rather woozy today, but I'm awake. The girls have a birthday party this evening, so I'll have to have some caffeine to make it through to that.

And lest you think I am the only one with bad jokes and puns in our family, Phil, my quiet husband, told each person along the way, from check-in to doctor, that I was serving "finger food" at the party. Wanna know the funny part? It was finger food!

And that, boys and girls, is what NOT to do at a Pampered Chef party.

ER again

Brief note here. Green knife is sharp & should not be used on fingers. I just got home from the ER. Phil loved telling them all I was making finger food.

More tomorrow. typing wirhoutr one finfer is haed. See?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cancer and Arteries

Phil's dad had a chemo treatment today. He also was checked for his arteries. Several years ago he had surgery on his left side in the neck area to clean out clogged arteries. Today they discovered that his right side is severely clogged & may need surgery. Next week he goes for more tests for the cancer to see if there has been any change.

Phil's parents drive each week that there is an appointment for his dad from Marble Falls, Texas to Temple, Texas. I think it is a 2 hour drive both ways. It's about 2.5 or so from here when one of us goes. Phil has gone more often, but not each time they go.

Please pray for healing, for stamina, for wisdom from the doctors, and for safety as they make these trips. Thank you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Autism is irritating

Do you know someone who is autistic? Most people see the word "autism" and think of someone like "Rainman" from the movie with Dustin Hoffman. The character in that movie had a severe form of autism, yet could say words and express himself to some degree. There are some people with autism who do not speak at all. Then there are those with Asperger Syndrome, the "highest functioning" form of autism, who appear to be normal, but are "quirky." Maybe you knew someone in school who always put things in his or her locker exactly the same way, who didn't make eye contact, who didn't "get" jokes that were played on him or her, and maybe walked with an unusual gait. Some think even Bill Gates has Asperger Syndrome. In all forms of autism there is a common thread: repetitiveness. Let me repeat that: just kidding! For the severely autistic it could be a rocking motion. For the "high functioning" end, it could be singing a song over and over and over and over and over.

I live with an Aspie girl. She appears to be normal. She appears to be quite shy (which she is, though not all "Aspies" are shy), but fairly normal. You could not walk into a room and point to her as the one with Asperger Syndrome, as you might someone in a wheelchair, with a disability that is more noticeable. Yet, she isn't "normal." She is repetitive. And, quite frankly, there are times when that it downright irritating. Have you ever heard either "This is the song that never ends" or "This is a song that gets on everybody nerves?" These are favorites of kids bound & determined to find every last nerve any adult around them ever had. And they sing these with just that intent. My child will sing the same song, or more accurately, the same portion of a song, over & over. She does not intend to be annoying. She may also find a noise she likes to make and make that noise over & over. She does voices, too. She'll find a voice she likes and speak in that voice for weeks, but praise the Lord, she will stop momentarily when I tell her it is irritating. Some of the voices are downright funny, like her latest Australian voice where she announces, "The great hound dog went over the mountain." Most of these things, though, are just irritating. I saw a shirt once that said, "I had one last nerve, but you found it." I think I need that.

This weekend while camping, her bunkmates came to get me because Bethany would not go to sleep. She would sing, and hum, and talk to an imaginary friend she apparently created (funny since she never did that when she was younger), and brush her hair. These poor girls were trying to sleep and Bethany was not tired. Oh, yes, another typical feature of autism is the inability to get adequate sleep, or specifically to fall asleep. I asked Bethany what was wrong & she told me one of the girls was being mean. I asked what she meant by that. She said, "She keeps telling me to be quiet." Um, well, it IS almost midnight and they ARE trying to sleep, and WHY CAN'T YOU JUST BE QUIET & GO TO SLEEP???" I didn't say that, but thought it. If these things are irritants during the day, how much more so when we are tired and ready for bed. It's no wonder Natalie is always getting angry with Bethany!

Bethany does not like to be told not to do something. Okay, most kids don't like this, but she has it in her head that if I tell her not to do something, usually, she will accept that. If anyone else tells her, ESPECIALLY another child, she thinks they are being "mean." I told her that night that the other girl was NOT being mean, but trying to get to sleep. Tonight I asked her again what she was doing that night, and why she would not stop. She said, "I was humming and they told me to stop singing. I wasn't singing, I was humming." You or I would know this meant stop making the noise that is coming out of your mouth. You or I would think she was being a smart alek (is that a real word?) by saying this. But, she seriously thinks if you say to stop singing and she is humming, she does not need to stop humming. She is very specific. I tried to explain to her again tonight that they wanted her to stop making any noises. I asked how she thought they felt when they were trying to sleep and she was making all those noises. "Irritated."
"Do you think it was a good choice to keep making noises?"
"No"
"How do you think it made them feel when you said they were mean?"
She didn't know. I asked, "Do you think it hurt their feelings?"
"Maybe" (Maybe means yes, when she doesn't really want to admit yes)

Some days I feel she has made such progress, and other days I scratch my head & wonder how to get through to her or if certain concepts will ever get through to her. I scratch my head & wonder how to get through to her. I scratch my head & wonder how to get through to her.

hee-hee. I thought you might like a taste of this irritating quirky disorder we call autism!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Camping Food

Okay, so it's not tomorrow yet, but I wanted to tell you about the food we made at camp.

Hobo Popcorn: put some popcorn kernels and a bit of oil on a foil sheet, fold closed, sealing well, but leaving plenty of space for the popcorn to pop. Tie to a stick and hold over hot coals til popcorn is done. Works best if you leave LOTS of room for air, and don't have 10 girls trying to crowd into one space. Also, if you have one catch on fire, it's good to know the hose is right by you before this happens. (not that we'd know---ahem)

Brownie stew was made while 3 of the girls were with me at canoing, so I'll have to find out how they did that.

Chicken packet. Oh, wow! The girls devoured these, except for those who got a little too much of the spicy seasoning. That would be my fault, since I was the sprinkler. Lay out 2 foil sheets. Put chicken breast (boneless) on this with whatever vegetables you like. We used thinly sliced potatoes, chopped carrots, onions, and even frozen green beans, peas and corn. Then, there was leftover bits from breakfast so we added mushrooms, bell peppers, ham & cheese! Sprinkle on any seasonings you like. Cover with 2 more pieces of foil & seal WELL. Lay these directly on top of hot coals (we had outdoor grills for this) and cook til done. I think it was about 20 minutes. It was so juicy & tender!

Omelettes in a bag: Crack as many eggs as you have people (or more) in a large bowl & scramble together (or just crack eggs into bag if you want & shake them around). Scoop eggs into baggie and zip tight! Add anything you'd put in an omelette: cheese, chopped ham, bell pepper, mushrooms, etc. Drop into pot of boiling water and let cook til done. I just had to watch them to be sure they were done. Lesson learned on this: do NOT let baggies hang over the edge of the pot or they will melt! oops.

Banana boats: While banana is still in the peel, slit the banana, peel & all along one edge. Stuff chocolate chips and mini marshmallows into the banana. Wrap tightly in foil. Place on top of hot coals & cook til marhmallows are melted.

All of these are gluten free if using gf seasonings.

Hot showers are a gift from Heaven

Here I am all clean & so happy! We had a nice camping trip, but I have some very cranky people in my house right now. I mean, apart from the normal cranky people in my house! I'll post more about it tomorrow, maybe, when I have had more sleep.

There was a shower in the leader cabin, and there were showers for the girls. They even had hot water valves. The only problem was there was NO hot water! So, a few brave girls took a shower, and a few moms splashed off some dirt. It was quite warm this weekend, but the nights cooled down greatly (well, you know it is still South Texas; cooling down greatly means it was bearable). We cooked most meals on the campfire. My favorite part was the extra chocolate chips that I snagged before they made it to the Banana boats! Yes, I will tell you how to make a banana boat, too, but not tonight.

The highlight for some girls was a funny thing that happened last night at supper. We were feeding the girls supper about 10:00 (um, yeah, the day kind of got away from us), when I heard them singing, and then quiet, then giggling. It turned out that the camp right next to us (the grouping of cabins with a different troop) was responding to our girls' singing. So, it turned into a big competition of who could be louder. The song was "I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves". I realized what was happening and told the girls to come out of the dining cabin & sing outside to them, then another mom took the lead & we started walking towards them. They got up & came towards us. We met in the middle where all the girls were bouncing up & down like jackrabbits & singing at full volume! The other group gave up on trying to outsing us on that song (we had 16 girls, I think, and they had about 8!) and broke into "Jingle Bells!" Then they ALL sang together. It was so funny and quite spontaneous.

For my friend Danette & I, the highlight was getting to Sabinal Texas and pulling up to Dairy Queen where we both got fully caffeinated Cokes! Though, I went to pay & they didn't take debit cards. They did tell me where an ATM was, so I drove 2 buildings away & got cash. I also got tickled watching people come into the DQ in this small town. The young gals behind the counter knew EACH customer's name. They'd all been to church & it was like a reunion in there. I suppose DQ is the only open restaurant in Sabinal Texas on Sundays. Though, the Buckhorn Saloon is there & Phil & I had a delicious dinner there one night many moons ago.

Thanks so much to my friends Kathy & Lisa for heading up this trip. And to Charron (who is named after a "regular person" in a movie about a Leprechaun---hee, hee! The things you learn while camping!) for being our first aid mom. I enjoyed visiting with another of our homeschool moms, Nancy, and was glad to have a nurse amongst us when we had a bloody nose at camp. Danette was my riding buddy up there & she holds the official record for highest number of jumps in the jumping rope competition! Woo-hoo! I suspect they are all also very thankful for hot showers tonight.