Monday, March 23, 2015

13th Birthday Party Prep

At long last, the post about the birthday party that never seemed to happen. But it did. The birthday boy, Joel,  turned 13 on Valentine's Day; his party was rescheduled several times for snowy weekends. Finally my daughter had the brilliant idea that we celebrate on a mid-week evening,  and so we landed on St. Patrick's Day. 

I had bought the blue and white partyware in February, per Joel's choice. It fit the snowy theme back then but felt a tad odd on March 17th. Oh well.  Most people wore green, so that worked. The red heart cookie cutter was my nod to February 14th.  Those wooden numbers from Michael's are leaning against two cups supported by glass votives inside. Simple, simple. 

Normally I fix Mexican or Italian fare when the extended family come over because we have three vegetarians .But I was so tired of that; had to break out of my mold sooner or later, so why not when my son becomes a teenager? A lot of things change at that magical age, right? 

I made the mistake of asking  tossed  my menu question out to my quilting chat board friends as to what I could serve that was different, easy, and still accommodating to the restricted diets. "That's easy," said one of the ladies, who is a gourmet cook. Beware when that type says "Easy." What they mean is "looks simple but takes all day."  She suggested Florentine stuffed portabello mushrooms. But of course.  She said I could also butterfly the chicken breast, wrap them in Saran wrap, pound them thin, and stuff them with the same filling.  Umm, yeah. No.  I decided to do chicken Marsala in the crock pot so it could slow cook while I got other things done. 

You know--SOMEONE has to clean bathrooms, sweep floors, decorate,  and take a shower  ,not to mention pick up the boy after school. 

People coming after work would be HONGRY, perhaps even HANGRY, so I needed a sweet/salty/protein/colorful appetizer to hold them over.  Something easy to put in these Valentine cupcake papers (that I've had for three years). 

Strawberries, blueberries, and walnuts. A big hit. 

No sooner had everyone sat down than my baby niece decided it would be fun to scoop up all the silverware as fast as she could. Like a competitive sport, except she had no competitors, just spectators. 

And she loved dangling asparagus from her mouth to make us laugh. 

I'll have to try that next time things get too serious around here. 

Joel had chosen a red velvet box cake--no icing. He didn't even want me to 
dust it with powdered sugar which I desperately wanted to do. 
I had to be content with the fact that honoring someone means 
doing it their way, not yours. 
My dear friend Bonnie asked how she could help on the day of the party. I asked her if she'd be willing to make the cake, and she did. It turned out perfectly. What  blessing to have friends who really mean it when they say, "I'd like to help." She lives one street over and we bail each other out all the time.  Now I wish I'd asked her to do the Florentine stuffed mushrooms. The store didn't have 6 big fungus steaks, only small, so I was scooping the gills out of 24 baby bellas with the handle of a spoon.  While wilting spinach on the stove and shredding carrots and chopping mushroom stems and 
dicing red pepper and wondering why the heck we didn't just go to  a restaurant. Come on, if you've hosted anything and your feet are hurting, your heart is heavy, and your clock is ticking away, you've
thought the same thing. 

My heart was heavy because of who was missing. See the lady wearing the scarf? That's Valeria. Her husband Andrey died from liver cancer last April. He was a precious friend. She happened to be here 
on furlough from Birobidzhan (far east Russia)  staying with my parents. This was really the only smile I saw all night from her. The light has gone out of her eyes. 

But back to the birthday boy. 

Mr. 13. 

 The hair. Oh, my, he loves it longer than I do.  The fights that ensue when I say it's time for a haircut are worse than PMS, believe me. 

The joys of teenagers, right? 

He says his hair is his confidence.
His confidence shows in his face, huh?  But oh, I love my boy with a fierce passion, regardless of his stubbornness .  He is so much like his father his mother his oldest brother his mother.

Well, hair isn't the only thing getting long, so I'll save the Blessing portion of the party for tomorrow, in which the grandfather, grandmother, father, and brothers speak. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fried Green Brains in the Hodgepodge

Well, we FINALLY had our son's 13th birthday party last night, and I am totally, completely, absolutely wiped out but happy. We were blessed that 13 people were here. How cool was that? I'll share all about it in  post of its own, but for now, 
I'm going to put my feet up and answer Joyce's Green Hodgepodge questions. 

I'm too tired to be wordy.  

1. Share a favorite song, book, or movie title containing the word green?

I've always loved the Anne of Green Gables books.  

2. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, 'Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.' Would you agree? Are you a believer in luck?

I don't believe in luck. I believe in the sovereignty of God. He orchestrates everything in heaven and on earth, and under the earth. 
I don't even like to hear "good luck" from a fellow Christian because it smacks of random chance vs. the power of the Almighty in a situation. 

3. Spring water, Hot Springs, handspring, spring fling, spring break, spring fever, offspring...which 'spring' word best applies to something in your day, week, or life right now?

Offspring.  All four of mine plus half of my parents' offspring were here last night for the party. And my baby sister's one offspring was the life of the party. When everyone was getting loud, she'd put her hand over her little lips and say "Shhhh!" And everyone would hush. It was the funniest thing.  

4. What's something you do to make yourself look or feel more confident?

Get a haircut or at least style my hair out of my face. Having hair that grows as fast as mine is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to my sense of confidence. It takes a good cut, a strategic blow drying effort, a sometimes a hair straightener, and some aerosol action to keep it where I want it. 

5.  It's National Celery Month...are you a fan? If so, what's a snack or dish you enjoy that calls for celery?

I like celery, but wouldn't say I'm a fan. I mean, I wouldn't buy tickets to a celery concert or stand in a long line for a stalk of celery to sign a cookbook at Barnes & Noble.  But I do like the crunch and color and sweet, calorie-free of it.  My favorite dish with celery is my mom's Waldorf salad, with grapes, celery, apples, and other stuff . She brings it for Thanksgiving in a gorgeous Haviland china bowl. Talk about  elevating the status of the humble veggie. 

6. What's one thing you wish you'd learned sooner?

To get rid of stuff that I don't need, love, or want.    

The root of it was lack of trust in God for provision when I need something.   I have learned to trust him more and more and more as my Father who sees and knows and cares and has the power and desire to provide for all my needs.  Getting rid of stuff is so freeing and such a practical way of saying, "I trust you , God." And it's a way of making sure you're living in the present, not the past , and not the future. 

7. Would you like to own a second home? If so where would you want that home to be?

No, I would not. Owning just one home has enough blessings and troubles for me.  I can only live in one at a time, and neither my husband nor I have the personalities to be landlords.   And when you own a second home that's in a desirable location for vacationing, you run the risk of people using you. I don't want friends who want me for my stuff.

Hypothetically, if I were inclined to own a second home , it would be in Bethany Beach ,Delaware. I could count on the offspring coming to visit "us" (ahem) if we had a big gathering spot near the sand and surf. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I have no random thought right now.  I don't even a well-planned thought. My brain is fried.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Morning Medley

I'm feeling overwhelmed this morning. Logistics and emotions are colliding and I would prefer to shrink up into a ball with my face in the corner, sucking my thumb.

What's going on, you ask?  In no particular order:

1. My son's 13th birthday is finally able to happen tomorrow, no snow in the forecast. We've postponed this thing so many times, I thought he'd have his driver's license first.

2.  The fact that he's 13 is making me a little sad. I waited and prayed for him for 10 long years before he was born, and if you've ever waited to birth a child full-term that long, you understand that it feels like 100 years. But the past 13 years?  They feel like 13 days and yet my son is now taller than me and can't wait for his voice to change.

3. I'm having a house full of family over tomorrow, plus a dear friend of the family who is visiting from Birobidzhan.  Valeria lost her husband last April, to liver cancer, very quickly, and we loved him so much .  I will be sad to see her alone without Andrey.

4.  My friend Renee' continues to fight her own cancer battle. She's such a trooper, though. Would I be so strong if I were the one with the disease?

5.  The family that my daughter nannies for is precious to her and they are moving in a month, pending inspection on the house they just sold. Sarah loves those kiddoes, and so do I.   I'm sure tears will fall a few times from several eyes in the next month-six weeks.

6.  My daughter will be jobless. She is really seeking God on this, plus praying for marriage (the desire of her heart) and yet is not wasting her single years. She decided to delete her Facebook account in order to give what free time she has to God's Kingdom. What an inspiration she is to me!

7.  I'm trying two new recipes tomorrow, one for the vegetarians and one for the carnivores .  I hope all goes well.

8.  I could use prayer for peace. I feel overwhelmed. I said that, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bitter and Sweet in the Hodgepodge

Once more, Joyce has given us seven questions to ponder and answer. Click the cute button above if you don't know what I'm talking about. And please join in; we love company. 

1. What's the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word 'spring'? Which phrase

 best describes the season of spring where you live right now (today)-sprung! almost there, 

or still waiting?

First image that comes to my mind when I hear the word "spring" would be robins, then crocuses, daffodils, and tulips, in that order.   But daffodils make my mind "spring back" (not forward!) to the day I gave birth to my first child.  In a couple weeks, he will be 27 years old.

Where we live, I do believe that spring sprang yesterday. Even though there are still patches of snow everywhere, the birds are declaring that spring has arrived. 

2. Bed, couch, stapler, garage door, computer mouse, recliner, flashlight, door knob...which

 household item containing springs most needs replacing in your home? Speaking of 

springs...did you ever own a Slinky?

Garage door needs replacing.  Yes, I owned a Slinky. I remember watching it 

crawl down our long, wooden staircase in the parsonage when I was 9 years 

old. Very cool toy. 

3. March is Women's History Month. Share a favorite quote by a woman.

This woman and I share a birthday: 

4. What's a question that looms large in your mind right now?

The question that looms largest is so close to my heart that I can't even write it in on paper, let alone here on the internet.  

So I'll give you the one that's looming large but doesn't choke me up.  "What can I be doing to love Jesus more?"

5. Are you a sugar freak? By that I mean how much do you love sugar? With all 

the bad press sugar gets these days, have you made any efforts to reduce the 

amount of sugar you consume?

I am definitely a sugar freak and have made no real efforts lately to reduce my intake. 

6. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?

The latter.  Vocationally I would gladly take on more tutoring students.  I love teaching.  Avocationally, I have enough quilts in my head to keep me busy till I die. 

7. Ever been to Texas? Of the top ten Texas tourist attractions which would you most like to 

see-The Alamo, The San Antonio River Walk, The State Capital, Dallas World Aquarium,

 Padre Island National Seashore, Houston Space Center, Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New 

Braunfels, Six Flags Fiesta Texas,  Moody Gardens, or Galveston Island?

As a matter of fact, my older sister lives in New Braunfels, so I have been to Texas. Unfortunately, the week we were there in September of 1999, I was having my second miscarriage, so my memories are all bittersweet. I have been to most of those places, and all are associated with both beauty and loss. The Alamo--I couldn't concentrate on the placards; I was holding back tears. The River Walk? Beautiful, but I had to stop often to rest. Padre Island was good for my soul--to be near the God who loved me even though He was taking my baby back to Himself before I was ready.  Six Flags? Umm, I mostly sat while waiting for Paul and the kids to ride the rides. We went to Schlitterbahn and that was somewhat of a good distraction to me, but there were babies and strollers everywhere; that was hard.   To tell you how time flies, my nephew is now a lifeguard at Schlitterbahn in the summer. 

Sorry to get all melancholy on you, but this is where the Hodgepodge sometimes takes us when we least expect it, right? 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

As I'm writing this, it's Tuesday, March 10th.  My first son, Ben,  and daughter-in-law, Deirdra,  have been married three years today.   Gosh, three years. Seems like three months ago that I was blogging about their wedding.   

 They have a sweet marriage; we are the richer for having Deirdra in our family.