Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Girl is Back in Town

My daughter is back home!!! Yay!!! She flew in last night from Florida. She needed family time in the worst way, having been away since August (my birthday, to be exact). Not to mention she was in a four-car crash a month ago and has been in pain, wanting her mama.  Her Hyundai Santa Fe was totaled when a bike flew off the back of Car 1's bike rack,  causing a chain reaction of braking.  She looked and looked for a replacement without going into debt. No success, since Florida has outrageous fees attached to the selling price.

So we decided as her parents who also have a Santa Fe, to sell her ours IF and only if we could find one with half the miles for a fair price. The Lord answered that prayer in perfect timing for all of us. Today my daughter and I have the great pleasure of chatting while sitting at the MVA taking care of title transfer, tags, and all that hoo-ha that everyone just looks forward to, especially on Thanksgiving Eve.  We'll kill two birds with the proverbial one stone since I need to register our new Santa Fe while I'm there. May as well, right?

Also getting the tires rotated because...because...they need it...and because

I'm driving back to Florida with her on Friday!! Woop woop! A mother-daughter road trip!  And she lives a mile from the beach so she told me to bring my bathing suit. Um, no thank you. I'll put my feet in the sand and gaze out onto the Gulf of Mexico, but not taking the suit. It's 37 degrees here and I'm wearing two layers plus slippers!

She's so excited for me meet the family she lives with. Julie has become Sarah's closest friend and mentor. Sarah has been helping her with the new baby plus the older two girls (2 and 4) because there is no family around and they are brand new to the area as of August. It's a win-win.

This afternoon we are also going for much-needed massages .And she wants a crab cake while in Maryland. It's a must-eat when you're a native Baltimorean.

So, no Hodgepodge for me today. The questions pique my interest as always, but I just need to do other things. My girl just got out of the shower so now it's on to the glorious destination known as the Motor Vehicle Administration.

With a visit to her grandparents' house later while I take the car in for that tire rotation, she'll make them happy with her presence, if only for a brief hour.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Be thankful. We are so abundantly blessed!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving in the Fast Lane

Obviously I've been quiet on the ole bloggaroo, with an incredible lot going on here.  I have a veritable smorgasbord of things to write about, but not sure where to start (or worse, where to stop).

So, speaking of smorgasbords, let me just start in with the feast...

We just celebrated our Thanksgiving here with our family tonight because this is the year the boys are at their in-laws' on the day.  I've grown accustomed to sharing them, to compromising, to appreciating whatever time we get to spend regardless what the calendar says.  Our daughter joined us from Florida by Skype. It was my first time ever Skyping. Wow, this is a huge perk with technology!

I'm exhausted and happy, full in every way.  It took a lot of doing to even get 9 of us together at one place and time, so I think I deserve at least an AA degree in Emailing.  And don't even get me started on the dietary three-ring circus. I sound like I'm complaining, right? I'm not (or maybe I am) but it's a clear challenge to have meat eaters (some of whom don't like turkey),  gluten free diabetic vegetarians,  and dairy-free health nuts.  Saturdays are full with my parents in Messianic ministry. (translated: too much to do plus a big family meal). Sundays are full for the rest of us with church and naps (translated: I like eating out and then sleeping).

But we did it. We compromised. The sons and DILs could come, but had to leave (I thought) at 4:30 for a Thanksgiving dinner at their church! I was wrong. They had to be AT their church at 4:30, and had to stop back at their homes to pick up more food. So they had to leave at 3:30.  by the time we sat down to eat, it was 2:40, so you do the math.

We ordered a fried turkey from Dickey's BBQ this year.  First time ever--and last.  It's so not worth it for $59.95.  When I ordered it Friday, they say it would need to be reheated. I was thinking about 20 minutes because we'd pick it up at noon (hot, I presumed, by the term "fried turkey",) Well, I called at 11:00 to make sure they were "on it" (my guests were coming at 1:00).  She said, "It's thawed and ready."

I exclaimed,  "Thawed and ready? What do you mean? It's almost noon and it's not even cooked? I thought fried turkey at noon meant hot and done!"  Poor girl, she heard my exasperated hostess self on the phone.

"Ma'am, they come to the store pre-cooked but frozen. We thaw them out and send them home with reheating instructions."  She had to repeat it for me to understand because I'm thick-headed when stunned. (And sometimes when I'm not.)

"I wish someone had told me that. All she said was it would need to be reheated."

"It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I'm sorry she didn't tell you that."

Two hours and 15 minutes?!!!???  (Whenever I panic, I see question marks and exclamation points bursting out of my brain. You know, like seeing stars when you konk your head on the open cabinet door that was supposed to be shut? Except these aren't stars. Maybe some ampersands and hashtags and dollar signs strung together in a set of four also appear.)

I look at the clock: 11:04. Guests come at 1:30. I still need a shower. I can't go out in public like this!

(My hubby offered but they said the person who ordered by credit card had to personally come pick it up and sign for it. Oh, bother!)

So, I kicked into high gear. got my shower, zoomed out to Dickey's, and picked up my overpriced, "ready" fried turkey. Thankfully the guests needed the extra time anyway. But even after they arrived, finding oven space, traying up fresh rolls, rearranging racks so this would fit but that wouldn't burn, keeping track of what the timers were for, and all that, it still took time to get food on the table.

I served three soups, but gotta say the butternut squash was the best. I mean delicious and definitely on must-make again list. The recipe is   here . (I bought pre-cubed, raw butternut squash in the produce aisle. Totally worth it.)


Ai, yai, yai.  I started this post Sunday night. Here it is Tuesday morning and we haven't even gotten to the sit-down-and-give-thanks part of the story.

So, here it is: we sat down and gave thanks. First a prayer by Paul. Then we passed the food around and ate. As one person finished, he or she would (at my prompting, of course, because I'm the Director of Thanksgiving Traditions) say several things he or she is thankful for this year.

From our oldest son and daughter-in-law: their church family and their new puppy topped the list. I  like what he said."Having Manny has taught me spiritual lessons, believe it or not. Before he came along, I was all about projects and getting stuff done and always looking for the next thing to do. But he makes me stop and enjoy the moment--the simplest things And he's just happy being with me or Dee. I need to be like that with God--just enjoy his presence and being with him and not looking for the next project. There will always be projects."

(He comes by it honest as they say. My students used to call me Mrs. Project. My husband has the reputation for doing projects. We often tease that we live in the projects.)

Steve and Ambrey were thankful for their church family as well, being settled into the same one as Ben and Dee. They are also thankful for the rental house we bought where they live. A yard , a place to play drums again, and a washer and dryer and a fridge with an ice maker. Good neighbors. A safe feeling.

Then came my husband's turn. The man who will be having a very serious heart operation  (aortic root replacement) by one of the best surgeons in the world.

"I'm  grateful for living close to Johns Hopkins Hospital."

My throat started to close, and I fought back tears. I leaned closer to him, put my head on his shoulder, and stroked his leg under the table. I found my voice eventually, and expressed how thankful I am for him, my main squeeze for almost 29 years. I said more, of course, but it was largely about him and his love for our family and his work ethic. He built me a new kitchen this year. That was a joy to work in, a testament to his craftsmanship.

My mom was thankful for the grace she has seen in each of her kids' lives this year. Especially my younger sister whose husband divorced her for another woman. The divorce was final two weeks before Thanksgiving. She is heartbroken, but has never felt closer to God. He has been her rock. She is thriving now in her log cabin in Kentucky with her horses, dogs, cats. She has a great church. She has risen above her circumstances.

Anyway, the rest of the meal was rush, rush, rush.  The older kids had to be at their church for a Thanksgiving feast at 4:30. The time had flown by and I was nowhere ready for them to leave. We sang happy birthday to my dad and that was basically a musical benediction rather than a call to dessert.

 But, hey--
you gotta flex and accept that some time is better than no time with your adult kids.  My parents were able to stay and linger and talk, which was relaxing.

What was not relaxing was seeing the Mt. Vesuvius of  dirty pots and pans awaiting.  But that's another post . And don't worry. I won't write it.

My only regret from the day (beside the brevity of the gathering) was that I didn't get one single picture. I thought about it. I got up once to find my phone but it was buried under kitchen chaos.
Feast AND famine--feast of food, famine of photos.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Naan-existent Energy. But Here's my Late Hodgepodge

1. Besides Thanksgiving, something you're looking forward to on your November calendar?

There's a chance our daughter may fly up for a long weekend from Florida.  Let me be very corny and say I gobble up any chance to have that chicky under my wing.

2.  If I gave you a thank you card right now who would you send it to and why?

Easy! My Chinese boss, who paid me for 2.5 hours of tutoring that I didn't do last week because I was sick. Who does that? My goodness, she is so generous! She feeds me every time I'm there (a huge dinner every night), she gives me gift bags of tea on a regular basis, she profusely thanks me for coming to teach her children. (Granted, it's a 90 minute round trip three nights a week, so it's not like I'm just around the corner, but still....).   I've got it so good, and she deserves a thank-you card. 

3. Of the breads listed, which one's your favorite...bagel, cinnamon, sourdough, garlic, banana, biscuit, pita, Naan, or plain old fashioned white bread?

Of those listed, Naan.  Put another way, "Naan of them." 

4. What's something you have in abundance? Is that a good thing?

Fat cells. No. 

5. November 5th is National Love Your Red Hair Day. Are there any redheads in your family? Who's your favorite redhead?

I have a redheaded niece  on hubby's side of the family. She's my favorite redhead.

6.  The travel website Busbud recently calculated the most Instagrammed spot in every state. Go here to see what made the list where you live. Are you happy with your state's #1? If not what do you think should be the most photographed spot in your state? Have you snapped a photo there? If you live outside the USA answer as it relates to your state, city or province.

Maryland's most Instagrammed spot is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It's a good one for sure, a beautiful stadium. 

But I think a close second might be Jerusalem Mill in Kingsville. I can't count the number of engaged couples and families who have chosen that place (about 1/2  hour from my house) for their photo shoots .I'm not on Instagram, but on Facebook there have been gazillions of photos in my feed from family and friends. Here's a scene. 

7. I'm going to try to have something related to gratitude in this spot each week during the month of November. Here's this week's question-

What's something you've learned about yourself this year that you're grateful for?

I've learned to love having much less stuff. I enjoy a game I played in October (made by me and for me, no other players--a solitaire of sorts) that I called, "Get Rid of 80 Things."  I kept a running list of everything I let go of just to see it reach 80.  I'm so grateful that I don't even particularly enjoy shopping as much as I used to. It curtails so many impulse buys and makes the house easier to maintain and keeps more cash available for what IS important. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

How about something light and funny?  This happened at the home of my Chinese students while I was there. (If you're on FB, you've already seen this, but others may need the chuckle.)

Had dinner with two other families last night. While adults were talking about advances in cardio drugs, duck soup, and landscape architecture, one of the little boys interrupted .

Boy 1: Excuse me, Miss Zoanna? (Holds up his hand like a stop sign) 

Me: Yes?

Boy 1: I just wanted to tell you, no matter what, don't EVER lick a frog. 

Me (nearly spitting out my rice) Okay, I'll put that in my book of wisdom. 

(He looks at his mom)

Boy 1: I'm serious, Mom, don't  you ever lick a frog either, especially not on his face!

(By this time I'm nearly choking from laughter)

Me (to his mom) In case you were tempted, right?

Boy 1: I'm warning you because I've licked a frog's face like 50 times.

Boy 2 (one-upping his friend) So? I've licked a frog 100 times !

Boy 1: I really haven't licked a frog. I'm just kidding.

Boy 2: (deadpan). I'm not.