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Saturday, May 28, 2011

How the babies amuse themselves while I am cooking...or why the dishwasher will be running all. day. long.


Stupid Question

On Friday afternoon, we went to the nursing home again. Mary was there and when she saw me she asked how I am. I replied that I am good, then asked her "How are you?"

I immediately began kicking myself mentally. I mean, seriously...how can she answer that question? Her mother is dying and I ask how are you. It is pretty obvious that things stink for her right now, and we don't have a close enough relationship for her to answer with anything other than the socially acceptable "Fine." So basically, by asking that question, I am either asking her to lie to me or I am saying that I really don't care. And neither of those is what I intended, but I just didn't stop to think. I didn't measure my words before allowing them to leave my mouth.

Thankfully, she just didn't answer.

I wonder how it has become so ingrained in me that my answer is almost always just "good" when someone asks that question. And I wonder why I ask it back even when I know that the answer is "Life really stinks right now," and I also know that the person I am talking to is not comfortable enough with me to tell me how he/she is really doing. Have I become so insensitive to people's feelings and needs? It would seem that the answer right now is yes. Rather than stopping to think and really communicate with others, I go on autopilot and just say what is habit. It looks like I have some serious work to do.

And now, I will go try to remove my foot from my mouth.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unexpected Peace

Brent called me on Tuesday afternoon and told me that Grammy (his paternal grandmother and only living grandparent) had taken a sudden, bad turn, and that she may only live another couple of days. He left work early and went to the nursing home to be with her and his parents. I waited until the kids woke up and they stayed with Aunt Ginger while I went to the nursing home. I started preparing Samantha for my being gone for a few hours, and told her that Grammy is very sick and will be going to heaven soon. I said that she and Jacob would stay with Aunt Ginger while I am at Grammy's house. She was completely fine with everything. I took the kids over to Ginger and told her that I had talked to Samantha about what is going one. As we were talking, with Samantha right beside us, Ginger looked over and said "Grammy needs..." and before she could finish the sentence with "her family around her," Samantha inserted "...to go to heaven." I smiled and told Samantha that she is right, and that Grammy will be happy and will not be sick as soon as she is in heaven with Jesus. My sweet 3 year old daughter gave me an unexpected moment of peace.

By the time I got to the nursing home, only Brent and his mom were there because his dad had to go get some work done. Brent left to go to Waco after I had been there for a while and his mom and I sat quietly some and we talked some. We held Grammy's hands when she woke up, and Mom called the nurse when she seemed to be in pain. I left at 6:45 to go home and put the kids to bed. I was grateful for the time I could be there. And I am grateful for my mother-in-law, who has such a caring heart, and who takes care of what and who needs to be taken care of all the time.

On Wednesday, Brent went straight to the nursing home from work. The kids and I met him in town for dinner and then they and I went on to church while Brent went back to the nursing home. After church, Brent took the kids home and I stayed at the nursing home. I had planned to stay quite late, but Dad convinced me that it was not neccessary, that the nurses would be in to check on Grammy very regularly and that they could give her pain medicine as often as once per hour if need be. I still stayed for a while, though. She was sleeping so peacefully, unlike the day before. I worked on my quilting, I sang songs to Grammy, and I sat quietly watching her. It was a time of unexpected peace and blessing for me in the midst of heartache and grief.

On Thursday afternoon I took the kids to the nursing home to visit a little. When we arrived, the rest of the family told me that Grammy's condition had progressed and that she was not expected to live through the day. There were quite a few family members there, so with the crowded area and the kids having been cooped up for a while, it was time for them to go home. I told Staci that she could stay and I would take the kids to my house, but that first I wanted to take Samantha in to see Grammy.

Every time we have visited Grammy in the past, we have asked Samantha to sing to Grammy. But she never would. I asked again as we sat beside Grammy's bed, and Samantha said no. I told her that I would sing with her, but she still said no as she nervously looked at the other people in the room. I told her that this will be her last chance to sing to Grammy, because she will be in heaven very soon...and she said yes. She sang "Jesus Loves Me" and "Sweet Sweet Spirit" I sort of sang with her as tears rolled down my face. Then she gave Grammy a kiss and we said goodbye. It was bittersweet moment. It was also a moment of peace.

This watching and waiting really stinks. We know that the end of Grammy's life on earth is coming. We know that it will be fairly soon but we don't know when. Each day we wake up in the morning wondering if Grammy is still alive, wondering if today is the day. This is hard! I am grateful that in the middle of the waiting, of the uncertain grieving, that we have these moments of peace.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls


Yesterday I decided to make homemade cinnamon rolls. I scoured several cookbooks and didn't find a single recipe that was exactly what I wanted, so I ended up making the dough from the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, and then just made up the filling and glaze on my own.

I accidentally made a double batch of dough, because I was looking at the wrong side of the page when I put the milk in the pan, and I added 2 cups rather than one. I decided that I would make kolaches with the extra portion, but then when it came time to make the rolls, I forgot about doing that and just made a massive quantity of cinnamon rolls. After we ate the rolls this morning, though, I decided that the dough really would be perfect for kolaches, so you can expect to see something about how that goes before too much longer. :)

Here's how we got our results.

Dough:
4.75- 5.25 cups all purpose flour
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
small amount of half and half or light cream (I used heavy cream because that's what I had in the fridge)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2.25 cups of the flour and the yeast. In a saucepan, heat and stir the milk, butter, granulated sugar and salt until just warm (120-130F) and the butter almost melts. Add the milk mixture to the dry mixture, along with the eggs. (The directions now say to mix with an electric mixer for 30 seconds, then beat in as much of the remaining flour as you can...but I don't do that) Mix well. Add most of the remaining flour, about 1 cup at a time, until you can no longer mix with a spoon.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch dough down and then turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half, cover and let rest for about 10 minutes. Lightly grease baking sheets. Roll each half of the dough into a 12X8 inch rectangle. (I completely ignore the dimensions and just roll until it looks good to me...this usually means that I roll it out to a larger size than the recipe calls for.)

Spread filling over the rectangle, then roll up, jelly roll style from the long side and seal seams. Slice each roll into approximately 1 to 1.5 inch pieces and place on prepared baking sheets.

Filling:
I actually did 3 different fillings, one with raisins, one with cream cheese and one that was just cinnamon. I mixed granulated sugar with cinnamon until I liked the color of it. On the rolled out dough, I spread very soft butter, then heavily sprinkled the cinnamon sugar mixture over it. One I left like that and rolled up, and the other I added raisins to before rolling. The cream cheese rolls had cream cheese rather than butter, and I put a much heavier coat of cream cheese than I did butter.

After adding the filling and putting the rolls on the baking sheets, you can let the rolls rise for 30 minutes, then bake. However, since I wanted them for breakfast and didn't want to start cooking at midnight, I made the rolls yesterday afternoon, placed them on the baking sheets, covered loosely with saran wrap and put them in the refrigerator overnight. This morning, I took them out of the oven, let them sit out for 30 minutes. Just before putting them in the oven, I brushed the dough with the cream and then baked at 375F for about 20 minutes.

Glaze:
While the rolls were baking, Samantha and I made the glaze. I have to warn you, I didn't measure anything. I put some cream cheese in a bowl and microwaved it until it was super soft...almost liquid. I splashed some vanilla into the bowl and stirred it up, then started adding powdered sugar. I added a splash of whole milk, then kept adding powdered sugar until it was a good consistency for glazing the warm rolls.

When the rolls were done baking, I immediately moved them, one by one, to a platter or a clean baking dish. This step is VERY important, I almost didn't do it. The only reason I did is that the baking sheet didn't have edges on 2 sides and I didn't want to have the glaze dripping all over the place. I am so glad that I did move them, because I used a large baking sheet and by the time I got to the last quarter of the rolls, they were sticking very badly. Next time, I will use smaller baking sheets and just bake more batches so that the rolls don't have time to cool too much and get stuck before I get to the end of the sheet. As soon as the rolls were on their new container, we put the glaze over the tops by drizzling with a spoon or fork. Since the rolls were still warm, the glaze spread perfectly.
And they sure were yummy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Letting Go

If you don't know, I am usually a pretty laid back person. Unless it is about something big, and then I really want to be in control. I want things to go according to plan, and I don't want that plan to be changed mid-stream. Letting go of that control is hard for me. It doesn't happen very often. And I am not in my comfort zone when it does.

Brent and I have a very important decision to make. We have been trying to make it for more than a year, and we just can't decide what to do. He has one idea. I have another. And no amount of talking about it has changed either of our minds. It is so hard, for both of us, to be on completely opposite pages about this.

A few months ago, after another failed attempt of each of us to change the others mind, and many tears on my part, I was praying for God to show us a way through this. For Him to help us make a good decision.

After several days of praying about this almost constantly, I finally heard an answer. It was NOT an answer that I liked. I continued to pray, and I continued to hear the same answer. I heard that I need to ask Brent to pray about it, and then to leave the decision between Brent and God. I questioned how this could be the right way to work out this situation.

Our preacher had, not very long before this, talked about how you can discern the voice of God in your life. One of the ways was that if it is truly God, it should be in line with His voice in scripture. As I asked if this was really God giving me an answer, it came to mind that scripture tells us that a wife should submit to the leadership of her husband. Yep, it lines up. I still didn't like it, but it seemed that this really was God giving me an answer.

So a couple of days later, I talked to Brent about it after the kids were asleep. I carefully explained ALL of my thoughts and feelings on the whole matter, and I sobbed as I told him about my answer from God, and that I am willing to completely give up my part in making the decision as long as he is willing to pray about it honestly. That he will be open to either outcome and that he will pray about what is best, not what is easiest. And I would not ask him about it or mention anything else about the decision. In essence, I gave up my chance at having things go my way that night as we talked.

It took Brent a while to give me an answer. He did not want to be open to any other outcome than the one he wants. Eventually he did agree to this arrangement, though. I still pray that Brent will change his mind, that the outcome will be what I want. But I also realize that it is very likely that it will not go my way. I also pray that if that is the case, that God will give me the strength to handle it gracefully, and that he will help me to not harbor any resentment.

I thought that it was all over for me after that. But I have found that it is not. Every day is a struggle for me. I want to try to influence Brent's decision. I want to talk about it. And every day, I have to again make the decision to leave this outcome at God's feet and to have nothing to do with it myself. And as it gets closer and closer to the end of the time that we agreed on, it is harder each day to make the decision to let it go again. I have a feeling that this is making me stronger, that my faith will be shaped as a result. But I still do not like letting go.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chalk and Bubbles

Since it's been a rainy, stormy, inside-only day today, and because my mom called me this afternoon only to tell me to update my blog (yes, seriously, that is the entire reason she called me!), I thought I might share a few pictures of the outside fun that we had a few days (OK, actually a couple of weeks since this was before Easter) back. Enjoy, Mom...I am up late at night to post something just for you...and I'll try to be a little better about posting more regularly again...but you know me, sometimes I am all gung-ho, and sometimes I just let things slide, so we'll see how it goes. But you love me anyway, right? :)


Samantha had me testing my artistic abilities by requesting all kinds of pictures of animals. I think the best by far were the Easter eggs, though.




I have to admit, the crayola bolder brighter (or whatever it's called, I can't remember for sure) sidewalk chalk is definitely worth the extra cost...it is amazingly prettier than the regular old sidewalk chalk, and it has SOOO many more colors!

Don't you love where the chalk rainbow ended up? I couldn't resist taking a picture. :)

It constantly amazes me how quickly Jacob figures things out. He is already blowing bubbles at 16 months. Samantha didn't figure it out until sometime after Jacob was born (and she was 23 months when he was born!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Torn

I woke up this morning to the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. And my heart is torn.

I am grateful that there is some sense of justice for the families of those who were killed because of this man. But that sense of justice will not bring back their loved ones.

I am grateful that the world may be little bit safer...but it will never be truly safe.

I am grateful that the world will no longer be subjected to the terrorism that bin Laden plans. But there will still be terrorism that others plan and carry out.

I am grateful that the evil that was perpetuated by this man did not go unpunished and will not go on...at least by him. I am concerned that events may escalate in retaliation by those who followed him and were in league with him.

I am grateful for the men and women who have put and will put their lives on the line to keep our freedoms and who continue to work and fight to keep the world safer.

But in spite of the justice of bin Laden's death, I am saddened. I am sad that there are people who go so far as bin Laden did. I am sad that there are people who refuse to know the Lord. I am sad that there are people who have never been told about the Lord. I find some relief that this man is dead, but I am also sad that he died not recognizing Christ as Lord.

As I read through my news feed on facebook, I understood the feelings expressed, but was also saddened. I was torn. Someone who perpetuated much evil is no longer alive. But he was also a person...he was also one of God's children, whether he acknowledged that or not. And in spite of the sense of relief that his reign of terror is over, I cannot find anything to rejoice about in his death. I am saddened to read of people having parties celebrating his death, and to see tasteless pictures (obviously edited) of his decapitated head being held up.

Death, however well deserved, even when necessary, is never something to rejoice in. By rejoicing in death, we give in to the hate as well. And once we give in to hate, how far are we from becoming the wicked ourselves?

I was grateful to see that there are some people who also feel the same way, and were willing to stand up and say so. Some of them drew my attention to Proverbs 24:17-18 "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him," and Ezekiel 33:11 "As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, o house of Israel?"

If God, who is perfect, does not rejoice in the death of a wicked person, how can I, who by no stretch of the imagination am anywhere close to perfect, then rejoice in that death? And if I do, am I then turning from God rather than trying to become like him?