I Get by with a Little Help from my Friends

December 9, 2014

My handsome husband and I are still in our forties…. barely. By the skin of our teeth, but we ARE!  We were caught off guard this week when we both asked for help with COMMON words that we could not remember. I started the memory-fail game by asking, “What are those things called that come out of the ocean and are shaped like stars?” The confused look on his face lead me to believe he thought I was joking. Sadly, I was not. “Starfish?” Oh, yeah… and we broke out into laughter because laughter is good for your soul.  And after you can’t recall the word starfish and/or you realize your spouse can’t recall the word starfish you need something…. anything that is good for your soul.

starfish

The very next day hubby was at the kitchen table texting someone, looked up and asked me, “What are those things called that go up in the sky and explode in pretty colors?”  …. I looked at him with that same confused look he gave me the previous day and answered, “Starfish?  … or did you mean fireworks?”  And we both laughed heartily again, as this seems to be the go-to response for aging in our home.

And names!  GAH! Really, we should all have our names tattooed on our foreheads, then there would be no need for racking our brains to remember names. I loved it when my boys were little and on hockey teams with their names written on the their helmets on hockey tape. Easy Peasy. My husband and I have an unwritten rule that I am talking with a person and he walks up, if I don’t introduce him, it means I have forgotten the person’s name. Then he puts out his hand and says, “Hi, I’m Rick,” and saves the day.  It works perfectly!

Mothers have forgotten their children’s names for all of history and that is somehow forgiven and thought of as common. When we were recently in the DMV for son #2’s driver’s license, his number was called and he started walking toward the counter without the needed paperwork that was in my hand. So I called him… by his father’s name… and then added, “Or whoever you are.” He turned back to get the papers and rolled his tootsie-roll brown eyes at me. Another mother seated a few seats over laughed and said that she does that all the time with her kids! That didn’t really make me feel better… just commiserated with company.

I won’t even get into trying to follow recipes at the ripe old age of 48. Don’t get me started. Don’t even get me started.

This Mama’s Rules

November 29, 2014

I got to thinking the other day, because that’s what Mamas do. And I realized that every Mama has her own set of rules that her kids are VERY familiar with and can quote back to their Mama. Here are a few of my own examples:

1. “Do not put your bum where food goes.”  Translation: do not sit on the kitchen table or counters. Ewwww.

2. “Don’t shoot your mother.” This one goes without saying. It doesn’t matter what you are shooting: nerf guns, bb guns, rubber bands, the kitchen sprayer, spit wads, the hose, darts…. etc.

3. “You can go play in the wilderness if three of you go together. That way if one of you dies, one can watch the body while the other runs for help.”  Self explanatory.

4. “The loudest child sits in the back seat of the van.” Also self explanatory.

5. “If you ‘call’ something, you don’t get it.” I.e., “I call the front seat.”  You’re now in the back. “I call the last piece of pumpkin pie!” One of your siblings will now enjoy it.

6. “If you put restaurant left overs in the fridge without writing your name on it… you may as well kiss it goodbye.”

7. “If you are in the kitchen and the trash needs to go out, it is YOUR turn to take it out.”

8. “Ask dinner guests three questions about themselves and then you may leave the table.”

9. “Always look people in the eye when you speak to them… and SMILE.”

10. “If and when you say ‘I’m bored’ I will find a chore for you…. every time.”

They are straight forward and have worked for years.

What are your personal rules???

Oh the Wonders of Anesthesia!

November 28, 2014

My husband, who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are Rick Crosby, had surgery on his old, decrepit knee on Tuesday this week. He’s been wearing a knee brace to play hockey for eight or nine years, ever since a catastrophic skiing day with our family in Canada. Finally two weeks ago, he completely tore his ACL and limped even with the brace on until this week.  Now he snores on the couch while his polar pack keeps his elevated knee nice and chilly.

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The night after surgery is ALWAYS entertaining with this man. I should know. This is surgery #5 for us. Our children found his erratic comments highly entertaining and I scribbled them down as fast as I could so we could read them to him in the morning…. AND for your reading pleasure today. Here you go!

(He is wearing a full-leg support stocking on the non-hurt leg.) “Why is my white leotard dirty? Lin, how come it’s dirty?” I explained that he kneeled on the floor in the van to get his heavily medicated self into the vehicle for the ride home. “Well that carpet in the van is FILTHY!” (Not really.) I told him that we have another one that is clean for him to put on later. “Oh! I have two pair. Is it two pair or two pairs? Two pair. Two pairs. Do you know, Lin?” (He only has one pair.)

(To our two teenage boys) “What did you guys do today? … I had surgery!” (No duh!)

I asked Rick if he needed some pillows to prop himself up. “Yeah, some pillows or a hockey bag.” (How comfortable!)

“Lin, are you getting my pain pills at CSV?” (It’s called CVS.)

“Can I have some more pizza?” I explained that he couldn’t because he was supposed to take eating slowly after surgery. “I am going slow! It took me forever to eat those two pieces!”

(While I’m at the store….) “Nora, just bring me a piece of pizza and I will pay you a dollar. Your mom’s gone. She won’t know.” (Nice!)

Nora's 4th Gotcha Day 005

(We were having a party dinner for Nora because it was her Gotcha Day, four years since she joined our family.) “How come everything is purple?

(Nora started opening her gifts.) “What is taking her so long?” (It had been eight seconds.) “Someone help her!… Keeve, help your sister!… Is she almost done opening her birthday presents?”

(Nora opened a purple headband.) “Is that a halter top?” (Oh my!)

I wanted to take a picture of Nora and her Daddy for Gotcha Day. When I finished, Rick asked, “Who else wants to get their picture taken with me?” Both boys said, “No, I’m good!” Rick yelled, “Keeve get over here!” So we have pictures of the boys both laughing so hard as they get their pictures taken with him.

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Nora's 4th Gotcha Day 012

“I’m really hungry. I haven’t eaten for 20 hours.” I reminded him of the two pieces of pizza he just ate and told him to drink his water. “I will! Holy smokes, this straw is HUGE!”

“Hey…. um… are the Oilers playing tonight?” (Edmonton Oilers, his favorite hockey team.) Austin replied sarcastically, “Yes, and the score is two to three and Gretzky just scored!” (Gretzky hasn’t played on the Oilers since the early 90s.) “The Oilers SUCK this year!” (He would NEVER say this, even though it’s true.)

I suggested that Nora go share a purple Tic-Tac with her father. “Yeah, I won’t choke. I’m good!” (Sure you are, honey!)

“What day is it?” Tuesday. “It’s cheap night at the theaters!” (You’re not going anywhere, Superman.)

What year is it?” Austin, again, sarcastically answers, 1987. “Hey, that’s the year I got married.” Then he looked around at the three kids with this confused look on his face and said, “I must have had insta-kids!”

Our daughter called from Oklahoma to enjoy the festivities surrounding anesthesia. Her father explained all about Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey and how she is the tall one with dark hair who is grieving because her husband died. (WOW!)

Then our daughter’s boyfriend got on the phone and Rick asked when he is coming to visit. He replied December 26th. “Oh! Boxing Day! That’s the day before wrestling day, but you’re not supposed to do that until you’re married!” (What in the world???? I apologize on his behalf, John.)

And the entire night he kept asking, “WHAT is so funny?”  You are, dear. You just can’t make this stuff up!

THE Bun Recipe…. you’re welcome!

November 27, 2014

Buns 008

This recipe was given to me about 20 years ago by my across-the-back-alley neighbor in Spruce Grove, Alberta… Coral.  She’s a rock star! I make them every Thanksgiving and most Christmases and some Easters. They are dangerously delicious. Ask my son Keeve who ate at least ten before Thanksgiving dinner! True story!

Coral and Linda’s Buns (They used to just be called Coral’s buns……)

4 c. flour
2 T. fast rising yeast
1 t. salt
Mix together dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl: 1/3 c. oil
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
3 c. very warm water.
Beat wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients.
By hand, mix in 3-4 more cups of flour.
Let rise 15 min.
Punch down.
Let rise 15 min.
Punch down
Let rise 20 min.
Shape into buns the size of a golf ball.
Let rise 30-60 min.
Bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes.
Makes 48 3” buns.

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Buns 006

Buns 007

Painted FABRIC… oh yes!

November 16, 2014

Here is the tale of the ugly bench that is now the darling bench.  I’ve read for many years about painting fabric to re-do furniture.  I finally jumped in with both feet and finished my first of many painted fabric projects. Feast your eyeballs on what I started with… the ugly bench.

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Maroon and orange… who thought up that mess?  I researched many types of mediums to use and this one seemed the most economical and straight forward to mix and use.

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That white bottle is Martha Stewart’s tintable fabric medium. They are $5.99 at Michael’s so use your 50% off coupon! I used two kinds of paint, just because I already had one… the Valspar “Aqua Ocean” sample and the Craft Smart cheap turquoise. The mixture is one part Martha’s medium to two parts paint. I used up two bottles of Martha’s mixture and probably have 1/4 of the paint/medium left over.

DIY front room 004

One trick I read that sure worked well was to spray the whole piece once over with water before each coat of paint. It helped the fabric absorb the paint.

DIY front room 005

I taped off the wood with masking tape. Not the best results.  Next time I will use blue painter’s tape. Here are the results of one coat of paint:

DIY front room 009

After the first coat of yummy turquoise dried over night, I sanded the whole thing with sand paper.  Yes, you read that right.  It turned the crunchy hard fabric back into nice soft fabric. I sanded between each coat after it was thoroughly dried. It took four coats of paint to completely hide the maroon color.

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Here is the half way finished bench in our entry way… the fabric is done, but I still want to paint the wooden arms and legs, but I can’t decide on a color, and people were coming over… so there is sits.  My littlest one is so excited because she asked if one of those baskets could be ONLY hers for her shoes and whatnot… I said yes.

DIY front room 022

This makes me happy.

One Step Forward….

November 8, 2014

…Two Steps Back.  That has been my week.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

BEFORE…. please stand by for AFTER.

The walls in our entry, living room, dining room and stairwell have been brown for 9.5 years. I realized I didn’t like the color the DAY we painted it on the blinkin’ walls. A re-do was definitely overdue times 10, so a misty mountain light turquoise color was chosen and has been applied to the x-brown walls…. in two layers, unfortunately. The only area not complete is the stairwell. It’s my nemesis at the moment. I am highly distracted by EVERY other thing possible so I don’t have to conquer the stairwell til I’m ready… like washing windows, shopping for new lamp shades, painting baskets, searching for treasures around the house to move to their new place in the misty mountain terrain.

Monday: Figured out we need DOUBLE the paint amount…bummer. Back to Lowe’s.

Tuesday: Sanded three layers of paint from my darling DIY end tables in an attempt to make them look rustic… and I hate it. Starting over. Need more paint… again. Back to Lowe’s.

Wednesday: Shopping for a bench, couch and ottoman…. came home with three velvet pillows, two turquoise and one orange.

Thursday: In trying to re-hang the curtains, 3 of 8 wall screws with supports were pulled from their resting places, leaving large holes…. filled the holes. Need larger supports and bigger screws. Back to Lowe’s.

Friday: Shopping for a bench, couch and ottoman… came home with two gorgeous lampshades.

Saturday: Climbed up the ladder to clean the dining room hanging light. All cleaned… then I screwed the gigantic light bulb back in and the glass bulb separated from the metal screwing part…. back to Lowe’s.

Some day, hopefully in November, I will share the after pictures of the misty mountain oasis in the Sonoran Desert. The real story would be the daily pictures of me wearing painting clothes and not swearing. Sheesh.

Does God still Speak Today?

October 30, 2014

Almost four years ago, God spoke very plainly to me four times within a half hour through a Christian radio station. Now quit shaking your heads, you naysayers! Read on, and judge for yourselves.

Nora

We accepted an adoption referral for our little Colombian princess on a Friday night in November 2010. We assumed with Colombian courts closing from Dec. 15 – Jan. 15 we would be traveling to get our daughter in the new year. We discovered on Saturday that we could actually complete all the in-country paperwork IF we left for Cali, Colombia in FOUR days. That’s 96 hours, in case that seemed like plenty of time to you. We purchased our plane tickets on Sunday night for the following Wednesday, and then my Dad and I drove seven hours one-way to the Beverly Hills, California Colombian Consulate to obtain our visas.

Late Monday night as I was driving home to Arizona on Highway 10 with my Dad sleeping in the seat beside me, I tuned into a Christian radio station, attempting to get my racing mind off the 2,727 things I had to do in the following 36 hours. I had lots of questions for God. And I wanted answers. There were several loose ends that needed to be securely tied up before we took off on Wednesday morning. It was one of those moments when you are so completely at the end of your rope you plead, “O.K., God, time to show up. We have no other option than You working this out. Please, please, please answer a few questions for me….. NOW! I have been pretty patient for FOUR years… but right now, it’s game time.”

At that moment, feeling feeble and vulnerable before the God of the universe, I looked out the side windows and was surprised that I could see the cacti and sage brush on the sides of the highway in the middle of the night. Craning my neck to find the moon, it was indeed one of the brightest nights I had ever witnessed in my life. Then I recognized the lyrics to the song that was playing by The Afters.

Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me You are with me
I I I can’t deny
No I can’t deny that You are right here with me
You’ve opened my eyes
So I can see You all around me

O.K., Good! was my first thought! I’ve got God’s attention for a nanosecond, I better not waste this opportunity!

Our funding for the adoption was only 2/3 accounted for……TWO days before departure. I sort of lamented to the Lord reminding Him that I had done ALL I knew to do for fundraising. I reminded Him (because He might have forgotten) that He funds what He favors. I had given it my ALL for four years and I had nothing left to give. (Like He didn’t know that either.) I also reminded Him that He promised to complete what He started. Then the song No Matter What by Kerrie Roberts started seeping through the speakers.

I’m running back to Your promises, one more time
Lord that’s all I can hold on to
I’ve got to say this has taken me by surprise
But nothing surprises You

Once again, O.K., Good! I was reassured that God was not surprised by this whirlwind trip to South America. So I brought up our main dilemma …. if we don’t have enough funds for our whole family to stay in Colombia for a month, should we leave the boys behind? Our boys were 12 and 14 at the time. They could have stayed with their Grandparents, but I really felt that this was a family bonding time for all of us. We had until midnight Monday to cancel the boys’ plane tickets. So I asked, “God, do we take the boys or not?” It was Tobymac’s turn to bring God’s answer to me in his song City on Our Knees.

Tonight couldn’t last forever
We are one choice from together
As family
We’re family

Tonight’s the night
For the sinners and the saints
Two worlds collide
In a glorious display
Cuz its all love tonight
When we step across the line
We can sail across the sea

At that point, the tears streamed down my face. Our choice was clearly to stay together as a family. So incredibly awesome! So God was going to show up BIG TIME …. tomorrow, because that was the last day. The 11th hour. It was time. I couldn’t wait to see how this played out!

Right after Tobymac helped us decide to take our boys to Colombia, Matthew West sang to my soul, just for some more reassurance about the whole adoption gig. Here is part of his song My Own Little World.

Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose?
That I could be living right now

I don’t wanna miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start living right now

The remainder of the drive home was filled with thankfulness, a grateful heart, humility that we are called to care for one of God’s chosen children, and supreme faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Nora. I was riding higher than a kite on a faith walk that shielded my heart from doubt. I knew God was going to show up tomorrow. I didn’t know how, or through whom, but I KNEW He would.

And He did.

As Plain as the Mud on my Face!

October 27, 2014

Oh! How I wish I had pictures of this great story to share with you, but alas, they are feeble.

Camping. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but we really enjoy it. Spending time outside soaking up the smell and sights and sounds of God’s creation is exhilarating to us.Two weeks ago we hooked up with four other families and ventured off to spend four days in the great outdoors. Bliss!

The very first day, several people went hiking, but one other dad (Dad #2) and myself stayed behind to watch the crowd of kids who wanted to take a dip in the creek and swim in the pool. Yes, this campground had a pool. Posh, I realize. The sun was shining, the wind was refraining from tousling our hair and the gurgling of the creek was calling to us.

camping lolomai MY LEG 010

Look very closely at the small patch of brick-colored muddy bank on the left side of this picture. It seems harmless. It was not. That was the slipperiest mud on God’s green earth. I told the girls several times, “Be careful! The mud is slippery!” The girls dragged me, my backpack and my folding chair to a place up the creek to a delectable rope swing with four huge knots. To my surprise, all three girls took turns swinging out over the water, but not dropping in as it was a tad chilly. I was standing still in the slippery mud. Then I was lying face down in the awful tasting slippery mud. In between those two events there was a loud scream and involuntary throwing of the backpack and the folding chair. I landed on my knees, my elbows and my face. Lovely. I so wish I had a picture of my mud-caked self. Slowly I stood and started to wipe the mud off my arms and face and spit out the mud and gravel that didn’t taste so yummy.

The kids who I was “watching” and five other boys circled me with mouths a gaping and wide eyes. Mama down. Red Alert! Using my water bottle, one of the boys (a stranger!) slowly poured into my hands so I could “wash” them and then rinse my face. I knew I needed a shower but then one of the other boys yelled, “Your leg is bleeding really badly!” Glancing down, I noticed the front of one shin was muddy brown and the other was bright red. Blood red, to be exact.  A large gash was just starting to pain me in my right knee. We poured some of the bottled water on the cut and then I held it shut with Kleenex, because we all know that Kleenex is sanitary and won’t fall apart or get inside a large gash.

The girls ran to find Dad #2. The boys ran off too, I wasn’t sure where. Slowly I limped up the path, holding my Kleenexed knee. The first campsite I arrived at harbored a full-on 38-foot motor coach, complete with a fancy “camping” lady with large, coiffed blonde hair, a long skinny cigarette, a three carat diamond ring on her manicured tennis-bracelet-ed hand and a newly-shaved white poodle with a green bow on each ear. At first site of a muddy, bloody woman limping out of the jungle she dropped that poor dog, put her smoke on a wood pile (!) and ran for her hose to help me get cleaned up. When asked what I needed I requested a cup of water to rinse and spit several times. The kind lady hosed off my pants, legs and shoes. I remember mentioning her smoking woodpile at some point, and there wasn’t a fire later, so she must have taken care of it.

Some of the boys who had witnessed my downfall returned with their very German father and a very well equipped first aid kit. At this point Dad #2 from our group drove up with the rescue vehicle. I was patched up and put in the car on several of the kind lady’s towels. Five stitches, three x-rays and three hours later, we were back at the campground eating grilled cheese sandwiches.  Easy peasey.

Five stitches. No biggie. I figured it would slow me down for a day or two. I figured incorrectly. An infection set in and my wounded leg turned burning-hot red and swelled up from my knee to my foot. Then I got to go visit another ER! A shot in my backside and some strong antibiotics were administered. I was on the couch for NINE DAYS!  NINE DAYS! Because of some slippery mud! The infection stayed for two weeks, but it finally relented and I could walk again.

So the moral of the story is: don’t cry over slippery mud…. no…. falls well that bends well… no… as plain as the mud on my face…… my way or the mud way….. five stitches in time saves nine?… (I’ll quit now.)

A Little Reminder from God

October 16, 2014

Several months ago our family found out about friends who were in need of some help. Sickness had struck their home with a vengeance and last but not least, the mama was down. RED ALERT! Mama Down! This is not your ordinary mama either. Buckle up. God, the father to the fatherless, called this beautiful lady to foster/adopt six kiddos… and homeschool them….. as a single mama. She takes my breath away.

I met her at homeschool park day when her last two littles were two-month-old twins. It didn’t take much persuading for me to help hold one of those little darling girls. This mama has been on my heart ever since that day. How can we help her?  What can we do to support her in this call from God? We need to be God’s hands and feet for her!

Back to the RED ALERT!, we stepped in for two days and did what we saw needed to be done…. babies bathed, bathrooms cleaned, dishes washed, dirty clothes laundered, meals prepared, games played and stories read. Her children truly are blessings, well behaved, loving and helpful. (Isn’t it every mother’s prayer that her own children are seen in this light!?)

While we were on duty, mama fainted and thankfully I was right next to her. Not that I helped with the descent or the crash landing, but I made sure we went down NOT on hard surfaces or pokey things or gooey stuff. See?  I’m helpful! In directing her away from a wooden shelf, the back of my hand came in contact with a corner of said hard, wooden shelf. My hand was bruised, but the skin was not broken. No big deal.

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(Gosh, my hands look old. When did that happen?)

It’s been three months, maybe four, since that fateful day and the little mark on the back of my hand has not gone away AT ALL. It doesn’t appear to be on it’s way out of my life. It has scarred into a cute, little silvery-pink line. It winks at me every day and whispers to me that I need to pray for that mama. It’s God’s little reminder to me that we all need prayer. He will do what He needs to do to remind us daily to lift up each other to His throne of grace.

Who do you need to pray for today? Just do it! (I stole that from a shoe company.)

Milestone Day at the Homestead

August 13, 2014

My little Colombian princess went to the movies last night with her Daddy.  Bedtime was delayed almost two hours from the usual schedule!  This little girl sleeps 10 1/2 to 11 hours EVERY NIGHT!  It is God’s little gift to ME!  But, as we have experienced, she doesn’t do well with LESS than 10 hours of sleep. Tiredness makes her moody and sassy.  If there’s one thing this mama don’t want is more sass in the house. ‘Nough said.

This year is an adjustment to our whole household as son #2’s band class got moved to first hour at the local high school.  Yes, we still homeschool, but homeschool marching band doesn’t exist so he goes to Wind Ensemble every blinkin’ morning at 7:45.  Last year I had to wake up at 8:15 to get him to second hour band…. this year will be interesting, for sure.

More back story.  Our little princess had a few previous issues with being left alone so we have made sure that she is NEVER by herself… ever. She is 11 years old and very responsible, but we wanted to make sure she always felt safe with us.  This past summer is the first time I left her alone at the house while I took her brothers and their friends up to go swimming… two miles away. She rolled her chocolate eyes at me and assured me that she would be fine by herself with the dogs and chickens.  She was.  When I returned eight minutes later I asked her if she looked out the front window.  “I did! Because I wanted to check if you were really going to leave me or not.”  hahahaha.

Remember the slumbering princess this morning?  Well, I decided to leave her having visions of sugarplums in her head instead of waking her up for the drive to school.  This is the first time I have left her alone without telling her first.  I put this note on the dirty bathroom mirror:

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As I suspected, she didn’t even wake up until 8:55.  But I forgot to take down the note.  DOH! Thankfully I was talking on the phone and she knew I was there before she read the news of my abandoning her.  Whew!  Catastrophe averted.

 


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