Aug 24, 2009

Ethan was here ...

Humm...Grandma's kitchen floor seems a bit dirty today...

See there, it's a cheerio!

and what's up with this thing?

I better make sure she doesn't have any of my toys in here...

I didn't know I was strong enough to pull this thing right off the wall!
Why is Grandma freaking out??

I've never done this before, but while she's not looking I think I'll try...

Wow, this is really HARD work!

Perhaps I should just play a while with my own stuff...

or go outside and swing with my sister and the neighbor kids!

Aug 23, 2009

Party of Nine...

Ohio's first and only sextuplets live in my hometown, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I am so impressed with this family that I want to tell you about them, in case you don't already know. I don't know them personally, but I have heard their mother, Jennifer Hanselman, speak at a local library, and I have a signed copy of her first book, Party of Nine (Saddlepoint Publishing, Hudson, Ohio, 2006). I see from her website that there is a second book out now, and I can't wait to read it.

Jennifer Hanselman, her husband, Keith, their older son, Conner, and the sextuplets, Isabella, Sophia, Kyle, Logan, Alex, and Lucy, live in a normal looking house in a normal looking neighborhood. As far as I know, they don't have a TV reality show, body guards, or crooked little playhouses for each kid in their backyard.

Jennifer Hanselman has an amazing sense of humor when she shares her story through her talks and writings. I laugh out loud hysterically every time I read them.

One time my sister called me from her cell phone, laughing hysterically herself. She said she was in the parking lot at Wal*Mart watching "that family with all those kids" trying to get them into their van. While perhaps the Hanselman family didn't think the outing was so much fun, well, they'll have more perspective in about 20 years!

Seriously, I am so grateful for the witness of this family. They are Christians who sought fertility assistance so they could have a couple children. The first go-around resulted in their older son, Conner. Eighteen months later, they decided they wanted to try for another child. Using every available financial asset they had, they went for the same expensive treatments again. When the ultrasound showed six heartbeats, Jennifer's first reaction was something like "I don't want to be a headline!"

Her doctor used every persuasive argument to try to get the Hanselman's to use a procedure known as "selective reduction", where they would terminate the lives of three or four of the babies by injecting poison into their little beating hearts. Certainly there were very real risks for both mother and babies, and the doctor constantly put pressure on these parents not to try to carry all six babies.

Jennifer says, "The fertility doctor was very angry when I told him we were going for it, all or nothing. He increased the pressure at every visit, telling us more and more about the horrible things we could expect, but my heart told me to be strong and trust God. We prayed and tried to resign ourselves to whatever God had in store for us. We would keep as many as we were given, no matter what condition they were in." (Party of Nine, page 10) They ended up transferring to a different high-risk obstetrician who promised to do everything within his power to give all concerned the best chance possible.

All six babies were born safely by C-Section within the same minute at 28 weeks, weighing between 1# 9 oz. and 2# 10 oz. All were able to come home from the hospital over the course of three weeks. The Hanselman's were grateful for 70 regular volunteers they had from their church and community who gave them round-the-clock help in feeding and caring for the babies. Jennifer says, "One thing we never got accustomed to was the outpouring of support from all over the world. It especially touched us deeply that our community cared so much about our family and gave so many gifts and donations to help us provide for them." and "We tried to be as open as possible about our kids, hoping to share the joy of them with the thousands of people who had prayed for their safe delivery." (both quotes from Party of Nine, page 12)

I hope you will have a couple minutes to take a look at the website where you will find some pictures, and also give praise to the Lord for His goodness and mercy extended to this family. And if you need some good humor in your life, order the books...guaranteed you won't be disappointed!

Aug 21, 2009

My latest trip to the flea market...

I took my mom and the the two grandkids I babysit to the flea market yesterday. We didn't get there as early as we should have, but there were still plenty of outdoor booths to shop, and there was a nice breeze which was a contrast to the 85-90 degree temps we've been having lately. Ethan was very happy to be pushed along in the stroller and Elylah was her normal 'happy shopper" self. All she really cared about was that she could get some popcorn, which she did!

Mom found a cute little "blue & white" *made in Thailand* tea pot for only $3 that is actually shaped like an elephant. She plans to give it to her friend who collects tea pots and who been going through some trying times lately.

Right off the bat I forked over $2 for this pewter cup. It was made by Royal Holland Daalderop Pewter and has old European style scenes in relief all around it. I think my son Andy in SC will really like it, so it goes to him.

Next, I spotted a set of pewter salt & pepper shakers. The guy wanted $10 for them, and I initially passed. We walked around for a while, and went down the fresh produce aisles and bought a couple things including a huge head of cabbage for $1. Then I decided I would try to find the man with the salt & pepper shakers again and I would go ahead and try to negotiate a deal. (smile)

Well, here they are. I couldn't, with a clear conscience, low ball him too much because I really liked these! So I just asked if he could "take anything less". He said he would take $9. Good enough for me this time. They were made by Wilton Pewter (PA) and I have a couple other pieces by that company.

After shopping and all that walking around, we treated ourselves to chicken dinners (with an Entertainment coupon of course) at a nearby restaurant which specializes in Belgrade (in the former Yugoslavia) style cooking. I always order "double" hot sauce when I go there, which is only maybe once a year...but oh so good!

It was a really nice day, and as always I enjoyed the grandchildren. Mom was happy to get out and walk around as she is still recovering from her surgery earlier in the month. Love these summer days, even if they are numbered!

Aug 19, 2009

Cash for Clunkers?


If my body were a car, this is the time I would be thinking about trading it in for a newer model. I've got bumps and dents and scratches in my finish, and my paint job is getting a little dull. But that's not the worst of it. My headlights are out of focus, and it's especially hard to see things up close.

My traction is not as graceful as it once was. I slip and slide and skid and bump into things even in the best of weather.

My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins. It takes me hours to reach my maximum speed. My fuel rate burns inefficiently.

But here's the worst of it --

Almost every time I sneeze, cough or laugh, either my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires.

CASH FOR CLUNKERS..........I QUALIFY - How about You?

Aug 18, 2009

capital murder case

Fifteen years ago I served as an alternate juror on a capital murder trial. The killing took place in my home town. The trial lasted a long time, and my kids were 10 and 14. It was a very emotionally draining time for me...sitting in the courtroom every day and then running to catch the kid's baseball games or get them to practice. I also remember my husband was traveling on business a lot during that time. I sought counsel from my pastor to try to sort out how I really felt about the death penalty. When it was all over, I didn't have to cast a vote because I was an alternate and no jurors had been removed or dropped off the case. But I had to be there and sit through it all right up to the end. And of course I had to make up my mind as well based on the facts of the case and the law.

My younger son saw this article in the paper this week and recognized it as the case I had served on.
Remember he was only 10 at the time! We have certainly not talked about this over the years. It bothers me that it made such an impression on him at such a young age that he never forgot the name of the convicted man.

Fifteen years is about the normal amount of time it takes to carry out the death sentence in Ohio. That leaves lots of time for appeals and making sure there were no errors in the case. But it sure seems like a long time for the family of the victim to wait for justice for their loved one.

I can't imagine that this man will receive any kind of clemency, but I feel no joy or satisfaction that he is scheduled to be executed in about two months. I can't help but wonder what his thinking has been over the past 15 years. Is he sorry? Has he ever contacted the victim's family? He was a next door neighbor!

And how does the victim's family feel? They were known to be a Christian family. Have they been able to forgive? Could anyone? How has this affected them for the past 15 years?

I can only pray that the grace of God might be applied to all involved, including the jurors, everyday citizens, who had to listen day after day to graphic details and then make the decision. Now that the time of the execution seems eminent, that grace is needed perhaps now more than ever. I know I need it.

Aug 17, 2009

White Chili

Last Friday my sister-in-law, Marcie, my niece, Anne Marie, and I canned 70 quarts of Garden Fresh Salsa. (see recipe on my blog post of 7/10/09) Of course I couldn't wait to try some so I made this very simple recipe for our supper tonight with the one jar that didn't seal. Some people know about it, and some don't...but it is inexpensive, nutritious, and quick, AND it tastes good...everything I like!

Notes about salsa: for variety, in some of the jars of salsa, we decided to add corn and black beans. Also, we used plum tomatoes and after cutting off the ends, chopped them up in the food processor and did NOT peel them. Just be careful to go easy and don't let them get mushy! Oh, and we also added fresh chopped cilantro.


2 - 15 oz. cans white beans, such as Great Northern
about the same amount of salsa
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 - 16 oz container light sour cream
about 1 c. cooked rice, any kind (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese
nacho chips

On the stove or in a crockpot, heat the beans, salsa, chicken just to boiling, then simmer. After about an hour, add the sour cream and rice. Keep warm on lowest heat. Serve with chips and cheese .

Note about cooked chicken: For any recipe that calls for cooked chicken, I poach it. Bring a pot of water to boil, add the chicken and bring it to boil again. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat OFF, cover the pot, and let the chicken poach until the center is white. Boneless skinless breasts take about 10 minutes. This is a great way to cook chicken for chicken salad too. It comes out very tender and moist. I learned this trick from my Aunt Mary Ann, who is a great cook.

Aug 15, 2009

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

I love the words to the old gospel song, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." The words were written by Thomas A. Dorsey (now known as the father of gospel music) back in 1932 at a time when he was probably at the lowest point in his life. He had just lost his wife and baby in childbirth, and had himself suffered several emotional breakdowns. As a gifted musician, he struggled to find his true calling in life. Finally out of his desperate circumstances, he committed his life to serving God with his music and found peace. This is his most famous work, and the song has been recorded by dozens of artists in over 40 languages.

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I’m weak, Lord I’m worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Aug 13, 2009

a fun day with the grandkids

Like I've said before, when I don't have anything to say, I can always talk about my grandchildren (big smile). I had the two Ohio ones for three days this week, which is the norm. I don't know if it's just because it's summer, or what, but I sure am having a whole lot of fun with them. So please indulge me and enjoy today's pictures!

Ethan will be 9 months old in a few days. Isn't he just adorable? Here is his (and Elylah's) ethnic mix: 1/2 Filipino; 1/8 Italian; 1/8 Icelandic; the other 1/4 made up of Welsh, Austrian, and probably some unknowns! We think it is a rather unusual blend of ethnic heritage, with stunning physical results (spoken from Grandma's perspective, of course!) Looks like it's about time for him to get his first real haircut, doesn't it?

I'm sure Ethan is thinking, "this is the life!". Check out that baby toe! Poor little guy suffers from infant eczema, which seems to flare up again as soon as it calms down. Last week it was good...this week he's a mess again.

Other than the constant itching, it doesn't slow him down a bit. He is so much happier now that he can get around on all fours!

I thought this was so cute cause it looks like he is blowing up the balloon.

I promised Elylah if she would be patient until I got Ethan down for a little morning nap, that we would make cupcakes. She was, we did! I'm so thrilled she loves to play in the kitchen with me. I never had any company with my hubby and two boys!

She loves putting on her apron that Aunt Ellie gave her, and pulling a chair up to the counter "so I can do it myself".

I really think this is remarkable concentration for a 3 year old!

The reward for a job well done is licking the bowl!

and getting the first taste!

They say hard work is its own reward...

but then you add the grandma factor, and there was plenty of time left on this hot day to spend several hours at a park with a swimming pool!

joy! joy! joy!

"Look grandma, I'm a mermaid!"

Even normally "high maintenance" Ethan just relaxed and had a great time watching all the goings on at the park...

But eventually we needed to call it a day...

and share those cupcakes with mommy and daddy!

Aug 7, 2009

some recent, random God things...

I'm presently taking a short break from yard work so I thought I'd jot down a couple things so I don't lose my little band of readership (big smile).

By the way, the zucchini casserole from last weekend turned out great and I'm secretly (even though I'm posting this is cyberspace!) hoping someone might give me some more squash so I can make more. It's so expensive to buy even in season if you don't have a garden, which I haven't for several years now. I'm thankful that my niece and sis-in-law shared their bounty with me last week.

It was good to visit with cousins last weekend. We sat around an outdoor table feasting and telling our parenting war-stories, and doing a whole lot of laughing. It was the 1st time we've ever really gotten together with these cousins socially where it wasn't a big extended family event. The two couples are younger than us, and we are flattered to have received the invitation. Families are a blessing and a gift from God. We will have an opportunity to support both these couples in the near future with various life events they are experiencing. That feels good.

This past Monday, my 80 yr old mom had carotid artery surgery. She is resting at home and so far, doing very well. As a testimony to the goodness of the Lord, I need to tell you that her 90% blockage in an artery that goes directly to the brain was discovered quite by "accident". Mom had the back of her neck x-rayed recently because of arthritis pain. Something totally unrelated to the arthritis showed on the x-ray, which led to an ultrasound, which led to a specialist and a CT scan, which led to surgery. When your surgeon says "God was in this one" you do believe it! Mom had absolutely no symptoms that anything was out-of-order, and this was caught before there was a major disaster. Praise the Lord!

I made a large lasagna with my "award-winning" sauce for mom and my siblings the night she got home from the hospital, and there was actually enough stuff left to make another 9 x 13 pan additional lasagna, so I did. I just put it in the fridge unbaked for the night till I decided what to do with it. I just had one of those "feelings" that I was supposed to give it away. Sure enough, early the next morning when I checked my e-mail, a friend in our couple's group had put out a request for meals for a friend of hers who just had serious back surgery. So I was able to wrap & freeze the lasagna until it was needed, which is today. I really don't believe in "coincidences", do you?

I had my precious little charges three days this week, and loved each and every moment. We are continuing to enjoy the nice wooden swing set in our backyard that some friends from our church gave us last year. That was, literally, an answer to prayer. I'd seen those things all over the neighborhood but with very few children playing on them. I didn't want to be quilty of coveting, but I did ask the Lord to help me find a used one for cheap since I could really use one for the grandkids. One day I was helping this friend with her garage sale as they had sold their house and were moving. I noticed the swing set in the backyard and asked if the new owners wanted it. They did not, and so there was my answer to prayer! All we had to do was rent a truck to get it to our house, get a little help from a friend, and purchase new swings & slide. This probably sounds strange, but to me it was a big deal. How well I remember that we couldn't afford a swing set when our kids were little, and now I get to watch the grandkids play from my kitchen window!

Well, I just noticed the time and my little break turned into an back to pulling weeds and some raking. Nice to visit with you. I hope you will also look for the little ways that God shows up in our lives on a daily basis. And please take time to share that. Have a great day...and as one of my friends always adds "enjoy each moment, every day is a gift".

Here's my mom and two of my grandchildren enjoying the swingset last summer when we first got it set up...That's Elylah and Deacon, who are two months to the day apart in age.

Aug 1, 2009

Zucchini time!

We are invited to a dinner tonight with some Italian cousins, and I was asked to bring a side dish. The main event is going to be brocioli, which in all honesty, I've never had it before. It is pounded, stuffed, and rolled beef of some kind! I looked it up on the internet only to find there are many different ways to make it, and I have no clue which recipe my cousin, Teresa, will use. But she is a really good cook, so I was a bit intimidated as to what I should bring as the side dish. If I make some kind of pasta to go with it, (my specialty is lasagna or stuffed shells) I am afraid it would look like I was trying to "out-do" her, and I definitely don't want that! (I'm saving my competitive gene for our family reunion next year. Last year I won the "boss of the sauce" award for my spaghetti sauce, but Teresa ALWAYS wins the dessert contest, and next year I'm planning to enter my cannolis and see if I can beat her!--see blogpost "Holy Cannoli! dated March 15, 2009)

"Lord, help!" was going through my brain all day yesterday, and by last night I got an idea. My sister-in-law, Marcie, had given me some zucchini and some yellow squash, so I started hunting for a casserole recipe. As is typical for me, I can't leave a recipe alone, so here is how I improvised one to make it "mine". I have a small dish of it baking in the oven right now so I can try it. If it isn't good, I don't know what I'll do, because I have a large casserole ready to bake so I can bring it hot tonight. By the time I am finished typing the recipe, the trial casserole will be ready for tasting!

Zucchini Casserole

6 cups cut up (peeled) zucchini
2 cups cut up yellow squash
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 tsps. chopped garlic
3 cups seasoned croutons
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. dried sweet basil (crushed between your hands)
salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything in a large bowl and turn into large casserole dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle generous amount of Parmesan cheese on top. Bake 30-45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Veggies should be slightly crunchy and not mushy!

Here it is, or I should say, here is WAS! This is really good, and passed the taste test from both me and hubby. I'm very excited and I know it will be a hit tonight, without overpowering the main event! Let me know if you try it and what you think.