Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Prayer for the Boy Who Calls Me "Gram"

I have another request this week but this time it is only for prayer, as if there truly was such a thing as "only" a prayer. And this week the intended benefactor is my own grandson.

Fen, the blog name of our 2-year-old grandson, became ill on the ride home from their Florida vacation. By the next evening he looked like a child suffering from the mumps, an illness that some of us remember from our own childhood.

The doctor on call told Fen's parents to get him to the hospital immediately as a ping-pong ball sized lump on the throat is something that needs immediate attention.  A CT scan showed an abscess that required surgery.

Yesterday was a surreal experience, both pre- and post-operative.  The underlying illness also caused him to suffer from a high fever. We were very thankful that by the time we left the hospital last night this had broken. 

This afternoon Pastor Dad received a phone call from Fen asking if we'd come play. His worn out parents were reaching the end of their reserves when it came to keeping the recovering toddler occupied so when Fen asked to call his mother gladly dialed our number.  

When we got there he was still hooked up to the i.v. (which he hates) and was in a hospital gown (which he also hates) but he looked quite presentable in his own pajama bottoms.  The hated i.v. stand didn't hinder him much as he climbed over and under beds.  We talked the nurses into providing boxes of Brio train sets that we could build on the floor.  (Even post-surgery the little guy had more energy than we did!)

Once he tired of the in-room play, his parents and I took him on a walk.  When we reached the elevators we pushed the button and he pointed at the door that he insisted would be the one to open.  Since there were at least four of them the odds didn't seem to be in his favor, but somehow I wasn't surprised when the desired one opened.  Those in the family will understand this comment that I made to Princess, "Your son seems to have inherited your 'orange gumball' magic."  She grinned and nodded.

We joined several other families walking patients through the lobby. There are child-level buttons to push, colorful murals and decorations with interesting lighting and three-dimensional features designed to entertain the little ones who pass that way.  At one point Fen wistfully watched the cars outside coming and going and his look made me wonder if he would make a break for it if he caught us off our guard.  He is obviously ready to say his farewells.  All the pain, poking, and prodding is beyond his comprehension.

In spite of his strenuous objections we made our way back to his room.  The activity had helped to expend his pent-up energy and he was ready for a nap.  He was successfully corralled in the bed and we left when he dozed off.  The play date was over.

We're praying that our little guy will be well enough to be released tomorrow.  But we're very thankful to have a quality facility such as Cincinnati Children's Hospital nearby when one of the youngest members of our family needs the care that they so ably provide.

Remember this little man in your prayers, please.  He has been such a brave little fellow!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not "Just" Another Boy and Dog Story

I guess most boys want a dog. I know The Bear just about drove me nuts a few years ago begging for a puppy. Granted,that's a short trip, but you know what I mean. The result was Pepper the Mega-Mutt, the dog who has hastened my arrival at Nutsville.

We got ol' Pep for The Bear's birthday a few years back after he broke down sobbing while reading Where The Red Fern Grows, a classic boy-and-his-dogs story. I probably should've planned his literature studies a bit more carefully that year, knowing his heart's desire. Bad teacher! Bad, bad mom!{Sigh}

Anyway, I'm about to ask your help get a dog for a boy who doesn't just want one. He needs one. His dog will be a service animal. The dog requires extensive and expensive training in order to help someone who has Autism. The boy's name is Aiden and he is the grandson of my blogging friend, Karin Ristau. Aiden and his family need help obtaining the funds for the dog's training.

I've requested donations before for various ministries that I think MATTER. And I thank those who sent them. Most of the time the highlighted ministries use our donations to help people whose faces we'll never see this side of eternity, but you can see pictures of the little guy and the dog here. Look for the pictures of Aiden and Hiro and locate the nearby donation button link.

My recent donation will only cover one hour's worth of training but every little bit helps. I plan to make further donations as I'm able.

I want to help this boy get his dog! You sure didn't hear me making that statement a few years ago!

Thanks for any help you can give.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Monday Morale Boost

This is for those of us who dislike Mondays. ("Hate" seemed such a strong word.)

There really isn't anything "ordinary" about every day life. How quickly we forget! How often we need reminded.

Enjoy this song song by Sarah McLachlan.

This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In Honor of Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the Godly fathers, including my own! In honor of the event, my blogging friend, Karin, of Yesterday, Today, Forever wrote a poem that she allowed to be copied and shared. (Thanks, Karin.)

A father's hands provide well for his family,
In quiet strength he leads and he protects.
Gently he guides, builds up, gives affirmation,
Each child in truth and tenderness corrects.
A father's soul is blessed with joy and gladness
He sees each one with tender eyes of love.
He finds new strength while listening, talking, praying
With God, His heavenly Father up above.
A father's heart is open wide for others.
He shares his faith and is a loyal friend.
Gives of himself in ways one cannot measure,
Is patient, kind, each quarrel he will mend.
A father's love, a precious, treasured blessing!
It gives assurance for the trials children face.
It conquers fear, gives strength for every testing.
May you always know his love, his heart of grace!
Karin Ristau©

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How the Contrary Garden

When we lived in Tennessee we had a large vegetable garden and I loved it!  At least I did until the weeds started growing, the bugs moved in, the crows ate most of my corn, and the weather got so hot and humid that all I wanted to do was sit inside in the air conditioning. Come to think about it, that means I only loved gardening in March and April. :)

Then we moved to this house-on-the-hill in Ohio. "Oh look! There's no place to put a vegetable garden," I murmured. "Too bad!"

I wasn't too grieved.

But the gardening bug bit me again a few years ago and I said the same words only in a more mournful tone. Now I really was grieved. To compensate for the lack of a garden plot I decided to container garden. The funny thing was, I had the perfect container sitting on my picnic table already and it was growing pansies. It wasn't until I got this book from the library a few months ago that it dawned on me that I had owned a self-watering container for many years. Whaddaya know? It could grow more than flowers! Duh!

I set out to obtain more of this type of container. I found a large one called "Patio Pickers Raised Garden Kit" at Lowe's and bought the last one. (The manufacturer also markets it through Home Depot with the slightly different name of "City Picker" as can be seen here. It's the same thing as the one I purchased locally from the competitor.)

This system is fantastic! Step-by-step instructions are included in the kit and I followed them to.the.letter. I set my "picker" on the deck right before Mother's Day, bought one tomato plant, four broccoli plants, one pepper plant, and got to work on my experiment. In the former pansy-containing container I planted a crop of leaf lettuce.

Things progressed nicely once the squirrels took the hint and stopped burying nuts in the lettuce! (They were so used to having the receptacle at their disposal they couldn't stop planting their own crop of acorns. I guess the squirrels are smarter than I am, but don't tell 'em I said so!)

One month later, my "picker" had a tall blossom-laden tomato plant, huge broccoli plants with heads in various stages of growth, and a pepper growing on the pepper plant.

My garden on the morning of June 10th

A head of broccoli

Leaf lettuce and herbs

My leaf lettuce was growing well and some of it (the ones the squirrels thinned out of the main box) were transplanted into separate pots.  I also have parsley and rosemary growing, but one of the things that I learned from the library book is that herbs do not like "self-watering" pots. They do better in the traditional type.  I started some cucumbers from seed in anticipation of transplanting into the self-watering planters once the lettuce and broccoli are picked.

Cucumber plants just waiting their turn

Then the unexpected happened!  Last Friday afternoon (the same day the pictures above were taken) we had a massive storm come through our area.  Not only did it come, but it liked our area so much that it decided to hand around awhile.  It stalled long enough to dump about 4 inches of rain and several volleys of hail in various sizes on us.

Round 1 wasn't so bad.  We got some small hail that did no damage.  In fact, we were getting ready to leave for VBS and thought we'd weathered the worst.  The sun didn't actually shine, but the sky lightened significantly and we naively got in the car and headed for the church.  Mistake!!!!  We weren't but about 1/2 mile up the road when Round 2 struck.  It packed a wallop as it pummelled us with water and hail.  The Bear and I saw a business get struck by lightening.

I really wasn't thinking about my little garden at that moment.  I checked it when I got home and found it in shambles.  If I'd had any sense of what was going to happen I would probably have wheeled the planter into the house and let it take its chances with Pepper (who would've been hiding under The Bear's bed anyway as she always does during a thunder storm!).
The garden after the storm

I spent a few days cleaning up the mess and surveying the damages. Things were not as bad as first feared. The box was deep enough to keep the roots held deeply in the soil. Once the broken foliage was removed life in the planters went on as usual.

Some of the lettuce, broccoli, and parsley for a salad

Thursday I picked the largest of the broccoli heads and cut most of the lettuce.  I left some of the lettuce roots for a second crop but pulled the rest to make room for a couple of the surviving cucumber plants.  I replaced the broccoli with a tomato plant that my dad gave me.

I am so impressed by the self-watering container gardening system that am thinking of a do-it-yourself project of making my own. I found directions (here) on the Urban Organic Gardener blog that look very interesting! We have several buckets and deli containers that would work really well.

Or here is a similar idea designed by Lifehacker and yet another one here courtesy of re-nest for building a self-watering lettuce growing stand.

As a frugal gal, I like the idea of reusing the various containers that inevitably make their way into our home for seemingly a one-use appearance. My frugality also makes me appreciate the low cost of growing some of our own vegetables. Each head of broccoli grown saves about $2 at the grocery store. That's certainly as good as, or better than, most coupons I utilize!

And as someone who rarely misses a meal, I really appreciated how good the tender lettuce and broccoli salad tasted sprinkled with just a hint of the parsley and rosemary leaves.  Mmm-mmm! The trick is to eat it before someone else does!

Pepper is a bigger menace than the squirrels!

* Basket courtesy of my friend, Mrs. G. who made this and gave it to me with goodies from her own garden 2 summers ago!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Confidential to "Life On The 'M' List"

I'm reading . . . I'm commenting.  :)

It won't let me submit them on your blog.  :(

Just wanted you to know I'm catching up on my blog reading (because my schedule has also been far from normal of late) and that I'm sorry you were sick but so glad you're feeling better.

Oh, and the baby is a cutie!!!!!

And to all of my other blog friends . . .  I'm making my way through a very long list of back-reading but I'll be by shortly to see what you've been doing of late.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Suede Parka Recycling

In my part of the world it is time to put away the coats and parkas in favor of short sleeves and swim suits. Unfortunately, my winter coat gave out on me before the winter season had ended - actually, the parka in question gave out before the winter season even began - but I couldn't bring myself to throw the suede garment away. I decided to recycle it.

The first several pieces were used by my Ohio History students to make reproduction maps. I wish I'd taken pictures of their efforts, but alas I did not so my poor representation will need to suffice.

We were studying French fur traders and the Native Americans at the time, so their maps showed waterways and trading posts and/or villages. That's Lake Erie shown at the top and a portion of the Ohio River at the bottom right. There are no land divisions shown other than the towns because this map represented the time prior to statehood. Since the students weren't little guys I allowed them to use permanent markers to draw physical features.

The students' maps used glued shell and wooden beads to mark settlements instead of the colored markers shown here. Then they each used a portion of the faux fur from my parka's hood, combined with bits of the coat's original belt, to tie their maps up into a roll. At the end of the year several of them mentioned that this was one of their favorite projects.

Map of Ohio Territory

I still had plenty of scrap suede even after the map activity so I set my hand to making a bolo jacket for the girls' Barbies from some of the smaller pieces.  Here is the doll that I borrowed (and which they never realized was absent from their stash).  She has since been returned, but I haven't given them the jacket yet.  It isn't gift quality, but I haven't found the right moment.

Barbie modeling her suede bolo jacket

And now it is summer and I'm still finding pieces of suede in my scrap stash. I decided to use part of it to decorate the strap of an inexpensive pair of flip-flops. 

I bought all of the craft items at Hobby Lobby today.  Being the frugal gal that I am, I am pleased to say that many of the notions were on sale.  There's a 40% off coupon at http://www.hobbylobby.com/ this week for the Vintaj charms shown.  The flip flops were also on sale.  The leather cord and beads were full price, but there is so much of each left over that I intend to make some jewelry, too.

Here's the finished product.  Well, okay.  Technically it's only half of the finished product since I have two feet, but once I got the first shoe finished I had to quit and get caught up on some housework.  Specifically, I needed to do our laundry.

I did mention that we had VBS last week, right?  Well, I had the foolish mistaken notion that I could keep up with my chores last week in spite of the additional time constraints. It wasn't to be.  (Just goes to show I must be an optimist in disguise!)  If I didn't stop and do some laundry today the residents of this house would be running around  - uh - unclothed.

Well, I supposes there might still be enough of the suede left to make primitive loin cloths for the guys and scant coverings for me.  Now there's a craft the pre-adolescents in my Ohio History class would really have rated highly! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Did You Miss Me?

Or did you even notice I was gone?

Matters of life and death have kept me away from you recently.

The "life" matters have been a whole lot more fun.

  • Three of our children had birthdays in May. (Oh, yeah. I blogged briefly about those.)
  • One of our children and her husband graduated from college in May. (Oh, yeah. I blogged about that also.)
  • I didn't tell you that I orchestrated a major church banquet for both men and women in honor of Mother's Day and the upcoming Father's Day.  And then I panicked when my planned guest speakers (a husband and wife team) cancelled 3 days before the event. :( Not to worry! The Lord worked everything out because He obviously had other plans. And His plans turned out very well indeed.
  • Well, okay, then. Did I tell you that my father-in-law, son-in-law, and grandson have birthdays on three consecutive days in June? And did I mention those were last week? I thought not. We celebrated Fen's second birthday yesterday (and his other grandma hosted a fine shindig for him!) and we celebrated Fen's daddy's birthday today. Whew!
  • Did I also mention our church had Vacation Bible School last week? No? We did. I taught a class of kindergarten age kids. I'm still recovering. :)
  • I won't tell you about the Mother's Day lunch menu that . . ., well, I'll stop there. Let's just say that all of the guests were fed anyway. :)
  • It wouldn't be right not to tell you that many hours during the month of May were spent downstairs because of tornados and major storms. You have no idea what it is like to be in such close quarters with a scaredy-cat dog in such moments!I'm not sure all the bruises have healed yet.
  • Then we had a major, MAJOR rainfall of about 4 inches within a couple of hours this past Friday that turned just about every street within a 5 mile radius of home into raging rivers. I watched 2 or 3 cars sliding off "the hill" on loose gravel that had washed down from somewhere and onto the road. I headed my car in the opposite direction only to lose visibility within minutes due to bucket loads of water hitting the windshield. What I did see was a lightening strike to a nearby telephone/electricity pole. I didn't stick around long enough to see the fire department respond.
  • My family and I participated in an event last week called "Cross the Bridge for Life" to benefit our local crisis pregnancy centers.
Yes, "life" has been busy. We had something going on every Sunday in May and most of the other days as well. Both June Sundays have similarly been busy, as have the weekdays.

But that "death" part was what really threw us into a tailspin. The departure of souls into eternity added actions that cannot be comprehended as mere dates on a calendar.
  • Since Easter (which was 7 weeks ago: today is the recognition of the Day of Pentecost) Pastor Dad has preached 8 funerals. Not all of the dearly departed were members of our church, but all were somehow connected to it. Pastor Dad takes that "pastor" part very seriously and visits not only his flock but their loved ones as well, consequently he gets asked to participate in many funerals. These last few weeks have been very grievous one.
  • I sang at a funeral for the first time. It wasn't my singing debut but it was my funeral solo premier. Oh, my! I thought singing solo in public in general was stressful, but it's nothing compared to that of singing at a funeral! And I'm aware that it isn't "about me." But I was acutely aware that it would not be a good time for a major mess up or melt down.
As you can see, a manic May is quickly becoming a jump-to-it June. I've been here, but I've just not been here much of late.