Gratituesday — Ice!

Laura, at Heavenly Homemakers, posts so many recipes I love to make and eat! She also posts a blog carnival every Tuesday I have always wanted to participate in. But, each Tuesday morning when I check my blogs, I can never seem to come up with something I am soo overwhelmingly grateful for (honestly, even grateful for at all, but clearly I’m not looking at the small things, but that’s another story), that I felt I had to shout about it from the rooftops. But today is different. Today I do!

Two weeks ago our cabinet installers came to put in our new kitchen cabinets and countertops. The week before, Hubby and I (really, just Hubby) had torn out our old cabinets, pulled out the fridge, and painted in those last, hard to reach spots. Because of the way the previous counter top had been installed, we knew once we pulled the fridge out it wasn’t going back in until the installers arrived. That was fine, except when we pulled it out, we had to seperate it from the water line for our ice maker. No big deal. We still had some ice. All was fine and dandy. Then, once the fridge was replaced, the ice maker wouldn’t work. And it wouldn’t work. For three weeks I didn’t have any ice! I couldn’t have cold drinks without ice. I couldn’t have smoothies without ice. And boy was I really craving a smoothie! So, one night, my handy hubby decided it was finally time to take apart the ice maker! And he found the problem. And he fixed it! And he came running in with the ice bucket to show me our first new pieces of ice. In celebration, all of us, even the Wonder-Puppy, had a piece to suck on and enjoy the wonderful, icey-coolness of ice once again.

Today, I am thankful that I can have ice, and that it is so abunantly available to me. I’m also grateful that I have a handy Hubby who can take apart (and put back together) an ice maker and fix the problem for me.

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A Year and a Week Ago…

Enjoying a short walk together at the reception.

A year and a week ago, Hubby (who I really should start referring to as Ducky — its so much more fun!) and I got hitched! Neither one of us can believe has year as past already; the time has just flown by. I can hardly believe a year ago, I only got a few fitful hours of sleep, felt sick to my stomach and thought I really couldn’t walk down the aisle and make it through the ceremony. In fact, shortly after getting dressed, I considered what my mother’s reaction would be if I told her I didn’t think I could go through with it. Then we were joined by my lovely bridesmaids, and the time flew by until my dad came to get us to walk down the aisle. In fact, we were having such a grand old time, none of us were ready when we were told we needed to head out! Once I made my way down to Hubby/Ducky, it seemed like I blinked and the ceremony was over. When we walked out and into a small room where we had a few moments alone, we looked at each other and said, “that was it!?” (after a nice kiss and laughing and all that good stuff). We couldn’t believe we had waited and planned for soo long to be husband and wife and it all came together in such a short time!

I wanted to share a special moment from our ceremony. We had two scripture readings, the first was the typical 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, and the second was Ephesians 3:14-21.

When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Farther, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts and you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.

This means more to me a year later than it did when it was read at our wedding, and I’ll confess I didn’t really hear it too well at the ceremony. Already I have seen Christ bring together and bring about things in my life I never imagined were possible. I have seen, in this difficult first year of marriage, that the more we have trust Christ, the more each of us have individually sought to make Him the most important thing in our lives, the closer we have become and the less difficult the process of building a marriage has become. I feel like I have seen some of the depths of love the human heart is capable of, and yet God loves more than that — even more than I or my husband are capable of loving one another. I know as my marriage continues, as it opens to include children, and someday grandchildren, I will find even more meaning in this passage.

It has been a wonderful year, and I look forward to many, many more. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us!

Happy Anniversary Honey!

Back to Africa – Timotea

I’m skipping over the better part of my time in Kenya to bring you this story, but I don’t think you’ll mind too much. This story comes from my two-month stay in the little African nation called Lesotho; it is the story of Timotea.

Timotea was abandoned by his mother, who was HIV positive. If memory serves me, he was found by a police officer under a tree, and eventually brought to the orphanage just outside of the capital city. When he came, he was taken to the hospital for an HIV test, where it was found he was positive. Since his mother couldn’t be found, he was drinking formula and receiving medicines and good, loving care. I know many people prayed he would eventually test negative. I arrived in Lesotho and meet Timotea shortly before he was18 months old. I had only known him for a few weeks when I accompanied two other volunteers, a local worker, and four babies to the hospital for some tests and check-ups — it was time for Timotea’s 18-month HIV re-test. For those of you who may not know, if a baby is born to an HIV positive mother, if they are not breast fed, and have a good diet and good care, they can actually become negative.

I ended up holding Timotea as we sat in the hallway waiting for each child to be called back for their tests. I didn’t expect to go back with him, since I was a new volunteer, but he was called while the long-term workers were with other children, and so I back I went into one of the smallest exam rooms I have ever been in. The nurse, thankfully, spoke English, but I still had a difficult time understanding her. She asked me questions about Timotea’s development, like if he was talking. As far as I had heard, he hadn’t said any words I could understand, but he babbled, and I figured a good bit of what I heard as “babbling” could probably be baby talk in Sesotho. I answered yes. She had me hold Timotea tight with one arm, and hold his hand steady with the other while she pricked his finger for the blood test. She squeezed a tiny amount of blood onto a small strip, and stuck it into a small, plastic thing. It reminded me of a very small pregnancy test. Then, she left the room. I sat there, holding a cotton ball to Timotea’s finger, cradling him tight, as I watched a band of pink appear at the end of the strip. We sat there, wedged between the desk and the wall, watching the pink seep up the strip, revealing an answer I could not understand. I wished desperately I could read the test, wished the nurse had not left the room, and I prayed a short prayer that Timotea would not be positive. I prayed the wonderful, smart, curious child I held in my arms would not find out he would live a short life, one where he would be ostracized from society, one that condemned him to a painful death. I didn’t want that for him, for anyone. I couldn’t imagine it.

After what seemed like an eternity, the nurse returned, glanced at the test and said, “Timotea, he is negative.” My heart leaped. Negative! I wanted to rejoice. I wanted her to rejoice with me! Instead, she bent down, scribbled something on a piece of paper, and told me to take him somewhere else so he could have a blood test. I didn’t understand, and she didn’t explain. I walked out and told the volunteer, who had been their nearly two years, and told her Timotea had tested negative, but that he needed to get another blood test. He explained that if a child originally tested positive, and later tested negative in the finger prick test, they had to have another blood test (done with a larger amount of blood) to confirm that they were indeed negative. We took poor little Timotea to yet another room to have more blood drawn, this time from a giant stab in the groin (ouch!). Then, we waited. And waited. And waited some more. In reality, we probably waited about a week for the results, but it felt like an eternity. Finally, we received the news that he was, truly, negative!

It’s been four years since that day, and I have no idea where Timotea is now. I do know though, that wherever he is, he is no doubt happy and healthy. He was 18 months old when I met him, and today he would be over five and a half. Nearly six. He’s in the first grade, going to school, playing with friends, with siblings. Someday, he’ll fall in love with a girl, get married, and start a family. Someday, he’ll do things that might never have happened. I don’t know under what circumstances his mother left him, what she thought or hoped the outcome might be. If it was a difficult decision. If she loved him. If she had cared for him until she simply couldn’t anymore. If she was unmarried and her family would not support her if she had a child. I don’t know. I do know, that in abandoning him, whether she meant to or not, she helped save his life.

Granddaddy

Christmas 1992

They told me you were sick
before our visit that Christmas.
You answered the door, your head
shimmering like the gold ornaments
hidden in your tree’s inner branches. The forest
of your hair had been suddenly bulldozed,
and one lone, proud hair stood erect
clinging to life.
When you stooped down to hug me, my heart
dropped out of my eyes, sharp pin pricks beating.

Works for me Wednesday – Assets

Two weeks ago, as I went to a my brother-in-law’s wedding, I had a problem. I had planned to wear a cream and silver sheath dress that I loved, but I had gained a little weight (eek!) before hand that had blessed me with some more curves in some places I didn’t really want them. So, I set out on a search for Spanx that spanned my small town. Everywhere I went and asked, “do you carry Spanx?” I was met with, “No, but I think________carries them.” Yeah, never found any retailer here who had them. Then I remembered I had read somewhere that Target carried a Spanx-like product. So, the evening before we were due to leave, I hustled myself to Target. And there, in the lingerie  department of Target, was my holy grail — Assets. These are actually made by the woman who created Spanx, and they worked wonders for me! I felt comfortable, looked smooth, and as an extra bonus, my tush was suddenly a lot firmer than it ever has been. Perfect! The only problem I had, was that I wasn’t sure what size I needed. I bought two, tried them both, then returned the size I decided wouldn’t work. Assets sure do work for me, for more about what works for others, check out Rocks in my Dryer.

Works For Me – Decorating Ideas

This week, what works for me, has to do with decorating. In February, Hubby and I bought our first house. We’re so excited to be here, and we LOVE our cute little cape code. We don’t, however, love our furniture too much. Most of what we have are hand-me downs or cast offs from family members. In fact, most of our furniture are cast offs from my brother in law, who received those pieces as cast offs from aunts and uncles. I would have loved to have bought our house and bought new furniture for our living room and family room, but we couldn’t afford that, and there’s no reason to go into credit card debt to furnish our house. So what’s the daughter of an owner of and architecture and interior design firm to do? Make a plan!

I love to thrift shop and antique shop, but man, that can suck you in fast. You really need to know exactly what you’re looking for, otherwise you’ll end up with a mish-mash of stuff that won’t work together, or just plan too much stuff! So, if I couldn’t buy everything all at once, I decided the best thing to do would be to come up with a plan. First, I decided what pieces I really wanted to add to my room, and what peices I already owned would work in my redesign. Then, I put all of the pictures together, so I would have a referance for what the room would ultimatly look like. I’m not positive all the things that are my inspiration will end up in the room. For example, I found the acyrlic ball lamp at my favorite on-line retailer for over $200. I KNOW I can find one with a similar look at Target or even Urban Outfiters for $50 or less. Now, when I’m furniture browsing and see a great price on a piece of furniture, I’ll be able to assess if it really fits the look I’m going for. It definely works for me!

Choping an Onion to Make Martha Stewart Proud

It’s Work’s For Me Wednesday!

One morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, I saw Martha Stewart on the Today Show teaching the cast how to cook some scrumptious dish. She asked Ann to cut an onion, and was immediately APPALLED and Ann’s onion cutting skills. She gave her a brief description of the “proper” way to cut an onion, and promised to send over a book on knife skills. I decided to try Martha’s way of onion dicing, and found I liked it more than traditional dicing, which always seemed to take forever. Martha’s way really works for me, but alas, her website doesn’t have directions with pictures, which I think is really helpful, so here’s my version of Martha’s onion dicing.

Start with a nice, big onion.

Peel it anyway you’d like. I like to cut mine in half (the next step) before peeling it, but you can do this however you’d like.

Here’s what they look like peeled and halved! I did make make one half a little bigger than I wanted, so I just halved it again, which worked fine, but try to get them even, it makes the process easier and faster.

Next, start making cuts along the onion. Start on one side, making them angled, and work your way around. The middle cut should be straight up and down. Make sure you cut all way the through the onion on these slits — the knife should hit the cutting board. Once you’re made all your cuts, the onion half should look a little something like this:

Now, Martha says its best to use your knuckles to hold the onion in place while you cut. I usually use my fingers, but here I am using my knuckles in the photo so I can make Martha proud.

Now, make cuts across the onion in the opposite direction of the first cuts. I love cutting an onion this way, because, as you can see, you get a relatively uniform size, and once you get the hang of the first cuts, it’s a lot faster than dicing the “original” way.

You will, however, have a nice little end piece left to dice “traditionally.” No big deal, the hard work has already been done!

I cut one onion, in three halves (because, apparently, I am not goo at cutting things in half), in about 15 minutes, including photo-documenting every step. And let me say, it is very difficult to take photos of yourself cutting something.

Cutting an onion this way works for me, and for Martha. Find out what works for others here!