Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Baking Up Christmas Cookies with Just a Touch of OCD

Christmas is for kids, isn't that right? Crafting cards, and presents and homemade ornaments. And let's not forget cookies. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without cookies. 

I'm all for baking and creating. I love it. But, throw a couple/few kids in the mix and it's a horse of a completely different color. A very messy, noisy horse.

However, I strive to be a good mom and so I put on my big girl knickers and roll up my sleeves (both literally and figuratively), and get to work. 

First of all, a plan had to be made. 

A Pinterest board started and properly pinned upon. 

Recipe cards printed. 

And, very important, a spreadsheet created. 

And not just any spreadsheet, but a very detailed one that lists not only which cookies will be baked, but who will take part in the making of each one, by which day they should be completed, and whether advance prep is needed.

Then ingredients must be assembled and mise en place completed. 

Now, some people say that baking can be an excellent math skills exercise for children. 

Measuring and scooping and pouring and counting will prepare them for proper school work. 

I say that if God intended children to do math while baking, he would have given them the right mother for the job.

As it stands, I measure and pour and count ahead of time. This way the children can take part in the baking without adding to their mother's silver hair. 

(this may be why I still have only four silver strands)

('course it could also be why my bigger children find College Algebra to be so difficult--if only I'd let them do the measuring when we baked.....)

The kids seemed to enjoy the assembling and stirring and baking. Can I just take a moment to mention Janet's casual posing--that girl has a model inside her. And, Jennifer's dimple. Have you ever??

I divided the kids into groups of 3 and they're each helping with one recipe. This is a tradition my youngest daughter, Jasmine, started. Those who bake get a sneak taste of the baked cookies and the rest are saved for Christmas. Three children at once is about all I can handle. It gives them all a chance to do a part without having to wait too long between stirs or rolling out.

So far we've knocked five recipes off our list. Another will be done by the first grade boys tomorrow. They'll be bashing hard candy into chunks for stained glass cookies. They'll love that. 

I think I'll have them do the banging outside though. 

My poor nerves.....

Exactly Four Years Ago: Happy Birthday, Dad!
Exactly Three Years Ago: Christmas in Africa --a peak into our living room
Exactly One Year Ago: Busy Little Elves
(Almost) Exactly One Year Ago: The Santa Claus Drama

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fabulous at Forty

There is something about birthdays that just begs for a bit of introspection and retrospect. No matter the age too, there is a feeling of time fleeing by. I've heard a 23 year old girl comment on how time was passing too quickly and her life was nearly over, and she'd done nothing with it yet. I wanted to pat her on her head and say, "you dear, sweet, young thing". My 60 year old uncle essentially said the same thing to me today on Facebook. Age truly is a relative thing.

Somewhere toward the beginning of the year I joined one of those online 'lose weight' groups. It was called Fabulous by Forty, and everyone in the group was close to turning forty and wanted to be at or close to their goal weight by their next birthday.

I was excited to do it, and it seemed a reasonable goal. 

However, I didn't quite make it.

Even though I didn't meet my aim, I still think my life is fabulous. Here's why:

My body may not be perfect, but it still works and it brought six children into this world, so that's a fabulous thing.

There may not be a string of letters behind my name, but there is a string of children--6 + 29 and counting. I think that's pretty fabulous .

I haven't made it to all the countries I'd like to (Ireland, I'm looking at you!), but I have lived in seven countries and visited four others. AND, I still have years ahead of me. I can still see the world!

My family is spread around the world and I miss them terribly, but I have friends spending the day and night with me today. We're gonna watch my favorite movie and eat cake, and it's gonna be fabulous!

I could moan about forty years gone by, but  instead I will look forward to the next forty-sixty years ahead of me. I just know they are going to be fabulous. (Pray for my 99 year old grandpa. He fell and fractured his hip just the other day)

Life is exciting and fun and full of adventures. It's FABULOUS!

(Mom and Dad, I hope reading the ponderings of your 40 year old daughter, doesn't make you feel old. I think you are both amazing and fabulous and I want to be just like you when I grow up)

Exactly One Year Ago: My Very Own Day
Exactly Two Years Ago: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Exactly Three Years Ago: A Puzzle and a Prize
Exactly Four Years Ago: Happy Birthday to Me --an adventure story

Sunday, December 15, 2013

For Such a Time as This

Way back in August when I was taking my curriculum course, a friend of mine (also taking the course) mentioned that her teenage daughter, Vika, needed some volunteer time for her transcript and  asked if I would mind if she came to spend some time with us at the beginning of December. I said it was a great idea. I knew Troy would enjoy the company—especially if her brother, Andrew, also came.

Then I forgot about it. With all we’ve had going on, I’m not surprised, but I was a little embarrassed when my friend called again just before Thanksgiving to work out the details, I had to quickly think about a program they could help with. 

Not that it’s hard to come up with things volunteers can help with. Not at all. The kids are always in need of time and attention. We have things to build. Things to organize. Lots to do!

With Christmas coming up I was ready to get activities organized and kicked off for the month of December. 

But I had no idea how much I would need those extra hands.

The week Vika and Andrew arrived was crazy! One of our staff members lost her child, a nanny lost her father, and several nannies were down with colds/flus/stomach issues or had to stay home to look after sick loved ones. Yet another staff member was diagnosed with HIV and was told to take time off work to allow the treatment to begin working.  

Tom and Troy were still recovering from a bad cold and then I began to have symptoms. 

To top it off, this was our shopping week, which meant that Tom and I would be out of town for 2 days.

It was quite the welcome for Vika and Andrew. They were so sweet and jumped in to help with anything that was needed. Troy also pitched in wherever and whenever. 

They prepared meals, looked after the kids, supervised Christmas card painting, helped the girls make friendship bracelets and even clipped the nails on all the goats. (I think that is going above and beyond if you ask me)
I'm so grateful I work for a God who sees so far in the future that he would arrange way back in August that two volunteers would land on my doorstep during one of the craziest weeks we've ever experienced here at Kazembe Orphanage. 

And, by the way, for those of you who wonder (and maybe even worry) about this current generation, I’m happy to say there is definite hope for the future. I was so proud of these three teenagers.

Exactly One Year Ago: Not Quite Cinderella -- This details the work I did last year to outfit all our kids with shoes. We urgently need shoes. Click over to the Kazembe Orphanage website --and the how to help button to see how you can help. Thanks!

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