My Diabetes Miracle #20: Steps

This whole health journey of mine has been like climbing an endless flight of stairs. I pull myself up one step at a time, and often I seem to stay there for much too long before I am able to climb to the next step. That’s just how it’s been for me.

But today I want to just talk for a minute about actual, physical stairs. Stairs have been my nemesis ever since I dislocated both of my kneecaps after Jasper’s birth. Even after my knees “healed,” climbing stairs was painful and difficult for me. Four years ago,when we went to Master’s Mission for the spring break work trip, the stairs just about did me in. I had to use the hand rail to pull myself painfully up one step at a time. I was told by someone who should know that I should have had knee replacement surgery years ago. (Not an option because of the cost.)

On the few occasions when we have stayed in a place with two levels, I learned to arrange my life to include the absolute minimum of stair trips. Last spring when I started walking for exercise, the biggest challenge for me was having to climb the stairs to the running track.

Then came our trip to Colorado last week. When we couldn’t get the car up the driveway, we parked at the base of the long flight of stairs leading to the front door. I felt a little daunted when I saw them, but I had no choice. I climbed up all those stairs easily. Once inside the house, I saw the layout included two bedrooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. The stairs were steep!

Two years ago, I would not have even gone upstairs to check out those upstairs rooms. I would have chosen a downstairs bedroom and let the kids take the upstairs, because I would have known I couldn’t handle going up and down those stairs multiple times a day. But guess what? This time I went right up those stairs without even thinking about it. One of the upstairs bedrooms was perfect—and it had an electric fireplace!

That first day while we were settling in, I know I was up and down those stairs at least ten times. My muscles felt it a little by the end of the day, but I didn’t really mind having to go up and down. My knees were tired, but not in agony. This is a HUGE sign of progress for me. Turns out that removing 120 pounds of the load on your knees is very beneficial! I’m sure they’re still arthritic, but life is so much more doable now that they don’t hurt all the time.

Going up and down those stairs was my primary form of exercise during our stay in Colorado. Up and down, up and down—many times each day. Not once did I look up at those stairs and think, no. I just can’t face that right now. If I had to go up more than once in rapid succession, it took a little more effort the second time, but it was easily achievable. This is literally life-changing for me. For the first time in a couple of decades, stairs don’t scare me. I am not limited to a one-story existence. My family didn’t even notice this milestone, but I still can’t get over it.

Stairs. Not a problem.

The Monster Wedding Post

So, you don’t have to read this if you’re not really interested—but this blog serves as a family record, so I’m going to go into all the gory details of Friday and Saturday.

Friday was “crunch day” for me, the day in which everything had to be done because there was no option for putting anything off. On Thursday night I had filled and crumb-coated the bottom tier of the cake well after midnight. Friday morning I got the second layer of icing on that bottom tier before having to switch my attention to the rehearsal dinner.

Tiffany’s mom had loaned me a couple of slow cookers and big pots, which was great, because the Airbnb just had one slow cooker. Flynn had brought me his roaster oven to use also. Because of the volume of food I was making, I had to do things a little differently than I normally do. I started the meatballs in one slow cooker (this was the “alternate” entrée for those who didn’t want to try the spicier West African food). I used Flynn’s roaster to make the West African groundnut stew (Flynn’s favorite meal). His roaster is smaller than mine and I wasn’t able to make as much as I had planned, but that is fine—there was more than enough!

I had a little meltdown in the middle of the day because I was so busy and nobody else was. Some went out to socialize, and others to a nice restaurant for lunch, while I just kept working. I knew before we went that I was going there to work, and everyone else was going to party, but it still was hard to deal with on that final very busy day. All the cozy family time I had hoped for never happened.

By early afternoon the meatballs were done so I made the sauce in a big pot on the stove. Then I split the meatballs between two slow cookers and poured the sauce over them, giving me two six-quart pots of meatballs. The groundnut stew had to be stirred almost constantly because the roaster heats from the sides and if you don’t stir, the sides will burn. (It is, after all, designed to roast rather than to cook.)

When Walter and Lina returned from lunch, they did offer to help and Lina did a great job of chopping veggies and fruit for the toppings that I hadn’t already done. Meanwhile, I made the rice in the biggest pot I had—three gallons. By the time I had put all the rice and water in the pot, it was almost completely full. A few minutes later, it was more than full.


It was like watching areally slow popcorn explosion. So much rice!

In the middle of the afternoon there was a brief lull and it wasn’t really enough time to get back to the cake, so Lina and I went to a nearby yarn store I had noticed on my many trips to Walmart. We are big believers in buying “souvenir” yarn when we are on trips. I did find some very nice yarn that I can use to make myself a lightweight shawl. Now that I get cold so easily, I like the idea of a light wrap that I can use when I get cold in air-conditioned rooms.

Then it was right back to the house to finish up the cooking. The schedule was a little tricky. We had the room for the rehearsal dinner from 5:00-10:00, so we had to get the food there at 5:00, set it up, then go to the church for the rehearsal, then go back to the hotel for the actual dinner. I was so glad that most of the food was in electric devices that would keep it warm. The massive pot of rice I just wrapped in a towel and hoped for the best.

The rehearsal was very straightforward and went well. Afterward, the wedding party and Tiffany’s family wanted to stay and finish decorating the church, so we went back to the hotel where we were having the rehearsal dinner to finish setting up and wait. And wait. And wait. I was glad to have a little extra time, because I had the heat setting on the stew too low and I needed a few minutes to turn it up and reheat it. It had to be stirred constantly!

So instead of having dinner at 7:00, as planned, we ended up having it after 8:30, when everyone finally arrived. By then people were very, very hungry! Remember the rice had been off the heat since 4:30 in the afternoon—I was afraid it wouldn’t be warm enough at all, but apparently it was still warm enough to be acceptable. The food was a big hit, even with the ten-month-old baby who didn’t seem to mind the spiciness at all.

My primary concern with the lateness of the dinner was that I knew I still had at least two hours of work left to do on the cake when we returned to the Airbnb. And we had to figure out a way to transport 48 cupcakes safely to the hotel where the reception would be held.

So when we finally made it back to the house, my husband and Lina went to Walmart in search of suitable cupcake containers that would not be too expensive, while I put away all the leftover food. Then Flynn and Tiffany came over for a few minutes so we could give them some Christmas gifts. Flynn had been strictly warned to have Tiffany home before midnight so he wouldn’t see her on the morning of the wedding!

After they left, at last I could make more icing and get to work on the cake.

In a situation like that, I have to be very focused because there is no backup plan and no putting anything off. Others went to bed but I could not even think about it until everything was ready for the next morning. I finished icing and decorating and assembling the cake. I packed all those cupcakes so they’d be ready to transport.

For the second night in a row, I got to bed after 2:00 a.m. When my alarm went off at 5:30, I popped right up and went to take my shower. We had to have the cake at the hotel no later than 7:30 because we were scheduled for photos at the church at 8:00.

Anytime I make a wedding cake, the most stressful part by far is transporting it and setting it up at the reception venue. If something goes horribly wrong at that point, I’m hosed, right? So we drove very slowly and carefully to the hotel. Fortunately, since the reception was at a (very nice) hotel, we could commandeer a luggage cart to get the cake through the lobby and up the elevator to the reception room.

Then came the tricky process of reassembling the cake on the cake table and setting all the cup cakes up on the stands I had for them. Nothing broke and nothing fell off! No caramel filling tried to escape! Whew!

The color is a little weird in this photo. The dark color is red! Flynn chose the figurines for the top.

Lina had come with us to help set up the cake, so we dropped her off at the church before returning to the Airbnb, because otherwise we wouldn’t have enough vehicle space for everyone. We rushed back to the house and struggled into our wedding clothes. I had done my minimal makeup after my shower, so at least I didn’t have that to worry about. I wear makeup so rarely that it seems like a big production to me when I do wear it.

My dress was very plain, but I like to think it was kind of classy. Tiffany had requested that I wear gray to match her mom, so I had a grey velvet dress. I had to have it custom made because of my height. I sent all the requested measurements, but the dress was still quite snug. And although she got the overall length perfect, the dress ended up being high waisted on me, so the belt that came with it was useless. The good news was that it still worked as a high-waisted dress!

Once we arrived at the church, we had to wait for Flynn to arrive. All the Burklin family photos were being taken before the wedding, except the ones that would have Tiffany in them. Oh, and did I mention that my crazy-talented daughter Mary was the photographer? She had a tripod and could remote-trigger the photos that had her in them. She looked so glamorous and she was so professional with all the photography. (She is a professional photographer in real life, among many other things.)

After the photos, I went back to the bridal room to store some of my things and to get my corsage, which went on my wrist. It was very pretty!

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Of course, I also got a preview of Tiffany in her beautiful dress!

The wedding itself went very well. Spencer livestreamed it, and if you have a Facebook account you can watch it here:

It was very heartfelt and sweet. I was so, so happy for my son. He had to wait a long time to find the right girl! She walked down the aisle to “Wild Mountain Thyme,” a favorite of mine, and the recessional was a peppy number I had never heard before, which they had listened to early in their relationship. They had part of the ceremony where Flynn and Tiffany shared communion together and could talk to each other privately while doing so.

After the wedding there were more photos, this time with the bride, and then we were sent off to join the other guests at the reception while Tiffany’s family had their photos taken.

The reception was in a  long, narrow room on the second floor of the hotel. One whole wall was mirrors and the other long wall was windows looking out on a majestic panorama of the Rocky Mountains. A sandwich buffet was set up in the foyer, and to my delight they also had salad and even the means for making hot tea.

When the wedding party finally arrived, the bride’s brother took over his DJ duties, and immediately announced the father-daughter dance, followed right away by Flynn and Tiffany’s first dance. Now Flynn is not a dancer. It’s not his thing. But that was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. The song they danced to was Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” and Flynn was singing it to Tiffany as they danced. I tear up just thinking about it.

The dance floor was at the opposite end of the room from where we were sitting, so I spent some time down there watching. One highlight was the joyful, exuberant dance-off between Tiffany and her little brother. So much joy!

Toasts were given to the couple, including one by my husband and a hilarious one by Flynn’s best man, Shane. Somewhat to my disappointment, the cake cutting did not occur until later, when many guests had already left. After working so hard on that cake, I was hoping more of it would get eaten! The hotel rules were very strict about the cake.Although we provided it, their employees had to cut and serve it (after the ceremonial cutting by the bride and groom).

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This didn’t bother me at all. The hotel employees had actually been trained to cut a wedding cake correctly and they did a professional job of it. I was complimented on the cake by a couple of different hotel people, which was lovely because it was a swanky hotel and I’m sure they see some pretty fancy cakes. Several people also made a point of telling me how good the cake tasted, which is an affirmation I really needed now that I can no longer taste it myself! The really important thing was that Flynn and Tiffany liked it!

I have to admit, by the middle of the afternoon, I was quite tired after my two very late nights. Lucy had been sick all week and was downright miserable, but I couldn’t see any way to help her other than to suggest that she get some rest in the car. There’s no way the groom’s family could leave before the groom!

When it was time for Flynn and Tiffany to leave, we all went downstairs to the lavishly-decorated hotel lobby. We were each given an oversized plastic candy cane adorned with jingle bells and a poinsettia. The plan was to create an arch with the candy canes, through which Flynn and Tiffany would exit, while we all jingled our bells.

It all went off without a hitch. Flynn and Tiffany exited through the arch of well-wishers, Mary got some great photos, and then the bride and groom were outside—but their car wasn’t. Flynn had apparently neglected to ask the valet service to bring his car up to the entrance.

So they came back in and were sent back to the beginning of the line, waiting to do the exit again once their car arrived. Meanwhile, we were all just standing there waiting in our two long rows. Anyone coming into the front entrance of the hotel would have to run that gauntlet.

The first ones to come in were a young couple returning from walking their two gorgeous golden retrievers. We all sprang into action, cheering and waving our candy canes. The dogs loved it! I think the couple was a little bewildered. Someone told them, “We love dogs!” They were pretty good sports about it. More and more people came in or out, and all got the celebrity treatment. We had to wait a long time for the car! I went back and hugged Flynn and Tiffany goodbye since we had so much time.

Finally, Flynn’s hail-damaged car was driven up and they could do another exit. Mary had to follow them because their first stop after the hotel was the coffee shop where they had their first date and where Flynn later proposed. Mary had set it up to shoot some photos with them there before they left town.

Meanwhile, the rest of us just had to get our stuff and leave the hotel staff to clean up. They had boxed up the leftover cake and washed the separator plate and pillars for me. I sent the cake home with Tiffany’s family and we took the cupcakes back to the Airbnb,where we were all anxious to change into comfortable clothes and get some rest.

At suppertime, Mercy and Daniel and Mary and Jordan came over and we all enjoyed rehearsal dinner leftovers. It was crowded but I was just so happy to have everyone together.While everyone was there, we realized that we had some things to return. I had a couple of pots to return to Tiffany’s mom, and we had a roaster and an air mattress to return to Flynn, who of course had left town by then. And we needed Mercy and Daniel to bring some stuff back for us since we would have an extra person on the return trip. We eventually worked it all out.

We went to bed at a reasonable hour that night, and I even was able to sleep for a while. But by 5:00 a.m., I was awake with a monster headache and I knew from bitter experience that I wouldn’t fall asleep again at that altitude. So I went ahead and got up and continued packing and cleaning up everything in the kitchen (my suitcase was already packed). The respiratory infection that had been stalking me all week finally hit in full force, and I also was nauseated from the pain of the headache.

Walter woke up half an hour after I did, so he got up and helped with the packing. We had planned to get up at 6:00 and leave at 8:00, but thanks to our insomnia we got everything done and managed to leave the house at 7:30. Lina rode with Spencer in his car and the rest of us were crammed into a very full Toyota Camry!

We were almost an hour down the road when I asked my husband if he had remembered to start the dishwasher. He hadn’t known to do it, and I had forgotten to check. I hate to leave something undone, especially when it is specified in the house rules! So I frantically texted Mercy and Mary about it. Mary was able to get over there and start the dishwasher before the door code expired at 10:00. Whew!

It was a long, long day on the road. I really hate doing that trip in one day, and I hate it so much more when I am really sick and in a great deal of pain. Despite taking plenty of meds, my headache did not diminish. By suppertime, most of the rest of me hurt too! We met up with Spencer and Lina for supper at a Whataburger on the outskirts of Wichita Falls.

We pulled into our own driveway at about 11:30 last night, to find that the roofers had not finished doing our roof after all. There was a trailer full of roofing shingles in the driveway. Lina and Spencer had beat us by half an hour, and Spencer had already unloaded and departed.

Today I did not set an alarm. I got my first good night’s sleep in over a week, despite my cold. I took it easy all day. I cut Lina’s hair, went to the bank, and picked up a few food items at Walmart. I treated myself to a nice long nap. And I enjoyed cooking supper in my own kitchen, where I know what I have and where it all is!And of course, I worked on writing this post.

Now all I have to do is switch into “Christmas” mode and try to get everything done in the next week!

Wedding Bells

For the second time in five months, we have watched one of our offspring get married. It was a wonderful culmination to what has been a very stressful week for me. The wedding was beautiful and sweet. I am so happy for my son Flynn, and so grateful to have Tiffany as my daughter-in-law.

You know I’ll tell you all about it—but not until after I get home to Texas. Please pray for us as we drive over 900 miles tomorrow. Lucy is very sick and I am well on my way to coming down with something too.

Surprise!

This may be my last post until after the wedding. The next couple of days are going to be insanely busy. It’s one thing to commit to making a wedding cake—and dinner for 25 people—in a kitchen that is not my own, but now that I’m actually doing it, it’s kind of daunting.

Yesterday I finished making roses and made a test batch of caramel. I think I’ve got the hang of the caramel now. It’s pretty labor-intensive. You can’t look away for even one tiny instant or you will regret it!

I also had to go to Walmart—again. Flynn and Tiffany brought us a fabulous supper of Middle Eastern food and shortly afterward Walter and Spencer arrived to join the feast.

As soon as we finished eating, we headed out to Tiffany’s family’s house so we could all meet each other. Before we knew it, we were driving through a pretty heavy snowstorm! The wind was driving the snow sideways but there was a lot of it (from a Texan point of view). It was such a surprise because there had been no precipitation in the forecast at all! And the day up until then had been quite mild.

We had a nice visit with Tiffany and her parents and younger brother. All of us were able to be there except Mercy, Daniel, and Lina, who arrived this evening. When we went back out to the car, we had to scrape ice and snow off the windshield.

After arriving back at our Airbnb, some of the kids went outside and climbed the hill behind the house so they could look out over the snowy nighttime landscape. It did look pretty magical.

This morning I got up and got started right away making the gluten-free cupcakes. I worked feverishly on kitchen tasks until my husband was ready to go shopping with me. I have all the cake stuff I need, but today we had to get all the stuff for tomorrow’s rehearsal dinner. I got what I could from Sam’s and then went next door to Walmart to get the rest.

But meanwhile, we had a vexing problem. Today’s surprise was much less pleasant than the snow last night. The downstairs bathroom in this house has had some plumbing issues ever since we arrived, and this morning they got worse. After doing everything we could think of to do, I messaged our host right before we left to go shopping. I am beginning to understand why she is an Airbnb “super host.” She called a plumber immediately and he came while we were still out shopping. In less than 2 hours! And she said if we have any more trouble, this plumber has a 30-day warranty on his work so she will send him right back.

Spencer went out hiking for much of the day. Lucy and Jasper were invited out for the afternoon and evening. So mostly it was me in the kitchen. I roasted and “picked” six chickens. I could only do two at a time so it took many hours.

Meanwhile, I made regular cupcakes and then started on the actual cake. All the cake has been baked now. The cupcakes have all been iced. I think I have made six batches of icing so far, and I will need at least two more! Maybe three.

Lina arrived at suppertime, so she and Walter went out to get something to eat. I didn’t have the time or energy to cook a meal in addition to everything else I’m doing. 

Spencer headed off to Flynn’s bachelor party, so I don’t expect him to return until very late tonight. Well, it already IS late, so he’ll definitely be even later!

I’m waiting for my last batch of caramel to cool enough to put it on the bottom layer of the cake. The top layer has been filled and crumb-coated, and I’d like to do the same to the bottom layer before I stumble up to bed. But caramel takes a while to cool and I know from experience that it would be disastrous to put it on the cake while still warm. So I will wait . . .

Wedding Week

I will try to sum up the last three days as I wait for some icing to dry.

On Sunday morning, Lucy, Jasper and I set off about when I had hoped. I don’t leave on road trips early in the morning when I am driving, because I am not a safe driver at that time of day.

I have made this trip quite a few times now, and I love it every time—once we get north of the Dallas area. I don’t even mind all the tiny towns that make you slow way down (and woe betide you if you do not).

We made it to Amarillo right after sunset and just in time for us to stop at Walmart and pick up some supper for Lucy and Jasper. We had a nice room and spent a quiet evening watching nature shows before trying to get some sleep. I will be taking my herbal melatonin drops for this whole trip, because I know I can’t sleep at high altitude. They really do help.

Yesterday morning (Monday) we had a nice hot breakfast at the hotel before getting on the road for New Mexico. When Lucy had perked up a little bit, I let her do some of the driving. It’s always a thrill when we catch our first glimpse of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.

We stopped in Raton, as I always do if I am able, to visit with my friend Donita and her husband Frank for a little while. It is so convenient that they happen to live right on the way between Texas and Colorado Springs! It’s a nice break from driving too.

After saying our goodbyes, I drove the kids to our traditional lunch spot in Raton—the Dairy Queen with the giant ice cream cone out front. To our dismay, it has closed down. The kids had to get a different kind of fast food.

We arrived at our AirBnb on the stroke of 3:00, which was the earliest check-in time. It is such a cute little house, painted a deep purple color. One thing the pictures hadn’t included was the long flight of steps up to the front door! Or the fact that the gravel driveway was extremely steep. Our car couldn’t handle it, but fortunately there is parking space at the foot of the lot.

The house couldn’t be more perfect for our needs. There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a washer and dryer, and a nice dining room and living room. But most importantly, there is a very well-equipped kitchen. The host has supplied almost any kitchen appliance you could want, and has stocked spices and condiments, coffee and tea, dish soap, etc. The bathrooms are even stocked with nice soap, shampoo,and conditioner.

After unloading the car,we ventured forth to the nearest Walmart to buy groceries. The kids got a pizza to heat up and I bought most of the cake ingredients I’ll need. Flynn and Tiffany came to visit and eat supper with us and we spent an enjoyable time talking with them and learning more about the schedule for the next few days.

After Flynn and Tiffany left, we relaxed and watched a (very bad) movie and then went to bed. I slept relatively well and was up long before the kids this morning. I headed out to Walmart to get some of the things I’d forgotten last night, and when I returned both kids were up and having a late breakfast. Later Mary and her friend Dianna picked them up and entertained them all afternoon and evening.

My main project for today was making roses that will go on the cupcakes (plus a few for the actual cake). It is a very tedious and time-consuming process, because in order to get the best results the flowers have to be made in two stages, with quite a bit of drying time in between.

I got all the white roses made before supper. Then I did some laundry and did the first stage of the red roses and made an emergency run to Hobby Lobby because I needed stronger and darker red food coloring (and a few other things).

Mary and her friend brought the kids home just after I started working on the second stage of the red roses. My goal was to finish them tonight, but I did not make it. It was not for lack of will; my hand muscles just gave out. I don’t do this often enough to maintain much strength or stamina in my hands! So tomorrow morning I will be finishing the red roses before going on to other cake-related tasks.

Meanwhile, Lina arrived back in Texas today! She will be driving up here with Mercy and Daniel on Thursday. Spencer and my husband will be driving here tomorrow and plan to leave very early in the morning. Jordan flew into town today but is very sick so Mary will be trying to take care of him while also getting work done tomorrow. Just four days until the wedding!

When All Else Fails . . .

A long time ago, in a country far, far away (Zambia) I entered a shop with the following sign over the door: “When all else fails, lower your expectations.” That has more or less become my life’s motto in the intervening years.

A quick recap of the last couple of days before I pack my computer:

So, back in May, my kids gave me a certificate to get a “posh” haircut at a nice salon, and now I’m hooked. I got another one before Mercy’s wedding, and I have been saving up all fall to have one before Flynn’s wedding. My appointment was yesterday morning.The girl who had done my hair the last two times wasn’t there anymore, so I had someone different–a very charming Hispanic girl who was happy to chat with me about my hair loss and what my options are for dealing with it. Turns out her own mother had also suffered severe hair loss as a result of weight loss.

This girl gave me the most vigorous scalp massage I have ever had in my life when she washed my hair! It was glorious but at the same time it seemed like she would rub all my remaining hair right off! Then she cut and styled my hair. I could see it wasn’t exactly what I wanted in terms of style, but I was curious to see what she was up to, because she didn’t ask for any input from me at all.

Well. It was kind of hard to walk out of there with a straight face. I did not look like myself. My hair was the biggest it’s ever been. I looked very Texan. I looked like the kind of Texan lady who drives a luxury SUV and has an actual social life and wears makeup a lot more often than two or three times a year. The cut is great. But next time I will be more assertive about the styling afterward! I’m just not a big hair kind of girl. I’m more of a last-minute pony tail kind of girl. And to my amusement, no one in the family even noticed I got my hair done.

Yesterday I also did a bunch of grading and worked on a handwork project I can’t talk about and took Lucy shopping for a dress for the wedding. I also made a huge pasta salad and a pan of pumpkin bars. I think I got to bed at about 1:30 a.m.—and Lucy was still working on her final paper!

This morning I was up cleaning and setting up for today’s celebratory lunch until time to leave for Daniel’s graduation. Jasper and I walked over there together and joined Daniel’sfamily and Mercy in the auditorium. We had great seats, with a good view of Daniel when he walked past on his way to his seat. Walter was able to join us when he got off work (he had been working since 7:00 a.m. to get ready for the graduation).

The graduation went very well and Daniel received his diploma without incident. Afterward, Jasper and I walked home through very cold, windy and misty weather. I set up the buffet table and then everyone else arrived for lunch. Mercy and Daniel had bought some of our local Texas barbeque so Daniel’s family could experience how superior it is to South Carolina barbeque. (Well, they didn’t put it quite that way but here in Texas we’ve got pretty strong feelings about barbeque!) Every last scrap of meat was eaten!

Afterward we visited in the living room for a while, but they left midafternoon to do their family Christmas with Mercy and Daniel and I certainly had more than enough to do here. I finally finished my grading and I’m so thrilled to not have that hanging over my head anymore.

I have had to give up on several projects I had planned to do before this trip—lowering my expectations left and right. But the truly crucial things either have been done or will bed one by the time I go to bed. And tomorrow the long drive north to Amarillo awaits.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

We didn’t do anything to celebrate, but I was at least aware of it all day.

This morning I ran some errands. Had to get a few articles of clothing to replace ones that won’t stay on. And talk about mixed emotions—when you realize that you have shrunk out of one of your favorite brands! I’m going to have to find new places to shop.

Since I was up in that area anyway, I went to Target to see if I could find a replacement angel for my teacup tree, but they had no angels at all. *sigh* So the angel is lightless. I spent much of this evening getting the tree lit and decorated.

This afternoon I had to go grocery shopping since I’ll be busy tomorrow morning during my usual shopping time. We are getting ready to go on a trip but first we’ll be hosting a big graduation lunch for Daniel after he graduates on Saturday, so I had to make sure I had everything I need for that.

Then when I started to make sourdough pizza for supper, I discovered that my sourdough starter was in deep distress. I had to drop everything and rush to save it. I guess I have not been using it often enough. I will have to make crumpets soon.

I have most of myChristmas shopping done and that is a huge relief. I’m glad someone will be checking the mail for us while we are gone, though. I have a feeling that some of the items will not arrive before we leave.

Two days left to get everything done!

Still Busy

Today I was a little less challenged by my body temperature, and I got quite a bit done. The morning started with a contractor we know coming over to measure and give us an estimate on the roof job. Alas, it is going to cost considerably more than the insurance company is willing to pay—but the job must be done.

I got my teacup tree up today. By “up” I mean that I assembled it and “fluffed” the branches. I was held up by angel trouble. The angel for the top won’t light up, so I laboriously replaced all the burnt-out bulbs—and it still won’t light up. I guess that tree will have an unlit angel this year.

I also did some schoolwork with Jasper before making a flying visit to Joann’s in Tyler this afternoon. Since the van is still out of commission, I knew I had to be home by 5:00. My trip was timed so I could have no more than 15 minutes in the store—which was plenty to pick up and pay for my online order. I made it home with 4 minutes to spare!

Because of the car situation, Jasper had to get a ride to youth group. After his cleaning job, Walter went back to work on the van and thinks it may finally be ready for a test drive—but he couldn’t get it out of the bay because other vehicles are blocking it. Maybe tomorrow! Because really, we need to have that van on the road before I take the car to Colorado on Sunday.

I finished up the evening by doing dishes and grading a big stack of papers. I’m beginning to feel that I may actually get it all done!

Shivering

Well, Lina is living it up with her cousins in Germany now! I am so glad she can spend this time with them.

Today I actually accomplished quite a bit—it just didn’t feel like it because I also spent a lot of time huddled up and shivering. I knew going in that this would be a consequence of weight loss. I am still learning to figure out how best to deal with it. Our house isn’t all that cold—we keep it at 68° in winter—but I just get cold so much easier than I used to.

I did get out to run a bunch of errands and did quite a bit of online Christmas shopping. I am rarely this late! I think the bulk of it is done now, though there will be plenty more errands to run in preparation for our trip.

Parting Shot:

?

Lucy couldn’t resist getting a photo of me bundled up in my chair.

Ups & Downs

The last few days have been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I’m sure sleep deprivation hasn’t helped.

 In addition to having the parade on Saturday (with its unexpected emotional freight), I was up very late because we went out to eat afterward and service was slow and I still had to drive home at the end. Also, Lina messaged me to let me know that she had been robbed—on her very last day at Sakeji! Some valuable and necessary things were stolen and she just had to leave without them. She is now on her way to Germany to spend some time with family before arriving here next week in time for Flynn’swedding.

In the middle of panicking about a cascade of unexpected expenses, a kind friend sent an equally unexpected gift that had me crying with gratitude.

I worked in the nursery on Sunday morning with the most adorable baby who is just starting to walk.

On Sunday evening, Mercy and Daniel had us over to their apartment for dinner for the first time. Mercy did such a great job making the meal, and their apartment is so lovely and welcoming!

Speaking of Mercy, I can now tell you the good news! Remember that job interview I took her to the week of Thanksgiving? Well, she got the job! So she and Daniel will be moving to Dallas between Christmas and New Year’s since her job starts on January 2. And Daniel will obviously be focusing his job search on the Dallas area. He graduates this Saturday!

Since I was taking a dessert to Mercy’s yesterday, I decided the time had come to do a trial run of Flynn and Tiffany’s wedding cake. They have requested a chocolate cake with caramel filling. I have never made caramel cake filling before, so I needed to try it out. It was a very valuable learning experience. (Which is why I always test a new recipe!) I learned that both cake and caramel need to be stone cold before introducing them to each other. Also, the icing “dam” around the perimeter of the tier that is supposed to contain the caramel needs to have time to dry and harden a little. Last night’s cake was, uh, so hideous I didn’t take any photos. The good news is that it apparently tastes pretty good!

I was up very late grading and preparing for today’s final class and party, and then up again after four hour’s sleep to finish the preparations. I put a considerable amount of effort this morning into making something I hadn’t made in years—my once-famous pumpkin pie bars. I thought my students would love them.

The kids arrived, we had our vocabulary test, and then moved into the living room to enjoy the food and listen to each other’s stories. Can I just take a minute to rave about my students this year? They are such a great bunch of kids. They don’t complain,they don’t shirk their assignments, and they make me smile. I love them all.

I always love this last class and hearing the stories that the students have written. They are always so creative and so different from each other. Remember, I spent hours last week doing the exact same assignment, and I hoped we’d have time to read my story too—but we didn’t, and I might have had a little bit of a meltdown over it.

After all, I wrote the story specifically for my students. No one else is ever going to read it. Yet for at least the third time in a row, class ended before we got to my story. I was already feeling discouraged because the kids didn’t really go for my awesome pumpkin pie bars like I thought they would. And I’m not interested in emailing the story out because the whole reason I like doing it is to see the kids react to it as they’re hearing it.

I gave the kids their goody bags and sent them on their way, feeling like all the work I did last week had been totally pointless. But then—ninety percent of what I do all the time seems pointless and unappreciated! I went to lie down for a badly-needed nap, and it struck me that maybe my real problem was that I was just exhausted. Sure enough, I felt so much better when I got up.

Jasper and I ran a quick errand to Walmart and then I came home and had a nice hot cup of tea and by then my equanimity was fully restored. I made my final batch of chai mix forthis season. Did some paperwork. Went to the gym.

Later this evening, Jasper very tolerantly let me read him my story. It’s trite and sappy. He endured it. I’m fine. It’s out of my system now. I’m so over it.

We finished the evening with Lucy and me tag-teaming on cutting Jasper’s hair. He hadn’t had it cut since the week before Mercy’s wedding, and now he needs to look civilized for Flynn’s wedding.

Here’s what it looked like after being cut but before he re-dyed it crimson:

Until now, I never really thought he looked all that much like Spencer! Wow, anyone would think they are related or something!

Lina made it safely to Dubai and is on her way to Frankfurt now.