A Spot of Tea

At long last today we reached the Western edge of Europe in Geography class, which meant that one of the places we covered was the British Isles, so for our meal we had a rather sumptuous tea. My student chef brought gluten-free scones and meringues, and I spent the morning working on sausage rolls (regular and gluten free), Scotch eggs, egg salad sandwiches, gluten-free brownies, poppyseed pound cake with lemon icing, and gluten-free Scottish shortbread. Jasper helped me as he was able but he is struggling with a respiratory infection. To these goodies we added purchased cookies, macaroons, digestive biscuits, licorice allsorts, and fresh strawberries.

Then, of course, I made a big pot of tea and got out some proper teacups and saucers for the boys to use. When they arrived, we watched a video about England while enjoying our goodies. The food was a big hit! I had to race through the material though as there was so much to cover.

After class, my husband showed me his incision, which definitely has developed a little infected area near the bottom end. Tomorrow he will need to call the surgeon’s office. I told him he didn’t need to be such a copycat! It was exactly a year ago today that I had my big surgery, and I also developed an infection afterward.

Oh, and guess what? It finally stopped raining this morning. So far this month we have already had twice the normal amount of rain for February.

My mother is still in the hospital and from what my dad says is really struggling. The fluid levels are still high and she is confused and “foggy.” Her thyroid is not functioning. So, plenty to pray for and also for my dad as he works to make sure she is getting good care.

The Schnitzel King

Well, I survived another busy Geography day. Today was our day to cook. When one of the boys is bringing food, I only have to do some of the cooking, but when it’s our turn, we have to make ALL the food and it always seems to be quite time-consuming even when I pick easy recipes.

Today we were in Central Europe, so I put a polish sausage appetizer in the slow cooker right after I got up. Jasper helped me with cutting things up for the German red cabbage and the dessert. As class time neared, I set up a gluten-free schnitzel-making station for him so that he could do that while I finished the rest of the food. I had bought two packages of pork chops and I didn’t specify to Jasper how many schnitzel to make, so he just kept making them! There were plenty left over for him and Walter and Lucy to have for supper too.

I cooked some carrots to round out the main course and the meal was a hit. The dessert was a sort of Swiss cherry bread pudding which must have been good because every speck was eaten.

Right after class, Jasper and I headed to my beloved bookstore which is closing in a couple of weeks, so he could look for books on World War I and I could use my store credit. I hate to see that place close. If I had money I would buy it and keep it open! Jasper did find three books he could use for his research paper, and I picked up the next book club book.

Once back home, there was an awful lot of dishwashing to do. In years past, when I was exhausted all the time, I would not have been able to get it all done—but now I can’t stand to leave dirty dishes in the kitchen overnight.

Didn’t hear much baby news today, but Flynn did put the word out on Facebook, so if you didn’t see any photos there, here is one for you:

Even if Paisley wasn’t my granddaughter, I’d think she was adorable!

A Landmark Day

This morning my husband and I woke up to the thrilling news that we are grandparents! Our granddaughter, Paisley Robin Burklin, was born to Flynn and Tiffany at 4:49 this morning (Colorado time). We have seen a couple of photos that Flynn texted us but we are dying for more details! What an exciting way to start the day! Even from the photos we’ve seen on our phones, we can tell she’s the cutest baby ever born . . .

The morning was very cold and rainy. I knew I needed to go grocery shopping for tomorrow’s Geography class, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go out in that awful weather and I was afraid I might not get back in time to be ready for my tutoring students. So I took the advice of a friend and ordered groceries online from Aldi and had them delivered. That was amazing and wonderful and I’m sure I will do it again. Like next week when I’ll be out of town on my regular shopping day.

The moment my students left this afternoon, Walter and Jasper and I got in the car and set off for the movie theater to watch 1917. There was only one other person in the theater so we almost had it to ourselves. It was very intense. Jasper had really wanted to see it because he is doing his research paper on World War I.

After the movie Jasper went to youth group and Walter went to his cleaning job alone again. He has not taken any pain meds since yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, I went to the gym for my walk and it went a little better than it has the last few days. I have really been struggling and I think it’s just because I haven’t been able to walk really consistently since before Christmas. I’m still going my usual distance—it just seems to take so much more effort!

From the gym I went to Walmart to get the last few things I needed for tomorrow’s Geography class. Coming up with gluten free international food every week is sometimes a challenge.

After Jasper got back from church this evening, I helped him some on his Geography report. We learned that the country of San Marino could fit into the state of Texas 11,191 times!

And I got a few rows knitted on Paisley’s second blanket. The first one is done and needs to go in the mail tomorrow if possible. I’m making a thicker one for those cold nights in Colorado!

On the Brink

This morning I was busy preparing for Geography class. We were in Southeast Europe today so there was a lot to cover and some delicious Greek food to eat.

Mary arrived this afternoon. And this evening, as we were eating supper, the power went out. And came back on. And went out again. We had this same thing happen on Tuesday, but this time it stayed out for a couple of hours. We had lots of candles lit! I got some knitting done.

I was very glad the power came back on, because I had been in the middle of drying our bedding. Walter’s instructions say he has to sleep on just-washed bedding tonight after showering with special soap—and showering again in the morning!

Not looking forward to getting up at 5:00 a.m. Please pray for us tomorrow (Friday) as my husband goes in for surgery.

Teaching and Packing

So, time got away from me yesterday and I didn’t get around to posting. It was another busy day getting ready for and then teaching the blond brothers and preparing for Geography and my trip.

I don’t think I’ve talked all that much about my trip. Tomorrow I leave for Spokane to visit my friend Julie and help her prepare for our high school class reunion which begins on Monday. And before anyone says, “Oh, I didn’t know you went to school in Washington”—I didn’t. Our boarding school was in Kenya, and despite our expectations of being able to go back there for a reunion someday, it hasn’t happened yet. So the class reunions have been at many different locations here in the USA. Julie thought it would be fun to have a reunion in the mountains in winter. I think it will be fun too, but I am scrambling to locate and pack enough layers.

This morning, though, was all about getting ready for Geography. We were doing Russia and the Balkans today. My student chef was bringing borscht and holupki (stuffed cabbage) and Jasper helped me make the salad. I also made a raspberry tart that turned out pretty well for being gluten free.

To my delight, the borscht was a big hit with the boys. Sometimes their lack of culinary open-mindedness frustrates me, so I didn’t have high hopes for today, but it went better than expected.

After class, I took Jasper sock shopping with me. He needed socks and I definitely needed socks that are long enough to wear with my huge new boots. It will take me a while to get used to walking with such huge feet. Right now it seems impossible that I would actually need anything that warm—but I’m pretty sure I will.

I still have some packing to finish up and grocery shopping in the morning, but in the afternoon I’ll be on my way to the airport in Dallas. This is not an ideal time for me to be gone, but my ticket was purchased months ago and obviously I am going to an event that can’t be moved. And I’ll still get back a week before my husband’s surgery. It will be interesting to see how I handle real winter weather!

False Alarm

Today was a day when I wished I was in another state—the state of Colorado, to be specific, so I could have gone to my daughter-in-law Tiffany’s baby shower. All that sewing I did last weekend was for the baby shower—6 sheets, 8 burp cloths, and a blanket. I sent them to Tiffany’s mother so she could take them to the shower. Everything was either space themed or dinosaur themed.

But since I was here in Texas, with way too much work to do, I did work—mostly for school, as my full teaching schedule starts up again on Monday and I am still trying to finish my grading from last semester.

At the same time, I had received an alarming email saying that my “local” World Market store would be closing. In my case, the closest store is an hour’s drive away—but I felt I had to make time to go and stock up on a few imported goodies for my Geography class.

I zoomed over to the store in very heavy traffic, and found the place doing a booming business with no sign of closing or going out of business. Today happened to be the day they were giving away free cookbooks, and a very patient young man helped me sign up as he was so determined to give me a cookbook. I asked him if the store was closing and he said no. I stocked up anyway. I mean, I don’t get over there all that often.

When I went to check out, the cashier looked in bemusement at the items I was getting. “That’s a very eclectic assortment,” he said. Yep. That’s me. Eclectic. I told him I taught a Geography class and had to get things from different parts of the world.

Meanwhile, Jasper took down the outside Christmas decorations and my husband heroically tackled the taking down of the Christmas tree. It is a huge job, and it took him much of the day. By the time I returned from my shopping trip, the tree was back up in the attic and my chair was back in its rightful corner. And Lucy and Tanner had returned from their day at the university.

We had our family dinner tonight because Walter and I have life group tomorrow, so Spencer and Jade came over to eat and visit with us. Jasper was at his gaming night but there’s not much we could do about that!

There are still a few decorations to come down, including my teacup tree, but I got all the ornaments off it this evening so the rest can wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, there is a stack of papers waiting to be graded . . .

A Word Fitly Spoken

I have become pretty good at compartmentalizing my emotions when necessary, and today it was certainly necessary, because I had so much cooking to do and a class to prepare for and I just had to brush aside all my anxiety about my mother and my husband so I could do what had to be done. In fact my husband had to go to his appointment with the surgeon without me, since it overlapped with my class.

We were studying Scandinavia today, so Jasper helped with some food prep. I made Swedish fish soup, Norwegian coleslaw, Danish creamed mushrooms, and Danish rice pudding. While Jasper and I greatly enjoyed the food, the others were considerably less enthusiastic. They did, however, love the beautiful photos of Scandinavian countries!

Meanwhile, Walter returned from the doctor while we were still watching a video, so I was able to follow him into another room to get a brief report. His melanoma surgery is scheduled for Friday, January 31st. It will be a big incision and I’m sure a very impressive scar. It is an outpatient surgery so I will be able to bring him home right afterward.

My mother is still in the hospital and they are still trying to fine-tune her medications to be as advantageous as possible. She is very limited in how much liquid she can have as they don’t want her to start retaining too much fluid again. She is expected to be in the hospital for another couple of days. Once she is stabilized, she’ll be released back to the nursing home with new care protocols. This is not something she’ll “recover” from. The goal is to manage her various health problems without making them worse. Thank you all so much for your continued prayers.

Lucy and Tanner returned from Austin at supper time. Students are starting to return to the university!

As I’m sure you can imagine, this has been a tough day thanks to my concern for both my husband and my mother. And in the middle of it the mail arrived and I received a padded envelope from England. Inside was a card and newsletter from my sweet friend Adrienne (whom I visited in September)—and a gift of a lovely tea towel. The quote on the tea towel could hardly have been more appropriate:

Hope. Right now we’re hanging onto hope for dear life!

Discouraging News

Today was mostly about trying to get some grading done, and I mostly succeeded. I still have so much to do, but I feel like I made a real dent today.

My friend Robin came over for an afternoon visit, which was such a nice break. She is still being chauffeured by her daughter after her surgery last month. We drank a lot of tea.

Another thing I did was start working on the food for tomorrow’s geography class. What I didn’t do enough of was going over the materials, so that will be my task tomorrow morning in between my cooking chores.

And all evening I received a series of disheartening messages from my brother Greg, who was relaying information from my dad. They finally tested my mother’s kidney function and discovered that she is in stage 4 kidney failure. This kidney damage is a side effect of the meds she’s been taking for her congestive heart failure. The options are not encouraging. Please pray for our family as we face this difficult time.

Sometimes You Lose

Today has not been a very successful day, despite all my efforts to make it so. This morning I got right to work putting together today’s Geography food—a South American chicken stew that has a really long list of ingredients, including fresh thyme, which is the only thing that has survived my neglect of my garden this year.

Jasper helped me set up, and we even got the garlands up on my teacup tree, but that is all. Maybe tomorrow I can get the lights and ornaments on!

As class time neared, Jasper made quesadillas to go with the stew. We watched a video during lunch like we always do. These boys have been very enthusiastic eaters and I thought they’d like the stew—but they did not. I really, really hate to throw food away but they barely touched it. At least we have a dog—who had a very large fancy dinner today!

The boys were more enthusiastic about the array of German goodies I put out for dessert—and the mochi ice cream too. Then we spent the rest of the class reviewing for next week’s test.

After class I finally had time to sit down and put the glitter glue on one side of my red diamond. That was another fail. That was some seven hours ago and it still isn’t dry. I may die of old age first! And this is even with using my hair dryer on it at regular intervals! I wish they had mentioned on the glue bottle that using this glue may benefit your grandchildren rather than yourself. [I just Googled it and learned that it may take 24 hours to dry. Good thing the parade isn’t until Saturday!]

Meanwhile, I picked up the poster I had ordered with the card back on it, but now I have to go out and buy more foam board because someone else volunteered to do the front and she’s using a different size of paper. So tomorrow I’ll be heading back to Hobby Lobby one more time.

I have spent all evening critiquing student papers and have finally finished doing the ones that have been turned in. It is a very slow and time-consuming process. I have no sense of victory because I have so much other grading and school work to do!

Thursday in Asia

Another Geography class has come and gone. Today we finished off Asia and had an Asian-inspired meal. I made mango bubble tea for the gentlemen to drink, and plain green tea too. I bought some Taiwanese takeaway food and made extra rice “just in case.” And Jasper helped me make some Pad Thai from a kit I’d picked up. I also offered some “Want Want” crackers for dessert and some pocky sticks. I had asked my neighbor Anna for dessert ideas, as her family has spent years in South Korea. She offered to send over some goodies—some sweet rice cakes, grapes, and an enormous Asian pear.

What a feast! The boys are enthusiastic eaters. During the course of this semester, they have developed a theory that food from pretty much anywhere else in the world is better than American food—although during today’s class they were a little taken aback to learn that some people eat raw horse meat.

After class I had time to work on planning out next semester for a little bit before getting ready to go to my mature mom’s night out. Several people had to cancel so it ended up just being my friend Susan and me. We had a nice visit while I ploughed through an enormous salad.

Jasper spent the afternoon and evening doing his laundry and packing for his trip tomorrow. Maybe I should get some rest since I’m going to be driving.