I love you, four-day weekend

I'm sure you are chomping at the bit to hear about my Thanksgiving. Wanna hear it? Here it go. I started the weekend by taking my daughter to see the new Muppet movie on Wednesday afternoon. Yes, I saw it the first day it opened, because I am cool like that. Earlier in the day one of my co-workers said, "Oh, I bet your daughter is really excited to see that movie." I didn't have the heart to tell her that the outing was almost entirely for my benefit. The kid just came along for the M&Ms.

On Thursday morning, I went to yoga. It was a free session (entry was a canned good for a local food pantry) and was extremely crowded, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Two of my friends from church were there (we didn't plan it that way) so that was a bonus. I hoped that making a good decision at the start of the day would prevent bad decisions later in the day.

My baby girl on Thanksgiving
Later that day, we had the big dinner at a friend's house. This particular friend always fries the turkey and for whatever reason, my husband feels that this task cannot proceed without his involvement. So, he headed over there at 11 a.m. to watch football and make some intricate calculations involving oil and minutes and velocity and turkey poundage. I'm so glad I'm a vegetarian. I sent our daughter along with him so that I could have the house to myself and work on the project. I figured she may as well play with the other kids instead of me yelling at her all day. I did get a lot of work done on the vanity. I will post a new photo soon. My painting skills definitely leave a lot to be desired. If you ever visit our house and have occasion to view the vanity, please squint at it from at least ten feet away, do not look in the drawers and for the love of God do not look at the back of the thing. Right now I'm trying to figure out what to do about the drawer pulls (I may get crazy and hand paint them with polka dots or something). I'm also on the hunt for a vanity stool.

Dinner itself was nice. The usual stuff was available for consumption. We were asked to bring two pies, so that is what we did (I bought them - sorry). I am not big on pie so I was not tempted by dessert. Had there been some chocolate on the table, it would have been a whole other story. My middle sister was telling me that someone brought a homemade flan to their Thanksgiving celebration. Oy.

After dinner, I went home and finished my Black Friday game plan. Now, I have to say that I find it truly irritating that Black Friday now starts on Thursday. To me, stores that open at 10 or 12 on Thanksgiving are essentially saying, "Hey, we don't give a fuck about our employees." Seriously, I did my time in retail and I think it's horrible to make someone work on Thanksgiving. Black Friday is for early birds, not night owls. Everyone knows that the early bird gets the worm - not the night owl. YOU ARE REWARDING THE WRONG BIRD, PEOPLE! Anyway, I made plans to get up at 4 and go shopping in hopes of grabbing a few bargains. One thing we really wanted was a 42" television that Best Buy had as a "door buster."  P decided to drive over there at midnight to determine what his odds were. He saw the line that wrapped around the outside of the building and promptly drove back home. We did end up buying a TV at Best Buy the next day. It was on sale for Black Friday but isn't as large as the big one that was long gone. Funny side note: when he pulled our old TV off the stand, there were about a dozen CDs underneath it. When A was a toddler she was always shoving CDs in weird places.  We knew we were missing some but eventually we just convinced ourselves that we were losing our minds. And now that we don't need CDs anymore, we can use them as coasters or something.

I did manage to get some good stuff on sale on Black Friday. Lots of games and whatnot. I was home by late morning and was exhausted by mid-afternoon. However, my daughter was bored so I ended up taking her to a water park. I had a buy-one-get-one pass. We had a nice time. Since I had gotten up so early, I hadn't bothered to put on much make-up - just a little eyeliner and mascara. When we were at the water park, the kid said, "Mom, you have a little bit of black right here."  She pointed to the corner of her eye. I grabbed a towel and wiped my eye. "Better?" I asked.  She nodded.  Well, an hour later we were in the ladies' room and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had black mascara smeared from my eyebrows to my cheekbones. My daughter saw me peering into the mirror. She looked at me with a slight frown, a look that was probably meant to convey sympathy or empathy but instead came across as, my mother is a half-wit.  "Mommy, I just didn't want to tell you."  Thanks, kid.

On Saturday morning, I went to Weight Watchers and learned that, despite working out and eating carefully all week, I'd managed to gain half a pound. Honestly, why do I bother? After that, the kid and I headed out of town to take Willa the puppy to her new home. Willa's new digs are about 2 1/2 hours away, so I got a cheap room on Priceline and figured we'd make a weekend of it. On our way to the new home, we stopped to visit our former foster dog, Fritz. Now, Fritz is much more my speed than a puppy is. He's almost 12 now. I was happy to see that he is doing well. His mom, who has come to be a good friend, made us lunch and had some nice little gifts for us. She made a necklace for my daughter - I'd try to describe it but I'd never do it justice. My friend also gave me a set of mala beads. I was touched to learn that the set includes a bead that once belonged to her mother.

A was sad to leave Willa at her new home and hugged her profusely until I was finally able to pull her out the door. I've been fostering for nearly 12 years, so I don't get too emotional anymore. The only time I get weepy is when the dog required a lot of rehabilitation and was in rough shape when the journey began. Young, healthy dogs are pretty easy to let go of. Anyway, Willa's new family is happy to have her and I'm happy that I won't have a puppy swinging by her teeth from the branches of our Christmas tree. Falalalalala.

Our hotel room turned out to be pretty nice. It was one of those Residence Inn joints. The room had a full kitchen and all that jazz. The kid insisted on sleeping on the fold-out couch by herself. I didn't argue with the notion of having a king size bed just for moi. We spent most of the evening watching "Punkin Chunkin" on TV and reading. We drove back home the next day after a stop at Trader Joe's (we don't have one anywhere near our home). After spending three solid days with Miss Chatty, I handed her over to her father as soon as we got home. "Congratulations, Mr. M, it's a girl!"

All in all, it was a good weekend. I'm sure you were expecting something more titillating or newsworthy, seeing as how it took me a solid week to write this blog entry. I'm planning to get an oil change this weekend, so watch for a post on that next.


And the doctor says....

Kerri and I are sick with bronchitis. My doctor says it is a viral infection that is going around, but we just got lucky and it turned infectious (probably because of our compromised lungs). So hubby has been working from home and taking care of everything. And Pookie has been attached to me like glue.

The antibiotics are really doing a number, and you can tell Kerri is not herself because she has been very sedentary lately. Even the doctor called her "lethargic". She is actually pretty normal, but Kerri is usually way more hyperactive and busy. Now she just lies around watching TV all day, and eating up anything she can get her hands on. Sort of like a teenager.

But that does not stop her from dressing up every day. And doing her hair and makeup.

Life with Kerri is wishing for a quick recovery!

Annie Oakley

The attraction to guests at our Thanksgiving gatherings is not only family, food and fellowship. It's also firearms.

Somehow, years and years ago, target shooting and clay pigeon shooting became an after-dinner Thanksgiving tradition.

My dad was a firearms safety instructor for most of his life. I learned at a young age how to safely handle guns and to shoot clay pigeons. I didn't have a girly-girl fear of guns, just a healthy respect for them. I often hunted grouse and deer with the menfolk of the family. Dad instructed countless young people, including my older kids, in the skills of shooting and he took groups out in the mountains for shooting practice. I think this is where our holiday shooting games started. Dad's been gone since 1999 but the after dinner shooting tradition has continued.

His voice emphasizing safety still rings in our ears.

After some time getting warmed up with practice the shooters play a game we call Annie Oakley. This is where the shooters take turns taking a shot at a flying clay pigeon. If someone misses but the next person in line hits the clay, the first shooter is out. Anyone who misses the shot on their turn is out of the game until there is one winner left who hit the most targets. The girls made a good showing this year. The little boys are getting very proficient with the shotguns and hit at least as many as they missed. They were mighty proud of themselves.

And once again Mama won a game of Annie Oakley. Yes, she did.

Princess Kerri

Life with Kerri likes dressing up.

Family Night out to benifit "Singleton Moms"

Last Monday night we had our benefit night out to raise money for Singleton Moms. 
A portion of our dinner bill and dessert bill went to the organization.  We had a great time eating together at Garcia's.  We had a great turn out and after dinner enjoyed dessert at Taste-d-lite.
No double dipping. :)

One of our big tables

Another group shot!

Yummy dessert!

What to get what to get?

Digging In

Family Fun


I finally have some Thanksgiving photos to share!

We had a lovely, wonderful time with more people, more food and more help in the kitchen than ever before.

I feel so blessed this year, for many reasons, but the added bonus of family, friends, fabulous food and fellowship gave me even more for which to be thankful on this feast day.

We assembled in the biggest empty space we had to offer, our unfinished, new addition on the house. It ended up being a cozy place with a golden glow that added a special ambiance to our gathering.

This year it was Bring Your Girlfriend to Thanksgiving Day.  There were a total of four girlfriends by the end of the day.

I try to avoid having a kid's table but with twenty-four place settings it could not be helped this time. In the end the youngsters enjoyed their special seating.

The only way our holiday could have been better would be if all our family could have attended. I was dearly missing having my grandchildren here. With the blessing of modern Jetson-style technology we were able to visit with them on our computer.

Skype- the next best thing to being there.

Our blessings are innumerable, our joys outweigh our sorrows. 
We are thankful.

So on the day set aside to thank the One from whom all our blessings flow, my husband gave this prayer of thanks:

Lord, on this day set aside to remember at least a few of our many blessings, we give thanks before we eat. In these days of war and violence, we are thankful for being able to gather and worship in peace. In these days of repression and totalitarianism that pervades much of our world, we thank You for the freedoms we enjoy in our country. With the hunger and poverty that stalks much of the world, we should always be thankful for the abundance of food that we enjoy today and throughout the year. Lord, we thank You for the jobs and work we all have, when so many people in our land are out of work. We thank You for the warm homes we enjoy, when so many are homeless and living in cars or on the street. We pray on behalf of those families that cannot be together today and thank You that we are so blessed to be together and enjoy this food. We are thankful for those who spent so much time and effort to prepare this wonderful meal. Lord, we thank You for the greatest of all blessings, that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for the sins of the whole world, that all who have faith may enjoy eternal life with You in heaven. Amen.

A rant for the season

|begin rant|

It happens every year. The rumblings spread across Facebook, clever church marquees, and various forms of advertising. "Keep Christ in Christmas!" Everyone seems so worried that outsiders are trying to put the kibosh on their holiday that they issue a pre-emptive strike. They warn that utterings of "happy holidays" will be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly.

For all the times I have heard "Keep Christ in Christmas," I have never heard a non-Christian say, "Take Christ out of Christmas!" Not once. Sure, some of the atheist organizations put up the occasional billboard to get people riled up, but even many atheists celebrate Christmas. I've spotted a few "XMAS Trees" signs at tree lots, but I think that's more about laziness (and perhaps the limitations of a spray-painted hunk of plywood) than sacrilege. I think the war on Christmas has been greatly exaggerated.

Keep in mind that only around one-third of the earth's population is Christian. I'm not good at math, but I believe that statistic also indicates that two-thirds of the planet is not Christian. Many non-Christians, particularly in the U.S., are practically forced to acknowledge Christmas whether they want to or not. Can they go grocery shopping on December 25th? Probably not. Even if Christmas is not a holy day for a given individual, they've probably got the day off work and have been doused in Christmas carols and cookies for weeks on end. So, I just don't see how someone can simultaneously say, "CELEBRATE MY HOLIDAY, DAMMIT!" and "DON'T YOU DARE CELEBRATE MY HOLIDAY IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE EXACTLY WHAT I BELIEVE!"

When you check out at Target and an employee offers a cheerful, "Happy Holidays!" this is not tantamount to saying, "Take Christ out of Christmas." A quick glance at a calendar reveals that there are, in fact, multiple holidays occurring this time of year, starting with Thanksgiving and stretching through to New Year's Day. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the winter solstice also fall in that time span. And, of course, Christmas. (See, it's a whole bunch; that's why we call this period "the holidays.") The lady at Target can't tell just by looking at me whether I am Christian or Jewish or Muslim. I'm not offended by "Happy Holidays" any more than I'd be offended by "Happy Hanukkah." If you want to blame someone for turning Christmas into a commercial holiday, blame the retailers. But then, we'd also have to blame ourselves for succumbing to it (I was at Black Friday like a jackass, too, so I am not pointing any fingers here).

A wise friend pointed out to me that we're all on the same planet and that we should focus more on inclusion than divisiveness. She happens to be Buddhist (and is not in any way offended when people wish her a Merry Christmas). I'm a Unitarian Universalist, but I happen to be a big fan of Jesus, too (and yes, I celebrate his birth). Christians are supposed to be loving and tolerant, so who cares if others celebrate the holiday as they wish?

|end of rant|


Hubby and Clara

Cousin Kim and her youngest daughter

Life with Kerri is clowning around.

Cousins come to visit!

Meet baby Clara. She is 3 months old and has everyone wrapped around her little finger. Especially Nana, who has now decided she wants children.

And last time we saw cousin Taegan, she was 6 months old. She is almost 3 years old now, and her and Kerri are BFF. Taegan repeats everything Kerri says, and wants to do everything Kerri does. And they had their first sleepover together, and neither one wanted to go to sleep.

Cousin Kim travelled far to bring her daughters to visit, and we are enjoying having a house full of cousins! Pookie is extremely jealous, especially when I hold the baby. But so far, he has been pretty good with all the kids. Taegan loves to tell him he is a "Bad boy!".

I will post more pictures tomorrow...but for now, I am going back to enjoying Kim, Nana, and the girls. It's not often we get together and we always have so much fun.

Life with Kerri is loving every minute of this.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we give thanks for all the blessings in our life, our family and friends, and our good health.

Wishing everyone in the U.S.A. a very happy Thanksgiving holiday!

What are you grateful for this year?

Life with Kerri is counting our blessings.


Our foster pup has an adoption pending. A sucker very nice couple came to meet Willa last weekend and decided to adopt her. It's a good thing I had every intention of being honest about Willa's naughty behavior, because my daughter sang like a canary before the visitors even had a chance to sit down in our living room. "Willa pees and poops on the floor, and she stole my underwear," the kid announced loudly.

"Ha ha!" I laughed nervously. "I was, um, just about to tell you about that."

It is true that Willa is a thief. She is the only member of our household who can fit under the bed in the guest room/office. So, that is where she keeps her cache of stolen items. Our house is generally kept pretty neat, but there are two primary opportunities for theft: 1. My daughter can't remember to keep her bedroom door shut and 2. Laundry being folded is fair game. Every other day or so, I pull the guest room bed out from the wall so that I can clear out the stash.  I have found the following:
  • My pajama pants
  • My husband's t-shirt
  • Mutilated Barbies (I think at least four have been maimed at this point - the pooch has been pooping Barbie hands and feet for weeks).
  • My new pen
  • Dish towels
  • Receipts
  • Shoes
I took Willa to the vet yesterday for her final visit before the adoption.  She weighed 11 pounds when we got her and now clocks in at 22. She has actually made some strides in her housebreaking.  She still pees inside about once a day just to keep us from getting complacent, though.

As much as I complain about the evil little imp, she is very sweet. She sleeps with me at night and is very cuddly and affectionate. She has been pretty good about not chewing computer wires, dining room chairs, and the like. It helps that I have other dogs because she wrestles with Gretchen constantly (which sort of keeps them both out of trouble). Willa is funny and keeps us entertained. At first it seems amusing when she runs through the living room, ears flying behind her and a wild look in her eye, but then we realize, "Hey, did she have my underwear in her mouth?"

Her new home is a couple hours away, so I think the kid and I are going to make a weekend of it and get a hotel room on Priceline. I'm also planning a visit with Fritz, my former foster dog. He lives in the same area where Willa will be residing. Plus, I adore the nice lady who adopted him and she is planning to feed us.

So, the puppy saga will be over soon. The next time I receive a phone call during which I hear the words, "Hey, would you mind fostering a puppy?" I'll be smart enough to respond with the right answer. Or at least to pretend to have a bad connection and hang up toute de suite.

Who doesn't like something free?

If you want to create a free, very realistic personalized video greeting from Santa for your child (sent via email), go to magicsanta.ca

It is very cool!

You can watch Kerri's video here: http://magicsanta.ca/player.html?code=B58FMT

Life with Kerri is in holiday mode.

Pie Prep

As we do every year....the kids make the pie for our Thanksgiving feast.

After all, what kind of a pie teacher would I be if I didn't pass on the pie secrets to my own offspring?

They diligently work to make their best presentation but I have to keep reassuring them that the taste is more important than the look.  We'll take refined or rustic when it comes to pie.

But really, there are only two kinds of good pie...

Warm pie and cold pie.

What to do with a hospital bracelet.

Last night we had to rush Kerri to the emergency room because of her asthma. She refused to take off her hospital bracelet. Today she decided to decorate it.

Kerri thinks her new and improved hospital bracelet is way cooler.

Life with Kerri has a new souvenir.

Thanksgiving Week

It's Thanksgiving week here in America and like all my other countrymen and women I am preparing for the feast day. Our family gathering will be held here, as usual, with a number of special guests attending. So far the head count is at 23 dinner guests.

Can you imagine 23 people sitting at a dinner table?

I can't either.

Well, I can imagine twenty-three people at a long banquet table in a cavernous room with candles blazing and servants bending at the guest's elbows. But I can't imagine twenty-three people sitting at a dining table in my little country cottage.

My dinner table sits eight people. Ten when the kids are all home and we squeeze really tightly together in a cozy family way. So the plan for Thanksgiving dinner is to put three or four tables together in our newly constructed house addition and put some chairs and benches around it. The new addition to our home has a roof and four walls but no insulation or electrical power. There is currently three inches of snow on the ground and more in the forecast. Needless to say, people need to eat fast before their food gets cold.

We'll be serving two turkeys, venison roast and ham. No shortage of animal flesh on our feast table!

Every year the Thanksgiving guest list grows. It may be the food but it also may be the shooting session that takes place on the mountain afterwards. People really like filling their bellies with turkey and taters and then shooting shot guns at flying clay pigeons. Usually I'm at home putting my feet up during the annual Annie Oakley shoot-outs, but I may go participate this year (if it isn't raining) just because- well, the more the merrier!

It's been a while since I have shared a recipe on my blog. I've been baking a lot of pumpkins in the last few weeks since it was the one crop that produced abundantly in the garden. I've made pumpkin pie, pumpkins soups and pumpkin bread. I'm still making cookies every day for the Expertec customers so this Thanksgiving week they are getting pumpkin cookies.

I looked at a few recipes for pumpkin cookies on the interwebs then tweaked one to fit my purposes. Most pumpkin cookies have a frosted top. I need to be able to stack the cookies in a jar and not have them stick together. I eliminated the frosting, added raisins and chopped walnuts and came up with a cookie that is like a muffin top. A not too sweet morning treat along side that cup of coffee while waiting for your car repairs to be finished.

The cookie "dough" is more like a batter for pumpkin bread.

Despite its soft quality, it stayed in place when spooned onto a cookie sheet.

They baked up into a nice cookie shape and were soft and chewy.
These spicy fall treats are a hit at the repair shop.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together in the bowl:

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add and stir in:

1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes until the cookie is set and the edges are browned.

What are you all doing for Thanksgiving this week? Are you cooking? Are you a guest at someone's dinner table? Will there be 23 shivering people squeezed together trying to spread frozen butter on the rolls?

Today we celebrate.

Remember this? CLICK HERE. "One Cherry Socks". That was Saturday, September 27, 2008. The day we started Kerri's speech therapy for her severe phonological delay. At that time, we barely understood her half the time, and most people hardly understood her at all when she talked.

After over three years of speech therapy, we are almost done. Yes, you read that right. Today I met with, among others, Kerri's speech language pathologist. Kerri is now clearly understood most of the time. So Kerri will be ending her phonological speech therapy sessions at the end of this year. That is a month from today.

I cried. In front of everyone, and I was not ashamed. They were tears of happiness and joy. My beautiful, smart, happy little girl has come a long way since "One Cherry Socks". Thank you to the three wonderful speech language pathologists that have been working so very hard with Kerri the past three years to bring us to this point. Kerri always has a lot to say, and now she can say it clearly thanks to your dedication to your profession and your commitment to Kerri. We will never forget you.

Kerri still faces lots of therapy for other things. But that is a post for another day. Today we are going to celebrate this huge milestone in Kerri's life. She did it! She worked hard, and she is now a success story. And trust me, you have not heard the last of her yet - not if Kerri has anything to do with it. That girl loves to talk!

Life with Kerri is happy today.

Oh, to be so confident

She made me take this photo of her flushing a toilet. We were in an antique shop and she was fascinated by the "olden" potty.

My daughter was selected for the student council at school last week. I received a letter from her teacher requesting me to approve A's participation on the council. She told me that she thinks my daughter's personality and good ideas will be of value to the other members. A lot of thoughts went through my head:
  • First graders are involved in student government? Do they know she still doesn't pour her own juice? 
  • Does she have to take notes? And if so, can they limit the discussions to words that have appeared on her spelling tests this year? 
  • She has to report back to her class what happens in the meeting. I have received 15-minute responses to the question "What did you play at recess today?" so I can only imagine what sort of report her class will receive.
Mostly, though, I'm just darned proud that my daughter was selected. I wonder if this will be the beginning of a long and storied career in politics. She and I attended a tree lighting ceremony downtown last Wednesday. Our city's mayor was there. I turned away for a moment to throw away the cup from our hot chocolate and the next thing I knew, my daughter was chatting with the mayor like they were BFFs from way back. She saw him two days later at a different holiday event and was beside herself, waving and calling out to him. He waved back and said, "Hi there!" Maybe he remembered her and maybe he didn't - I'm not sure. To top things off she spotted him again on Saturday at our local holiday parade and waved to him again. I am fairly certain that she is convinced that the mayor specifically and purposely plans his schedule around where my daughter might be on any given day.

She is confident, that's for sure. I stayed home from work on Friday to work on the secret project. I did get up to help the kid get dressed and to fix her hair. She was headed to the bathroom to brush her teeth when she turned and looked at herself in the full-length mirror in the hallway. "I look so pretty," she said to herself. I hugged her and told her she sure was right.  I have never, in 41 years, looked in a mirror and thought, "Hubba hubba!" I have no idea what it's like to have my daughter's confidence, but I'm definitely envious.

This morning at church she was chomping at the bit to make an announcement during our "candles of community" tradition. She wanted me to walk up to the chalice with her but did not want me to say anything. She took the microphone, said her name (everyone knows her but I suggested she say her name in case there were any new people in attendance) and then announced that she had been selected for student council. Her voice rang out clear as a bell. She set the microphone down as the congregation applauded for her.  Later, after the service was over, she announced her news to each member individually, just in case they'd somehow failed to hear it with the aid of a microphone and speakers.

I'll be anxious to hear how tomorrow's meeting goes when I pick her up. Apparently the first order of business will be elections. A matter-of-factly told me that it is her intention to be president of her school this year. I suggested that it is more likely a fifth grader will be chosen, and she scowled at me as if she couldn't believe this outrage.

So, who knows. Maybe she will choose a career in politics. Do politicians have to get up early? That might be a problem.

Another Special Gift

The hand blown glass keepsakes from my mother and sons were not the only crafted with love gift I received for my milestone birthday. My daughter, Alyssa, also presented me with something special when she came back home from her sister's.

Alyssa spent about a year cross-stitching this garden scene especially for me-

And I love it! The detail is astonishing- the sunbeams coming through the gate, the lilacs and wisteria stitched with such painterly effects. Lovely!

If anyone knows how to frame a work like this, I need some tips. I want to do it right so that it will be preserved well and I can enjoy it hung on a wall.

This is what happens...

...every time Nana tries to leave after a visit.

I am not surprised at all. I would do the same thing, but would have a hard time getting up from the floor!

Life with Kerri hangs on to every moment that counts.

"Susan" update!

Today I got an email from "Susan", whom I blogged about yesterday. Here is what she had to say:

"I can't thank you enough; you are so amazing! I will go over all the information on the weekend.
He got suspended yesterday from daycare. He was hitting, kicking and spitting at the teachers.
It is really nice to know that there is someone (you) out there who understands what I am going through! Thanks so much again!!!"

I am forever grateful to all of you who reached out via email with recommendations - which I shared with Susan. YOU are all amazing!

For those of you that are looking for information on RAD, here are some links to websites that might be of use:






And I did a quick search on Amazon and found many books, but this one caught my eye:

"When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD" by Nancy Thomas.

Some of the above websites also have a book section with recommendations.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who responded.

Life with Kerri is reminded of just how far we have come.

Bianca would never do that

I've come to the sad realization that playing the Santa card ("Ohhh, you know how Santa feels about dirty teeth - better get to brushing!") is not as effective as it once was.  I think my daughter figured out that despite all the threats, she still gets plenty o'presents on Christmas morn. So, although I will continue to advise my daughter that the big guy in red gets furious over uneaten vegetables and jackets left on the floor instead of hanging them up because the hook is RIGHT THERE FOR GOD'S SAKE, I knew I needed a new tactic. Enter: Bianca.

Like many parents, I worry that my child is not learning to think of others. I once read that children are pretty much genetically programmed to think only of themselves until the age of eight or so. However, my daughter does have a good heart and I think she just needs some encouragement to understand concepts like gratitude and giving. So, I took her to the mall yesterday to select an angel ornament from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. I explained to her that each ornament represents a child from a low-income family and that these kids won't get much for Christmas. I immediately realized that I'd left a loophole - I feared she'd ask why Santa doesn't bring these kids as many gifts as they bring her. However, she didn't ask.

We looked at all of the ornaments until we found one for a girl who is close to my daughter's age. I thought maybe the whole concept would come together a little better if the recipient is the same age/sex. We chose Bianca. She is seven. She wears a size 8-10 clothing, size 2 1/2 shoes, and really needs pajamas (according to the note included on the paper ornament). "We'll shop for Bianca together," I told my daughter. She nodded, but I'm not sure she really gets it. She didn't ask me any questions, which is unusual. We aren't wealthy, of course. Our checking account takes a beating every month (and we don't have any savings to speak of except for 401ks). But, we have a house, jobs, cars, and college educations. We have food to eat. We're okay. We can hook up a little girl we'll never meet with some pjs and shoes.

Now, please don't tell Bianca but I am using her - just a little. I didn't set out with that intention at all, but I am a parent whose toolbox is mostly empty. Time-outs are ineffective at this age, we don't spank, and positive reinforcement is only marginally effective. So, that leaves the induction of guilt. Within mere hours of having chosen Bianca, I found myself saying things like, "I'm pretty sure Bianca puts her pajamas on the first time she is asked" and "I really doubt that Bianca would leave that much food on her plate." Poor Bianca. I have no shame. Seriously.

Anyway, here's hoping that by the time the holidays are over, my daughter will think of Bianca and remember that not everyone has everything they need and want - even basic necessities. And maybe she will remember that giving is more important than receiving. Perhaps she'll even be more grateful for what she has. And, most importantly, I hope she'll remember that Bianca always, always eats her vegetables.

Shrimp Chips

The other night, at a special dinner with friends who just happen to be the best home cooks in the Northwest, I learned how to successfully make Phad Thai. I'll tell you all about it. But not right now because I have to run to the airport to pick up my daughter.

But in the mean time I wanted to show you this fun Vietnamese snack we had as a little appetizer.

Shrimp Chips?

These little dried discs were made with shrimp, tapioca flour and seasonings. They were not really edible right out of the package.

They were prepared by dropping them into hot oil in the wok for about fifteen seconds and this is what happened.

They were kind of like a Cheeto in texture, light and puffy with a melt in your mouth quality. They had a nicely seasoned flavor that had only a hint of seafood. Most people thought they were quite additive.

Just one of the interesting and very different menu items we ate at a dinner of Thai and  Vietnamese cuisine.

Things always happen for a reason...and how YOU can help.

Yesterday Kerri and I went to the audiologist for testing. It has been a crappy week, since Kerri's asthma is out of control, no one is sleeping well at night, and Kerri has missed an entire week of school. And after the testing was done, we got some news that was difficult to digest. I was feeling pretty bad. And then I met one of the staff, who I will call "Susan" for privacy reasons.

Since the doctor knew Kerri's history, she asked me if I would talk to her employee Susan, who was going through a very difficult time with her 5 year old grandson, whom she got custody of two years ago. (She actually has custody of two siblings, but the girl is doing well in therapy). I will call the grandson "Bobby".

Bobby has been diagnosed with RAD (reactive attachment disorder), and it's a pretty severe case. Susan has lost hope, and is at her wits' end. We sat down in a testing room and had a very long chat. Apparently, there is little help for Bobby here unless Susan gets private therapy, something she cannot afford. She did not know where else to turn for help. She has exhausted all her resources here. She feels alone, and with no support from family and friends, who do not understand what she is going through, especially because Bobby is an angel when he is in public or with others. Boy could I relate.

And then I felt guilty, for feeling sorry for myself and Kerri. I realized that whenever G-d has given me a challenge in my life, he has always given me a reminder that there are others who have it worse. And then he gives me an opportunity to make a difference. And I took this challenge by the horns.

I cannot cure Bobby, or wave a magic wand and make it all go away. But in the hour that we chatted (while hubby and Kerri patiently waited in the lobby), something positive happened. At the end of our tearful chat, Kerri came in and I pointed to her and told Susan to not lose hope, because this is the end result: a happy, healthy child, which is what we want. And although we do not know what the outcome will be in Bobby's case, Susan told me she now had a little hope, something her own therapist could not give her. And the look on her face was worth way more than the hour we spent chatting. HOPE...such a small word, but such a big deal. Especially for Susan. And for Bobby.

Susan and I are now in touch via email, and I am sending her whatever information, resources, books, links I can find from our past experience with Kerri's therapy. So here is how you can help: if you have anything that you think will be helpful to Susan, please leave a message below. Any information about treating RAD, resources (especially online), Yahoo or Facebook groups, names of books, contacts, ANYTHING that you think can help is welcome. Susan is not asking for money, or handouts. She just needs information, because there is so little of it out there. And pray for Bobby.

Life with Kerri is asking for your help.

The World Needs More Good Pie

....and it's going to be getting some...

....because four lovely ladies learned that pie crust is not so intimidating to make after all.

They discovered that they can make a beautiful hand made pie with a flavorful, flaky crust that will please the most discerning pie palette.

At the beginning of the day these girls expressed that they felt fear and trepidation at the thought of working with pie dough but by the end of the day they were confidently rolling and shaping pastry perfection.

If we keep spreading the fresh pie making word and preaching the flaky pastry truth of butter and leaf lard, we can overcome the onslaught of bland and gooey factory-made pies. Let's bring back a demand for the real hand-made thing. The world needs more good pie!

Now go forth and fill the world with tender tasty pie!

Tanner's list

Tanner was very busy this morning.

Making this....

Dear Santa,
I want a robot for
Christmas to do the dishwasher
and set the table and do my
homework. from Tanner Lamm.

Chores have been a battle lately. He empties the dishwasher before school and sets the table for dinner.

He thinks he's a slave.

We have a 15 minutes discussions every single morning before he empties the dishwasher, about how "unfair" it is that he has to do the dishes.

And every single evening, before he sets the table.

It drives me nuts.

He apparently thinks he can just ask for a Robot and his chores will go away.

Kate though....she's a dream with chores. I ask one time, and she gets up and does it. She even helps Tanner with his without being asked. She is aMAZing with her chores.

BTW, Tanner is convinced that Santa can make anything. And that he will be getting a Robot for Christmas, as long as he's good. (And he's pretty confident that he's good. He's told me.)