Monday, January 30, 2012

Driving Lessons

Hopefully I'm not the only one with phobias quirks. I'd like to think there are other people paranoid of severe thunderstorms who can't leave the house without checking to make sure the stove is off.

I have an entrenched fear of sliding in a car. Perhaps it's because I grew up in California and never had to drive on snow or ice. Perhaps it was getting hit by a drunk driver in a snowstorm in the middle of nowhere three decades ago. 

Perhaps it was twelve years ago not knowing that I shouldn't use cruise control when the roads are icy and hitting a patch of ice and sliding across the road into the ditch and needing my neighbor to pull me out. 

Over the years Keith tried teaching me the basics of winter driving but I wasn't a good student. One slide and my adrenaline spikes, my hands grip the steering wheel, and my heart races. 

If you're ever driving on a bad weather night and come up behind a car going 30 miles per hour, that would be me.

Two years ago I blogged about getting our young friend's car stuck in the snow. This is the same friend we dressed up like a candy cane and who broke Christina's nose last spring

The subject came up recently and he said that all I needed to do to get unstuck was put the car in reverse, crank the wheel, and step on the gas. I'm real visual and couldn't figure out from his description what he meant.

Two weeks ago the subject came up again and I asked for a demonstration. 11:00 at night and we went out in front of our house and he spun his car around a few times. I wasn't scared because it was his car and he seemed to know what he was doing.

He asked if I wanted to try. 

Ummm...NO. But not wanting to appear chicken, I asked more questions about what to do when you're sliding around.

He finally said the best way to learn is to spin donuts. 

I did mention that I don't like to slide around, right?

I finally decided that I'm not getting any younger and if someone is willing to let me experiment in their car, maybe I should try. I asked if I needed my Drivers License. He said he didn't think so.

We went to an empty parking lot and he showed me what to do. Then it was my turn. 

Oh boy. I made sure to have the seatbelt on, put the car in reverse, cranked the wheel, and stepped on the gas.

Oh my goodness. 52 years old and I had just spun my first donut. I have to admit it was kind of fun so I did a few more. I mentioned to our young friend that he might feel funny if someone asked what he did on Friday night and he said that he was teaching his Pastor's wife how to spin donuts. 

I'd like to say I'm cured of being afraid, but I can only say I'm better. When I turned into our church parking lot the other day our big faithful red van slid and I didn't feel that spike of fear. The girls were shocked when I smiled. They asked if I did it on purpose and I said of course not. 

So last Saturday we were invited to a birthday dinner. I was a bit apprehensive about the icy hill I needed to drive up. I swallowed my fears and plunged ahead and did my best but couldn't make it all the way up. I got about 15 feet from the top and that was all she wrote. 

That meant I had to back down the icy hill. Thankfully my recent driving lessons helped me not to panic. 

Not even when the van slid sideways towards the ditch. The van swung around and came to stop. At that point I realized that I'd much rather go down the hill forward than in reverse. So we drove down the hill and went a long, circuitous route to go around the hill. 

This may not seem like to much to some people, but if this had been a race, I had just run my personal best. I had slipped and slided and whipped around on a icy hill, nearly missing a ditch and had not panicked. 

I was nervous going back down the hill two hours later, but not as bad as I normally would get. I tried to inch down the hill but gained momentum and couldn't have stopped if I had wanted to. Thankfully no other cars were on the road. I finally stopped near the bottom and the main roads were fine.

The moral of the story is you can teach an old dog new tricks and make sure your Pastor's wife knows how to spin donuts so she won't be afraid to slide backwards down icy hills.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


It's nice to have all the chicks home in the nest at the same time. I wanted to share a few pictures from Andrew and Rachel's holiday visit.

This didn't turn out quite how I wanted it. 
(Be warned girls, I want a redo)

My favorite people
(most of the time)

#4 and #7

#3, #4, and #6

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We've Got Rhythm

The Occasion:  The funeral of a sweet 86-year-old lady from our church. Strong in faith and character, Harriet blessed all who knew her.  Her funeral was a beautiful celebration. She loved and was loved by many.

The Place: Our church has a simple floor plan. A big room doubles as sanctuary and fellowship hall, which only poses a problem the few times a year we need both on the same day.

The Music:  Peaceful atmosphere and beautiful flowers. Displayed pictures, shared stories, and shed tears. Harriet’s physical family derives comfort from each other. So does her church family. We loved this gentle feisty (yes, it’s possible to be both) lady, and our love language today is service and food.

The Dance:  Both fascinating and complex. No one leads yet everyone knows what to do. The spirit of cooperation is a wonder to behold.

Worker bees quickly remove hymnals and Bibles from under chairs and stack them in a side room. 

Many hands make light work and chairs are pushed to the side so long rows of white church tables can be set up. A team of apron-wearing ladies efficiently slap down tablecloths in short order. Like a giant Transformer toy, in ten minutes the room morphs from sanctuary to fellowship hall.

The dance pauses as we break for food. A long food table groans under our congregation’s offering. Somehow this feast unites Harriet’s two families as we grieve and rejoice.

Not sure how we know it’s time, but at some point the dance resumes. Someone refills coffee cups. Some else collects garbage. A lot of someones clear tables, bag up and disperse leftovers. Someone does dishes. Someone else takes dirty tablecloths home to wash.

Tables are put back into storage. Chairs are moved back. The carpet gets vacuumed. We once more change from eating hall mode back to church mode.

I am fascinated by a Godly woman who lived well and died well. I’m also fascinated by a group of people, united by their love for God and love and respect for Harriet who cheerfully did an amazing amount of work in a short period of time.

While we close a chapter of our church family’s story, Harriet is just beginning a new chapter of hers.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones. 
--Psalm 116:15-- (NASB)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oh My Goodness

When I let Anna and Amy go to a retreat over New Year's weekend at their brother's camp I thought they'd do normal camp things like eat and play games. 

Certainly not this.

Nowhere do I remember seeing Polar Plunge on the brochure. 

Some polar plunges are done to raise money for a good cause. 
This was done just for "fun."

Why do rational people do irrational things? 

Amy claims the Iowa water was only as cold as Lake Superior in October.

And why, when everyone else jumped in from the platform, does my son have to jump from high above?

  He should know these kinds of things make his Mama nervous,

And posting pictures on Facebook makes it much easier
for a Mother to have eyes in the back of her head.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

DIY - Marshmallow Shooter

Great idea I found on Pinterest for the snipers in your house. Safer than BB guns. Funner than spitwads. Cleaner than paint ball.

A full tutorial can be found by clicking here

I made this for a white elephant gift exchange last month and it quickly became a coveted item. After seeing how well it was received, I restocked and made two more. It's best to make these in quantities of two so as to better facilitate duels. 

The tutorial said she made hers for $2.50. Maybe PVC pipe costs more this far north, but mine cost $4.50. But still well worth it.

I'm cleaning the icky-sticky price tags off.
(only necessary if you're OCD)

Armed and Dangerous

Extremely easy to make and seriously fun. I promise. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I tell my kids that one of the benefits of getting older is that I don't care near as much what people think about me as I did when I was younger. But I had an acute attack of insecurity last week and may not be totally over it.

When invited to a birthday dinner recently, I offered to bring something. Since we would bring 10 people to the party I wanted to contribute to the meal.

I was assigned dessert. Aack!!!  Double aack!  I don't make good desserts. I can make bread in my sleep. My salads aren't too shabby. I'm a whiz with white sauce and Mexican food is my middle name, but desserts are hit and miss for me.

Procrastination didn't help matters. Who knew that waiting until the last minute was a bad idea?

My daughter-in-law Rachel suggested her tasty caramel brownie dessert recipe. My taste buds smiled in memory. Oh yes, quite tasty. Surely the ticket to impress people and be a suitable birthday dessert.

Trouble is I didn't have the necessary ingredients and procrastinating had used up the time margin so there wasn't time for a trip to a store.

I'm not sure where things went wrong.

Perhaps it was substituting the ingredients for a homemade german chocolate cake for a store bought german chocolate cake mix.

Perhaps it was trusting Google for a suitable replacement for evaporated milk.

Perhaps it was not wanting to spend $7.00 for two bags of caramels and deciding to use one bag and  leftover caramel ice cream topping.

Perhaps it was substituting ingredients, doubling the recipe, and using two different size pans so the cooking times weren't the same. 

Perhaps it was wanting to dribble white chocolate artistically in thin graceful stripes across the brownies, and then when the white chocolate held tenanciously to the spoon and refused to drip, electing to just spread the white glop like frosting. Only it didn't look like frosting. The dessert got uglier by the minute.

Perhaps it was when I had a panic attack, knowing we were already late and would be showing up with the world's ugliest birthday dessert I tried one last ditch effort and sprinkled red and green Christmas sprinkles on top. So just in case you ever need to know, Christmas sprinkles won't disguise ugly. For sure it didn't have eye appeal.

Perhaps it was the sleeve of Keith's jacket that dragged through the ugly mess on the ride over. 

Perhaps I didn't pray hard enough for the dessert to set up right.

I wish I could show you a picture of just how ugly it was, but I was too traumatized to take a picture.

I begged Keith to stop by our church to snitch borrow the leftover ice cream in the freezer to hopefully camouflage the dessert's shortcomings, only to discover the bucket was one thirds full. I prayed God would miraculously make that stretch for 21 people.

We arrived late (sigh!) and I set the dessert on an a bench on the deck outside, hoping the cold air would firm up the dessert and delay the unveiling a little longer.

I told my friend that the dessert had flopped and she kindly and politely said that she was sure it would taste all right. I didn't hold out much hope.

As people finished their meal, I knew the dreaded moment of truth had come. I whispered to my friend, "It's really ugly. I just can't carry it in with candles and sing Happy Birthday."

She smiled and said, "I'm sure it's not that bad."

I helped wash dishes and she went outside to fetch the bedraggled brownies. She came into the kitchen and whispered, "Did your dessert look like that when you brought it?"

I took one look at the big spot without white chocolate frosting and Christmas sprinkles and immediately knew what had happened. I whispered back, "Was your dog outside?"

She nodded and we both giggled, for now the dessert, if possible, was even uglier than before. We discreetly put the part the dog licked into the garbage, put one piece on the plate, added a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and a lit candle and walked out to sing Happy Birthday.

Turns out the dessert tasted fine. Very rich, but tasty if you didn't know what it was supposed to be like. Speaking of which, Rachel said, "Is this my recipe? I didn't recognize it with the white chocolate."

Either the birthday boy was being polite, or it tasted better than it looked, but he came back for seconds. No one asked for the recipe, but it's just as well as there's no possibility the recipe could be reproduced. It was an original, that's for sure.

Next time I'll either bake a birthday cake, buy one from the Wal-Mart bakery, or offer to bring Guacamole.

Or Little Smokies.

Or both.