Monday, January 31, 2011

Congratulations Lauren!!

Our granddaughter Lauren was one of five students named Student of the Month for January at Oaks Christian Middle School! Wow! What a honor. We are SOOOO very proud of her. She was homeschooled from first grade through sixth grade and then made the transition this year to this private school. It's a tough school with high academic, athletic, and arts expectations. The commendation in the Oaks school newsletter says: "...7th grade students were named Students of the Month for the month of January in recognition for their outstanding character, attitude, participation, leadership and/or service. We applaud their efforts and leadership in our community."  BRAVO Lauren!

Lauren's favorite classes are English and Bible. She's been a starter on the Middle School's soccer team and they are going to playoffs! She's also on the school yearbook team - which would be a great outlet for her creative style!

She emailed the following photo, all ready for school, but it's not very clear. She's a lovely girl and we love her SOOO much!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gettin' Around - Thailand - 2004

I recently reorganized some of my computer photo files and it prompted a lot of reminiscing of the places we have visited in the last several years, specifically the sites we have seen and what means of transportation took us there.

So I thought a little tour would be fun. I'll start with our trip to Thailand in May 2004; other places will follow in due time. Rich would retire from LAUSD the next month and was still working at Cal State Univ Northridge, and I was having a good time in my little home business as a virtual assistant.

We took a 14-day tour sponsored by Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA that was for alums (that would be Rich) and parents of students or alums (that would be both of us). What a trip it was!

After a 13 hour flight from LA to Taipei and a three hour flight from Taipei to Bangkok, we were exhausted. We had a couple of hours to shower (I flooded out our tile-floored bathroom - another story!) and catch our breath. Then we met our group and took a river boat to see how the "river people" live. Just as we were boarding our little boat, the sky opened up and it absolutely poured! You can see Rich's hair is wet, I'm squinting from the driving rain and my right shoulder is soaked - and we were just beginning!

A river home. The water is so high. People were bathing, doing laundry, whatever in this river!

Another boat for a dinner cruise. We had several of these on this trip.

From Bangkok to Chaing Mai we travelled by night train. What an experience that was! We boarded about 9-10 pm. We had just a couple of minutes (literally!!) to get all of our bags and group (24 of us!) on the train. We just threw things on and then sorted it all out as the train departed. We all had a sleeper bunk, each of us on a bottom bed. How big was it??? Well, I barely stretched from head to toe, end to end! Did we sleep??? Me, not so much; Rich, not at all! We used the bungee cords to hold our bags to the hand rails and ladders! They bounced around all night!

Early the next morning Rich met his top bunk-mate, a gentlemen who was communting from his work in Bangkok to home. What a life, was home just on weekend, if I remember correctly. Rich left his glasses behind so had to get new ones made once we got settled.

From Chaing Mai to Chaing Rai we travelled mostly by vans. Rich had a great time getting to know the three different drivers. One thing that was so great about our group was we met as strangers but everyone did a great job of "mixing and matching" on the vans, riding with different people so we could get acquainted.

One of our favorite things was to see the Thai jungle and what a better way than via elephant and river boat. I was so glad I took old capris and t-shirt for it was a very smelly, sweaty trip. That's me on the right. The ride was very see-saw, right to left. Jungle was incredible!

Rich followed behind. The Thai elephant "driver" planted his feet behind the elephant's ears so he could give commands with his feet. Don't you think Rich looks rather "kingly"??

After riding the elephants, we got on the little bamboo rafts and went down the river. There are three seasons in Thailand: hot, hotter, hottest. We were there at the end of the hotter! I never wore make-up - it wouldn't stick! We had a constant "glow".

Rich is getting ready to board a tuk-tuk. These vehicles are about the size of a VW bug and they cram in about 6 adults! This was actually the worst travel day of any trip I've taken. I failed to duck my head far enough as I boarded and about took off the top of my head. The temperature was raging hot, the air oppressive and this gave me a raging headache. My head was sore to the touch for about 3 days! Rich and I now laugh about it!

You can tell by the expression on Loretta's face what it's like to ride in this thing! It was nuts!

We travelled by vans again to a village of Akha tribal people. They gave us such a warm welcome!

Our group met with them on Saturday evening and then we returned for church on Sunday. Westmont's chaplain travelled with us and preached on Sunday. They asked our group to sing, so we sang "Amazing Grace". On the second note they joined in with us in their native language. It was heavenly! Simply thrilling - a sound never to be forgotten!

Akha ladies in native dress.

Our group was hosted for lunch in the church members homes/huts. Rich and I and another couple were hosted by the tribal chief (center back)! As their guests, we were fed first, while they all looked on. Then the men were fed, women and children were last. We were served "chicken", a very bony fish, rice and these little balls of some kind of fruit (in the bowl), very sour!!

The tribal chief's wife stands outside the cooking hut, watching as we ate.

Our group at the Queen's Gardens in Chaing Rai. They were a great group of travellers! It was on this trip that we met Carey and Nancy (Nancy in black shirt next to me, Carey in orange shirt next to Rich). We've had great fun travelling together and visiting each other since this trip.

Later in the trip we travelled by motor coach from Pattaya to Bangkok...a very large tour bus! Our bus broke down en route and it would be a couple of hours before a replacement would arrive so we limped to a travel plaza. There we found little Thai eateries, shops, and McDonald's - complete with all the hamburgers we were craving (after almost 2 weeks of Thai food!) and almost more importantly - Western toilets! That's a whole story in and of itself! Anyway, all but a couple of the group F.L.E.W. to McDonald's. We were happy campers!

We saw a lot of WATS - temples, lovely gardens, ate "interesting" Thai food, did LOTS of shopping (for gorgeous jewelry!), experienced Thai massage, and through it all really had our eyes opened to another culture. It was an amazing, rewarding trip!

Thanks for coming along. Next stop - Italy.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Baby it's cold outside!

We went to Kansas City this week and arrived at our hotel just in time for a winter storm to begin dumping snow! Our hotel reported 9" of the white stuff in about a six hour period! Other parts of the area reported 12" or more! It was gorgeous. A white-out. A winter wonderland.

We walked the couple of blocks to Cheesecake Factory for a yummy lunch. You can tell the snow is coming down pretty fast by the "dusting" on my coat.

Did you know that Kansas City, MO has more fountains that Rome, Italy??? This is the one at the Cheesecake Factory. I was surprised that there was still water in it. It's really lovely when water is flowing at its peak!

Today we heard L.O.T.S. of honking geese. This is one of the parts of winter that we enjoy. (Thankfully they just fly over, don't stop and leave their "marks"!) Today this is what I saw when I went out to Walmart. Oh my goodness!!!  There were hundreds of Canadian geese in the field at the end of our subdivision!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

Jeremy sent an email today with the title, "Sleeping Beauty". Oh my, isn't Maddie gorgeous?!?!? She's almost eight weeks now and does she have some healthy "chub" going on! She's a thriving little girl.

They had a good appointment with her local ophthalmologist on Friday. They are confident that this doctor, working with the specialist at Jules Stein, makes the best team for Maddie. So we are waiting for January 31, unless a cancellation occurs and she can get in sooner. In the meantime they are doing what they can to open her eye to the light as much as possible.

For those who are interested, you can go to and view a short video of the procedure that will open Maddie's eyelids. It's actually quite fascinating. Go to this link at for the Ptose-up Frontalis Suspension Procedure

Jeremy sent this message of gratitude and he expressed it so well for all of us....

"We are so grateful for all the love and support we have received. We know that there are hundreds of people praying for Maddie. We are so blessed and loved. We strongly feel that the unified body of Christ that has been brought together is glorifying to Christ. We feel the love and support and feel at peace with what is being set before us and Madelyn. We know He and only He is in control and we relinquish everything to Him. We are humbled."

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."   --  
Psalm 115:1

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Angels

It finally started to snow late yesterday afternoon and Rich captured these snow angels on our driveway!




What a difference a year makes!! Last year, at age two, she didn't like the cold, white stuff at all! Now she's making angels and trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue.

Tonight, while working at my desk, I heard a scritch, scritch, scritch. Sure enough it was Brett shoveling the snow off our driveway. (What a guy!!) When I opened the garage door the girls (all but Mo, who was ill) yelled "Grandma, come play with us!!" So at nearly 7 pm we were throwing snowballs. It took me more time to put on extra layers, hat, two pair of gloves, snow boots, heavy jacket and scarf, than it did to play. I was their target and they loved it. A few minutes and it was their bedtime! All will sleep well tonight!

It was actually a relief to have a wonderful snowy day. We need it so badly! It was a good day to create a yummy white bean chili for dinner. Weatherman said Newton received 5.7 inches! Yay!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Please Pray for Maddie

Please pray for our dear little granddaughter, Madelyn Rose, or Maddie, as we call her. Since birth, Maddie has not been able to open her eyelids more than just little slits.

Yesterday Jeremy and Renee took her to a specialist and Maddie was diagnosed with congenital ptosis, which means the muscle that lifts the eyelid is non-existent or considerably under-developed, causing considerably droopy eyelids. Surgery is the only way to correct the condition but it is not a one-stop fix, rather it will be multiple surgeries over several years, as her body continues to grow.  Just 1 in 10,000 babies are born with congenital ptosis and 75% of those babies have it in just one eye, so it's pretty rare for both eyes to be affected.

There is a real time issue here. Light is critical to the development of the infant eye. If you cover a baby's eye with patches for three months, they will be blind. Maddie is nearly seven weeks old, so you see, there are really just a few weeks in which to consult with surgeons and make the proper decisions; decisions which will affect Maddie for the rest of her life. You see, with surgery it is a permanent fix, she will not be able to blink or close her eyes, not even to sleep, at least that's what is being said now. The next step is to consult with specialist surgeon at the world renown Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA and proceed with surgery ASAP.

Apart from this, Maddie is a very healthy, sweet, mild little baby. She cries only when hungry, and does love to eat! Hey, she's a Dewey! From birth she's been so pretty with gorgeous porcelain-doll-like skin and such a pretty little mouth. Her eyes (which are fine, thankfully!) are a navy blue, we'd just like to be able to see them and have them see us!

So prayer requests would be:
* a prompt appointment and surgery date at UCLA
* wisdom, discernment, peace for Jeremy and Renee as they seek the best for Maddie
* Maddie's eyes would get enough light for their development
* a miracle, if that's in God's plan, for the situation to correct itself
* may God, and only God, be glorified through all of this

Please share this request with any of your Bible study groups, small groups, family and friends. You may use the attached photos and any of the text. It's so hard on this grandma to be so far away, if only I could rush to California today! - but I know the power of prayer is far greater than anything I can do. May God's plans for Maddie prevail!

Again, I turn to Proverbs 3:5-6...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Correction -- Breakfast Cake Recipe

I made a mistake in the amount of baking powder in the recipe I posted yesterday. The correct amount is 2 tablespoons of baking powder. The corrected recipe follows.............

Breakfast Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups oats (quick or old fashioned, I used quick)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and sugars, add eggs, milk, vanilla. Beat well. Add oats, baking powder, cinnamon. Mix well. Batter will be very thick, heavy. Spray a 9x13 pan and pour batter into it. I lightly sprinkled a little cinnamon and sugar over top. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and golden. It took mine about 40 minutes. After baking you can top with nuts, brown sugar, butter. (I didn't do this because of how I served it, which is how Nanci served it.) Serve with vanilla yogurt, fruit (I used one large bag of frozen and defrosted mixed fruit, one of a berry mix, and also sliced banana), walnuts, almonds and coconut - all toasted.

It really is yummy, very satisfying, and as brunch dishes go, really pretty healthy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011- Off to a Roaring Start!

My Bible study resumed today, after our holiday break. It was so WONDERFUL to be together again. I am still abuzz from our time together today!

Usually there are 10-12 of us, but today just six of us enjoyed a really sweet, intimate time. We are studying the book of Isaiah and most of us are also reading a book series, "Chronicles of the Kings" by Lynn Austin. These fabulous books are fiction, but the characters come from the Bible books of I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles. The narrative quotes are directly from the scriptures and it is wonderful reading. Really makes the Old Testament come alive! Rich is also reading them and is fully engrossed.

Janice, Jenn, Debby, Deb, Ellen, Me

Jenn and Deb hadn't arrived yet for this table photo. Rich and I are still enjoying our Christmas table and it was fun to share it. The gals loved it!

For our Bible study, we rotate meeting at our homes. The hostess prepares brunch and it's always so fun to see what creative menus these talented women come up with. Since I forgot to take photos at the beginning I "set up" this plate and it became my lunch!

Anyway, I made a recipe that I received from my friend Nanci in Ft. Collins. The person who gave her the recipe called it "Baked Oats", but we both agreed that wasn't a very glamorous name (how could you EVER serve BAKED OATS to guests!!), so I changed it to "Breakfast Cake". I knew when I tasted it last August, that whenever Bible study would be my house this is what I would serve. If you are like me and prefer your oats in a cookie rather than a bowl, you might want to try this. It was a big hit. Here's the recipe...

Breakfast Cake
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups oats (quick or old fashioned, I used quick)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and sugars, add eggs, milk, vanilla. Beat well. Add oats, baking powder, cinnamon. Mix well. Batter will be very thick, heavy. Spray a 9x13 pan and pour batter into it. I lightly sprinkled a little cinnamon and sugar over top. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and golden. It took mine about 40 minutes. After baking you can top with nuts, brown sugar, butter. (I didn't do this because of how I served it, which is how Nanci served it.) Serve with vanilla yogurt, fruit (I used one large bag of frozen and defrosted mixed fruit, one of a berry mix, and also sliced banana), walnuts, almonds and coconut - all toasted.

It really is yummy, very satisfying, and as brunch dishes go, really pretty healthy!

Last Monday evening, along with three other couples, we were dinner guests at Joe and Rosemary's. What a delicious soup supper we had with homemade green bean soup and chili, with all the fixin's! In addition to an abundant table, there was lots of conversation, and a LIVELY game of Pit played by Tim, Rich, Joe, Wayne (not seen), Roger, and Leslie. It was so LIVLEY that the table didn't stay in one place!!  In the photo I can just hear Rich bidding "2,2,2,2,2,2,2"......... and see him waving his cards???  Definitely provided lots of laughter - to say nothing of noise!! A great evening for everyone!

So yes, we know how to jump-start a new year. Good times!! We are blessed!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Recipe for Clementine Glaze

How about starting off the new year with a recipe??? I took this from my December 2010 Cooking Light magazine and modified the method ever so slightly. The color is gorgeous and flavor bright and light. A far cry from that icky glaze packet of sugar and high fructose corn syrup that comes with a spiral cut ham.

Clementine Glaze
3 cups freshly squeezed clementine juice and pulp*
1 chopped shallot
1 spring fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
* Depending upon the size of the fruit, it may take most of a box of clementines.

Bring juice, shallot and thyme to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Boil gently about 10 minutes. Strain solids and return juice to pan and reduce to 1/3 cup (it took me about an hour to reduce this far).  Stir in butter and salt. Pour over beef, pork, ham, chicken while roasting. I put this on a spiral cut ham about the last 15-20 minutes. Delicious!

If you want more shallot and thyme flavor just cook longer before straining. I wanted more of the citrus flavor.