Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Old Scottsdale and Wickenberg

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This past weekend I headed South to Phoenix with my mom and my sister for a girl's getaway.

As usual, we did SOME shopping, but we also decided to try to see some things that we hadn't yet seen.

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In old Scottsdale, we walked around and visited the little quaint shops. There was a lot of cowboy stuff! And every shop seemed to carry the same items. We also took the trolley around, which was good, because it poured rain!

My lovely sister...

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We ended by eating in The Mission restaurant. One of the best meals I have ever had! And the restaurant was so charming. Very dark and rustic, but with beautiful chandeliers hanging everywhere.

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The next day we headed out to Wickenberg. We had heard it was a charming little town, and it was. LITTLE and CHARMING.

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Our purpose in going was to shop at the Pottery Warehouse. We wanted some authentic Arizona ceramic pottery for our house and yard.

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For lunch we found an amazing little cafe called Nana's. She made the best coconut cream pie!

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The Jail Tree was the town jail in the late 1800's. They just shackled the prisoners to the tree!

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Now I am home in the -25 C weather... longing for Spring!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Silas tries tobogganing

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Silas has never been tobogganing. So one day last week, when the weather was warmer, I bundled them all up and took them to the hill after school.

He loved it.

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I can get pretty tired of standing in the snow, watching and waiting, and waiting some more... at the same time, I love hearing their laughter and watching their faces, even when they wipe out and end of full of snow.

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Zoe, of course, always finds the joy in the simplest of things!

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One last photo while the sun begins to set. Which for those further south than us, is at about 4:30pm right now.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sauerkraut and Kniphla

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This is my version of this old, traditional, German recipe. Even the spelling of Kniphla is my own version.

This is a recipe from Tim's Grandma Kusler. I have adapted it to our own tastes, we like to add more meat and fat to our meals!

This was a favourite meal of Tim's when he was growing up and it is now a favourite at our house as well. It can take a bit of time, which is why it is often a meal the kids get on their birthdays. It is also not a healthy meal, which is why we don't eat it on a regular basis... but it is oh, so, good!

Knipfla: (Noodles)

1 1/2 cups of white flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg mixed into 1 cup of water

Mix together, add more flour as needed. Roll out on floured surface to 1/4" thick. Slice into thin and short strips.

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Boil in a large pot of salted water. These noodles will double in size and float to the top when done.

In a large frying pan saute five sausage links in olive oil (I use Italian sausage) and then set aside.

Add 1/4 cup of butter to the frying pan and sauté:

1 medium onion, chopped
1 package of bacon, chopped

Once this is cooked, slice the cooked sausage and add it to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cooked pasta to the pan and fry until golden. Add more butter if you like!

Add 1 can of sauerkraut and mix together.

Mix in 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs.

Enjoy!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Eli is 12

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Today is Eli's 12th birthday.

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He didn't ask for much. He didn't want a party, or a sleepover, or any activities with friends.

He wanted to go for sushi with his family. He wanted Sauerkraut and Kniphla for supper.

And he wanted a new bmx bike to replace the one he had last year that was stolen.

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Pretty simple wishes. So they all came true.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Micah Eve

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Micah recently told me that January 14th, was now to be called Micah Eve. The night before his birth.

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Tomorrow we will be celebrating his birthday with gifts and hamburgers, his very favourite meal.

On Saturday, we had a skating party at our house and invited seven of his bestest friends. I have forgotten how LOUD boys are!

They made their own pizzas, ate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake with ice cream, drank lots of blue pop, burped over and over... and over again.

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A few things about Micah:

- He is in love with Basketball and plays on a league in our community. He is often dribbling a basketball around the house, bouncing it off the walls, driving me crazy.

- He is very tall for his age. He is the same height now, that Josiah was when Joe was 10 1/2. If I have predicted right, he will grow to be about 6 ft. 4 in. -- Let me say here that my prediction for Abby was right on at 5 ft. 10 in.

- He hates to read anything. I am trying to encourage all my boys to read... none of them want to.

- He is a blue stripe in Tae Kwon Do. He is at a stand still right now, too young to proceed to the next level.

- He has an amazing group of friends this year at his new school.

- He loves school, but mostly the social part. His favourite subjects being Physical Education and Recess.

- He is still very affectionate and will curl up with me on the couch for cuddles. I love it!

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Happy 9th birthday to my sweet son!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Little Hero - a story from China

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Little Hero is ten years old. Both her parents are farmers in the beautiful Raging River Valley, two large river valleys west of Beautiful River. This area has been called the “much wayward world of the non-Chinese, the world of those who have been
incorporated into the Chinese Empire, but who live irredeemably and steadfastly beyond it.” Raging River Valley is squeezed between the Gaoligong Mountains to the east and Myanmar to the west. It is said that the region holds nearly a quarter of China’s flora and fauna. Warm air laden with moisture from the Indian Ocean travels up the
river valley, resulting in heavy monsoon rains during the spring and summer. The Raging River (Nu Jiang) becomes the Salween in Myanmar (Burma), traveling 1,500 miles from where it coalesces in the Tibetan highlands to the Gulf of Martaban, where it streams in to the Andaman Sea.

Little Hero is Lisu, a people group that heard the Good News over one hundred years ago. Her family members are believers in a geographic area and people group where everyone more or less is a believer, at least culturally. The local people think she is pretty, maybe because of her well-defined upper eyelid crease, or her eyebrows that arch highest at just the right place.

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In January 2012 fluid started leaking from her right ear canal, and within weeks a soft red and pink mass emerged. Her parents, alarmed, took her to a hospital in the closest big city, the gateway city of Six Storehouses. Six Storehouses is nestled between the mountains, on the banks of the Raging River. It is a gateway city in that the only
road north up the river valley passes through Six Storehouses. The city’s name has been changed to Lushui (River Water), but everyone still calls it Liuku (Six storehouses).

The doctors in Six Storehouses operated, taking what was visible of the tumor out, and sent her home. Within weeks the tumor recurred, and when she came to the provincial capital in early November the tumor again filled her entire external ear canal.

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Nobody, perhaps, arranged it like this, but following an unspoken and ancient triage, she was the last patient seen. She had a purple, blue, green and yellow scarf draped over her head. She wore a white-tinted-purple fuzzy lined jean jacket, and a thin gold necklace. Her hair was cut short and she looked like a boy. She looked down, unsmiling, and her sallow face seemed to reflect the horror of what was growing in her ear. It is always a confused rush, trying to get the story, trying to understand. It seemed impossible that the tumor had been excised just months ago, the feculence
sickening, even when we have seen so much, so many times. I kept asking, feeling that I was not understanding; them speaking Lisu, us speaking Mandarin. Yes, she had already had surgery. Yes, it had been gone. Yes, it was really only three or four months. Obviously, now, it was back. She had some palpable lymph nodes in her neck, all less than one centimeter, but the thing smelled so bad, and drained pus, and it was hard to tell if the nodes were reactive or worse. Help us if you can.

It is also hard to know what to think. Unfair, yes; unequal worlds: a ten year-old in Philadelphia or Toronto would never get to this. But then there was that guy at Lankenau, the basal cell eroding a hole in his cheek, hidden under a white square of cotton gauze. Access alone doesn’t guarantee proper treatment. Little Hero herself, standing there in the screening room, is so somber, ever-grave, serious and sad. The whole room seems dirty intermediate tones of gray, a cold November day, through tiredness, age, and illness; I sigh; we’re back, now three.

Well, we will do what we do: get a CT scan—look for bony invasion—schedule her for surgery, and take out what we can. We will send it for pathology, and go from there. The team from Canada is coming and we will be able to send the specimen back with them.

On the last day of surgeries, a plastic surgeon from Edmonton, took the tumor out from her ear, opening the mastoid area behind her ear as well—better surgery, undoubtedly, than she had had the first time—and we began the waiting for the pathology report.

Her mood changed, almost overnight. Now she was smiling and happy, running up and down the hallways, grabbing onto our legs, not wanting us to leave when rounds were finished. Maybe it felt good to get the tumor out of her ear canal, Maybe she had just been nervous about surgery. She played with the kids wearing splints on their arms;
Little Hero appearing normal, no wound to speak of, but serious still. Still we waited.

The first report came back from the hospital. It said they were sending the specimen to the sovereign-ly named Kunming Kingmed Institute for Clinical Laboratory. More investigations were needed; they wanted to run a bewildering array of extra tests: CK, CKH, CD31,CD34, Ki-67, HMB45, Melan A, CD68 and MPO; all various tumor markers,
helping to rule-in or rule-out various types of cancer. Every day on rounds we would tell her and her father we were still waiting for the results. It took so long we finally let them go home. You never see anyone happier than when we tell high mountain home people they can leave the provincial capital and go back to their villages, to their families. We made sure we had her father’s cell phone number, made sure they understood Little Hero might need to come back for further treatment, and then said goodbye.

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It was actually a little more complicated than that because there were several other Lisu patients and families from the Raging River Valley—all in various states of readiness to leave the hospital—and they chiseled away at me, incessant, finally negotiating some sort of group package grand bargain hospital discharge. I shook my head, slightly smiling, feigning reluctance, and inwardly admiring their desire for home, normalcy. They celebrated like they had won a battle, overcoming the prison warden, rushing off to the bus station to buy the earliest available tickets.

Still we waited. Finally the report came back: highly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma; in Chinese, linzhuang, scale-like, scales of a fish, etc. Not totally unexpected, it was, at any rate, highly differentiated, meaning the cells more closely resembled normal cells, and might be more likely to respond to radiation than poorly
differentiated cancer cells. Arrangements were made for Little Hero to come back to the capital for gamma knife radiotherapy, which is more focused and therefore has fewer side effects than conventional radiotherapy. She would need ten sessions, once a day, for ten days, and it would cost two wan, 20,000 kuai ($3,175). Of course the money
could be found. One of our Singaporean friends, also a doctor, made the necessary hospital arrangements. About two weeks later she was ready to leave the hospital, returning home for the second, or third, time. She was eating well, with no side effects to speak of. Our Singaporean friend sent us an email, wondering whether she got enough radiation.

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He said there were two residual lymph nodes, less than 0.5cm over the right neck region. He said Little Hero was going home today. He asked if we could all be praying that the disease not recur, and said we can only trust that the Lord is in control. He thanked us, and you, for helping her, and said we would be able to keep in touch with her father by cell phone.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oh, the things they say!

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Zoe: Mom, look at the picture I made for you! It has diamonds on it."

Walks away singing: "Shine bright like a diamond, Shine bright like a diamond".

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While at Silas' Christmas concert, Zoe turned to me with her hand on her chest and exclaimed "Mom, HE is SOOOO handsome!" I asked her who.

She pointed at the pianist, who was in his twenties.

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Lilah: Mom, today we learned a grade five word.
Me: What is it?
Lilah: Lycanthropy
Me: What does that mean?
Lilah: I don't know!

We had no idea what this word meant, so we looked it up. It means the ability or power of a human being to transform into a wolf, or to gain wolf-like characteristics.

When we asked Lilah a week later, what her new word was, she still remembered.

Lilah may not come out with the funniest things, but she does come out with very smart things. Every week she will tell me they have started a new author and what that authors name is... she will tell me everyday exactly what they did in school and what she learned and what letter they are doing.

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Micah: Mom, you lied to me!

Me: About what?

Micah: There is no Santa Claus!

Me: What do you mean?

Micah: I am eight years old, I know these things!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You asked for it!

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You asked for the "after" photos... so here they are!

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This girl makes me laugh... after gobbing on her lipstick, she walks around the house, smacking her lips dramatically.

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We may have to invest in some make-up lessons before she hits the teen years.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Getting Pretty

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"Beauty is looking into someone's eyes and seeing their heart."-- Unknown

One of the biggest Christmas present hits this year for the little girls, was this Barbie Make Up kit.

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Everyday, they want to put on their "faces" like Mommy does... but we don't allow it until they are home from school and if they are sticking close to home for the day.

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Just let me say here... it can get a bit scary! We won't be posting any pictures of the after look.

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Oh, how I love having little girls!

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"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous". -- Coco Chanel