Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12/30/16

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. We had a very nice Christmas in Atlanta, at my brother and sister-in-law's new townhouse.  My dad got this jacket from us.  Anyone who faithfully supported the Cubs as long as he did, deserves a jacket to proclaim the World Series victory everywhere he goes.  :-)

Mike got this mug for my mother.  He said he wanted to get it, found one on eBay, and it was a great and funny Christmas present.

2. I have really been enjoying my new recliner.  It is very, very comfortable!!  I do have to remember that leather is a little colder on the legs in the morning than cloth.  Other than that minor, easily-remedied thing, it is a great purchase.

3. Sleeping in.  I woke up at 7 this morning, got up for awhile, and then did something that is usually impossible.  I went back to bed!!!  Until 10:00 a.m.  And it was well worth the investment of time.

4. This photo.  It probably doesn't make sense to many people, but the latest craze for youngsters is flipping water bottles.  I thought it was just at our school, until a teacher friend from long ago posted this on FB.  Apparently it's going on at their school too, and is a phenomenon that is widespread.  (Probably from some movie that I have no idea about.)  Anyway - it's always obvious at school when the lunch period has lasted a little too long, because the water bottles start flipping.  The object is to flip the bottle and have it land straight up.  The other teachers tease me because my nerves are the ones to go first.  :-)  I am truly tempted to order this shirt!!

5. Finally - I can't post any pictures for security reasons.  But last night we were honored to host a pastor from China, his wife and son, and his wife's sister, who is instrumental in Christian work in their home city.  I met the sister briefly when visiting Andrew in China.  She is well known for her innovative ways of getting the gospel out in a closed country.  To have them sit around our table, tell of their salvation, and share their stories with us - The only way to describe it is to say that it was a great honor.

Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12/23/16

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Christmas baking.  Accomplished yesterday and today.  I like to make small plates for neighbors and friends, and always end up taking big plates of sweets to the family gatherings.  (They're unhappy if I bring sweets, and unhappy if I don't.)  :-)

 Thumbprint cookies - a new attempt this year.  I saw on FB that my cousin made these, and it made me nostalgic.  Maybe Grandma used to make these?  I don't really remember, but decided to try them.

This is what happens (first batch) when you double all the ingredients but accidentally quadruple the butter.  Rich - rich - rich.

Fudge - always part of the Christmas plates.  Always.

And Russian teacakes - also always part of the Christmas plates.  But these three things are all I'm doing this year.  And they have to ALL be out of the house by the time of the last Christmas celebration.

 2. This morning I had to take Mike's truck to the tire shop to get a flat tire repaired.  Afterward, I made a stop at K-Mart.  Oh my.  All their Christmas items were at least half off; some things more.  This is how we stock the Christmas store at school, for the elementary students to buy Christmas presents early in December each year.  So I called the lady in charge, and she said yes, BUY as much as you can.  So I did!!  Here are two pics of the purchases.  For example - Those dishtowels were $6 for a pack of two.  They were half price.  So I got a dozen two-packs, will split them, which makes them $1.50 each.  We add $.50 to cover costs and provide some funds for the teachers.  These will be stored until next December, then the towels will be sold at the Christmas store for $2.00 each.  A bargain for the students, and make a little for the teachers for their classroom needs.

Blanket throws - Ribbons already around them.  $2.99 this morning!!

3. I wrote here about making a weighted blanket for my son.  Daughter-in-law put it on the bed.  And this morning I got a text:  "We both slept great!"  I really hope it helps.

4. Mike and I usually don't exchange gifts at Christmas.  We like to take a nice trip every so often, and that's plenty of gift for me.  But - it looks like I may be getting one this year.  This is for sale by some people that we know, and we've told them that we'd like it.  It's a good price, it will fit in the den really well, and - it's so comfortable I don't want to get up out of it.

5. Our children and we exchanged gifts last night.  It's so rare that the five of us all get together any more, that it was a nice treat.

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Weighted Blankets

I recently heard about weighted blankets - They are used especially for children with sensory or other processing issues such as autism, ADHD, etc.  

Recently the blankets have shown promise for use with adults.  This link is to a company that manufactures weighted blankets, and includes a very long list of symptoms/syndromes/situations that a weighted blanket helps.  There is something about being surrounded by weight that helps a person - any person - to relax.

I was especially interested in this because my son has long had to deal with various tics that have ebbed and flowed over the years.  He actually received the diagnosis of Tourette's at one time, although we hesitated to commonly use that term for several reasons.  When he was in junior high and high school, I did not want him "labeled" for a set of symptoms that ranged in intensity, never severe and sometimes nonexistent.  So I did not use the term openly.  Furthermore, the term brings to mind other very serious symptoms, most often associated with involuntary swearing, which is rare, and which my son has never experienced.  

But he has still had to deal with recurring tics from time to time.

Anyway, I decided last week to make my son a weighted blanket for Christmas.  I started with a purchased duvet cover from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  This decision did simplify the whole project, because the side and bottom seams were already completed, and it was finished at the top, turned under and hemmed, with buttons attached.  It would have been a much bigger project if I had had to do all that as well.

This was all an experiment - no pattern involved.  I sewed twelve columns in the duvet cover, five inches apart, from bottom to top, leaving a 14-inch drop on both sides. I then sewed across the bottom of the cover, about five inches up from the bottom, so that there would be a slight flap at the bottom before the weighting started.

I got crushed stone from Jo-Ann Fabrics, in 2-pound packages.  (This week that store has FOUR 50% off coupons that I was able to use on my phone, twice.  So the filler was a minimal expense. Plastic pellets would have cost a lot more, as well as would have destroyed my sewing machine needle had it come in contact with just one of those.)  Crushed stone is essentially sand, just a little more coarse.  

I calculated how many squares I would have to fill, and how much rock I planned to use.  (22 pounds, as a blanket is supposed to be between 5 and 10% of someone's body weight.)  That came out to 1.8 ounces per square.  Then I weighed a small measuring cup and figured out with a postal scale what was the volume of 1.8 ounces of crushed stone.  From there on, all I had to do was fill the cup to that point and dump it in each column.  I would fill all twelve columns, shake the stones to the bottom, and sew across the top of the pocket, using a tape measure and chalk to keep every seam approximately five inches apart.  I did this fifteen times, from the bottom of the blanket to a few inches below the button closure.  Then I double-seamed the top for further sealing of all the rock inside.

Here is the project in the works:

And here is the finished weighted blanket, spread across my dining room table:
I gave my son the blanket tonight.  We will see how well it works!!

This was a trial and error experiment.  It would have been easier had my temperamental sewing machine not acted up at first.  But it decided to settle down and cooperate, which made the project much easier to accomplish.

Now my daughter wants one just for general sleeping purposes. . .But my shingle is not hung out, and will not be hung out, for making weighted blankets for the general public!

Addicts and All Of Us

I was reading a testimonial article in Christianity Today (December 2016) written by a man who became addicted to pain pills.  He writes on p. 39:

"I've realized that the word 'addict' is a particularly useful descriptor for who I have always been.  I always resonated with Paul's lament: ' I do not the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing' (Rom. 7:19)

"Some who have never experienced the furious grip of chemical dependence are tempted to split the world into 'addicts' and 'non-addicts,' morally bad and morally good.  As I've said, I did not realize how fully I had embraced this view until faced with my own opioid addiction.  Now, I realize that the world is divided between addicts who have begun to face their addictions and those who live under the illusion that they have none.

"All who have come to the point where they acknowledge their own shortcomings and realize that they cannot eliminate them through their own power have admitted that they too, in their own way, are addicts.  The addiction might be to food, shopping, status symbols, the need to be 'right,' the need to be needed, or the need to feel moral superiority over those who struggle with less 'societally acceptable' sins.

"One of the most powerful teachings the church can embrace in light of this crisis is to say 'Let the one who is not an addict cast the first stone."

I found this testimonial to dovetail well with looking at Romans 7-8.  Chapter 7 is depressing, as shown above:  I don't do what I want to do, and I do do what I don't want to do.  After that, chapter 8 is an encouragement.  And in Macarthur's commentary on Romans 1-8, he says on pp. 415-16:

"In God's eyes there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who do not belong to Him and those who do.  Put another way, there are only those who are according to the flesh and those who are according to the Spirit...

"Obviously there are degrees in both categories.  Some unsaved people exhibit high moral behavior, and, on the other hand, many saints do not mind the things of God as obediently as they should.  But every human being is completely in one spiritual state of being or the other; he either belongs to God or he does not.  Just as a person cannot be partly dead and partly alive physically, neither can he be partly dead and partly alive spiritually.  There is no middle ground.  A person is either forgiven and in the kingdom of God or unforgiven and in the kingdom of this world.  He is either a child of God or a child of Satan."

So - in other words - Christian people can struggle with addictions and still be in Christ.  They aren't cast out because in this fallen world they struggle with sin issues.

And all of us struggle with some kind of sin issues.   The passage also gives great hope when observing someone who has claimed Christ but is not living as he or she should.

A common bumper sticker, though trite, is still accurate:  Christians aren't perfect - just forgiven.  I think that the above quotations are a more in-depth explanation of that truism.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12/16/16

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog 

1. LOOM KNITTING!!  I discovered this a couple of weeks ago and have really enjoyed it.  It's easy; it doesn't require many supplies; it can be done while you are watching TV or talking; it's just fun to produce something nice in a short amount of time.  I will probably make several hats over the Christmas holidays.  

2. SCHOOL IS DONE for two weeks and a day!!  I repeat:  SCHOOL IS DONE!!  That's why I can be doing a Friday's Fave Five at 1:07 on a Friday.  I am at home, in the den, relaxing.  This seeming ice-age length of a week is DONE.  Have I said it yet?  SCHOOL IS DONE!!!

3. Beautiful school program last night.  Here is a picture of the concluding song including the entire school.  At this link, you can scroll down and find a video of the concluding song (part of it).  
I posted this on our school Facebook page last night:

It's been a long day, being the last full day before Christmas, and then having the Christmas program tonight at Oakwood Christian School. But I wanted to express something yet tonight: Every year, following the Christmas program, I think, "This is why we do this!!" This is why the parents invest in this place, and why the teachers work at this place, and why we exist!! What a wonderful Christmas program.  And thank you so much to the parents who entrust their children to our school. Partnering together for the sake of the gospel! Merry Christmas!!

As tiring as this time of year is, the fatigue is a good kind!

4. Christmas stamps.  On a whim I stopped at the little for-profit post office near our house, on the way home today, and they had really nice Christmas stamps.  I am a sucker for pretty dishtowels and pretty stamps.  Got five books for Christmas cards and various things.  

And finally, 

5. My birthday!!  Yesterday was about the longest day of the week, but it was also my birthday, and it was a good day.  Very thankful for the cards, well-wishes in person, and FB greetings of the day.  It was a great day!!!

And now - for some rest and then Christmas preparation!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12/9/16

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. The blanket I had mailed off arrived at its destination this week.  It went approximately 1000 miles out of the way - tracking showed that it went north instead of south, but still managed to be delivered only one day later than the expected day of delivery.  It is for my niece's baby - she is a newborn right now, but this is really meant to be more for when she is a toddler.  There is something about working with yarn that is very relaxing.

2. The Beta Club sponsored a fleece blanket-making party for any students in the school who would like to help.  We worked for a couple of hours on Monday afternoon; several students took some home to finish up; and several students worked on blankets during their study halls.  Thanks to their efforts, 22 blankets are stacked in our school hallway, to be given to families who need them, along with the other items the students and staff are collecting.  It was fun to see about 20 students working hard on a worthy group project like that.

3. Mike had a birthday this week and we had a nice family party last night - served his favorite porcupine meatballs along with sides and a cake made by my mother.  (He started browning the meatballs while I was still at school and was texting me with a couple of questions - the students were quite perplexed by the concept of "porcupine meatballs."  They were a little relieved to know that all that that means is that the meatballs have rice in them.)

4. Tonight was our Sunday school Christmas party.  We enjoyed fellowship with friends we haven't spent much time with in quite awhile.

5. And finally - this beautiful purple finch came to our feeders this week!

Monday, December 5, 2016

99 Years

If my father-in-law were still living, he would be 99 years old today.  That's hard to believe. 

He was an unusual man.  He was interested in many subjects, and he was knowledgeable and well-read about all of them.  Clocks.  Pocket watches.  Russian boxes.  Educational systems.  Old guns.  Books.  Jewelry.  Depression glass.  Furniture.  Religion.  Antique anything.  Medicine.  And those are just the first things that come to mind.  I wish I had been more interested in some of those things when he was still around.  I would have tried to learn much more from him at the time.

He was a well-respected medical doctor here in town.  When Mike and I moved back here in 1990, we met many people at our church who immediately said "I went to your dad when he was still doctoring."   He raised ten children, finishing the job after the loss of his wife, who died while several of the children were still at home.

He passed away about five years before the internet became common.  I have often wondered about how he and eBay would have taken to each other.  I think he would have loved it.  His style of coming up with "treasures" was to wander about the countryside with his sister or one of his buddies, striking up a conversation with some old store owner out in the middle of nowhere, and then asking to buy whatever item hanging on the wall had caught his eye.  He was a master at figuring out a bargain or striking a deal.  (Reminds me of another man that I know - and am married to.)

I wish my children had been old enough to have more memories of this grandfather.  They were six and four when he passed away - not old enough for a lot.  

He could be gruff at times, but his children knew he loved them.  He was very good to them.  Happy 99th birthday to a great man.   

During his Navy days
On his honeymoon

With Mike the spring that we were engaged

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12-2-16

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Last Friday we had a little "shooting party."  (Sounds very 1800s.)  My husband and son have a friend with a shooting range in his back yard in the country, and my son, daughter-in-law, sister, Mike, and I all went to practice.  We all did well and it was a fun thing to do on a beautiful day.
My sister the shooter


Yours truly

I got a "grouping" - apparently that's good even if not on the bulls-eye.

2. I can't say to whom, since it hasn't arrived yet - but this blanket is finally finished and in the mail to a sweet little girl!!

3. Last Monday, Mike and I went to one of our favorite "haunts" for birds.  It was a totally useless trip.  Two great blue herons, and that's ALL we saw.  Plus we saw where a huge chicken farm is being built right where there used to be a large area of woods that was perfect for a lot of wildlife - that's a big disappointment.  And then, we decided to jump on the interstate and go five miles up so we could stop at a Bojangles for Mike to get some biscuits to take to work the next morning.  BIG mistake.  TRAFFIC JAM.  After 30+ minutes, we finally got off at our destination.  The upside to all this:  Since by now we were hungry and hadn't even thought about any supper, we stopped to eat at a nice little Italian place.  And I have leftovers for lunch today.

4. I attended a little party on Tuesday evening for a former colleague who has returned to town.  The circumstances are not happy - her husband passed away very suddenly last summer - but it was very nice to see her and to see how God is keeping her from day to day.  And a number of other friends, acquaintances, and colleagues I had not seen for a long time were also there.  We all enjoyed catching up.

5. And finally:  This pile of fleece, enough for 15 blankets, is cut and ready for a "blanket-making party" Monday after school.  A number of students have said they are coming, even non-Beta Club students (the club is sponsoring this).  We shall see how it turns out!