Dusty Penguin

Child of God and in love with my Lord. Wife of a wonderful man. Mother of a young adult, two teens, and a miscellaneous menagerie of furry and finned creatures. Work full-time outside of home and as little as possible at home:)

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Location: Cedarville, Ohio

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

For your prayers

In mid November, actually the week of Thanksgiving, I guess, Erika began experiencing arm tremors and some other symptoms. She was taken to the emergency room by the college health service, where they did blood work. In the month since then, she has continued to have these problems. The college did blood work a second time, she has seen our family physician, and she has had an MRI (we are waiting for the results). She is scheduled to have an EEG on Friday, and she will see a neurologist on Tuesday. Please pray that the doctors will be able to get to the bottom of what is causing these problems. They are of course distressing to her (and to us), and usually she is unable to get a good night's sleep. It caused a great deal of stress during her final month of classes, and caused her to miss a final exam in one course. We would appreciate your prayers for her in this situation. Thank you.

Christmas Day, December 25

Well, the one who used to get up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning to do the cinnamon rolls, was definitely not the first one up this Christmas! We got to bed about 12:30 a.m., after wishing each other a Merry Christmas:) Erika was the first one up, and with the crutches her stealth mode is definitely not stealthy. So we were soon all gathered in the living room, and began with opening our stockings. I enjoy the challenge of finding little items at Dollar Tree for the stockings.

After opening the stocking stuffers, I began the tedious task of opening two cans of Pillsbury Grande Cinnabon rolls and popping them into the oven. With working full time and numerous Christmas events and parties, I just did not have the time to make homemade rolls. They really were good, and a whole lot easier for me!

After enjoying the rolls with coffee/tea, we turned our hearts to the real meaning of Christmas. Jeremiah read aloud the nativity account from Luke 2, then Duane led the Advent devotions. The white Christ candle was lit by Erika this year (the kids take turns). Advent is one of our favorite Christmas traditions, and it begins the Sunday following Thanksgiving. This season with our crazy schedules, we missed more often than not, but each time we were able to sit down together was special.

We then began to open our gifts. We do this slowly, from youngest to oldest, each opening one gift while the others all watch, and each expressing appreciation to the giver, then go around the circle again and again till the gifts are all opened.
I'm not sure I can remember/identify what each one got. Jeremiah received a dart board, a hoodie, and movie Annapolis from Mom and Dad, and a snowboard leash/stomp pad/boarding magazines from Erika. He also got an army book from Duane, and a calendar with car pictures from me. He got some special ink pens for architecture from Duane as well. He got a card with some money from Grandma and Grandpa, and the rest are stocking stuffers.

Let's see. Erika received a pair of pajamas, a wind breaker, and a shirt from mom and dad. She got an army laundry bag from dad, and music for Phantom of the Opera from mom. She also got a Strong's Concordance from us and the book Eragon. From Jeremiah she got a two-blade knife. I think the rest are stocking stuffers.

Duane got a t-shirt from me that says in upside down print, "If you can read this, please put me back in my tree stand." He also got slippers, jeans, and quite a few socks. From Jeremiah he got a laser pointer, and from Erika a sink wrench (getting that at Sears was a narrative in itself)!

And finally, myself. I got a pair of beautiful black boots from Duane, and a flashlight for my car glovebox (with batteries). From Jeremiah I got a pretty shirt. And from Erika, a couple sets of earrings. One of the sets are shaped like paper clips:) I also got from the family a cute musical decoration with singing snowman and penguins.

After opening our gifts, we relaxed and watched Jeremiah's movie Annapolis while dinner was baking. For dinner we had ham and goose. I was given the goose by a patient at our physical therapy office who loves to hunt. He shot two Canadian geese and gave me one. For those of you who have never eaten goose, it is red meat and tastes like roast beef. Mine was a little tough, so next time I get one I'll use the crockpot instead of the oven. Christmas dinner was quiet and simple, with just the four of us. We had planned on having Duane's mom and step-dad, but his mom was not feeling well. After relaxing the rest of the afternoon, we visited with his brother's family in the evening to finish off the day.

Christmas Eve Party, Dec. 24

On Christmas Eve, Sunday, we went to church, then rushed home to prepare the goodies for our traditional Christmas Eve party. We invite whoever we can find that doesn't have other plans for the evening, and this year we enjoyed the company of church friends, the Rineharts, and our pastor dropped by for a bit.

We tremendously missed Alesha's presence during our Christmas festivities this year, and Erika's being on crutches hampered her ability to help somewhat, although she was a real trooper. However, Jeremiah and I ended up doing most of the work! The kids always get to pick which recipes they want to make. Jeremiah chose to make the curried cheese ball. He is a good chef and likes to experiment with variations. He doubled the curry powder and it was perfect!

Erika made the ham ball, and then she was pretty much done in. By the way, this tradition started Christmas of 1990. It was the first time we had all been together for Christmas in quite a few years, and we had Christmas at mom and dad's Burbank house in Binghamton. In order to lighten the cooking load on mom, we assigned everyone to make a party/snack favorite food. Mom and Dad provided a fantastic array of chips and pop for those who were home from Africa after a term of being derived from junk food! And we have continued this tradition every year since then with some variations.

Another very special part of our evening is a tradition that was introduced to us Christmas of 1994, when we once again were all together as a family, this time in Nigeria, at Dean and Peggy's home. We watched a video of Handel's Young Messiah, and enjoyed it so much we watch it every Christmas Eve. It is an interesting experience for our guests, because it is quite unique. Other than that we just eat and talk and listen to Christmas music.

Christmas Tree, Dec. 23

We weren't any too early putting up a tree this year! Duane and Jeremiah got the tree set up Friday afternoon. They both were working on a house on Saturday, so Erika (on crutches) and I decided to tackle the decorating job. Duane and Jeremiah have alway done the lights and garland, then we usually take over from there. Well, no sooner did I start with the lights than the tree fell over. Erika and I made a valiant attempt to stand it up, then ended up leaving it till the men got home! It turns out those screw thingys were stripped. So, Erika and I used the time to get our gifts wrapped.

We also put together our menu for our traditional Christmas eve party and went grocery shopping--I pushed her around in a special handicapped cart. It was an event in itself! But, by the end of the day, the tree was decorated, the gifts were wrapped and under the tree, the groceries were put away, and we were ready to collapse!

Erika's surgery, Dec. 18

Erika came home from college on Dec. 16. We had family parties on Dec. 16 and 17. Then on Dec. 18 she had surgery on her ankle (that picture is her right foot). She has had a problem with her ankles most of her life, but we didn't know what was wrong with them until this summer. She saw an orthopedic doctor who told us the ligaments in her ankles are too long, therefore her ankles are loose and she twists them alot. She has been having alot of trouble this semester at Cedarville with sprains. Her right ankle seems to be the major problem, so that is the one they fixed first. Everything went fine with the surgery. He shortened two ligaments which should really stabilize the ankle. He also cleaned up some cartilage and scar tissue in there. She had to keep her foot well elevated for 5 days. Since then she's been hopping around on crutches. Tomorrow she goes back to have the temporary splint/cast removed and the stitches removed, then she'll get a new cast and be 3 more weeks on crutches. Two days after her surgery she had an appointment with our family doctor to see if we can get to the bottom of what is causing her arm tremors and related symptoms. He has referred her to a neurologist. And on Friday, Dec. 22, she had an MRI of the brain. We don't have any results from that yet. Dec. 22 was also our 22nd anniversary, and we went out to the Olive Garden for a nice supper (plus did a little last minute Christmas shopping).

Christmas Family Party, Dec. 17

Well, that last post has been sitting in draft mode since October! Shame on me! Jump ahead to December. For the second year now we have hosted the Christmas party for Duane's side of the family. We have everyone bring an inexpensive gift for an exchange. The gifts get traded around, and this big chocolate chip cookie traded hands several times. Ethan didn't end up with it, but I think it stayed in his family!

Aunt Betty, the godmother of Duane and all his brothers and sisters, is always invited. We often say she must not have known what she was getting into!

Duane's sister, Bonnie, showing the gift she ended up with.
There are lots more pictures of family members, but this is enough to give you the idea. After the gift exchange we had a lasagna dinner. Then we did a cookie exchange. It was a fun night. The night before we had a Christmas party with Duane's step family, and they are a large crowd, too. It was at his dad's house, and they did a turkey/ham dinner with all the fixings. So, it was a really busy weekend. I spent Saturday morning making the lasagna, then Saturday afternoon at the party. Saturday night we did some last minute decorating and cleaning the house.
Sunday we rushed home from church to get ready for our Christmas party here. It was all fun, but a very tiring weekend.