Saturday, December 31, 2011

Grand Ole Opry for New Year's

No trip to Nashville would be complete without tickets to the "Grand Ole Opry," and we thought it was a great way to spend New Year's Eve. We were not disappointed with the dozen or so acts: fiddlers (oh yeah), mandolin, accordian player, square dancers, gospel quartet, Jimmy Wayne, a Patsy Kline impersonator, hill-billy comedian, and more! My personal favorite was "Dailey & Vincent" doing 4-part harmony a capella. The only thing open afterwards was Krispie Kreme, which the boys thought was great!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Road Trip for Hockey

We drove all the way to Nashville yesterday. Dorito helped by driving the first five hours, and he was rewarded at our lunch stop. The Dakota Double Bacon Burger, at Travel America outside St Louis, is HUGE!

Meggar is staying in St Louis for New Years with her college roommate and we will pick her up on the way back. Meanwhile, the twins are intensely focused on HOCKEY. This is Part 2 of a Super Series for AAA teams only. We are ranked 26 in the nation for '98 players. Won our first game 4-1 and eager for another victory this evening.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Favorite Things...

I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen cooking for three teenage boys, even though I try to be as efficient as possible with cleanup. I have always loved cooking and baking, and several things in my kitchen bring extra joy to the whole process (from left to right) ginger grater, pink salt from Australia, alderwood pepper, pink peppercorns, regular salt and pepper, olive oil bottle with easy-pour spout, and black pepper grinder. OK, the regular salt and pepper shakers are not very exciting. They were a wedding gift, but I love they are white (easy to clean) and large (refills needed less often).  But I am very excited about the pink salt. One pinch gives a finished flavor to my best dishes, and sometimes I splurge and sprinkle it on steamed veggies, too. The pink peppercorns give a pretty finish to any dish. The olive oil is healthy, and I tend to use it more since my Mom gave me the pretty bottle that I can set out on the island by the cook top.

Also, i love the porcelain graterfor fresh ginger (shaped like a blue fish, which was a gift from my brother Clint in his bachelor days when he was more interested in cooking). It's so easy to keep ginger root in the freezer and then grate it for my "Grilled Sesame Chicken" recipe. My family or company is always pleased when I serve it. The intense flavors are delicious, and the garlic makes this dish so addictive.
Grilled Sesame Chicken
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. soy sauce
1-2 T. freshly grated ginger root
1 T. dry mustard pwd.
1 t. fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c. chopped green onions (or chives)
3 T. sesame seeds
Combine all ingredients in large bowl or baggie for marinade. Seal with as many chicken breasts as you need for family and friends. Refrigerate for 2-8 hours. Remove chicken, reserving marinade. Grill over low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes, turning every 3 minutes and basting with marinade after each turn. Discard remaining marinade. Serve with wild rice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Leftovers in the Waffle Iron

Yesterday, I wanted to use leftover turkey to make sandwiches. Meggar said she only wanted grilled cheese... and she proceeded to make it in the waffle iron?! because it was still setting out on the kitchen counter. It turned out like a panini, so then I followed suit and made a turkey-and-brie sandwich for me. Yum!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Health Matters

I had three suspicious lumps show up on my mammogram, so diagnostic sonograms were ordered.  After a long and fretful morning, I am relieved to report that all three are benign fibroids/cysts.
Megan had a cyst removed today from the left side of her neck. Went quickly - only 3 stitches. The pathology report will be done soon and we expect it will be good news, too. Busy day. Thanks be to the Lord, who is with us in all things.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day -- which in England and Canada means boxing up food items and Christmas cheer for the poor or those in service (servants). It America, it means cleaning up the boxes and gift-litter so we can see the poor floor again.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Morning!

After midnight mass, there's no easy way to get up the next morning. But Eggnog Waffles certainly help! Off to Wichita to visit relatives.
Eggnog Waffles
2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. eggnog
1/4 c. oil
Combine dry ingredients first. Stir in wet ingredients just until lumpy. Cook on waffle iron or make as pancakes. Delicious and fluffy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cards

Love to write them with a theme...
The best Christmas letter looks at the cup half-full instead of focusing on what may be lacking in our lives and in our society.  This year my tea leaves point toward something besides hockey!  Boy Scouts truly emphasizes a virtuous life with its 12-point Scout Law and doing your duty to God and neighbor daily.  The advancement rituals mark out a boy's trail toward maturity and manhood in a meaningful way.  So with a nod to Baden-Powell's 100 years of success, I am borrowing the Scout framework here:
Tenderfoot rankThe twins became teenagers this spring and wanted more adventure (and separate cell phones). I suggested a paper route and violin students to help their cash flow, but they took Reid's advice and finally joined Scouts, too. They are quite serious and have progressed to Star rank already, which usually takes 2-3 years!  We have acquired more cots, sleeping pads, mosquito nets, backpacks, hiking boots, camel-back water pouches, and knives (don't get me started).  They eagerly endured a 2nd week of sweltering heat at Camp Geiger to earn more merit badges. Ben is currently the patrol leader, and he wants to plan *additional* campouts?!  I am warming up to the idea after a successful family venture to Wallace State Park. “Silent Night.”
Second Class rankDavid quipped that his parents are now over the hill: "Most people live to be 90, so 45 is half-way--and you are 46 which is already going downhill!" Hmm. “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.”
First Class rankReid was sidelined after a concussion last November (lots of physical therapy might change his future career path) so we thought a referee job would be good exercise and safer situations—until his finger was broken by a flying puck.  David and Ben were proud to also pass the ref-qualifying test.  Unfortunately, now David uses his position at center to argue with the refs when they are lining up at the wrong face-off dot. “We Three Kings.”
Star rank—Megan "stars" in her own weekly radio show on campus and was elected VP of Member Development for her sorority after a year of being Song Leader:  scheduling serenades, composing Homecoming songs, and teaching AGD music at meetings.  She wanted to sing more than one song each week and discovered it put everyone in a better mood!  College life is an in-your-face battle against the Culture of Death, appropriately named by Pope John Paul II (who was beatified this year).  So we try to fortify her with Spiritual quotes, Skype chats, and Starbucks packets. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”
Life rankMarried life after 21 years is a balancing act. I like when we do things together as a whole family, and Dale likes when we do nothing all together as a whole family.  Hmm.  Communication is a priority amidst the changes and our children's busy lives.  “What Child Is This?”
Eagle Scout rankReid had an awesome 5th summer at Camp Geiger advancing to Fire Builder in the Tribe of Mic-o-Say and doing the Eagle Dance for Mr. Sisco's retirement.  Later, he and "Shotgun" backpacked with 9 others for 10 days at Philmont Scout Ranch (137,000 acres in New Mexico) and bought the famous belt buckle!  In August, he raised $1,460 and organized 30 volunteers to build 180 feet of split-rail fencing in front of the new One-room Schoolhouse, plus a flag pole that will fly a 33-star flag from 1860.  By October, he had written his Life Purpose paper and submitted all the correct forms along with earning 52 merit badges.  We proudly hosted his Eagle ceremony and dinner at the Pony Express Museum to celebrate his becoming the 95th Eagle Scout in the history of his Troop.  Since he was born in 1995 and had 95 guests at the party, this seems to be his lucky number.  I had the most fun creating photo displays, and it prompted our quiet son to tell some tales for the first time—such as how he forgot a sleeping bag in Canada and slept in the bathroom to keep warm.  Others may never see behind the scenes like a parent does, but when a 16-year-old writes his own speech and then improvises from his heart in front of relatives, mentors, and a US Congressman, then it reveals his true character. “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.”
My closing prayer as you are following yonder star 
is to discover an authentic peace in 2012.
"Guide us to Thy perfect Light"

The O Antiphons - final

The antiphons have been a wonderful prayer for the closing days of Advent. If you take the first letter of the Latin titles for Christ and place them backwards, they spell "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I will come" mirroring the theme of waiting for Christ's birth tonight. Happy Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The O Antiphons - Day 7

Today's antiphon reads "O Come, O Come Emmanuel (God-with-Us)"

O Emmanuel,
Rex et legifer noster,
expectatio gentium,
et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel,
our King and lawgiver,
the one awaited by the Gentiles,
and their Savior:
come and save us,
Lord our God.

(Icon by Dee Cooper Swift.) Here's a related tale:

The land of Persia was once ruled by a wise and beloved Shah who cared greatly for his people and desired only what was best for them. One day he disguised himself as a poor man and went to visit the public baths. The water for the baths was heated by a furnace in the cellar, so the Shah made his way to the dark place to sit with the man who tended the fire. The two men shared the coarse food, and the Shah befriended him in his loneliness. Day after day the ruler went to visit the man. The worker became attached to this stranger because he "came where he was." One day the Shah revealed his true identity, and he expected the man to ask him for a gift. Instead, he looked long into his leader's face and with love and wonder in his voice said, "You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat my coarse food, and to care about what happens to me. On others you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given yourself!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The O Antiphons - Day 6

Today's antiphon is "O Come, O King of Nations"

O Rex Gentium,
et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis,
qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.

O King of the Nations,
and the one they desired,
who makes both peoples one:
come, and save mankind whom you formed from the dust of the earth.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The O Antiphons - Day 5

Today's antiphon is "O Come, O Rising Dawn"

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina
sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.


O Dayspring,

splendor of eternal light,
and sun of justice:
come, and illuminate
those seated in darkness,
and in the shadow of death.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The O Antiphons - Day 4

Today is "O Come of Key of David"

O Clavis David,
et sceptrum domus Israel,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, 
O royal Power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The O Antiphons - Day 3

Today is "O Come, O Root of Jesse's Stem"

O Radix Jesse,
qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, 
that stands for an ensign of the people, 
before whom the kings keep silence 
unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: 
come to deliver us, and tarry not.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The O Antiphons - Day 2

Today is "O Come, O Giver of the Law"

O Adonai,
et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni and redimendum nos in rachio extento.

O Adonai,
and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and give him the law on Sinai:
come and redeem us with outstretched arm.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The O Antiphons - Day 1

The Catholic Church since the 8th or 9th century has prayed the "O Antiphons"-- a different refrain each day of the final week before Christmas for the familiar hymn "O Come O Come Emmanuel" or in Latin "Veni, Emmanuel."  I love how the titles are listed in order, based on the various titles for the Christ from Scripture. The translation and beautiful artwork are accompanied by a sermon from one of the saints at the website:

Today is
"O Come, 
O Wisdom 
from On High"

O Sapientia,
quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter,
suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom,
who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching out mightily from end to end,
and sweetly arranging all things:
come to teach us the way of prudence.

Does anyone else see how appropriate this message is for our modern culture and for families facing the emotions of Christmas-time?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

A brief version of last two weeks: Drove to Lincoln. Stayed in our home-away-from-home for one night-- The Cornhusker Marriott with its fabulous room service and double suite. Drove to Denver in SNOW. Stopped at Harrow Factory Warehouse to get hockey sticks (we've broken 3 in 3 weeks). Yea, so they gave us free t-shirts.  Played in the Super Series AAA hockey -- won three and lost three. How can they call off three goals in one weekend? Spent time with Gr. Elizabeth. Stuffed ourselves on the fried chicken dinners at White Fence Farms.
Drove to Breckenridge. Had the place to ourselves.
Boys went snowboarding from dawn til dusk. Watched Mountain "Dew Tour "warm-ups and jumps! Cooked supper in our room. Movie Night + Pie Social. Wii room. Captain and I enjoyed the book shop and French pastries. Watched TV. Read "Unbearable Lightness of Scones." Wrote Christmas letter on iPad. Toured the Denver Mint (without our pocket knives). Drove home through Salina and looked at our "old house" once more.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Advent Calendars

I bought them early! Now, I cannot find them! It's so frustrating because they are hard to purchase in our little city--and I have looked around at all the usual hiding places in my home. I had bought one for each son, plus my godsons, plus Aunt Lois in the nursing home. Sometimes I am too organized for my own good.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lost by One Point

Hockey games were at the "home rink" in Independence this weekend, and several friends came to watch the twins and their Russell Stover '98 AAA team. We had lunch with the Verbicks between games, we spent time at Bass Pro Shop with Ben and Jamison, sat by the Richs family, and got caught up with Mrs. Kim, Winger's godmother. Unfortunately, we lost all three games by one point.

Homilist was a Boy Scout, Too

The priest today centered his homily around the positive attributes of Boy Scouts and their motto of "Be Prepared." I thought it was very fititng for Advent, while we are renewing our focus on the big-picture of eternal life. It's also fitting because our family has been thinking deeply about the Boy Scout's way of life. It is a fine program of leadership development--mixed with fun. Scouts also measures off a young boy's advancement to manhood with its seven ranks. In our modern culture, this is a rare focus--the fine qualities which ensure strong families and a strong nation for our posterity. How fortunate that our sons are working through these rites of passage into responsible adult life.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dorito's K-State Tweet

Dorito was excited and sent this message out on Twitter:  "That's my Wildcats 30-23 win over Iowa State 10-2 BABY! #KSU"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Eye Doctor Sees Us Right Away

Winger went for his annual eye check-up at the Plaza. Dr. Cibis is an old, German physician--very smart, organized, and efficient with all the lenses and measuring machines.  He was in a better mood than most visits. Note to self: make a December appointment again next year when everyone else is out shopping and we can get right in.  Report--Winger is the same as two years ago: a little exotropia with his left eye, but 20/20 vision and no color-blindness. He can be a pilot if he wants to!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Downtown Noon Concert

Dr. Jerry Anderson played "Sounds of the Season" on organ and piano this noon. How pleasanat that my boys are old enough to pack their own lunch so we can take field trips like this more easily?!