Tuesday, April 29, 2008

At the YMCA

It used to be so easy to eat whatever I wanted in my teens, twenties and thirties. But, when I hit the big 4-0 everything changed. I have watched my weight go up and after trying to walk around the neighborhood and watched what I ate I know I must take drastic measures.

So we as a family have joined the YMCA. This is the kind of motivation I need to keep on a regular schedule of exercise. The local facility has a wonderful inside family pool with a water slide and whirlpool. The exercise room is huge and I can't wait to try it out. Another benefit is that we can use either of the facitilies in town. You can even get a massage, what a way to reward yourself.

We are going to experiment with getting David up early to go exercise with us and see if this will help his behavior at school. If this works we will put this into our daily schedule.

Wish us luck with keeping up our exercise program.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Enemy Into My Friend

As I was reading a book on hospitality, one statement that leaped out at me was "God calls me to make the stranger into a guest, my enemy into a friend." This was exactly what the Good Samaritan did in Luke 10. Not only did this man stop his own schedule and treat the wounds of a stranger, but he took him to an inn and made sure he would be well taken care of. And this was his enemy, what an example of what we are to do.

A wonderful act of hospitality was when the crippled man was brought into the house where Jesus was staying. The friends couldn't get through the crowd and instead of saying "oh well, we tried. I'm sure if it was meant to be we could of gotten through. Maybe next time." No, they carried their friend to the roof and lowered him into the house. Can you imagine the joy of the friends when they realized that they were a part of a miracle?!

At our last church we had a wonderful man, Fred, who was not able to speak, hear or have control over his body. Many dismissed him because he had a disease that robbed his body of the ability to obey his commands. Some never got past the drool that would escape his mouth. What they didn't know was that his mind was sharp and he worked designing aircrafts. He offered to encode the audio sermons for the church's web site. Now, you may ask how can he do this, since he can't hear and didn't have use of his hands. Fred watched a meter on his computer that showed the level of the sounds and he adjusted the whole hour-long sermon watching just this VU meter—without ever actually hearing it. Fred would then upload it to the web site using his breath to control the computer. This was a service to God that he was very proud of. When Fred's body was taken to be with the Lord it was wonderful to see the testimony that he had been to those all around him, Christians and non-Christians alike.
We need to make sure we give those among our congregation who would be labeled "handicapped" a chance to serve God. We all have a gift to offer and as long as we are open to learn there is something they can teach us. Jesus was hospitiable to those who were often shunned by society. In fact that was one of the issues the church officals had with him.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Out of Control Birthdays

David will turn into a teenager in one month so we want to make it a special and memorable day. He would like a NASA party with a space shuttle cake. He would like to invite some kids from school and some from church. We will have to be creative since there will be many ages at the party. He doesn't understand that some older kids don't like to hang out with younger kids. Luckily, all the older kids are girls.
However, as I have started making plans for a party I have become appalled at what I see. A mom in California wanted to celebrate her daughter's third birthday in a big way. She spent over $10,000 on a Cinderella themed party—complete with a horse drawn carriage and 10 hired princesses. This past year her daughter turned five, but what to do? How about a catered affair for 150, two rented ponies, a carousel all professionally photographed at a park.

Where do you go from there? Does a parent who's willing to spend this much on a party love their child more than a parent who doesn't? What happens the day that the little princess gets married?

One of the parties we have loved most for our son was the totally homemade party we created. My son was turning four and Veggie Tales was big. So we got a huge plastic ball and made it into a Bob the Tomato piñata. I made a fabric Pin the Hat on Junior game and we had a veggie toss—little plastic veggies tossed into a farmer's basket. The three of us wore Veggie Tale shirts, which Rich and I still wear. David still talks about how much fun it was. We held it in the backyard and everyone had a wonderful time. And the ice cream cake was refreshing on a warm day.
You can check out more on these out of control parties and also ways to create a party on a budget here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Roger's Update

Yesterday was Roger's two-week birthday with us. He is the little bunny rabbit David found abandoned at the playground. He was so tiny that his whole body would sit right in the palm of my hand. He can no longer do that since he is now more than twice the size he was. It is amazing how well he is thriving.

We have done lots of research and made a stop at PetSmart to get supplies for our baby. He loves to eat the clover we gather from the back yard and we have recently gotten him hay grass (which I am slightly allergic to.)

Roger has taught David much in the last two weeks. David has been good about getting and feeding Roger the right foods. He refills the water bottle without being reminded. David has also been great about not opening the cage door, which was a concern of mine.

Two-week-old Roger
We are currently litter box training and Roger seems to be learning quickly. Roger even seems to know his name, when we call his name Roger will look at us. He also has gone to the food dish and nudged it when it is empty, then came to the side of the cage and looked at us, then returned and nudged the bowl again. As soon as he hears the sound of the food he rushes over to the bowl.

We had a storm the other night with thunder and Roger became very agitated. He kept looking at the window waiting for the rain to hit him. The next storm that came he was a lot calmer and less agitated.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Longest Move in History

Two years ago in February our son David was placed at a hospital hours from our Northern Virginia home. Each week we made the trip at least once, sometimes twice to visit him. Then about a year and a half ago we began the process to move to be closer to our son. We loved the area and felt it would be good, however, due to work issues the move was not complete until late last night.

Our moving truck

It has been very stressful having to maintain two homes—between cleaning, utilities and the needed supplies for both homes. I am very happy that we are under one roof full time!

There are many boxes that still need to be unpacked and many of the items will be duplicates of the items we already have in this home. I will be contacting our nephew who begins college in the fall to see what he can use. What he can't use will either be used or sent to charity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

IEP Changes

Today I attended another IEP (Individualized Education Plan). On the agenda was ESY (Extended School Year) for David. He has received this service for many years, but this year I was originally told that the school didn't provide it. After explaining my concerns and the fact that his school goals had not been met I was told he would be eligible. So this morning's meeting was to discuss if he would receive the socialization skills and behavioral reinforcement needed to bridge the gap over the summer. I came prepared with my file folder of referal copies and suspension notices over the last couple of months. I didn't need this because they had decided to make this accommodation. The service provided here would be considerably less then what was provided in the past, but it should help prepare him for the fall.

Construction Man David
The next issue was a referral that he received yesterday. In the past he would be suspended for 3 to 5 days, but this obviously has not worked. The suspensions have only resulted in more meetings and less learning. So the school has agreed that he is not to be suspended, but instead to be given after-school detention. How many days he must serve will be based on the behavior that resulted in the referral. If he serves ten days detention he will then have to attend Saturday School. One of the wonderful teachers he has is willing to spend three hours on Saturdays to make him work and learn. She, like we, believes it will only take two Saturdays for him to learn not to display these behaviors.

We then broached the subject of his grades. He is failing three classes, mostly due to the suspensions for his behavior. I was asked if I was still set on his failing and repeating seventh grade. I explained I would prefer that he pass to the eighth grade, but if he hasn't earned it by his grades he needs to repeat. I was told that they don't like to fail Special Education children. It would be different if I thought David wasn't smart enough to do the work, but David just doesn't want to do the work.

David and me having fun
I explained to the school that to me this is a life lesson issue. If we pass him without his having to try or do the work and gets the same reward (passing) as those who worked hard we are failing to teach him about life. As an adult he will need to go to work and then do the job assigned to him or he will not receive the same rewards as those who do. He will probably even get fired. I would much rather he learn this now and not when he is an adult and the lesson would be much more harsh. My concern is that we don't enable special education students to become reliant on the system to meet their needs for life because we have not prepared them.

This life training is needed for all children, not just special education students. Just like in learning to walk, they need baby steps. I can't send him to a job at twelve, but I can teach him that school is his job. If he fails to do his job he can't expect to get paid (graduated into the next grade).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ungrudging Hospitality

1 Peter 4:9 tells us to "Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another." But what is hospitality? In German the word for hospitality is Gastfreundschaft which means "the freedom of a guest." This can be very difficult when we think of the dirty fingerprints on our windows, the extra dishes and food that would be required, our time or the fear of letting someone into the deepest part of who we are. In churches we commonly use the term "fellowship" and think this is hospitality. Hospitality is so much deeper and personal than just a get-together and sharing of time and food.

What examples of hospitality do we see in the Bible? Many think immediately of Mary and Martha and the single instance of disharmony that was brought before Jesus. But considering the close friendship between Lazarus and Jesus it is unlikely this was a first time visit. Mary and Martha felt close enough to Jesus to send for him when Lazarus died, then commented that if he had been there Lazarus would not have died.

My feet after walking in sandals
I imagine Mary and Martha actually were a good team since Martha was taking care of their physical needs, while Mary was focusing on giving herself to her guests.

But Jesus shows us the ultimate example of hospitality. How many of us would be willing to lower ourselves to wash the feet of those in our own church? And think of the shoes we have today versus the shoes of Jesus' time? What about the road conditions of Biblical times? When I think of Jesus humbling himself at each step, getting a basin of water, a clean towel and bending down to wash the disciples in order to serve them, I can only guess that after each disciple fresh water was needed before going on. He continues in his service to us each day as we bring our prayers to him and he interceeds on our behalf to the Father.

Often it is at an inconvient time, how many would pass a broken-down car on our way to church so that we will not be late. Sometimes we may the only person who can meet that person's need. A little over a year ago we were on our way to visit our son at the hospital—a three-hour trip—so I took his blanket that needed to be mended in order to make good use of my time. Little did I know that blanket would be needed by a young man in a terrible accident. As we traveled on the divided road I saw smoke comming from the trees, we turned around and found that we were not the first ones to stop. A truck driven by a young man was stuck between two trees and men where helping him out, as the white smoke poured out of the car. It was a very cold morning so we ran back to the car and grabbed the blanket, threw it down to the men to keep the injured man warm until the paramedics could arrive. I was very glad to see so many people on their way to church stop and help.

Just this past weekend as Rich was returning to the hotel from the event he was photographing, he got lost. Fast approaching him were two homeless men asking for money. Since he doesn't carry money around the city or to events that he must focus on, he had to say he didn't have any. They thanked him and went on their way. Then he remembered the Metro ticket in his pocket, after using less then $2.00 of the $5.00 we had put on it, he called to them and offered the ticket. They were very thankful for something we would probably have just lost or misplaced before being able to use it again.

I believe God gives us opportunities every day to be hospitable to others. It is up to us whether we take these opportunities or not. I find that I miss more opportunities then I take. As I continue to read and share my new book I hope to see more clearly and take the opportunities God gives me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sight Seeing

After the Air and Space Museum, it was a first-time visit to the National Holocaust Museum. If allowed to be, this would have been another foot race to get through, but that was not going to happen.

National Holocaust Museum
At the start of the museum each person picks an identification book. This tells each person who they "are," and as they go through the exhibit they read more about who they are. At the back of the book each person finds out if they survived the Holocaust. We were thrilled that we survived.

The information contained in the exhibit really touched our hearts and made it very personal. The room that held shoes that were taken from the victims held a very unpleasant odor of unwashed feet. They had two rooms of the most beautiful portraits, of people who would be targeted by the Nazi's for concentration camps and death. Short videos throughout the exhibit take you step by step through the war. I learned many facts that I had never learned at school.

One shocking fact was that many Jews committed suicide when they heard the Nazis had gained control over their country. Can you imagine knowing that death would be preferable to the life that they would have to endure under their own country's leaders? When leaving, my son mentioned to one of the workers that he wanted to take some materials back to his teacher, since they had just been learning about World War II. The man behind the counter was wonderful—he began to pull out pamphlets detailing many aspects about the holocaust and gave them to David. The man made David's day. The museums in Washington are wonderful and free!

David in front of President Bush's house
Next was a tourist trip to the White House. While taking pictures of the White House we heard an approaching helicopter that landed and took off again. A few minutes later we saw a man appear on the roof with binoculars and checking everything out. Then the sound of a helicopter could be heard and it landed on the lawn on the opposite side of the house. David was very excited! He was jumping up and down and got a picture of the helicopter as it was taking off. He can't wait until Monday to show the picture off at school.

On the way back to the hotel he realized that he was truly exhausted. But that didn't last long when we arrived at the hotel. It wasn't until well after 10:00 that Rich got back and we saw the photos he had taken that David would finally settle into bed. Due to a mix-up we had only one king bed that the three of us had to share. About an hour into the night I was being squashed and spent the rest of the night on the chaise lounge—not very comfortable.

The next morning was an excursion where we saw huge cranes build another crane for upcoming construction. David could just sit for hours and watch trucks, so this was a real treat.

It was a great weekend!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq

This weekend my husband had the privilege to officially photograph an event highlighting the documentary "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq." The film highlights 10 Soldiers and Marines whose lives were changed forever in service to their country. Alive Day is the term used for the day these heroes narrowly escaped death in Iraq. In the film they spoke about their feelings about their service and their life-changing injuries. Many of those featured in the file attended this function in person. The men and women had such an open honesty about their experiences and injuries that Rich felt an immediate liking to them and desire to help them tell their stories with the same dignity they exhibit.

Marine Corporal Mike Jernigan
Because the film contains some content that we were concerned about David seeing, he and I did not attend the event. However, we were able to meet Mike Jernigan, one of the men featured in the film, the next morning as we were leaving the hotel. Rich's company had booked him into a nice hotel, since the day would be long and he would be required to photograph until late into the evening. Even though he was not able to enjoy the amenities, David and I were glad to. The room was a Platinum Member's room and very plush. David wanted to use the honor bar, but I had told the front desk to keep the key. Who wants to pay $3.00 for a can of soda? I had visions of a bill that exceeded the room rate.

David and a quick-moving metro train
David was thrilled to be able to ride the metro train to the Air and Space Museum in Washington. Since he wants to be an astronaut you would think this would be a long visit, but it was a flying visit. We had been there several times and he wasn't interested in seeing it again. There are lots of planes and plaques to read about the history of flight. But, he was interested in the gift shop and the $40.00 airplane, which he didn't get. David did get a small version of Air Force One and a NASA patch. He just loves gift shops!

More adventures tomorrow... and it was very exciting!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Two weeks ago we explored a used book store and I was intrigued by a book entitled "Creative Hospitality." My preconceived idea on the theme of this book was quickly tossed out the window when I pulled the book off the shelf. I had imagined something along the lines of creative tips on entertaining. This book had no slick pictures on floral arrangements or how-to tips on making a guest room inviting or about creating a comfortable home for entertaining.

My second thought ran along the lines of how to be seeker-sensitive in our church. My concern is that many people who are trying to meet the "felt needs" of people coming into churches today are ignoring the people's eternal needs. Some churches are removing the words sin and repentance from their services and buildings, instead offering feel-good-about-yourself services (not more than 5 minutes long).

Coming from a mother's point of view its as if my son came to me with a deep gash, filled with gravel and dirt, to have me to make it better. If I kiss his cheek and place a bandage over the wound it will make him feel better in the short-term. But what my son really needs is for me to clean out the wound and take him to the doctor perhaps for stitches and then kiss him. Which hurts more? From my son's point of view the second scenario does, but if allowed to have his way it will lead to more pain.

A book about entertaining I would be interested in, but not a seeker sensitive book. But upon opening this book I found that this book was neither kind. I used my usually practice of opening a book in the middle and start reading. I have found that I can determine if the writer is interesting and if the material is something that will hold my attention. In this case I opened to a chapter called "Biblical Hospitality" and another called "Models of Hospitality." I checked the front of the book and found the full title was "Creative Hospitality: As a Means of Evangelism." After each chapter there are even questions for review or discussion. I had found my book!

As I have begun to read I found that the subject is even more relevant now then it was in 1981 when Bruce Rowlinson wrote it. The book involves hospitality not only in our homes, but also in the church building. It is about real hospitality, not the manufactured kind that many churches put into place.

We saw this at one church we visited. It was a large church that had a "hospitality committee." It was very easy to see what was required of them. The first two weeks we were welcomed by many couples with name tags on. The couples explained that to become involved in the church it would be wise to join one of the small groups the church organized. The third week no one spoke to us, waved or even smiled. They had done their "job." None of the couples encouraged us to become friends with them personally, just others in the church. We didn't stay long. Yes, it is also our responsibility as guests to try to be friendly. But we were never able to become close to any of the people at the church. I am glad to say that at the church we attend now, we found just the opposite. We were at a personal low when we first visited and they opened their hearts and arms to us. They are also very open and understanding to our son's issues.

As I read this book I think of a wonderful Christian who put hospitality into practice, Joanie Barb. Joanie was a wonderful role model for this wife as I began married life almost 22 years ago. I will be sharing this book as I read it.

Dessert First, Please

Just a thought:
Just think of all those women on the Titanic who said, "No, thank you," to dessert that night. And for what?”
   —Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One Year Ago

VT's Norris Hall behind a half-mast flag
©Kimberly Gelina
One year ago I was working in a preschool when we heard the news that shots had been fired at Virginia Tech. As the news came in it was harder and harder to keep the "no worries" smile and attitidue needed to photograph newborns to fives. Having photographed the children in Virginia Tech's Child Development Center my concern went right to those little ones. The teachers and director of this center would need to put away their own personal worries and take care of the safety of the children in their charges. I later found out the director's daughter was to have been in Norris Hall (the second location) at the time of the shootings. However, she had been running late and was outside the hall when she heard the shots being fired.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends that lost loved ones during this tragedy. As a parent I can't even begin to know what they must have been going through—your child at the beginning of their life's path only to be abruptly cut short. I know God is sovereign and in control, but I wonder what solace those who don't know God could have.

©Kimberly Gelina

On this one year anniversary of this event, Virginia Tech will be dedicating a memorial to those lives lost. It will be a day of remembering and looking forward. Virginia Tech's web site includes biographies of those who died, images and video in memorial of the healing that has occurred over the last year.

This site also contains good information for anyone dealing with grief. I am glad to see the healing that has been going on for the last year and pray for God's continued mercy on those who have lost their loved one.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Iceberg Right Ahead

At 11:40pm last night the ships bell rang three times. Frederick Fleet, the Titanic's lookout shouted "Iceberg right ahead" into the cold, clear night. Though the crew did everything in their power to prevent hitting the iceberg, the warning came too late. It prevented a head-on collision, but the mountain of ice damaged 250 feet of our hull, just below the waterline.

The builder of the Titanic claimed it would be near impossible to sink this ship, the unthinkable has happened. In spite of the efforts of the crew to load the women and children into the lifeboats, many are not taking this seriously. A group of Frenchmen are refusing to end their bridge game.

Due to language barriers in the third class deck there are reports of great confusion.

Major Butt is helping the ladies into the lifeboats. While helping Miss Marie Young into a boat Major Butt said to her "Good luck to you, and don't forget to remember me to the folks back home." he then waved to us as the lifeboat was lowered. Major Butt went down with the ship, within minutes of helping Marie into our lifeboat.

There was quite a stir as the men tried to help Mrs. Ida Straus into a lifeboat. After forty years of marriage she would rather stay and share the same fate as her husband. Mr. John Astor assured his young bride he would take a later lifeboat and join her later, as he safely placed her into a lifeboat. The Strauses died together. And Mr. Astor perished. Mrs. Astor was among the survivors.

The evening will cause many to be remembered for their courageousness, while a few will be remembered for their cowardice. When Mr. Guggenheim became aware of the seriousness of the situation, he decided to "meet my end like a man." He asked the steward that if the steward survived while he perished that he relay a message to his wife. "Tell her I played the game out straight and to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward."

The same could not be said for a man who when the call came for women and children, dressed in a woman's skirt, hat and veil. Unfortunately the brave Guggenheim died while the coward survived.

The Countess of Rothes manned the tiller through out the cold night. Her act of compassion in comforting the grieving Maria Penasco, a newlywed whose husband remained on the ship to perish has earned her a new nickname. I have heard folks beginning to call her "the plucky Countess."

The Penascos had not planned to be on board and their last minute decision made it hard for family members to accept Victor Penascos death. Maria and the Countess survived.

Margaret Brown became known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" as she fought to find survivors in the water. She would continue her life fighting for workers, women, literacy for children and historic preservation. During World War I she worked to help rebuild the front lines in France, while helping the wounded French and American soldiers.

Marion Wright wore the same coat she fled the Titanic with to her hasty wedding to her sweetheart, Arthur Woolcott, on April 20th, 1912. Mr. Hoffman placed his two young sons into a lifeboat to be cared for by strangers. Mr. Hoffman perished alone on board. When the two sons arrived in New York they became known as "the Titanic waifs." Their mother finally knew of their whereabouts after seeing their pictures in a French newspaper. They were actually Edmond and Michel Navratil and their father was Michel Navratil, Sr., who had left France because of his unhappy marriage.

Many lifeboats were set to sea only half full. However, this was not the case of the boat Annie Clemmer Funk found herself in. After seeing a mother place her children into the lifeboat and seeing no place left for the herself Annie selflessly gave up her own seat to save the mother. Annie was one of the many who perished.

Rosa Abbott, the single mother of fourteen- and sixteen-year-old boys, was permitted to board a lifeboat. However, her sons were not allowed to board because they were considered to be adults. Rosa refused to leave the ship without her sons. All three were swept off the deck during the final plunge of the Titanic. Rosa was the only woman recovered from the ocean, suffering from shock and severely frostbitten. However, her sons were never found. Despite Rosa's own pain and suffering, she took care of Amy Stanley on board the Carpathia. The two became friends and continued to write to each other for years.

Mr. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, boarded a lifeboat while so many others perished.

It was 4:10am by the time a rescue came in the form of the Carpathia. Carpathia's crew and passengers did what they could to bring comfort to all the survivors of the Titanic. After the final count was taken, only 705 of the 2,228 Titanic passengers and crew were saved. The Carpathia circled the area for another 4 and a half hours looking for survivors before turning towards New York. On the Carpathia Molly Brown formed a committee to ensure the less fortunate survivors were treated fairly by the White Star Line.


This disaster would result in great maritime change. Lifeboat seating would be required for each passenger along with lifeboat drills. Telegraphs would need to be maintained twenty-four hours a day.

The Ice Wall from the Titanic exhibit
One of the items in the Titanic Exhibit is the Ice Wall. Visitors are encouraged to place their hands on the wall and keep them on as long as they can. After just a few seconds people pulled their hands away, trying to rid themselves of the chill that ran through their bodies. Only a few hand imprints could be seen in the ice, since most couldn't stand the cold for long enough to make in imprint. This really made an impression on our son when he realized that the people who went into the water that night were immersed into water that was 2 degrees colder than the temperature of that ice wall.

One little known fact is that the Titanic was in danger from the minute she left Southampton. The ship had a blazing inferno in one of the boiler rooms that they were never able to put out during the entire voyage.

My son gave me a special gift from our day at the exhibit—a necklace with a cage and in the cage is a lump of coal dredged from Titanic as she lay on the ocean floor. Due to ownership rights and litigation issues this is all that is allowed to be sold of the Titanic. I love my piece of history.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Going Below Deck

Exploring third class, also known as steerage, is like a melting pot of languages. Most passengers in third class are immigrants looking for a better life in America, while some are hoping for religious and political freedom.

Our table last night
Rosa Abbott is a single mother of two teenage boys. She has become friends with Amy Stanley, who has left England in order to work as a domestic in England. It is so nice that they have become friends as Miss Stanley is traveling alone, something unheard of in First Class. There are many large families sharing some quarters in steerage.

The dining in steerage is considerably better than most of the passengers are use to. Vegetable soup, Roasted Pork are all on the menu in steerage. Where first class has received Chataeu Potatoes, Oranges en Surprise and Minted Green Pea Timbales below deck they have received boiled potatoes, oranges and boiled peas. The beautiful floral arrangements, china and crystal are all missing from their meals. However, their dining saloon is neat and clean.

Minted Green Pea Timbales
Last night's meal included Minted Green Pea Timbales.

Minted Green Pea Timbales
  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 4 cups peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)

  • 2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (or 1 tsp dried)

  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 3 egg whites

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

  • Sour Cream

In a saucepan of boiling water, dissolve all but 1/4 tsp of the salt. Add peas and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cld water until chilled through; drain well.

Place peas, mint, sugar, remaining salt and pepper in blender or food processor; puree until very smooth. With motor running, add egg whites one at a time; pour in cream and blend until well combined.

Divide pea mixture amoung 6 greased custard cups. Place cups in baking pan; pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover with foil and make vent holesin foil; bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let rest for 2 to 3 minutes.

Garnish wih sour cream.

Mr. Bruce Ismay, from our boarding guide
This was not a favorite at our table. David didn't care for the custard feel consistency of this dish. While Rich and I felt the flavor was a bit bland for our tastes. But, we had fun trying this new dish.

Mr. Ismay from White Star Line is on board and is encouraging Captain Smith to increase the speed of the Titanic. At the increased rate of speed we should dock in New York several hours earlier than expected.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Exploring Second Class

Annie Clemmer Funk
I have been busy meeting passengers in second class and exploring their accommodations. Second class on Titanic is much like first class on other ocean liners. There is a Library with silk-draped window, however most of the passengers spend their day under the covered promenade. The nights are getting chiller, so most are retreating indoors after dinner. The gentlemen retreat to the smoking room, much like the first class passengers.

There are many interesting passengers in second class. Annie Clemmer Funk is returning from India, where she has been serving as a missionary, to attend to her sick mother. Marion Wright is leaving her home in England in order to marry her sweetheart, Arthur, who has already settled in Oregon. I have also met a Mr. Hoffman, a Frenchman traveling with his two young sons.

Chocolate Painted Eclairs
Last evening's meal was delicious, as we have come to expect. Dessert was Chocolate Painted Eclairs. We took full advantage and ate them to our hearts content.

This morning following the church service I overheard Archibald Gracie telling another gentleman "The exercise and the swim gave me an appetite for a hearty breakfast." Most of us are taking full advantage of the amenities the ship has to offer.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Meet Our Fellow Passengers

Noelle, Countess of Rothes
One of the many passengers I had the privilege to meet last evening was The Countess of Rothes. She boarded Titanic with her parents, Thomas and Clementina Dyer-Edwardes, however her parents disembarked in France. Her cousin Gladys is accompanying the Countess for the complete voyage. The Countess plans to arrive in New York in time to celebrate her 12th anniversary with her husband. Lord Rothes arrived in New York in February aboard the Lusitania.

The Countess is the only child of a multi-millionaire Londoner. The Countess was born on Christmas day, was formally named Lucy Noel Martha—but everyone calls her Noelle. Though born in London the family made their home in Prinknash, in an old abbey.

Major Archibald Butts
During her second season in London Noelle met and fell in love with Norman-Evelyn Leslie, a lieutenant that would shortly be deployed to the Boer Wars. The Rothes have two sons, who have remained in England.

Major Archibald Butt sat at our table last night at dinner. He is military aide to President William Taft. Major Butt is returning from a six-week rest in Europe. He was urged by the President to make the trip due to the Major's recent health issues. The President also sent a personal message to Pope Pius X, which the Major delivered. He and his friend Frances Millet spend much of their time in the first class smoking room playing cards.

For dessert last evening we had Oranges En Surprise
  • 4 large navel oranges

  • 2 cups orange sherbet

  • 2 egg whites

  • pinch cream of tartar

  • 1/2 cup fruit sugar

  • dash almond extract

  • fresh spearmint leaves

  • candied orange peel
Cut off top quarters of oranges; discard. Turn over and slice off (without penetrating flesh of oranges the stem ends so that the oranges sit flat. Carefully spoon out flesh, reserving for another purpose. Place hollowed skins on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Divide sherbet evenly among oranges, firmly packing into hollows. Return oranges to freezer for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 425F. Beat egg whites until frothy; add cream of tartar. Still beating, gradually add sugar. Continue beating for about 3 minutes or until eggs are glossy and form stiff peaks; stir in almond extract.

Oranges en Surprise
Remove oranges from freezer and place on baking sheet. Decoratively cover openings with meringue; spoon dollops of meringue or pipe meringue onto oranges. Immediately bake in 425F oven for 2 minutes, reduce temperature to 375F and continue to bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until meringue is set and slightly browned. Garnish with spearmint leaves and candied orange peel; serve immediately.

This was a cool refreshing dessert. In fact we plan to have it again tomorrow with lunch.

*The orange flesh was used the next morning in the pancake mixture.

This afternoon we hope to explore the second class decks and meet some of the other passengers.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fun On Board

While exploring the Titanic with Lady Cynthia Asquith yesterday she said to me "It must be admitted that a very large fraction of our time is spent in dressing and undressing. We are forever changing our clothes, a custom that necessitates traveling with a mountain of luggage."

Ond of the grand staircases
However, we were able to get some exploring done before dinner. We love the grand staircases (which there are two of), but we also made use of the electric elevators on board. We changed into our bathing costumes and made use of a swimming pool on board. Though we didn't try out the equipment, we saw many make use of the gymnasium and the mechanical horse and camel. My husband played squash, then headed to the Turkish bath. Many have spent the entire voyage gambling, a pasttime that holds no interest for us.

One of the courses on our first night was Chateau Potatoes. I understand they are very easy to make and I know they are delicious.

Chateau Potatoes
  • 6 medium potatoes

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 tbsp dinely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Chateau Potatoes
Peel potatoes. Place butter, oil and rosemary in large baking pan. Set pan in 425F oven for 2 to 3 minutes.

Pat potatoes dry; place in heated pan and stir to coat with butter mixture. Bake at 425F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Tonight our dessert promises to be amazing! Oranges en Surprise, I hope to share the recipe with you tomorrow. I have also met some more of my fellow passengers and would like to introduce them to you tomorrow.

Meet Our "Baby"

Roger, in his habitat
David had been playing at the playground yesterday when he spotted a baby rabbit and quickly came back home to get a plastic container and lid. He caught the baby and came home with a big smile on his face. A "furry pet" had just joined our family. There is a fox that lives in the woods next to the playground and we are wondering if he has hurt the mother. Last year we had four bunnies that lived in our yard, while this year I have only seen one adult bunny and that was last week.

David has named his baby bunny Roger. We have gone online to find out how to take care of this little one. We have also purchased a "habitat" since David doesn't like the idea of a "cage." The habitat now has a curled up baby blanket and a box so Roger can go into it for privacy. I have fed him kitten replacement milk from an eye dropper. He was so sweet. He just stretched out in the baby blanket while I tried to feed him, but he wouldn't eat. I placed some of the milk on and around his mouth, but still no eating. As soon as we placed him back in the habitat he started to lick it off. I think he didn't know what the dropper was and was afraid. After licking all the milk off he went to the water bottle and started to drink. We will try feeding him the milk again later tonight.

Feeding our new baby
I imagine everyone at school today will know about Roger, since David couldn't wait to share the news. He even pulled some friends from the playground last night to meet his new bunny.

David has always been good at catching animals, so this capture was no surprise. The fact that it was a bunny was. He has caught frogs since he was four and when neighbors had a dog "escape" when the door was left open they would come a knocking. The first time our neighbor lost his dog he and his two teenagers tried for about 15 minutes and had given up. When a five-year-old David said "I'll get him." Our neighbor laughed, but a couple minutes later David was back with the dog.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Welcome Aboard

I'm so excited! We have boarded the Titanic for its maiden voyage. She was completed in February (1912) at a cost of $10,000,000. She can accommodate 2,500 passengers, but don't worry—we will have plenty of room to roam and explore since the ship is about four city blocks long (882.5 feet). There are also eleven decks, of course I'm sure we will want to stay in the first class areas. And if you need anything, don't hesitate to call on one of the 860 crew members who are here to serve us.

We have obtained both first-class suites with private promenades, at a cost of $4,350 per suite. Our suite is composed of a sitting room, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Unfortunely, many of you will have to suffer in suites without a private deck, only $2,300 per suite.

As we boarded, the docks were crowded with both passengers and spectaters who wanted to get a glimpse of this majestic ship and the many famous passengers. There are many honeymooning couples on board, but the most famous is Colonel John Jacob Astor and his young bride. Our suites are located close to Isidor Straus and his wife Ida (co-owners of Macy's). Further along the passage you will find Benjamin Guggenheim.

Our table's centerpiece
First-class passenger Washington Dodge was overheard saying "It was hard to realize, when dining in the large and spacious dining saloon, that one was not in some large and sumptuous hotel." Mrs. James Brown presided over the most raucous table for dinner. It is said she is course, loud and ready to share wild stories of her adventures with her entire table. Rumor has it that she is separated from her husband, a Denver gold mining tycoon. She is all the talk of first class.

As first class passengers, we have many choices of where we would like to dine. The Ritz Restaurant offers a more sumptuous chamber than the dining saloon. You may also order anything on their a la carte menu, which includes only nine courses, unlike the eleven course meals served in the Saloon. The Café Parisien offers a more relaxed enviroment. It is easy to lose yourself in the sidewalk café atmosphere. If you prefer, The Verandah Café gives you the illusion of an open air verandah. Of course, you are also welcome to dine in the Dining Saloon and Reception Room.

Roast Sirloin of Beef Forestiere
As we gathered in the reception room we were serenaded by a five piece orchestra. This gave us the opportunity to meet our fellow passengers. The Titanic's bugler called us to dine with "The Roast Beef of Old England." My husband then escorted me to our place at the table. Each course was served on a silver salver, with so many courses we chose to sample just a small amount of each course.

Tonight we dined on Roast Sirloin of Beef Forestiere. I enjoyed the meal so much I requested the recipe from the chef. I am happy to share it with my friends.

Roast Sirloin of Beef Forestiere
  • 1/3 cup red wine

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 2-inch thick sirloin steaks

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 2 oz side bacon

  • 2 1/2 cups sliced wild mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • 2 springs fresh thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 1/4 tsp salt

In a baking dish, combine wine, vegetable oil, thyme, onion and garlic. Add steak, turning to coat well; cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Bring steaks to room temperature before cooking.

Season steaks with salt and pepper and place in roasting pan. Roast in 425F oven for 20 minutes; reduce temperature to 375F and continue to roast for 15 minutes for medium wellness. When cooked, remove sirloin and cover with foil.

Sauce While steaks are cooking, in a small skillet, cook bacon over high heat for 5 minutes; remove from pan. Drain off all but 2 tbsp fat; stir in mushrooms and cook, stirring gently, for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan and add to the bacon.

Stir in wine, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; cook for 7 minutes or until reduced to about 2 tbsp. Set aside. Place roasting pan on medium-high burner. Pour beef stock into pan, stirring, bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Stir in wine mixture, butter, mushrooms, bacon and salt. Heat thouroughly, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

Thinly slice sirloin across the grain and serve garnished with onions and sauce.

*I had my steak served without the sauce, since I am allergic to mushrooms.

We also were served Chateau Potatoes, I will be happy to share that recipe with you tomorrow. We will be exploring the ship today, so I hope to see you tomorrow to let you know what enjoyments are being offered.

Update on David

Titanic Menu
Thank you to everyone who has visited my son's blog and commented. He is one happy little boy, at least about the blog.

However, if you look at how I've decorated my new kitchen board you will see our Titanic menu. You will also notice an addition of beef liver. Yes, David needs a reminder lesson on not throwing away food. David chose to make an afternoon snack of cereal, only then didn't eat it. I told him he would need to eat it before he was allowed to eat the pork chops meal I had already planned.

David smiling in spite of his liver dumplings
When a little later I was informed he had eaten it, I had my doubts. I asked him another two times, then I explained that he needed to think carefully before answering me again because if he lied he would be eating liver for a week. "David did you eat all the cereal?" "Yes" was his reply. After checking the sink and not finding anything I checked the trash. Bingo. He then had to have abother bowl of cereal for dinner and liver for the week. Of course, he wanted to know if he could change his answer after I found the dumped food.

I explained to him again that even if I had not found out his sin that God would have known. And that his disobiedience—and worse, his lying—would have consequences. He had been given every chance to be honest with him only having to eat a bowl of cereal. But, his lying pushed us into a more serious consequence.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Special Invitation

We would like you to be our guest for the historic maiden voyage of the Titanic. We have found ourselves with an extra ticket and felt you might enjoy crossing the Atlantic Ocean on this unsinkable palace to arrive in New York. We set sail from Southampton, England on 10 April, 1912 at 12:00 pm.

No I have not lost my mind, but I have had the privilege to see for myself parts of the Titanic recovered from her watery grave. It becomes intensely real when you are able to see the porthole that cracked under the water pressure, the cherub recovered from the grand staircase. The painstaking efforts used to recover bits and pieces of this "unsinkable" ship have paid off. The sinking of this memorable ship may have been 96 years ago, but those who passed through the exhibit showed a reverence and solemnity as if the tragedy had occured last week. One room in the exhibit held the words of the survivors upon their arrival in New York and as we read their words uttered almost a century ago we heard sniffles and saw the tears of those around us.

My men preparing to board Titanic
My encounter with the Titanic was totally unexpected. We had been given free tickets to see the Baltimore Orioles several years ago so we decided to make a day of it in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. The Harbor is right down the road from Camden Yards Baseball Stadium, so we parked our car at the harbor and started to explore. Imagine our surprise and joy to find the Titanic Exhibit had just opened at the Baltimore Science Museum. We had fun exploring the museum but then had to check out the exhibit. The admission was a bit pricey, but after seeing the exhibit we felt it was well worth it.

I have been fascinated with the Titanic since watching the 1953 movie with Barbara Stanwyck. It had me in tears everytime with the unrealistic hope that this time the tragedy would be averted (hope springs eternal).

So starting tomorrow I will be sharing some of the recipes that were served on the Titanic and first-hand words from Titanic survivors. I will also share my piece of the Titanic. There is only one item brought up from the depths that is allowed to be sold—the coal. And I have a piece of it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Santa Fe Boy

We knew it wouldn't be long, our son now has a blog of his own. David has turned his love of trains into the theme of his blog. His blog header is a picture Rich took last year on a visit to the transportation museum. David is scouring information and brainstorming ideas to post on his blog.

© Richard D. Gelina
We feel this will be a good exercise in self-discipline. He desperately wants comments on his blog, so we have explained that he will need to post often and have interesting material on the blog if he wants people to visit him. This is also a chance for him to learn how to format and do page layout also.

So if you would like to check out what's on a twelve-year-old's mind, visit him at http://santafeboy.wordpress.com/, and if you could leave a message you would make him very happy.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hebrews 9:15

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Hebrews 9:15

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Community Market

This morning found us exporing the community market. We found some beautiful flowers to decorate the front of the house with. We also made many food purchases. David loves brown eggs and we found some farm fresh brown eggs for much cheaper than the store charges for them. They were so fresh that one of the eggs still had a hend feather on it. We also bought Amish roll butter, goat cheese and fresh sweet pork sausage. We are going to fire up the grill this evening to cook up our sausage!

David at the Market
After the market, we explored a used bookstore across the street. Rich found a book and I found a very interesting book that I will be sharing later. We spent several hours just walking and exploring shops that we had not been to before. The market and bookstore were the only ones we made purchases in, but we had a great time. Since David didn't find a book he liked we made a trip to the dollar store afterwards, where I found the small shepherds hooks for plants. I intend to use them in the backyard and hang small candles in holders on them. Very romantic.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Go Hillcats

David & me with Southpaw
Tonight is the opening game for the Lynchburg Hillcats, the minor league farm team for the Pittsburg Pirates. Last year we attended many games and enjoyed many hours of family fun. If you've never been to a minor league game you are missing out on an enjoyable experience.

The price for the Hillcats games is very resonable—$5 to $6 for kids and $7 to $8 per adult. If you buy the Kids Club for $25, children under 14 can get in all 70 games free, a tee shirt, giveaways and meet-and-greets. On Tuesdays last year they had all you could eat—Pizza Hut pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs, peanuts and popcorn for just $10 and that includes the price of admission! And when you have a growing boy, that's a great deal.

One of the benefits of a minor league game is that you can be up close and personal. Last year our favorite player, Pedro Powell gladly posed for pictures with our son and signed a game ball for our son. Pedro was loved by everyone in the stands, I don't see his name on the roster this year and he will be sorely missed.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Love and Logic

One of the books we have used with parenting our child is Parenting with Love and Logic." The authors use Proverbs 22:6 to provide insight into parenting issues.

Proverbs 22:6Train children in the right way and when old, they will not stray.

The main thrust in this book is teaching responsibility, which is sorely lacking in this day and age. I think that we as parents seem to take one of two paths when parenting. Either we make all the decisions for our children until they are eighteen and allow them to start making their own mistakes. Or we allow our young children to rule the roost, allowing them to make decisions they are not capable of handling.
The introduction states "love is powerful enough to allow kids to make mistakes and permit them to live with the consequences of those mistakes. The logic is centered in the consequences themselves."

Parenting With Love & Logic
When there are no natural consequences, parents are encouraged to come up with a consequence that will easily be tied to the mistake. The writers encourage parents to be creative and not have one consequence that is always used for the same mistake.

We have taken this to heart. Four years ago when David was eight and knew better, he hid food in order to get dessert. I had gone to answer the door and when I returned the food was gone and after checking the trash and not finding it, I gave him his dessert. Only the next day I found the uneaten dinner behind a piece of furniture. But, what to do? I got creative and he will never forget the lesson.

I took him to the grocery store and made him buy his own piece of large liver—that's right liver. Each night as Rich and I ate what was already planned for dinner, David would help cook up a nice slice of liver. The first night David made a huge deal of how much he was enjoying it and was glad that he would have to eat it for a week. "Thank you, Mom!" The next night he was not so excited and by the last night of the liver he was positively miserable.

I know everyone is groaning right about now, but was this effective? Oh yes, since even now if he even considers not eating his food all we have to say is "liver" and he finishes up with little fuss. Even David will laugh when this story is told.

Another situation we ran into was with the school. It was always a big war to get David to wear his coat, even in winter. I decided to not battle and let the natural consequences take over. No coat—no playground time at school. Only, after three days I found out from David that the school was loaning him a jacket for him to play outside in.

The next day I called the school and informed them they were not allowed to loan him a jacket. I was trying to teach him responsibility and they were teaching him not to be responsible. The next day he left without a coat and was shocked to find that he was not allowed outside at playtime. The next day I didn't even have to mention a coat, he gladly grabbed one on the way out the door.

If we don't give our children the opportunity to fail in a safe environment in a small way it could result in large and dangerous mistakes.

Not all of the logic has worked with our son, so like most parenting books we have to pick out and use what works for our son. No two children are alike, so what works for one may not work for another.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Inventor

My son David, has always been interested in how things work. Two of his favorite books are "How it works in the city" and "How it works in the country." These books explain how just about everything works, from sewer systems to milking machines.

At the grand old age of 9 months our son did not awaken us in the early morning hours as was his custom. Checking the video monitor that covered the entire crib we saw no David. We ran into his room, only to find a pile of stuffed animals in the middle of the room next to a crib that had been dismantled. The bottom of the crib was still attached, but one of the side pieces was laying on the floor. So David had slid down the front like a slide and begun playing with his toys and stuffed animals.

How did this happen? Were we that bad at putting the crib together? Then we heard the giggles emanating from the pile of animals and saw a smiling face that looked strangely like our son peeking through. That afternoon we repaired the crib, taking extra care to tighten all the bolts. That evening we watched in fascination as our 9-month-old son would shook the front of the crib, then with those little baby fingers tried to unscrew the bolts. This went on repeatedly until he came to realize this was not going to work. So for the next several months we had to tighten the crib bolts on a daily basis. I kid you not—this is a true story. We even kept a copy of the e-mail we sent to my in-laws about the incident.

Inventor-man David
When he was three he would ask to ride the rides at Wal-Mart, only to jump off as soon as the ride started. People's looks at me were comical—Why would a mother let her child lay on the dirty floor under the ride? But the first time I asked what he was doing he just said "I gotta see how it works." He then would tell us in great detail what rod was being rotated in order to make the ride go forward. My philosophy was dirt can be washed off and if he wants to learn, he should go for it.

I, however, was not so thrilled when at the age of four he took the toilet apart to see how it worked. My clean bathroom was not so clean as water from the tank spewed out the top. I had to wade into the half-inch deep water to shut off the water flow.

Today as my inventor was mowing the lawn I found a sight to start my head shaking. He had taken the rake and attached it to the lawnmower. When asked, he stated this was to collect the cut grass and save time. One smart cookie.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Breaking God's Heart

© Richard D. Gelina
While preparing for this week's Bible Study, I came across this quote by Margaret Gibb:

"We must move from asking God to take care of things that are breaking our hearts, to praying about the things that are breaking God's heart."

How often do we pray this? This quote is what Christians should be praying, taking the focus off us and our desires and focusing on God. It was such a powerful statement and we should all examine our prayer lives constantly to ensure it's all about Him and not us.