Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, Future Man

A few years ago a friend with grown children commented to me that "it is a beautiful thing to watch a boy turn into a man." My own sons were only about eight and ten years old at the time but she made the comment with such a twinkle of wonder in her eye that I remembered her words. Another observation which stuck with me, this one made by author Douglas Wilson in the introduction to his book "Future Men", is "Boys take a lot of faith". I would say that these two sentiments, mingled together, just about encapsulate all of what I've experienced in raising Active Son to the nearly-on-the-brink-of-manhood age of 15. Yes, it is beautiful(those muscles!) and filled with wonder. And yes, it does take a lot of faith.

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Active son fills our lives and home with, well, action. He is moving around a lot of the time and if there is any sort of spherical object lying around, it quickly finds it way into his hands. Those same fidgety fingers play a beautiful Mozart and are often instrumental in helping out around the house and garden. An ordered home is important to this young man!

Now in his first year of high school, Active Son, is working hard to do what it takes to become a good student and active learner. He has joined Oldest Daughter and me for a weekly discussion of the Great Books; today we read this introduction to the poetry of John Donne: "You will rarely find more moving language than “Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you/As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend . . .”

"The language that moves me," responded Active Son, "is 'Defense!'" I hear that and and I move down the field!

Growing up isn't easy and neither is it easy letting Active Son grow up. I haven't always done a good job of "looking at the present and seeing what it will become, by grace and good works"(Future Men). Just last week Active Son and I were sparring over something so significant I can't even remember what it was. What I remember was my comment to him and his response:

Mom: (half joking/half serious) Oh, grow up!
Active Son:(also half joking/half serious) That's what I'm trying to do!

That brought a knowing smile to both our faces.

Happy Birthday, Active Son. You are a wonderful heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Indian Food 101~Butter Chicken

This chicken dish was my first attempt at Indian cooking and it fast became a family favorite. Additionally, it fits all my requirements for a great dish: easy to fix, healthy (mostly), economical, and delicious. It includes a couple of spices you may not have on hand (green cardamon pods and garam masala) but once you secure these you will have enough to make many delicious batches of Butter Chicken. This recipe came to me from two friends: I received it from one friend who received it from a mutual British friend who grew up in India.

Marinate 2 lbs. of cut up chicken breasts in the following mixture for 1-2 hours:

2/3 cup yogurt
1/2 cup ground blanched almonds (I grind them in my blender)
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 bay leaves
1/4 ground cloves
1 tsp. garam masala
4 green cardamon pods
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz. can chopped or pureed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Melt in large cooking pot:
6 Tsp. butter
1 Tsp. oil

2 large onions, sliced and fry until lightly browned

chicken mixture (chicken + marinade)

Simmer until chicken is cooked through and stir in:
4 Tsp. cream

(Remove the bay leaves and the cardamon pods, if you can find them)

I serve this with brown or white basmati rice. Serves about 6. I double this for a great company dish.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Soundtrack for the next year: Sibelius violin concerto

Maxim Vengerov - Sibelius - Allegro Moderato part I

Oldest daughter has chosen the concerto she will prepare for music school auditions next year; she had thought she would play the Tchaikovsky but decided that the Sibelius is the one she loves. And since she will be practicing this for hundreds of hours over the course of the next year, it is nice that she can choose the one she loves. As for me, I love them both and the Mendelssohn would have been a delight to listen to all year long as well. Anything but Paganini!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Growing up~

It happens all too quickly, doesn't it? One day they are celebrating their 2nd birthday and before you know it they are escorting their older sister to a Valentine's Banquet. Call me old fashioned, but I'm glad that Oldest Daughter's and Active Son's first "date" was with each other. Amidst the flurry of the pre-banquet dressing ritual Oldest Daughter threw a comment over her shoulder to Active Son, "This is one time when you are lucky to be a male!" And so he was: Active Son was dressed and ready for the banquet in five minutes flat.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Yes Virgina, there is love in marriage after 20 years~

Today my oldest daughter caught me thinking out-loud as to whether or not Dear Husband and I would go out for dinner together on Valentine's Day. The reality is that tomorrow is a busy day which means we'll be tired by the end of it, all the resturaunts in town will be packed and smoky to boot, so actually, I would much rather relax at home with our family. Romantic daughter sighed, "Is this what becomes of you after you've been married for 20 years?"

The short answer: yes. I will let John Piper give the long answer as he does so beautifully in the article, "Is Pastor John in love with his wife? You decide.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"If you turn a jar on its mouth,

goes an old Arabic proverb, "out comes a daughter like her mother." Trust me, it sounds much more poetic in Arabic.

In a general sense, this saying is often true, thus the proverb. And because of it's truth, I have not always fully appreciated the uniqueness of my dear daughter. I recently realized that, at times, I viewed her as simply a new and improved, more accomplished version of myself.

Oh yes, my daughter and I have much in common, which must account for the many times she hears, "You _____ just like your mother!" I am truly thankful for the commonalities, some so subtle as to be indiscernable by us, which bind us together. However, I am also learning to notice and enjoy all my daughter'sparticular and distinctive qualities, celebrating the young woman God has created her to be.

And now that my oldest child is celebrating her seventeenth birthday, I find that our relationship is taking on new dimensions, my daughter becoming more and more a friend, a confidante, and a sister in Christ.

Happy Birthday, Dear Daughter. Your life is a rich blessing to me and I look forward to all we will share together in the coming year!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dead to Red, a few pictures

Still stiff and sleep deprived from running 25 K (25X 1K) through the desert in the middle of the night, my husband remarked with a deep sense of contentment, "The Dead to Red race weekend is just about my favorite weekend of the year." Though some women participate in the race, I would never consider joining in, and not because of the grueling physical exertion it would demand of me. Really.

No, the Dead to Red is more than just an annual crazy relay race through the desert. It is serious, and I mean serious, male bonding time. No way I'd want to interrupt that.
Active Son at the race start

Younger son preparing for his turn to run

Dr. T hands off to Younger Son

007 hands off to Dear Husband

Another great Dashing Dude hand-off

After-the-race banquet

Some of the Dudes celebrating

As for what the females where doing while the males were bonding, I mean running: let's just say that it took place indoors, and that it involved friends, good food, cheesecake, a movie, and sleeping in too late.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

They're Off

The Dashing Dudes left Amman this afternoon, headed for the starting line of the Dead to Red relay marathon. Their ten man relay team will run from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, 250K, attempting to beat their 17 hour 13 minute time of last year.

After months of training the anticipation of running the race was undeniable; dear husband could hardly sit still in his chair during morning devotions and Active Son did his best to concentrate on his morning studies. By noon, all thoughts were on the race. We wish the Dashing Dudes all the best as they run through desert tonight!

Update: (1:15 a.m. GMT+2) I talked with Active Son who is leading the five members of the team in Van A and with dear husband, who is heading up Van B. Both sound amazingly awake and energized and I think the fact that they are running hard to hold onto their 2nd place standing has something to do with that. One of ten teams participating in the relay marathon, they are outrun at this point only by the Jordanian National Team, however it sounds like they will have to continue the hard pace into Aqaba if they hope to hold onto 2nd.

The young bucks of Van A have been running 1/2K sprints in an effort to stay ahead of the third place Haddadin team, which is only about 1K behind. Not much in a 250K run. We are praying for Dr. T. of Van B who seems to have come down with a stomach bug and had to sit out a leg. The loss of even one team member at this point could seriously hinder the Dashing Dudes in their bid for the 2nd place win. Having completed 170K , the Dashing Dudes hope to arrive in Aqaba around 7am this morning. Go Dashing Dudes!!

Update: (This update is a little sketchy as I was half asleep when I received the call from my husband. I'll fill in the missing details in a later update.) The Dashing Dudes finished the race in third place; though second place eluded them by about 15 minutes, the Dashing Dudes shaved 30 minutes off their race time of last year finishing in 16 hours and 43 minutes, and that just 30 minutes behind the Jordan National Team. Praise God, Dr. T recovered from his debilitating sickeness in two hours and went on to finish running the race, even attempting to make up some of the distance picked up by his fellow runners while he was ill. The team was headed to a favorite resturaunt in Aqaba to enjoy a traditional Arab breakfast of bread, hummus, falafel, and more before checking into their hotel for a few hours of rest before tonight's award and celebration banquet at the Aqaba Movenpick.