New year blessing

We had a  crowd here for New Year’s last night and today.  Dee, Star Child and I all had to work last night, so the Handy Man held down the fort until we got home. He had the boys and Little Princess along with Gladys Mae and her friend, Virginia.  Dee and Star Child picked up Star Child’s good friend, Julia, on their way home, so we had a house full of giggling girls for the night.  We stayed up until 2 AM with them, and then things quieted down enough for us to feel safe going to bed. You never know what may happen with a house full of girls. The Handy Man and I decided that we are getting too old for this two AM is very late, especially if you do have to get up the next morning. Because boys who go to bed at 8 PM generally get up at 7 AM, whether you want them to or not.

Julia’s dad was scheduled to pick her up at 11 so he could get her to work by 12, so we ate a late but quick pancake breakfast. A gaggle of girls moves s-l-o-w-l-y the morning of new year’s. When Julia’s dad came, we talked about my new job. He explained that he and his wife had initially thought I was riding with one of my daughters. He asked me what I was driving (because mostly they see me in my 15 passenger van–not quite the ideal vehicle for pizza deliveries.)  I told him I was actually driving the car assigned to Dee until I earned enough money to fix the brakes and replace the tires on the other Toyota. He asked me a few questions about what the car was doing, and then he told me that he is pretty good at fixing things like that. (I shouldn’t be surprised, knowing how resourceful a guy he is. He is also a high school teacher and has a reputation for being able to handle all kinds of kids. Like the Handy Man, he is a man of many talents!) Mike then shocked me by telling me he would be happy to fix the brakes on my car!  I told him that I would be delighted to pay for parts, and he told me, “NO” he would do it for us. Wow–was I blown away by the generosity of that offer!  He and his wife have been especially supportive of us during this whole time of unemployment.  Sometimes the Lord brings incredible people into your life during a time of difficulty. What a blessing!

So Julia left us before the crowd arrived, but Virginia was here….and I made her work!  The one thing that sort of naturally happens when you have a large family is that friends get sucked into whatever is happening at the time. My children don’t get time off from chores except on their birthdays or a rare special occasion. (They even have to take care of of their areas of responsibility if they have a job. We do make allowances for work schedules by giving them jobs that can be done independently of other jobs–things like cleaning the bathroom, emptying trash, etc. Since Star Child only works two days a week generally, she still is on the full rotation. We just work around her absences when she is absent.)  Virginia is the youngest in her family, and I am not sure if she does a lot in her kitchen at home or not, but I just kept giving her jobs to do, and she just kept doing them (like using the apple peeler and corer machine to core and peel 6 lbs of apples for appelflappen.)   I am glad my girls have friends like that.  I hope she wants to come back–I promise not to work her so hard next time! (There is just a lot to do when you are having a party!)

We had invited our good friends Bob and Michelle along with their four children as well as a few other homeschooled families.  The other families bowed out, but we did get children from two of them for the day. And then my sweet sister, Jenny, along with her husband Matt and their three children, Chloe, Amelia, and Cooper came. I love last-minute gatherings and the dynamics that happen when my worlds collide. We had a house full of kids…and of course, it was raining, so they were all INSIDE. I should give a special shout-out to Trey, son of Bob and Michelle.  He was the lone teen boy in a sea of girls….nine teen girls and four girls ten and under. The boys were woefully outnumbered thirteen to four, but the other three boys were between the ages of three and seven. I *think* they all had fun.

This was a first for me in terms of meal simplicity (for a crowd–I am the queen of meal simplicity for my family normally, but I do tend to go overboard for a special occasion!)  I baked a ham, I cooked a huge pot of collards, I made (with Michelle’s help–more on that in a minute) two  pones of corn bread, and I had a black-eyed pea dip with tortillas.  (Not familiar with a pone?  It is a southernized version of the corn cakes that were baked in ashes during colonial days.  Today’s cornpone is made in a cast iron frying pan and baked in a hot oven.)  That was it–a first for me for a holiday meal!  It was more than enough, and then there was dessert! Because New Year’s is not complete without the traditional Dutch treats Olibollen and Appelflappen. (Fried dough with raisins or fried apple rings coated in dough–both dipped in powdered sugar. Not diet friendly. At all.)

Due to the fact that I worked last night and that we had so much sickness over the last few weeks, I did not have my meal planned down to the minute as I usually do. I generally have a holiday meal schedule where I know what time certain things have to begin cooking, at what temperature, and even the times I need to do the prep work. That didn’t get done, so when Michelle arrived, I was still cooking collards and frying olibollen and appelflappen and had not started the corn bread. In fact, the closest we had gotten was to get the grinder container cleaned out because I had two girls here with gluten issues. I didn’t want to mix corn flour with any wheat residue. (And to give credit where credit is due, Gladys Mae was the one who cleaned it out…I was too busy cooking collards! It is not a fun job to clean that container out.)  Michelle actually made the cornbread for me.  And you know what?  It was all okay. I enjoyed Michelle’s help in the kitchen, we had a good time eating a simple meal, and I don’t think anyone went away hungry.

Part of my living without fear resolution is to be authentically me and to not worry about measuring up to that invisible measuring stick I always carry.  Turns out being authentically me was just fine today.  No one left my house hungry, and I am reasonably sure all had a good time. I sure did. What a great day to ring in the new year!

Happy 2013!

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