Giving Thanks…and Thanksgiving!

In the midst of all the remodeling going on in our home, we had several birthdays to celebrate. My father’s birthday was the first one to occur. We were at his house anyway because it was our day to be with him while my mother worked, and I made a lasagna for dinner. My sister, Jenny,  her children, and my brother, Eric,  all came over to eat with us.  That weekend was Dee’s shower, and then the rest of the birthdays followed in close succession.

Curious George is five years old now. He shares my mother’s birthday, and this year we celebrated her 70th! Three days later we had Lindy’s 26th birthday. Since the baby shower for Dee was the weekend before all the birthdays,  we decided to celebrate Omie’s birthday the following Sunday.  The Handy Man stayed home to help Linda with Dee’s room, while the rest of us went to my parents’ house where my sister and I made an Indonesian rice table for the family. I had marinated some chicken tenders in soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic. Those got skewered and cooked under the broiler. I had cubed a beef roast, then browned it, added several onions and some soy sauce and spices and let it cook down all day. It makes a wonderful meat and gravy that we served over rice.  Jenny, meanwhile, had worked on some beef and potato pancakes and some marinated cucumber salad.  We put together some curried cabbage and a peanut sauce. And then we cooked the krupuk, which are chips made of shrimp powder.  My mother’s cousin, Alice, flew down from Indianapolis to be with us for the celebration. Even Star Child and Boy 4 were able to come and celebrate with is.   It was a delightful afternoon. There were no left-overs

Curious George turned five


He wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake. I did my best to deliver


Curious George loved his presents!


Five days later…

Mom had jokingly requested a mocha cake, something she had not had since her 12th birthday. I did my best to make her an authentic one.

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Omie loved her presents: pictures of all her grandchildren and all her children

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Lindy got a cake, too. She turned 26.  Little Princess, Boy 4, and my younger niece all look on…


A rare good picture of Gladys Mae, as she usually shuns the camera. Aren’t my daughters beautiful?



Cousin Alice flew down from Indianapolis for the party. 



The pictures were hung in the hallway where all can see them…


When we arrived home, Dee’s room had been completed. The Handy Man was working on his school work after neglecting it for a week.  Now it was time to tackle the kitchen. We had four days.


At this point, I still had a sink base in the middle of my kitchen entry way. I had almost finished painting cabinet doors, but nothing was where it needed to be. The Handy Man had worked himself to the bone, and I knew we needed reinforcements. I called a friend of ours whose son is taking electrical classes at the tech school. He had also done a lot of work installing and removing dishwashers while living in Florida, so I asked if he would be willing to come uninstall the old dishwasher. I was hoping to save the Handy Man just a few minutes so we could get the rest done before Thanksgiving. Jacob came, he took out the old dishwasher, and I owe him a batch of homemade cookies.

Star Child had invited Boy 4 to come spend Thanksgiving with us since his family is roughly 1500 miles away.  They arrived Tuesday, and what a mess it was! Boy 4 immediately began working. He moved all the flooring from the entry area of our home to the boys’ bedroom in the rear of the house. Star Child had gotten the boys to clean their room so we could get the flooring stacked in there. Their room had become the staging grounds…boxes from all the girls had been stashed in their room while other rooms had been moved around. Star Child made order out of the chaos. Boy 4 then moved all the extra sheet rock and bead board out to the shed. Star Child started cleaning the living room. Boy 4 and Gladys Mae brought the new mattress for the sleeper sofa inside….we had promised Boy 4 a more comfortable arrangement the next time he was here. I was determined to deliver.

The old sink came out Wednesday afternoon….



Wednesday morning , Boy 4 made himself useful in the kitchen washing dishes as I cooked and baked for Thursday while Gladys Mae and Star Child cleaned the house and painted doors. At this point, we still had cabinet doors all over the place, the new dishwasher (Ethyl) was still boxed, and the sink base was still not installed.  Star Child and Boy 4 started hanging doors, and when the Handy Man arrived home, he worked on moving the last electrical outlets up. (The old outlets were too low and had to be moved for the new counter.)  Then we had to pull the old base cabinet out. They installed the new base cabinet, but they needed some new pipes to install the new sink, so at 8 PM the night before Thanksgiving, The Handy Man and Boy 4 went off to Lowe’s.  They made it just in time.  They worked on the sink installation all night. My father-in-law came up to see Dee’s room and brought us some oyster stew. I was grateful to have dinner taken care of, anyway! I cooked around them for Thursday as much as I could, leaving  dirty dishes piled all around my kitchen. I finally went to bed around 11:30, waking several times, hoping that the Handy Man would get some rest.  At 3:30 that morning, I wandered out to the kitchen to implore the Handy Man to come to bed. Boy 4 was also still up, and he assured me that I had a sink and that they would be done very soon.

I did not get many pictures of Thanksgiving week. I snapped these few just before I went to bed Wednesday evening.

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We were supposed to have our friends over for our Thanksgiving meal at 1:00. (In a usual year, we would have been going to their home for Thanksgiving, but they had just sold it and were trying to get all packed up to move out.) I called them a little before 7 that morning to move our meal to that evening. I could not even get to my oven, much less put a turkey in it!  The family started stirring around 8:30 or so, but Boy 4 slept until almost 11 (how he managed to do that while stationed in our living room is still a complete mystery to me!) while the Handy Man slept until almost noon. They had earned a good rest! That afternoon, as I buzzed around making the dishes that we all find necessary for Thanksgiving, Star Child and Boy 4 painted and hung the last few cabinet doors.  It was fun to watch them work together. The Handy Man and Boy 4 also installed the new microwave.

Star child is very nimble…here she and Boy 4 (face obscured by the door) are working together to get the last two doors hung.



The dishwasher was in place, if not yet working, and I was so very happy to have a working sink and the new counter installed! We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal, smaller than years past, but intimate as twelve adult-sized people sat around my kitchen table and the four under-sixteen children sat around a smaller table in the living room.  Our friends brought some of the most important sides (at least according to my children)–a large crock pot of mashed potatoes and a ham.  Eight (their oldest daughter) made a pumpkin roll, which was wonderful. We ate and then played some games. Seven joined us for dinner as well, and since Star Child had left her Apples to Apples game in her dorm room, the college kids all went back to Seven’s house so they could get her Apples to Apples game. (It is not Thanksgiving unless we play Apples to Apples and Spoons! Nine Hole was also played.)

Star Child and Boy 4 did most of the Thanksgiving dishes.  I was so grateful to have them home!

Friday we all sort of relaxed while the Handy Man worked on installing the dishwasher, which required yet another trip to Lowe’s. Boy 4 accompanied me to get milk, and we had a nice chat on the way and the way back, while everyone else slept in.  The Handy Man then started on the bead board behind the counter.


Saturday we had another dear family up to help us eat left-overs for lunch. Nine and Ten belong to that family, and it was good to have them back “home” once again.  All the kids, including the college students, played cards with us until Little Princess, Ten and the boys went out to play. The Handy Man was having to do some intricate custom cutting of the bead board around the window and worked on that for much of our card-playing time. Our friends left, and  Dee and Gladys Mae both left for work.  Gladys Mae was spending the night with a friend, so it was a smaller number eating dinner that night.

Sunday we all piled into the van to go to church. I love it when my kids are  able to come to church with me. I loved harmonizing with Star Child during worship.  Dee sits out in the cafeteria as the car ride makes her feel nauseous and she likes to be out where it is a little cooler and nearer the rest rooms…just in case.  Still, it was nice to have some of the kids in worship, if not all. We came home to eat chili for lunch, and then Star Child and Boy 4 had to head back to school to tackle finals week.

All in all, it was a very busy week.  It was the most unusual Thanksgiving we have ever had, and yet it was special in that everyone came together to work on a project that needed to be finished. The Handy Man is still working on the kitchen. We have a few more days of things to do, but the major projects are done.  I did not get many pictures of the week–it was just too busy! Once the rest is finished, I will post photos of it all!

As I reflect back over the last 10 days, I am so grateful for what each of those big events represents.  The Birthday party was about my family coming together, about relationships healing, about blessings that we never quite thought would be ours again. The whole week of working on our kitchen, I was reminded again and again just how wonderful it is to have adult children who are willing to do so much to help out–and to bring their friends home to help, too! I am grateful for friends who are flexible in their plans, who are not concerned with the cleanliness of my home, and who give more grace than I could ever imagine. I am grateful to have so many kids to love, so many faces who call me some form of “Mama”, so many friends who do not mind sharing their children with me. (For of course, I do not mind sharing my children with them. In fact, they called one friend “Other Mother” and the other friend “Mama Tammy”. )  I am blessed. Especially in the midst of remodeling chaos, I am blessed.

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