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Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan: September 21 - 27

I owe you a squash casserole recipe from a couple weeks ago. I will post it this week instead. Our schedule was shifted considerably the last couple weeks because of a sad development with a dear friend of mine. Please offer prayers for Kim, her husband Brian, and their four children, Caisey, Rebecca, Ana, and John Paul. We were gone, on an impromptu vacation to Arizona to visit a friend of mine who is in the last stages of brain cancer. Since we already had the vacation time planned, and Kim's health was deteriorating rapidly, we decided to change our plans and took a drive to Arizona and back.

On the way, we were able to visit some other friends, in Idaho and Utah, and while in Arizona, were able to visit my friend who lost her husband this year (though I didn't have her scarf finished to give her). Since we were so (relatively) close to our church's cathedral in San Clemente, Rich said we should try to go there on our way home, coming up through California, and worship there. It was beautiful and wonderful to share that with our children. Rich had been there twice, and I had been there twice, but never together, and the children had never been there at all. We were able to have lunch with some friends of ours who live in the Los Angeles area, and were going to visit some friends in the Bay area, but we were running late and then found out that the wife had bronchitis and had developed asthma, and we didn't want to burden them with the ten of us, when they also had a house full, with the eight of them.

On our way to Arizona, we took a wrong turn on the highway, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. Had we taken the correct turn, we would have been in the back highways with few towns or services when our van died. Which it did. In a canyon in southern Utah. Fortunately for us, we were only about 12 miles into the canyon, and Rich was able to coax the van back down the hill into the small town of Cedar City. He searched for a mechanic (thank you Lord for phones with internet!), and we found Miner's Auto Repair (you can read Rich's review there), which we can recommend whole heartedly. Not only were they honest, and inexpensive, but recommended a great place for us to eat while we waited. Rich had gone back to ask if they had a time estimate on the van, and called me to tell me to pray immediately and fervently. Everyone thought it was a fuel pump failure, but instead of just going with that and replacing it, which would have cost us multiple times more than we paid, Rick investigated, and found a cracked fuel filter, replaced it, test drove our van back into the canyon (further than we had driven) and had us back on the road in a couple hours. He even called us the next day to make sure we made it and the van was running well. If you are ever in or near Cedar City, UT, and need your car worked on or repaired, please go give Rick some business. We paid less than $100 for the repair, and though we weren't planning on spending any on a repair, given the symptoms the van had, we though we would be spending more like $800 - 1200, and his honesty and skill saved us all of that.

Heading up I-5 in California, we ended up stuck because of the Mt. Shasta fires. We were blessed that we were right on the beginning edge of them, because we were able to drive around some roads and get back on I-5 a little north of Weed, before Weed burned, and jumped across from 5 near Ashland to get back onto 97. It meant another night on the road, because of the extra time and the stand still on the freeway before the detour, but Rich was fortunate to have been able to get an additional day off of work, since we changed plans to go farther. We stayed at Homewood Suites in Arizona and in Sacramento, which we highly recommend for families. If you have a big family, call the local hotel, and see if they have the two room suite with a king bed in one, two queens in the other, and a pull out bed in the living room. The website often won't let you book for a family our size, but the local hotels will, if we explain our family size and the ages of our children. We had Rich and me in the bedroom with the king bed, Alexander and Elijah in the living room, Amira, Yasmina and Mariam in one queen bed, Dominic and Jerome in another queen bed, and Nejat in the pack-n-play. They have breakfasts, decent ones, every day of the week, and dinners Monday through Thursday. All of this for between $130 - 220 a night, plus tax. It is a great deal for families. And they have a pool and hot tub at nearly every location. The only down side is they still have p0rn on the televisions, unlike Marriot and Omni Hotels and Resorts (and Nordic Hotels in Scandinavia). We are commenting on that in our survey responses. Rich tried to turn on the television to find an animal show or kids' programming for the children to watch while we rested a little and said the main page started with ads and imagery for the smut, and so he just turned it off and unplugged the televisions. He found some Road to Avonlea on the internet for them to watch online instead.

On the home front, we have had multiple gleans and trades in the past week, so have a ton of red, russet and Yukon gold potatoes, onions, peaches, tomatoes, dill, apples, pears, and pumpkins. We are preserving! I'm working on peaches, blackberry peach jam with blackberries from our freezer and peach chutney, will try to get pears done this week, pear sauce and pear halves in syrup, and have been cooking and pureeing pumpkin for the freezers. The onions and potatoes store well - but not together! - and we are working our way through the tomatoes, with some plans to make some canned tomatoes and possibly sauce, and freeze whatever we can't can quickly. The apples we decided were best used in fresh eating and pies, because they were so delicious, but we have five of the large Jonagolds left over, and another apple glean, Galas I think, this week, so we may make some sauce as well.

We had already planned a later start to our term this year than normal, because of our trip that was scheduled. Now, I've moved it forward a little more, and taken away some of the days we normally take off to make up for it. Taking the longer trip, requiring over 45 hours on the road and spending time with Kim and seeing her losing her ability to communicate, when she was such an articulate, sharp witted woman, has really taken a lot out of us. On top of that, Kim had taken a turn for the worse the day before we arrived, and so only I was able to see her, Rich wasn't able to see Brian and our kids weren't able to see their kids, which left them heart broken. But we couldn't take the kids away from their mother when they didn't know how long they had left with her. So, even though they hadn't seen each other since before Kim and her family had moved to Arizona last summer, and even though we were in the same town, they had to miss out on seeing each other. That was hard. Kim has had at least one good day, after many days of deteriorating physically and verbally, but is entering her final week of radiation, so will need lots of rest and prayer to get through it. They are trying to prolong her life at this point, rather than save it. It is a hard path for their whole family.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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