Saturday, December 28, 2019

Sherwood Christmas the abbreviated version

There were only four Sherwoods at our house for Christmas.  In fact, we didn't even do Christmas on the day- we celebrated on December 26th.

Courtney and Morgan and Darcy plus Courtney's boyfriend, Zach and Darcy's partner Jody all met at Courtney's Portland house.  They sent pictures.

Other out of town festivities took place with the West Coast Sherwoods.

Here in Virginia, I went to my sister's house for Christmas Eve with her blended family that  am blended with in one way or another as well.

Chance drove up from Richmond.  Austin was already here recovering from his Africa trip.

Nick did all of the work of stuffing stockings.  I did most of the buying (ordering online) and we both wrapped presents.  Somehow I ,managed to get myself left out of the pictures.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

I must be crazy! I think it's worth it

I have scheduled my knee replacement surgery for the other knee.  My right knee.  March 17th is the date.

I swore I would never, ever do this again.  Reading back over my blog posts from August on for the first few months, it was really hard and painful.  Now, my left knee is not 100% "normal", but at 65, I am not sure what normal looks like.   It is so much better than before the surgery.

So, watch this space!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Gluten Free Cookies- I Hope

I have never made this recipe before and have never used this flour.  But I am really in the mood for cookie gun cookies.   If I remember I'll post on how it all turned out!

Gluten-Free Spritz Cookies
Gluten-Free Spritz Cookies are buttery and tender. A gluten-free flour blend-- and good cookie press--makes these one of the easiest Christmas cookies to bake. They are lovely on their own or decorated with a sprinkle of colored sugar.
1 cup unsalted butter softened (8 ounces; 225 grams)
2/3 cup granulated sugar 5 ounces; 142 grams
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour* 10 ounces; 283 grams
1 teaspoon salt 5 grams
Colored sanding sugar for decorating optional
1-3 teaspoons water

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg. Mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Mix for 15 seconds. Turn mixer off and add the flour and salt. Tun the mixer to medium-low. Mix until a dough forms.
Fill a cookie press according to the manufacturer’s directions. Press cookies onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
Bake until cookies are edges are golden brown, about ten minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about three minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat with remaining dough. (If the dough won't release from the press during the second batch of cookies, stir in a little water, about 1-3 teaspoons. Sometimes the dough stiffens between batches. Adding water solves the problem.) Allow baking sheet to cool between batches or the cookies will spread.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Recipe Notes
* Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Flour was used to test this recipe. If you don't have this flour, replace it with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend that contains xanthan gum OR with 1 1/4 cups white rice flour, 1/2 cup sweet rice flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. Whisk ingredients together and then use as directed in the recipe.

Classic Christmas Desserts, Cookies, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies, Holiday Cookies


And, several hours later:

Do NOT use parchment paper.  The dough will not adhere to the paper.  An ungreased cookie sheet worked fine for us! 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

More thoughts on Christmas

I'm not sure if I am melancholy or just tired.  We had our second Christmas even in a week.  Last Saturday my friend Shannon and I hosted a cookie party at my house.    Yesterday we hosted a Christmas party, pot luck, gift exchange here.

I cooked a beautiful turkey.  We had gravy that I had frozen from Thanksgiving, Nick cooked a ham.  We had everything you can imagine and nobody went hungry. I didn't take many pictures, but I am hoping that some of the others in the group will share there pictures with me!

This morning I was remembering Christmases past.  Particularly I am thinking about the kids' first Christmases.

Our first two years overseas, I was pregnant both years at Christmastime.   I lost the first baby shortly after New Years.  The second year I was nice and round with Courtney in my belly.

For her first Christmas, Courtney was 10 months old.  We were living in College Park, Maryland.   I don't remember much about what we did in our house.  My memories are mostly of us visiting grandparents.   We went to Nick's parents, Courtney was dressed in a cute red (probably velvet) dress, white tights with ruffles on her bottom and her Stride Rite shoes.   As a fairly new walker, she wanted her shoes off.  The Sherwood grandparents had hardwood floors.  Courtney kept slipping and sliding in her tights, so we took them off and she scampered around in her pudgy bare feet.

For Morgan's first Christmas we were living in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  He was almost 10 months old.  I am not sure if he was walking yet, but I do remember the cute green pajamas he was wearing.  Both kids were old enough to enjoy tearing presents open!

Darcy's first Christmas was in Tromso, Norway.  He was only 3 months old, so  I suspect he nursed and slept through much of it.

Austin was seven and a half months old for his first Christmas.  We were living in Reston, Virginia then. Austin was certainly able to appreciate tearing and trying to eat wrapping paper.  I don't think he quite understood that there were neat things wrapped up in the paper.

Chance was not quite 3 weeks old for his first Christmas. He was born in Hong Kong and we were staying in a hotel in Hong Kong.  We choose the hotel for the proximity to the Toys R Us store!   Since we were in a hotel, we didn't have a Christmas tree.  We put tinsel on the wall in the shape of a tree.  Somehow Santa was able to find us in our hotel room!

Christmas 1990 was our first Christmas as a family of seven.  Five kids and Nick and me.

Christmas 2017 is the last time we were all together for Christmas.  Plus Darcy and Morgan's partners.

That year (2017) I was recovering from brain surgery.   An infection that I got a few weeks after the surgery put me back into the hospital.   We were not even sure if I would be home in time for Christmas, but I was really more concerned about getting the infection cleared up than getting home.  Everyone could have come to the hospital is they had to.

This is our second Christmas in our "new" house in Aldie, Va.   I'm not sure who will be here, if anyone.  Austin is heading back to Maine.  Chance is pet sitting for a friend on Christmas day.    It's okay.  One thing we have learned having a big family, and also living the Foreign Service life, is to be flexible.

Gifts have been sent to the homes of our out of town kids and partners.  Gifts are here under the tree for the local kids if and when they can come.

We have seen our family grow.  And then get smaller with the losses of loved ones.  It seems that life is constantly moving and changing.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Cookie Party

Just looking over the "evite" list.   Seven said "yes", one "maybe" and 15 "no".   Then there are the 18 that didn't respond at all.

That means we could have anywhere between seven and 30 people here for coffee and cookies! 

Fortunately, I am pretty used to entertaining, and am generally pretty chill about it.

It's 10:00 am and I am still in my pajamas.   Just finished baking cookies.   I guess I need to take a shower and to get dressed sometime before the party!

The dough in the picture and the cookies in the other picture are two different types of cookie.

Friday, December 13, 2019

It's getting closer and closer to Christmas

Such a strange time of year. No, not winter. I like winter!   Christmastime.  Good feelings and sad moments.

We've been decorating the house.  Putting up and decorating trees.  Nick does most of the work.   I helped him and he said it's the first time he's had help in ages.  Of course, when the kids were little and they "helped" it was cute, but so hard to get it done. 

Tomorrow a friend and I are co-hosting a cookie party.  She told me that she's never been to a cookie party so I offered our house if she did the organizing.    An awful lot of people are not coming, so I hope my friend is not disappointed.  I'm sure it will be fine.   I have to bake cookies in the morning.   I planned to bake today, but guess what?  I didn't do it.

A week from tomorrow we are having our annual dinner/ Yankee gift exchange.  We've hosted this dinner for at least ten years.   One year we were snowed out, and two years ago I was in the hospital with complications from brain surgery.

This year I bought just about everything online.   I bought a postal scale so I can just weight and print postage avoiding long lines at the post office.  Cards got mailed today too. 

Sad news: My sister's sweet dog, Daisy, died last week.   I was with my sister when we said goodbye to Daisy. 

Loving can be so painful.  Losing is part of life, but it sucks

Monday, December 2, 2019

Is it Christmas Time already?

Today is December 2nd and all sort of folks are posting pictures of their decorated Christmas trees on Facebook!

Thanksgiving was late this year, so I guess the shorter time between the two holidays prompted the rapid transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Makes my head spin!  We still have left over turkey and stuffing in the fridge,   We haven't put our autumn decorations away yet.

December 14th I am co-hosting a cookie part at our house.  So the Christmas decorations need to be up before then.    And Nick and I are hosting our annual  "church" group Christmas party on the 21st (late this year- maybe because of Thanksgiving?)

I am not sure if any of our kids will be here this year for Christmas.  Courtney and Zach will be at home in Portland.   Morgan and Kim will be in Seattle.  Darcy and Jody will be at their home in Hillsboro, Oregon with Jody's kids.  Austin plans to be in Maine.  Not sure what Chance's plans are.

Kind of weird.  You have this flock of kids who fill up the house with noise and mess and fighting.  They drive your crazy, but it's okay mostly.  Then, poof!  They're gone.  They have their own lives.

The last time we had all five kids (and Kim and Jody) together with us for Christmas was two years ago.   I was recovering from brain surgery.  I was bald and had a pic line for the IV antibiotics I was administering every day.  And we were in Reston.

Courtney, Austin and Chance are the only ones who have seen our new house.  We've been in it for a year and a half.   I wonder if Morgan and Darcy will ever see it?  I wonder if there will be a time that all five of them are together with us again?  All of the grandparents are gone, so no more funerals to bring them home.  I hope!

This week we plan to go to Richmond to see  Chance and celebrate his birthday.  He'll be 29!!!

I have much to be thankful for even though Thanksgiving is over!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Day Before Thanksgiving

I have been thinking about writing about Thanksgiving for a week or so.  I was planning to write about our various holidays and how they were celebrated- or not.

Then today, while making the bed, I thought about my mother.  She taught me how to make a bed properly.  How high to put the top sheet.  How to fold in the bottom of the top sheet.  Little nuances that most people wouldn't even know.  But I do.  And I notice.  And for whatever reason, I care. 

Then, just now I was cutting up celery and onions for the stuffing for tomorrow's turkey.  My mom showed me how to cut the celery so it came out diced and didn't require a lot of chopping.  She told me to never put celery in the garbage disposal because the celery string would clog it.  Same for onion skins.

I suspect some of the things I do are just genetically programmed into me from my mother's genes.  Like folding laundry.  And putting it away.    Folding fitted sheets.   Dusting the furniture before vacuuming (actually I think she told me that one).

Then other memories crop up.  We knew that if we saw two sticks of butter sitting out to soften, chocolate chip cookies were going to be baked soon.  And we knew that if we looked in the Dutch oven, taking the lid off, the cookies would be there.

She did try.  She was often running up against a brick wall.  She would get  frustrated and scream.  Unfortunately, I inherited that from her too.

I miss my mom.  And I miss others who are gone and will never share a Thanksgiving dinner with us again.

I have a lot to be thankful for.   To be able to miss someone, it means that you did have them in your life and you loved them.

My mom around age 15.  She said that the chickens all liked her- they were all looking at her!

The last Thanksgiving we had with Grandma & Grandpa Sherwood

The Thanksgiving after Grandpa Sherwood died. 
We cooked the dinner at home and took it to Grandma Sherwood's for a family dinner

Sunday, November 24, 2019

When you're a kid

Image may contain: textI lifted this from Facebook.   It's funny an yet profound.    I never thought about my parents learning as they went.  I always assumed that they "knew" what they were doing even when I thought that they were wrong.    Of  course as a third child, I guess that they had figured parenting out.  At least what they thought worked!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Here I am again!

We got home from New Orleans (my sister and I) on Monday November 11th.   At the next  day I had to report to Reston Hospital at 6:00 AM for a MUA (manipulation under anesthesia) procedure.  I was put under anesthesia and the surgeon moved my leg around to break up the scar tissue in my knee.  The scar tissue was really keeping me from gaining full mobility in my knee.

I was terrified of the procedure. I was told that I would need it if I couldn't get better mobility.  It felt like a threat!  I fully expected to be as disabled as I was after the original knee replacement surgery in the first place. I thought I'd be sleeping in the recliner again and would need to commode thing over the toilet.   Wrong! Of course, initially my knee was numb, which I credited to the drugs.   But, then it was not.   I really did feel better.  I still am cautious about bending and forcing my knee too much.  But it is so much better!  How about that!

Now to get totally recovered and get my right knee replaced.   I am in a lot of pain in the right knee.

Aging.  I know that think I about aging and write about aging.  Nick just turned 72.  I hear reports about "elderly" people on TV who are our age.  I guess we really are getting old.   I don't think I am totally in denial, but I am not sure how to "be" old.    I don't have the energy and strength I have had, but I don't "feel" old. How does old feel?

Here's a sort of answer.  When we were traveling, I had wheel chair assistance on both ends of the flight getting to and from the gate.  Sitting in the wheel chair, being driven (pushed?) I thought about my mother.  She was in a wheel chair most of the time the last years of her life.   I am older than  my mother was when she was disabled by a stroke.    Of course, being my mother and not my contemporary, I thought of her as "old".  She must have felt so mad/ depressed. angry and fragile. 

I am not ready to be old and disabled.  But I don't think my mother was either.  What the heck.  How does this happen?

When I look in the mirror, I see me.  I know that I don't look like I did 20, 30 or 40 years ago.  But I can recognize myself. Then I look at photos and see that my face has more texture than before.  Wrinkles.   More than smile lines.

Every day, even though I  say "I'm old", I feel like I am just  starting out.  Like there is so much more to do.  I don't exactly have a bucket list.  But there are still things I want to do and places I want to go.  I have been saying for a while now that when I have my new knees and am totally recovered I will become younger.    We'll see!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

New Orleans

My sister and I are in New Orleans.  We're here with the "Friends of La Leche League" (formerly LLL Alumni).    There are close to 60 of us here.

We have had meals together as a group.  We had a bus sightseeing tour yesterday that was phenomenal.  The guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining!

We saw and learned about the various styles of architecture in the city.   The cemetery was interesting.  All graves are above ground because of the high water table.

Folks went off to dinner on their own, with friends, for dinner.  We ate at the Red Fish Grill.  There were some great gluten free options.

This morning there was an early tai chi class that we skipped.  There was also a walking tour that we skipped.   We went to little place called Krystal for breakfast.    Sort of a McDonald's style with freshly cooked eggs.

The beds here were/ are way too high.  It involved a bit of acrobatics to get into bed. After two nights sleeping on these high beds we overheard that the beds could be lowered.  So we had the beds lowered.     The toilet is too low, so I asked about a toilet riser.  Well, we got a shower bench.  Oh well!

I am not very good at spacing these pictures.        I am sure anyone looking at these pictures can tell the difference between the tall bed and the lowered bed.

I am finding that I am more disabled than I realized.  That means I can't walk well or fast.  I's a combination of pain, stiffness and being extra cautious about tripping and falling.

A real highlight has been seeing and talking to Marian Tompson!  She is one of my heroes! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

All of my pieces......

This comic strip from Sunday's paper makes me think about my own situation.   I have had so many surgeries that I sometimes forget to list some when I am filling out forms with new doctors.

I asked Nick recently, if he didn't think that it's strange that I have an artificial knee.  His answer was "no, you already have a plate in your head"!     I do know that, but I hadn't really thought of it that way I guess.

My new knee isn't anywhere close to being as painful as it was the first few weeks.   It does hurt, and it doesn't have the range of motion it needs to have to function like a real knee. 

It's a strange feeling when I go up stairs.  Each step is difficult, but it feels like something pulling too tight as opposed to being really painful.

Next week I am going to have a manual manipulation on my knee.  It's an outpatient in hospital procedure.  I will be knocked out and the doctor will twist my knee in order to break up the scar tissue that is keeping my flexibility down.  I am afraid of how much it will hurt.  But I feel like it's the right thing to do so I can get my knee working like a normal knee.

Tomorrow my sister and I are headed to New Orleans on a La Leche League Alumni/ Friends of La Leche League trip.     The crown is the group's logo.    I have never been there and really am looking forward to it!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Birthday!

Jessica age 2

My sister's second grandchild was born on October 31, 2006.  She's 13 today!

I was her daycare provider as well as her big sister's, so I got to spend a lot of time with the two girls.

We knew that Jessica's birth was imminent, but we didn't know exactly when.

My sister was still living in Maryland, about 60 miles away.  She had been visiting me that day.  She and I were in the bird store (The Bird Feeder - Reston VA). looking at bird feeders and paraphernalia.

My cell phone rang.  It was my nephew, my sister's son.  He asked "is my mom with you?".  My sister had left her phone in the car.

I handed my phone to my sister.  I could here my sister saying "she's here?  she's born?".

We rushed to the hospital and met Jessica for the first time!

Jessica Sewing about 2 years ago.

2019  pedicure

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I drove my car today!

I know, big deal.  I've been driving forever.  But, I have not driven since my knee replacement surgery on August 6th.  Actually, even before then because we went to Oregon and Nick did all the driving there.

Nick has been riving me everywhere because I have had to much difficulty getting into and out of the car.  I tried it out this morning, driving around the neighborhood.   It went fine.

I discovered though that I have to put the driver's seat all the way back and open the door all the way.  Otherwise I do not have enough flexibility to get my leg and foot in.

I thought,oh boy, I am out on my own.  I can go get my hair cut.  I can get my nails done.

I went to my Tuesday morning Breastfeeding Cafe' that I host at Starbucks.  A lot of moms came and it was really great.  But then I was pretty much done and ready to come home.

I did drive by our :old" house.   It did not evoke any emotions which I thought it would.   I guess it just felt good that someone is living there and hopefully making a happy home.  There were a lot of cars in the driveway, so I guess they had company.

I stopped in front of the Giant grocery store in Reston to drop off some plastic bags to recycle.  Hollis, our favorite bagger was there.  I He came and gave me a hug and said he hadn't seen me in such a long time.  That was so nice.  he told me to say hello to Nick!

On the way home, when I was stopped at a red light, I saw about a dozen motorcycle police on the road leading into Rt 50 where I was.  If I hadn't been driving I would have taken a picture.  You usually (never actually) see anything like that unless there is an entourage, but I didn't see one.

Tomorrow, back to physical therapy and Nick driving.    Since I have to take pain medication, I can't drive.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Fake News and Journalists

Donald Trump, the current president of the United States of America uses the term "fake news"  He spouts off the term when referring to any news organization of journalist that

doesn't agree with him, or questions him at all.

As a result, his followers claim that all news is fake and there are no such thing as a journalist.
It offends me that anyone believes the claims of Trump.  But it also baffles me how anyone can believe in Donald Trump.

He is rude, crude and dishonest.  He takes credit for things he has nothing to do with.  He blames others for anything that he thinks might make him look bad.   He shouldn't worry.  He looks bad all the time. 

A high school student was given the assignment to research and write about a journalist.  When she asked her parents for guidance, their response was  "there are no journalists" .  Her parents also believe that there is no such thing as "news", it is all fake.

I am disturbed and insulted that anyone can boast of such an ignorant attitude.    

I do believe that different news sources have different views on what is happening in the world, or even in their particular part of the world.    But facts are facts.  Some might see their facts from a conservative point of view or a liberal; point of view.   Ideally the stories should be reported from an objective point of view.  

'Just the facts m'am.

My mother in law was a journalist.  She traveled with Pat Nixon, wife of the then president, Richard Nixon.    My mother in law was a fairly liberal Democrat.    She did not write her opinions of the president.  She did not write about anything political when she wrote about her travels with Mrs. Nixon.  My mother in law wrote about the trip:  the purpose or the trip, where the trip was and what Mrs.  Nixon did.  It was news.  Not "fake news" 

I guess I am a bit wound up because I know that my mother in law was a real journalist and an honest person with integrity.

My daughter is also a journalist.  Some years ago she covered a school shooting in a rural Oregon town.    When she was at the town where the shooting took place, my daughter spoke with the gun club and went to the firing range.  She shot at targets with an automatic gun (M 16?) because she wanted to understand what she was writing about so she could write honestly.

I am proud of my journalist daughter.   In fact I am proud of all of my children.  They are all honest people with care and concern for others, and integrity.

Here's my daughter:

Courtney Sherwood

Courtney Sherwood fills in as editor and producer in a number of web and broadcast roles at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Outside of OPB, she also reports for magazines, newspapers and online publications. Courtney was previously business and features editor at The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Washington. She also worked as a reporter at The Portland Business Journal and other publications in the Pacific Northwest and in Virginia.
She received a Wharton Business Journalists Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.
Courtney graduated with a degree in English from Grinnell College, where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper and hosted a news program on the community radio station KDIC.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

evolution of a family

I have a whole bunch of pictures with all of the kids together.  Not necessarily all five because we didn't always have five.   I am having trouble loading all of the pictures I want to load.

Darn it, I have some great pictures I want to add here.  Maybe it will work another time.

Part of my thinking is the last time we had all five kids with us at the same time was for Christmas 2017.    They were all with each other in 2018.   I am so glad they stay connected with each other

This is the beginning of my melancholy season.