Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Jovie getting down to U2's "Mysterious Ways"

The Freedom Firm Christmas party

The girls doing a dance at the party that they had been working on for months

Merry, Merry Christmas Eve Eve to you!  Just a wee note from the Palm Six to wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I just ate two popcorn balls in the last ten minutes.  My mom sent them to me; I mean our whole family.  Confession (mom, don’t read this next part) in the last week the kids have each had two popcorn balls.  I have one or two each day.  I hid them from the kids. I love popcorn balls.  My mom sent other treats, so they have had plenty of Grandma’s homemade goodness.  Just not in the popcorn ball category.  If you haven’t had a popcorn ball this season, run, run to your supermarket and get the ingredients now.

Tarrah and the Freedom Firm aftercare crew baking for the Christmas party

We have been in the full Christmas swing around here.  I think this year I will remember Christmas by all the baking.  I think it’s been my coping mechanism a bit.  I tried my hand at fudge this year.  It never set.  So, now, it’s fudge syrup for ice cream.  We also tried our hand at caramels.  They got brick hard.  Now, they are caramel syrup for ice cream.  Saufferer family (my maiden name), if you are reading this, don’t eat all the fudge and caramels at Christmas.  Maybe you could pack up a bit of a Ziploc and send it with my mom when she comes in a few weeks...  If you do eat it all, could you make some more? 

There is a bit of shindig here tomorrow, for a Christmas Eve lunch.  Appetizers, soup, bread, and yummy treats. I hope it’s a real barn burner.  Can you have barn burners for Christmas Eve?  Who even knows where the term barn burner came from?  Anyway, I did put away the Star Wars light sabers and Nerf guns tonight.  I remember last year’s Christmas party, there was a bit of deal with them.  You don’t want to deal with a weapons deal on Christmas Eve, that’s my motto.

Okay, so our mystery picture from the last blog got an overwhelming nod towards the overflowing yeast.  I guess it wasn’t so mysterious.  Or maybe you guys are incredibly smart when it comes to mystery pictures.  Let’s go with the latter.

Love to you all and Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Burning Plastic and Rank Garbage

James and Ani ready for a formal event at Hebron. 

If anyone can guess what this is a picture of, we will be very impressed indeed!

I was just warmly sitting by a roaring fire and my keen sense of smell picked up a burning plastic smell.  Like a bird dog, I put my nose to the ground and was off.  After 10 minutes, I could only place the smell somewhere around the fire, but nothing more specific.  So, in an attempt to guard against anything more hazardous happening, we put water on the fire.  That was 10 minutes ago.  “Jayson, does it still smell in the living room?” Jayson, “Little bit, not as bad.”  Good, we are making progress.  I was having a bit of a salty tooth and went to go scavenge the kitchen for a salt lick (a bit of deer humor, forgive me).  All I could find was stale rice crackers and the smell of intense garbage.  Bummer.  Burning plastic and rank garbage, pretty much paradise island here in the Palm household.

Well, we definitely had a great fill of cuteness this last week at our kid’s Christmas play at school.  For the last six weeks, our kids have been belting out a song, “Babushka, Babushka, open wide your eyes and you will see...Babushka, Babushka, baby Jesus came for you and me!”  At all hours of the day, this song was heard.  Even Jovie got it down.  Ani was an angel, James, an Italian pizza delivery man, and Sydney was a tree.  I don’t mean to play favorites here, but Sydney definitely was the most memorable of the three.  Come on, a four-year-old in a Christmas play is nothing but fantastic.  By the fourth and final performance I am pretty sure I saw her eyes roll up in her head and almost fall asleep on stage out of sheer exhaustion.  Click here for a taste.

The Hebron Christmas Program

Sydney on day 2, still smiling.

Sydney on day 4, definitely done.

I need to give a shout out for my favorite Christmas CD of the year.  Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb” has heightened our celebration.  If you like your music with a little folk and a lot of great lyrics, check it out. 

The kids start their holiday this Thursday morning.  They will be off until the first week in February.  Being that we live in an international community, these are the answers I got when asking people how they are spending their holiday:  Australia, Thailand, Kathmandu, North India tour, Scotland, the States, England, Ireland and Everest Base Camp.  Whew!

Some cool Freedom Firm news from Jayson. At Freedom Firm we’ve wanted to raise awareness in India about the problem of sex trafficking, but the tyranny of the urgent has pushed this aside regularly. Our amazing Finance Manager, however, lined up a school for us to do a presentation. Last Friday I had the privilege of seeing Vijaya, one of our rescued girls, share her story openly in front of 160 teenage girls at this school. Their response was overwhelming. The girls flocked to Vijaya afterward to talk to her and thank her. Several shared feedback, telling their stories of how they’ve been mistreated and not feeling like they’ve had a voice. At the very least we hope to help schools recognize the struggles of their students, but more than that we hope to find ways that these girls can get the help they truly need.  

It's a bit hard to see, but that's Vijaya on the stage speaking to the girls. Even harder to see is Jayson sitting to the left of the podium. 

Okay folks, it’s good night for now from the Palm house.  Sleep tight.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful

 Jovie's first ride on daddy's bike. 

Decorating for Christmas

“The weather outside is frightful... ya ta da da da...” There was a reprieve in the rain a few days ago, but “it doesn’t show signs of stopping...” It’s official, and I am sorry to say it, but I have now been colder here in INDIA than any weather in frigid Minnesota. It doesn’t make sense. We are inches away from the equator, but I am telling you, I have been wearing four layers all day, inside, with wool socks and a hat on. I am not sure with what to do all my coldness. I am also sorry that I keep on leading with weather reports. I really can’t help it.

Okay, moving on to more exciting events, our current (electricity) flow into the house. Totally more exciting, right? So, I will try to shorten this fascinating story to a swallowable amount. For the last six months, our plug to our washing machine has been melting. We have probably gotten it fixed four times. Two weeks ago, we came home to a smell of burning and our plug to the geyser (pronounced “geezer”, the hot water heater) that is hooked up to the water in the bathroom had started melting. So, we could only plug it in for 20 minutes at a time or it would start smoking. I know, I know people, the Palms are usually a hazard waiting to happen, but this multiplied it tons. Early this week, the plug quit altogether. So, we called the electrician to come and fix it, and he came out and fixed the plugs, and he also said the current coming into the house wasn’t coming in properly. (Hang on folks, I’m almost done.) So, the EB guy came today. I have no idea what EB stands for, it’s the electricity people, maybe it stands for Electrical Board. Anyway, so this wee olderish man knocked on my back door today, asked me if my current was bad, and then proceeded to wrap a rope - like for sailing kind of a rope - around his waist, and then put a wide, elastic looking like hair band around his feet, and started shimmying up our electric pole. Just like that. About five minutes later, he came down and said it was all fixed. I asked him what the problem was and he said it was rusty. Rusty? That’s it? Rusty? I was looking for a paramount problem. In fact, I have been blaming myself for using too much electricity. I thought maybe the house wasn’t designed to run a washing machine at the same time as a refrigerator and geyser. But it was rust, an age old problem in the world of metal.

I hope your Thanksgivings were all grand. Ours was scrumptialicious. I ate so much of Bec’s Harvest Stuffing that it totally gave me a carb hangover the next day. We had Thanksgiving number one on the Friday before t-giving and Thanksgiving number two on the Saturday afternoon after t-giving. I was very thankful to have two groups of people to celebrate with.

Within the last week Freedom Firm has rescued 19 girls, and as I write this as they are doing another raid. All so exciting. So thankful.

The Second Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

I was asked to go into James’ class last week and talk about Christmas in America. I was a bit stumped at first. Not knowing really where to go with it, the previous week another mom came in and talked about an Australian Christmas. She talked about having a candlelight service on the beach, because its summer during Christmas in Australia. So, I talked about snow, and how the tradition of snow was a part of my memory of celebrating Jesus’ birth. I know, geographically speaking, it would be different all over the States, but I showed them where Minnesota is on the map and had them all say Minnesota. I taught them how to make snowflakes from folding paper and cutting little bits out and then unfolding it. I showed them how to do it and they thought I was so magical. And then I read them a story about snow and then we frosted sugar cookies. It was so fun. And it helped the missing of a Minnesota Christmas.