Well, as an update, things are looking pretty good with the siding though we're still deciding who we'll have repair the front porch posts; it will be done for the most part this week and the posts will be re-sided after they're fixed. The siders have been great to work with, the two who remain. And Katie and I continue to disdain wheat, though we're not wasting away as fast as we would like in spite of it all.
Shioli, Ai, and Lena are doing very well. The other night they made us a Japanese dinner. We had some serious misgivings based on the previous time that we hosted girls. The girls we hosted two years ago had made us a miso soup from what was probably a bad mix...it was so hard to look pleased and I'm sorry to say that those girls, two years ago, could tell.
When Shioli, Ai and Lena had us take them to Albertsons for Japanese ingredients, I was increasingly filled with an awesome dread. They bought udon noodles, and shrimp, dried seaweed and a pink and white half-cylinder they called fish paste. Overall, not a bad choice of ingredients; I was confident I could survive the seaweed though I distinctly remember it sticking to the roof of my mouth when I'd had it before. But there was one package that gave me shudders like few other food products could exceed. It was a package full of dried little fish--I heard they were anchovies--complete with heads, and they all looked up at me with an incriminating gaze.
We all came home and the girls started dinner. It was 5:00. They worked together and laughed and talked in the kitchen, and when I walked through to provide the soy sauce and flour for them, I saw the fish swimming--well, not exactly--amidst the dried seaweed in a pot on the stove. I was glad I couldn't hear them talk. The fish, that is. The girls chattered on happily in their Japanese, and I hoped in my heart that the pot would catch fire or something. It didn't.
Then they made the shrimp tempura. They oohed and ahhed each time a hot shrimp coated with flour and water hit the hissing hot oil. They also used our rice cooker to make the sticky rice that they love to eat often (I try to serve some alongside almost every meal when I'm doing the cooking).
They worked for 2 1/2 hours before they finished. When they were done, there were seven beautiful bowls of udon noodles topped with the shrimp tempura and a couple of half-circles of white rimmed in pink--the fish paste. It was all fantastic, like something offered by a nice Japanese restaurant. Thankfully, I'd seen (trying to observe unobtrusively, half-hidden in a recliner) that they had strained and discarded the fish and seaweed out of the broth they were making for the purpose of cooking the noodles. Now that, we wimpy Americans could handle! May God be praised for His grace and mercy.