Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pop Show

Oh, I am so proud of this girl!  the one on the left...although they're all pretty stinkin cute! :)

She has worked so hard this year to carve out her little space in middle school.  She has thrown herself into choir in every possible way.  She's auditioned for everything, run for choir leadership positions, and made friends with all the directors, including the ones at the high school.  

Last Thursday night, they had their spring Pop Show.  This is more of a fun, casual show than the more formal winter concert.   There were lots of solos and choreographed numbers, and everyone sang Broadway show tunes.  Loved it!

I am seriously shocked at the amazing talent these kids have...including mine.  

She sang Notice Me Horton (from Seussical) in the early part of the show, and then had a small solo when the whole treble choir sang She's in Love (from The Little Mermaid) at the end of the show, too.  

And she was so happy after the show, when she found the cute little family she babysits for. They had come just for her and even brought flowers.  LOVE that family!

7th grade has been a great year for Emma.  We can't wait to see what 8th grade brings!  <3

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Aging Gracefully

I watched an Oprah interview recently with Dr. Maya Angelou.  I was already a ridiculously huge fan of both these women, but after the interview, I loved and admired both of them even more.  They are wise, intelligent, accomplished, beautiful women who talked about the joys of aging and the wisdom that comes from many years of a life well-lived.  

Oprah:  What is your advice on aging?
Dr. Angelou:  Oh my, DO IT, if you can!  Try for the 80s if you have the chance.  And when you get there, be glad you got that far.  Age gracefully.  Don't be one of those women who fights age.  Embrace it!  Don't be anxious about aging.  Just be grateful for all you know when you get there.  Be constantly grateful.  For breath, for phone calls, for the light coming in the windows, for the ability to see it.  And be grateful for the clouds, because you know that  God always puts a rainbow in those clouds for you to find.

Don't you just LOVE that?  I occasionally struggle with the desire to look the way I did when I was 18 or to be able to fit into smaller sized jeans or to have fewer responsibilities.  But if I had to trade the wisdom I've gained and the understanding I currently have, to get all of those things back, it totally wouldn't be worth it.  Mostly, I am SO grateful everyday to be 43 and to be living right now.  I wouldn't want to go back to the 20s if it meant I would have to relearn all the things I've learned in the last 20 years.  And after spending some serious quality time with my three teenaged daughters, I KNOW I wouldn't want to go back to high school.  I SO wish sometimes that I could just pour all of my experience into their little brains.  But then they would miss the joy of learning all those things for themselves. (...sigh...)

I hope they get (sooner than I did) that it isn't all about what you look like or how many likes you have on Facebook and Instagram.  That you don't need the approval of the whole world to know what you know.  That you can be beautiful at any age and any weight...and in any lighting!  And that the most important beauty isn't even on the outside at all.  It radiates from within.  Confidence, joy and kindness make every woman glow.  I hope my daughters are happy when they get to their 30s and 40s and look forward with joyful anticipation to their 80s.  And I hope they teach their own daughters that who they ARE is more important than what they look like.  

I am grateful to know the things I know, and to have been around the corners I've been around.  And from what Dr. Angelou says, it sounds like it just gets better every decade after this one.  How exciting!  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Drive

This morning, around 11:00, Craig and I found ourselves home alone with no children.  They were all occupied with friends and wouldn't be home for the rest of the day.  So, we snuck off for a little drive on a gorgeous spring day in Dallas.  

Craig has been dying to get out to Camp Trevor Rees Jones where his scouts will be having their annual week long scout camp next month.  He likes to survey the land and practice the drive and check out the surroundings so he knows exactly what to plan for.  

We had lunch on the way out and stopped in to check on a pair of shoes I desperately needed at Kohls.  They had my size AND they were on sale.  
Oops, I was writing about a drive wasn't I?

OK...back on track now...

Look at this beautiful scenery...and within just a couple of hours from our house.  It was just gorgeous at this camp today.  Totally quiet, no scouts yet, cool breezes, pretty wildflowers everywhere.  I found myself slightly envious of those boys who get to spend a whole week out here next month.  And then I accidentally disrupted an ant hill, started sneezing, and realized that I'm an indoor girl (who greatly appreciates the outdoors...but more from INSIDE the car.)

Seeing an alligator was one of the things on my list of stuff I wanted to do today.  
Why would anyone do that??  Did you see the mouth on that thing up there?

That whole little log was filled with turtles basking in the sun.  But these guys are super skiddish, and as we got closer they jumped off into the safety of the water.

I'm so grateful for all the beautiful things that surround us.  It's harder to find them sometimes in Dallas than it used to be in Utah, but there are plenty of them.  So glad I brought my camera today.

And here's what my mother is doing today to celebrate Memorial Day in Hawaii...this is so cool!  Every year, they have this amazing lantern festival to remember family and friends who have passed away.  They buy a lantern and write the names of all the people they want to remember on the sides of the lantern along with little love notes and messages.  
Ralph and Irene are Chris' parents (my birth grandparents.)  Irene was my adopted mom's best friend.

Krash was my mother's husband.  He died of colon cancer in 2010.
Then they take these beautiful little lanterns and set them on little floating platforms (like surfboards) and they float them in the ocean.  They've been doing this off the Ala Moana Beach in Oahu for 14 years.  Thousands of lighted memorials floating on the water.  
Doesn't this just make you ache to be in Hawaii tonight? too

I'm so grateful for all the people who have come before me to pave the way for all the opportunities I have and my children will have.  

Happy Memorial Day.  Hope you had a great weekend.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vanilla Scones

I woke up too early for a Saturday.  I don't know why my internal clock is determined to wake me up by 7:00am every single morning.  For a second, I thought about going to the gym, and then got distracted by laundry, dishes, and the remains of a busy Friday night.  

By 8:00am, I was settled on the couch folding the last of the beach towels and listening to a TiVo'd episode of The Pioneer Woman in the background.  She was making breakfast.  Three different kids of breakfast.  McKay (my other early riser) was padding down the stairs with his blanket shortly after I finished folding towels, and snuggled up next to me to watch TV.  He's so completely content with anything (food shows, fashion shows, Oprah, wedding shows...)  I love that kid.  

While we watched Ree Drummond mix up batter for vanilla bean scones, and then whip up a quick eggs Benedict breakfast for her father-in-law's birthday, apparently McKay got hungry.  He said, "Those look so delicious.  We should make them for breakfast."  

So we did.

I wish I could show you how cute he was helping with the sifting, the measuring, and the cutting of butter into the flour, but I didn't take a single picture.  Because sometimes, in the seconds it takes to grab the camera and make sure it has a little card in it, and set it to all the right settings, you miss the moment completely.  This was a good moment...a whole handful of them in fact...and I wasn't about to walk away for even one second and take the chance of missing any of them.

An hour later, when everyone else in the house woke up and wandered into the kitchen, McKay proudly presented our creation.  And everyone loved them.  

We changed the recipe a little.  We didn't have vanilla beans (because who actually has those things on hand in their kitchen??)  And I didn't have heavy cream.  I was just going to use milk, but as I was getting it out of the fridge, McKay said, "What would it taste like if we used orange juice instead of milk?"  And I said, "Well, let's find out."  So, instead of 3/4C of heavy cream mixed with the scrapings of a vanilla bean, we used 3/4C of orange juice mixed with a teaspoon of vanilla.  I added a little orange extract to the glaze, too, and they had just enough of an orange-y flavor so that you could taste it but not be overwhelmed by it.  Pretty brilliant, huh?  Love that kid!

Here's the original PW recipe in case you are now craving Vanilla Bean Scones.  
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2/3 cups Sugar
  • 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 Pound) UNSALTED Butter, Chilled
  • 1 whole Large Egg
  • 3/4 cups Heavy Cream (more If Needed)
  • 2 whole Vanilla Beans
  • 5 cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk, More If Needed For Thinning
  • 1 whole Vanilla Bean
  • Dash Of Salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla "caviar" inside. Stir caviar into cream. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going until mixture resembles crumbs.
Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. (Mixture will be pretty crumbly.) Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Use your hands to help with the forming if necessary.
Use a knife to trim into a symmetrical rectangle, then cut the rectangle into 12 symmetrical squares/rectangles. Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles.
Transfer to a parchment or baking mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, removing from the oven just before they start to turn golden. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, split one vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar. Stir caviar into milk; allow to sit for awhile. Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the consistency the right thickness. Stir or whisk until completely smooth.
One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over if necessary. Transfer to parchment paper or the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set completely, about an hour. Scones will keep several days if glazed.

These really are super easy.  I would make them again.  McKay says he would, too.  We both thought it was funny that she said the scones would keep for several days.  Ours didn't even make it through a whole Saturday!  :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

High Five for Friday

1.  Famous Texans Day  In fourth grade, McKay is studying Texas history.  Each of the kids had to select a famous Texan native, learn about his life, and do a brief presentation for the class.  I brought Megan and Emma along with me to see McKay as Nolan Ryan.

2.  Flowers.  Last week, my friend's daughter realized at the LAST minute that she was LATE for a field trip at the high school.  I was available, so we jumped into the Jeep and drove like the wind to meet the bus.  We had to hunt it down, but we found it, and she made it to her field trip.  Later that afternoon, my friend came by with these gorgeous flowers to thank me.  SO unnecessary, but SO appreciated.  I LOVE fresh flowers.

3.   Finished Painting.  It's a really bad iPhone picture, but it's an update on the major redecorating project that I took on right before my in laws arrived.  I LOVE the way the dark walls warm up the whole room.  There's so much more to do, but this room, and this warm little corner with my dad's beloved angel painting, make me infinitely happy.

4.  Drop Sites at the elementary schools for Oklahoma tornado relief.  The things we're able to give individually are small, but combined, it's enough to fill many, many trucks.  

5.  A Full Dining Room Table.   I LOVE having people in our home.  I LOVE that we have abundance to share.  And I LOVE looking around at a dining room table filled with family we adore.
Try to ignore the swatches of fabric and paint all over the walls, and the fact that Savannah is no longer capable of taking a serious picture.  (ugh...)

Hope it's been a great week for you, and that you have something fun planned for the upcoming long weekend!  <3

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I almost accidentally titled this post "Six Flags" until I remembered that I don't actually LOVE that place.  But I wanted to document the fact that I did something scary and adventurous last Friday.  

A few weeks ago, the choir director at the middle school sent out an email begging parents to sign up to be chaperones for the annual band/orchestra/choir Six Flags trip.  He said he desperately needed parent volunteers or the choir would NOT be able to participate in the trip.  He offered FREE ADMISSION to any parents willing to ride the choir busses and spend the entire day at the park.  (I have come to know this man well enough NOW to know that things are a little more urgent in his mind than they actually are in reality.)  Emma took up the cause that week and pled with Craig to PLEASE chaperone this event so that she would be able to go on her first official choir trip.  Craig said yes.  And then he somehow coerced me into going with him.  (...ugh...)

I've been around a few blocks to know that there are some things in my life that I dread at first, but then end up loving after they actually happen.  

The Six Flags trip was not one of those things.   

Here are my reflections on the day, after surviving the bus ride home, taking a HOT shower to dissinfect all the park germs, and loading up on a mega dose of Claritin/Zyrtec...

And here is the evidence that I did ride some rides, and I did attempt to be adventurous.
SUPERMAN...I'm not sure what possessed me to get on this ride...probably the fact that there was no line.  It was insanely scary for about 4 seconds when that little vulnerable seat shot up into the air about 10,000 feet.  And then another 5 seconds of sheer terror when we just hung out at the top and looked out over all of Dallas.  But the rest of it wasn't too bad, and the guy sitting next to me was very patient with all my screaming.  :)

CRAZY LEGS...this one might not look insanely terrifying, but it's deceiving when it's at this part of the ride.  This thing gets pretty dang high and comes ridiculously close to those low hanging trees over there on the right!
An ocean of hot, sweaty, exhausted 7th graders while we waited for the busses to take us home.  And that man in the middle is the choir director.  He is a saint to be responsible for all these kids.  A little intense and high strung, but a saint nonetheless.  :)

I'm happy to be able to report that I WENT on the trip, that I fulfilled my chaperoning responsibility, and that I rode some scary rides.  But I'm also hopeful that I will never have to go on this trip again, or ride a school bus again, or report on any more roller coasters.  :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Southwest Airlines

You know, there are some things in this life that I would just never get to see or do without a handful of strategically placed relatives in just the right careers.  We spent the afternoon touring the Southwest Airlines headquarters today thanks to my pilot brother-in-law, Bret, who was in town for his semi-annual training.  

I had no idea this place was so cool.  

We spent just long enough in the corporate office to see the lobby and to have lunch in the amazing cafeteria.  I didn't get a picture of it because I was busy eating, but holy crap! this place was so seriously employee friendly, I considered for just a second starting a new career.  

Here's the view from where we sat:
Downtown Dallas on one side.
And the Love Field runway on the other.  

Unfortunately there were only a few planes taking off today because of inclement weather, and I couldn't get all my camera settings ready in time to catch them.  But how cool would that be to get to watch planes take off everyday while you eat lunch!?

We also got an impromptu tour of the dispatch area.  Bret found a super nice man who offered to give us a tour of the area and took so much time to explain everything including highlights from his 33 years at Southwest.  SO interesting!  (That's where I'd want to launch my second career!  Think 43 is too late to be an airport storm chaser/dispatcher??)  They wouldn't let me take any pictures in there so you'll just have to imagine dim lights, and a handful of cubicles with tons of giant computers monitoring weather radar and flight paths.  Amazing!

After the short tour of corporate, we walked over to the training center with Bret.

Also very cool!  We watched flight classes in progress, water evacuation training, and flight simulators in motion!

And this was my favorite part of the whole day...

These goofy little rubber chickens are hanging from all eight of the flight simulators.  Wanna know why?  Well, when the original sims were put in, they kept breaking down.  So someone had the great idea to hang the chickens there for good luck, to ward off evil spirits, and to keep everything in good working order.  

CHICKENS = no problems with the sims

Sometime later, a subsequent head simulator guy thought the chickens were dumb and asked that they be removed. And guess what!

NO chickens = tons of problems with the sims

The chickens were replaced and remain there to this day.  And there have been no major flight simulator problems since.  

Moral of the story:  DO NOT mess with the powerful mojo of the rubber chicken.

I LOVED hanging out at Southwest today.  Everyone was so nice to us and we had SO much fun.  Craig's parents were sufficiently impressed with Bret's knowledge and expertise, and they were so happy to have coordinated their trip to DAL with his training schedule.  

It's been a great week with the Grs.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Baseball with the Grs

McKay had an amazing game this afternoon.  After the first inning, when I showed up, they were down 5-1.  

McKay played first base until the third inning and made an awesome play.  I have to say, I totally held my breath the whole time he played first.  He doesn't usually play that position and I was a little worried.   When they got up to bat again, they hit 5 runs and were up by 1.

Some amazing hits later and two awesome pitchers and we finally won the game, 13-12!  

Holy cow!  That was the most intense baseball game I've ever been to.  So MUCH FUN for the Grs to watch him do so well.