Friday, November 29, 2013

Craig's Birthday

I am infinitely grateful today and everyday for this amazing man.  Today is his birthday, but because he's considerate and knew that I would be wiped out after making Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, he requested "birthday pie" for breakfast and a day of watching football to celebrate his 43rd birthday.  I love that he requires very little to be happy, that he's grateful for leftover pumpkin pie, and that he would pick a quiet day in sweats over a big party ANY DAY.

We're all so lucky to have this man in our lives.  He's a great dad, an awesome Scout Master, and the most patient husband on the planet.  

Happy Birthday, Craig!  We love you. <3

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Memories

This morning as I carefully placed pies on the antique buffet that sits in my dining room, and set my table for the eleven people who will be gathered around it later this afternoon, I couldn't help but think of my parents and past Thanksgivings.  

My parents were the ultimate party throwers and entertainers.  My dad loved cooking for a crowd and never passed up an opportunity to invite friends and family to our home.  I cannot remember a single Thanksgiving or Christmas that we spent anywhere else but in our house.  
Every Thanksgiving, my dad would get up before dawn to stuff a giant turkey and get it ready to go into the oven.  Pies were made the night before and lined the buffet.  He rarely let anyone bring anything to a holiday dinner because he always insisted on making everything himself.  My dad was always the primary chef in our home.  He cooked every for every Sunday dinner and every major holiday event as far back as I can remember.

One year, after Craig and I were married, we invited my parents to spend Thanksgiving with us in Atlanta.  I knew before they arrived that my dad would not be able to relax with someone else preparing dinner, so I planned a ridiculously complicated meal just so that he could show me how to do all those challenging things that I had never tried before.  We made chocolate bread pudding and a pear tart that year for dessert, along with the usual pumpkin and pecan pies.  We also made creamed spinach and some butternut quash casserole that no one really loved.  He was fearless and undaunted in the kitchen, and no matter how complicated the recipe, I don't remember him ever making anything that didn't turn out the way he intended.

He was also meticulous and followed recipes to the letter.  He cleaned mushrooms with a paper towel and stored them in brown paper bags in the fridge.  He kept his knives sharpened at all times.  He didn't cut corners…ever.  He let the dough rise completely.  He made homemade pie crusts.  He uniformly chopped every vegetable.  In my kitchen adventures, especially now that he is no longer looking over my shoulder, I tend to just toss things in and estimate amounts instead of measuring.  He would be horrified.  :)

While my dad cooked, my mom decorated and set beautiful tables.  I have countless pictures and even more memories of spectacular tables set with beautiful place settings that only complimented and highlighted my dad's amazing food.  

They were a great team.  And the thing that made them happiest in the world was generously feeding large crowds of people.  

They taught me that it's always better to have too much than not enough, that preparing food is a way of showing love, and that every occasion is appropriatel for a beautifully set dinner table.  
nope, we still haven't decided on a paint color…we just keep adding to the choices

Memories of my parents are flooding my thoughts today, and I can feel them here in the house, as I set the table.  The giant white platter and the white gravy boat will be filled with delicious food in a few hours.  And that table will be surrounded by people we love.  

I am so grateful for a legacy of entertaining and food preparation that my parents left for me.  I am grateful this year for abundance of food, friends, and family that we love.  And I am grateful for traditions that forever link us to those who have gone before us.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Temple

Sometimes when you're the most busy and you feel like you don't have a minute to do even the most necessary things, it's good to just leave all the lists behind and be quiet.  

This morning, this sweet girl wanted to go to the Dallas Temple just to look at it and walk around.  She had never been there before today.
Casey is getting baptized on the 8th and she has more excitement and enthusiasm about the church than anyone I have ever met.  One of the things on her "must do" list before getting baptized was to visit the Dallas Temple.  
I'm not sure who loved it more, Casey or me, but it was a great break in my week.  The lists were still there when we got home, but they seemed a little less overwhelming than they did at 8:00 this morning.   
I love this amazing girl and I love the Temple.  Together they were equally glowy and beautiful on a gorgeous fall morning.  I'm so grateful Casey asked me to take her to the Temple.  I know there was nothing on my list today that I could have accomplished that would have brought greater satisfaction than those two hours I spent with her.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Review of the Week (via iPhone)

Here's a quick review of the happenings in our crazy busy lives…

Baseball Championship
McKay's team played their championship game on the first below-40 degree night of the season a couple of weeks ago.  They lost, but came in 2nd in their division, so they still got trophies.  And trophies make everyone happy.  

It seems that we have a never ending stream of teenagers in our house.  In fact, as I'm writing this post, there are 10 of them downstairs in my living room playing Just Dance.  These are great kids and having them in my home makes me exceedingly happy.  I'm glad we have room for them to play, food for them to eat, and enough stuff to keep them entertained.  

Show Choir
Emma's adorable show choir group performed at an outdoor shopping mall last weekend.  It's so much fun to hear them sing.  (They have boy partners, too, but somehow we missed them in this group shot.)

It was my turn for after school football duty this week.  McKay and about 16 of his closest friends have had a great couple of weeks enjoying the balmy November weather in Dallas.  Love these kids!

It looks like our days of short sleeves and after school football games are numbered.  Starting last night, we went from sunny and 60s to snowflakes and 30s.  Hot chocolate weather has finally arrived!

Holiday guests ALWAYS motivate us to finish those little projects around the house.  This one has been lingering for 6 months and there is NO WAY I'm letting my in laws come BACK to visit this house with the same test paint colors all over my dining room walls…so I decided to try some new colors.  :)  That red flowered vase in the picture below and the turquoise one in the other post  are still the motivation for the color palette, but I've gone from TEAL to TURQUOISE to PAPRIKA to that SILVERY BLUE color.  On Tuesday, Oscar the painter is coming to finish painting my entryway and I would love to finalize a color choice and have him just do the dining room, too.  I'll let you know how the color selection goes.  

We had a 3 1/2 hour final rehearsal on Tuesday night, and I have never been so exhausted and so exhilarated all at the same time.  The directors are amazing.  The music is amazing.  And the orchestra accompaniment filled in all the blanks that we didn't even know we were missing in our 3 months of choir rehearsals. 
Oh and Glenn Beck was there too.  He is apparently a huge fan of the directors and the choir and wanted to assure us that this concert will definitely be sold out after his continuous promotion on his radio show.  He is a lovely man.  

I am so happy to have a week long break from our usual school/work routine.  I'm grateful that Craig is not traveling for the next two weeks.  And I cannot wait for the Thanksgiving festivities.  Bring on the holidays!  

Monday, November 18, 2013


That set of keys up there in that (very blurry) picture usually lives in the center console in Craig's Jeep.  McKay found them there on Wednesday afternoon when we pulled into the church parking lot and saw a handful of Cub Scouts and leaders waiting outside a locked church door.  He promptly grabbed the keys and ran to the rescue.  

We had a great Den Meeting that afternoon.  I taught the scientific method.  We made crystals out of sugar and pipe cleaners.  And the boys all left a little closer to achieving that Scientist requirement.  

The rest of the evening was a blur because right after Cubs ended at 5:30, we had to hurry home, change into church-y clothes, grab Emma and all of her beautiful food, and head back to the church by 6:00 so she could finish prepping and set all the food out for the Young Women's event.  

It was one of those busy, but gratifying days when you fall into bed at 10:00 and feel happy that you've contributed good things to the world (most of them made out of sugar, but still worthwhile contributions.

Fast forward to Friday…

9:00  picked up Craig from the airport after a week of training in Atlanta
10:45  to the Villages to hear Emma's Show Choir group perform
12:00  monthly lunch with my neighbors while Craig went home to sneak in a few hours of work before getting ready for a Scout camp out that evening
3:30  picked up Emma from school
4:30  decided a nap would be a great idea
5:00  Emma went to a neighbor's to babysit
5:15  Craig and McKay were ready to drive to the church to meet the other scouts and head to their camp site

Just before he left, Craig woke me up and asked if I had seen his church keys.

Oh, shoot!  Where in the heck did we put those things?

I spent the next 15 minutes trying to retrace all of our steps on Wednesday when I had last seen those keys.  I sat McKay down and interrogated him about what we did with them after we opened the door for the Cubs.  We searched the entire Jeep, then the entire kitchen, then all of my purses and church bags, and finally Craig had to leave.  He grabbed our camp stove and a small cooler out of the garage and just decided that all of those other supplies in the scout shed (that he wouldn't have access to because his wife lost his keys,) they would just have to do without.  

That is not the best feeling, by the way, to see your typically mild-mannered, relaxed, and very organized husband stressed out and chaotic because of something YOU'VE done.  ugh

Craig and McKay left for the church.  And I kept trying to find the keys.  I sent out a mass text to everyone who had been at YW that night, and also to my Den Leader companion.  None of them had found my keys laying around anywhere.  

Cali, my Den Comp, texted me back and said, "I'm so sorry.  I can't even think of where you might have left them.  Have you tried a prayer?"  

Honestly that was not the first thought that came to my mind, and even after she said it, I was reluctant to give in and pray about this one.  I was the one who lost the dumb keys.  It was a trivial, stupid and irresponsible thing, but I knew that if I could just think harder and try harder, I could fix this on my own without having to ask for any divine help.

After standing in my kitchen for another few minutes and coming up with nothing, I finally (grudgingly) thought, "Fine.  I'll ask.  But I'm pretty sure He's not going to know where they are."

I said a very brief, not very heartfelt prayer.

And then I had this crazy thought come into my head.  


I hadn't even thought to ask her.  And even as I sent the text, I thought it was futile to even try because she wasn't even at Cub Scouts.  How would she know where those keys were?

Me: "You didn't happen to see Daddy's church keys in any of the stuff we took to the church on Wednesday night, did you?"

Emma: "Yep!  I threw them in that blue bag with all the food."

Are you joking??

Me: "And do you know where that bag ended up?"

Emma:  "Nope.  I saw it on the counter in the kitchen at the church when we were cleaning up."

I quickly texted Craig that if he could find someone to open the building for him, he would find the keys on the kitchen counter in the blue bag.  He called a very nice, very non-judgmental Bishopric member, keys were found, Scout sheds were unlocked, and 9 boys had a great overnight camp out in the wilderness.  

So the moral of the story is that I need to start believing the stuff I say.  It doesn't matter if it's a big problem or a small problem, if it was my fault or no one's fault, Heavenly Father wants to help us with our stuff.  I feel pretty confident after yet another, similar incident yesterday, that this whole thing happened to remind me that we are not supposed to do this by ourselves.  Every weakness we came with, every challenge presented in mortality, and every trivial but frustrating disruption in our lives gives us an opportunity to rely on a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to ask Him.  He wants to bless us with the answers but He can't do that if we never ask.  

I'm kinda grateful for those silly church keys today.  I noticed this morning that they are now hanging in the laundry room instead of living in the console of the Jeep.  I'm not sure if that is their new permanent home, but they were a nice reminder as I left the house today not be so stubborn, to ask for help more often, and to be grateful for answers that come in small, quiet ways.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The LIttle Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is coming to Ereckson Middle School in about two weeks.  Emma has been staying after school every day until 6:00 and getting up early on Saturday mornings to rehearse for this musical and we are so anxious to finally get to see it.

This afternoon, the theater department had an open house/preview show for anyone who wanted to come.  Both Ariels and both Ursulas (the show is double cast) got to sing two of their numbers, and then the entire cast performed Under the Sea.  It was so much fun to see how all of their hard work is coming together.  The set looks amazing.  And the songs made me want to dig out our old Disney movie and watch it all over again.

The show runs December 4, 5 and 6.  If you love the sea and you love music, you should come see it.  It's going to be fabulous!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Young Women in Excellence

We had an amazing night last night at our annual Young Women in Excellence program.  I love this program because the girls get to talk about all the work they've done throughout the year on their Personal Progress projects.  Some of these girls have done really inspiring things.  They've set and achieved goals, completed countless hours of service, learned new skills and increased their self-confidence.

Emma and a friend decided this year to take on the responsibility of making all the food for YWIE as one of their 10 hour projects.  They spent most of Saturday planning a menu, budgeting and shopping for all their supplies.  And then spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday baking, chopping and decorating to make all of this gorgeous food.

I am in awe of these amazing girls.  I love being around them and feeling their energy fill the entire room.  I'm so glad they had a little time last night to bask in the glow of their accomplishments.