Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why Can't It Be Easy?

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is over already.  Isn't it amazing how a meal that takes a good three days to prepare turns into leftovers in about 20 minutes?  We cleaned up and got out of dodge.

We went to the cabin for the weekend, and had a wonderful time.  Ed and I discussed it this afternoon and we could not get over how well the boys got along and how helpful they were.  It is entirely possible that they are aliens.  Or that the turkey was drugged.  What ever happened, I hope it sticks.  It was a lot of fun.  We had beautiful weather and it was quiet.  What a blessing it is to have a great place to get away from "life" for a few days.

Since the Fairview/Mt. Pleasant area isn't exactly a shopping mecca, I didn't do ANY shopping.  OK. . . we did buy 4 3/8" wooden pegs for a total $.60 but that is not what I think of shen I think of Black Friday.   I have not bought one thing for any of my children.  Or my husband.  I have been teasing the boys that we are having a homemade Christmas and that if I can't make it, they aren't going to get it!  Parker immediately directed me to a kit that allows you to build a muzzle loader.  Very creative for a 15 year old!  Can you imagine me building a muzzle loader?  I'd have to tole paint it or something.

This afternoon I packed away all the Thanksgiving decorations.  I have been editing my decorations, so anything that I don't absolutely love is being donated to the DI.  That made it a lot easier to pack away the decorations because everything fit in the tubs.  "Editing" is such a refined word for "chuckin' stuff."

Then it was time to start thinking about Christmas decorations.  Last year we bought a 12' pre-lit tree.  We have a 16' peak in our family room area, but in the only place we can put a large tree, the height is apparently 12'!  The tree touched the ceiling and we couldn't even put the angel on!!!  I don't know what the heck we were thinking.  Maybe we were suckered into the whole "he who has the biggest tree, wins" thing.  I just don't know.

Anyway, I wasn't happy with the tree, but I didn't say anything since we had just bought it.  Today though, I fessed up.  Ed suggested that I put it on KSL classifieds and in 2 hours and 22 minutes it was sold!  Ed thinks I sold it for more than we paid, but I can't really remember.  I hope I did!  We bought it so late in the season last year that it was on clearance.  For those of you who don't remember last year's Palm Tree, you may need a refresher.  Anyway, I had the tree packed up nicely in two rolling garbage cans so that no dust or spiders could get in- I think that helped the sale.

I still have our 10' tree that we used for 6-7 years.  It is not pre-lit, which is why we bought the new one.  I put it on KSL, too, but if it doesn't sell I might put it up again.   I have found about a zillion strings of lights in the garage during my editing, so if I have to go back to my old tree, I'll have lots of lights to choose from!   I wish Christmas trees were easier to deal with.  I love the beauty, but hate the hassle!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Chinese" Thanksgiving

So, we kind of like to live life on the edge here.  This Thanksgiving was no different.

We were all a little "blah" about Thanksgiving because it was going to be just the six of us.  Usually Aunt Judy comes and spices things up.  Last year we added the Tuckers and Mr. D.  Anyway, it was looking to be a dull year.  On Tuesday I went shopping and had everything that wasn't perishable packed in a laundry basket to go to the cabin. . .

On Tuesday at about 5:30pm Ed called from work.  It had been a rough day.  The Chinese delegation that they were working with had some concerns that came out at the last minute and were causing issues.  Things were back on track, but. . .  the delegation had decided that they had too much work to do to go to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend.  That's about when I started laughing hysterically because I KNEW what was going to come out of my husband's mouth next.  We had talked about it at the beginning of October, but then the plan was nixxed.  Yup.  Could we have Thanksgiving at our house?   For 30 people?

Of course!  I didn't even hesitate once I stopped laughing!

The furniture was cleaned out of the family room and packed wherever it would fit.  Our original plan was to have the children eat in the dining room and the adults would eat in the family room area.  Rob Stapleton and Colby showed up with tables, chairs, and a map of the layout.  The engineers even map out Thanksgiving!  Anyway. . . once the table and chairs were situated, I talked to Janene and we made food arrangements.  By the time I went to bed yesterday, the table was decorated and all my preliminary chopping was done.

This morning was really easy because everything was so well planned.  I am a list maker for a reason!  And yup. . . I even labeled the serving bowls with post-its because when it came time to serve everything up it was easy for people to help. 

This was potato time.  Reed was cutting up the potatoes while I was filling the big pot that is sitting on the floor.  I was not randomly spraying water!
This was just before Reed cut himself.  Not badly, but Colby took over cutting after that.  Let me just tell you that Cutco knives are SHARP!!!!
Ed was peeling the potatoes.

 Cooking potatoes for 30 is quite the undertaking.  We used our turkey fryer.  It is a wonderful cooking device, but we have NEVER used it to fry a turkey!  Maybe someday. . .

And this is Colby cleaning up after the great lentil spill of 2011.  We did a quick vacuum through and cleaned the bathrooms.  That's all the cleaning I had time to do for this event.
This is our impromptu table for 30.  I had to use paper tableclothes from Costco because I couldn't find enough flat sheets in the right sizes.  The 7 yards of burlap camoflage the joints of the six folding tables and make it look more cohesive.

Here's the mantle.  I love my new circle mirror.  I got it for 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  After 8 years of having the same art up, I needed a change.

When we decided to have everyone at one table, I didn't have enough silverware.  I rolled plastic utensils up in turkey napkins with a ribbon tie.  It looked fine.  I'm not Martha Stewart.
I bought flowers at Costco and arranged low bouquets for the table. 

Split peas and lentils.  Colby was in charge of this project.  When he broke the second bag of lentils on the stairs, that layer got really wide.  And that's why he had to vacuum!
Here's the crowd as they were passing the food.  Some things vere even got passed!  It was such a zoo that I couldn't control it.  I would do that part differently in the future- couldn't do a buffet because there wasn't room for people to move in and out.
Say cheese!  According to this picture we had 31.
This is about two seconds after the last photo.  Apparently everyone wanted to eat!
Chatting in the living room.
Part of the crowd hanging out at the big table.
Stan holding court in the living room.  Explaining the 60/20/20 Theory. 
Nelson, Henry, and Gary.

Regina and Wendy were great company.

Becky.  I'll leave off her last name 'cause she's famous!!!
Blaine.  That IS a smile by the way.
Cameron and Colby.  The college boys.
Little Eddie.  The funny of the day was "When he gets bigger we will call him Ed." 
For those of you who know my Ed, this will probably be funny to you, too. 
We never got a smile out of him all day!
Jill and Janene.  Sisters who saved the day in the kitchen!
Craven came for dessert and chatting.  He always looks like he is up to something.

I had to put this in because I think it's the only picture I took of anyone eating dessert!  This little guy had his tonsils out last week, so he didn't eat much.

 We received some lovely gifts from our guests.

This is a glass horse that is a replica from the Yang Dynasty.  I think it is pretty cool and probably pretty expensive!

I absolutely love this home decoration.  It is a piece of silk embroidered with plants and ducks.  The craftsmanship is excellent and the silk is so fine that it is translucent.  What lovely reminders of a special Thanksgiving. 

It was a fabulous day and a Thanksgiving to remember. My boys all three said that they thought it was fun to have so many people over for the feast. The thing that I will remember most is a comment from one of the Chinese men who has actually lived in the United States for 20 years.  In all that time, this is the first Thanksgiving feast he has eaten.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve him, his family, and his colleagues.  It was truly a special occasion, but it made me realize how much we need to reach out to those around us. 

I am so grateful for my many blessings, but today I am especially grateful for my new friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude 2011

At the beginning of the month I was surfing on Pinterest and I saw a quote that literally stopped me in my tracks. It said,

"What if today you woke up with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday."

It was about 11:00pm and I sat for about five minutes just pondering that thought.  I realized in that moment just how ungrateful I am to my Heavenly Father.  I feel gratitude, but  don't express it often enough.  I have been richly blessed and I take it for granted.  I am so grateful that someone posted a simple thought that I can honestly say has changed my life over the past three weeks.  I know that it has made an impact on my family, too- mostly because I am hearing more gratitude reflected in their prayers.

The only thing that bothered me about the quote was that the chance for action was past.  As I presented the quote to my family I changed it up a bit:

I printed this and put it in a frame in our mud room where we see it several times a day.  (If you would like the printable version, please go to my creative blog.) It reminds me to be grateful in all my thoughts.

Here are my top five things that I am grateful for in 2011.

My family.  I am married to a truly wonderful man who treats me like a queen.  Ihave been blessed with three strong, smart sons who are kind and loving.  They are good to me, too!  I love that I never have to open a door for myself.  I enjoy watching them grow and change.

My faith.  I get tears in my eyes just thinking about the impact that the Gospel has on my life.  I am not perfect- far from it.  I know that Christ died that we might be saved and I know that families can be forever.  This is the rock of my faith.

My parents, brothers and ancestors.  I have been loved, taught, and protected by a wonderful family.  I had traumatic events in my childhood that could have ruined me, but thanks to the people in my life, I grew up to be strong and confident.  (Maybe too strong and confident. . . but that's a post for another day!)  These people helped me turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

My education.  My parents demanded good grades.  They knew I was capable and pushed me.  That is. . . until I learned to push myself.  I still regret that one A- I got in my Masters Degree!  What a blessing it is to have a good education.  It has opened so many doors in my life and allowed me to be involved with such fulfilling activities.

My home.  I love my home.  It represents safety and security.  It is a haven from the physical elements, but also from spiritual buffering.  Although we are blessed to live in a very beautiful house, I know that I can be happy in much more humble circumstances.  When we moved to Utah we moved from a large, beautiful home to a shabby 4-plex.  Guess what?  It was still home.  I hope I don't have to do that again, but I know we would survive and thrive.

And you. . . thanks for reading this blog and supporting me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh, Dear

I love to look at other people's photos of their children.  I love the sweet faces, wispy hair, and total absorption in whatever they are doing.  I even love it when they are pouting or crying.  I don't really have photos like that of my children because I was trying so hard to survive that I didn't get the great shots.  I got a lot of shots. . .just not great ones.  I can't beat myself up, though because that wasn't really the "thing" when they were younger.

Today is a big day at our house.  Parker passed the test to get his driver's permit.  I truly wasn't sure whether to be happy or to break down in tears and to ask the nice man at the DMV to rip it up.  Tomorrow I will take him driving, but not in my car.  But that is another post.

Anyway, we should document these big events.  So here goes.

Parker at 15-and-a-half. Addicted to YouTube videos. Learns all sorts of delightful things from them such as how to build a bomb with aluminum foil and toilet cleaner and how to maim himself with bike tricks. Parker likes to sit in his dad's chair and surf the internet. He even sits like dad. Scary.
This is the patronizing smile.  Available at almost any age, but particularly popular with teenage boys.
Check out that hairy leg.  Not to mention the plaid jammie pants and the lovely old man slipper.  Take note of the small cut on the ankle.  I bet he has no idea how he got it.
He remembers how his toe got looking like this, though.  After his THIRD ingrown toenail procedure the doctor may have been a little heavy handed with the liquid that kills the nailbed.  Parker got an infection that was unbelievable- it took twice daily soaks and prescription strength anti-bacterial ointment to put it down.  Still icky, three weeks later.  FYI- that ugly toe is part of a size 14 foot. 
Big hands, too.  Notice the small scar.  He has them all over.  They are from knives and other tools as well as bikes and wrestling matches.
The doctor says we are going to have a big boy. He's 5'9" and still growing. Those size 14 feet are providing a firm foundation for growth.In case you were not aware, the slippers your grandpa used to wear are now daily footwear at the high school.  I don't get it.

One of my favorite "things" about Parker is his voice.  It is very low.  I get the gigs every time I listen to the message on his cell phone because he made it about 2 years ago and he sounds like a little kid!  He definitely has a man voice now and he sings bass in one of the choirs at school.

OK.  So pictures of baby feet are way more adorable, but the fact is that babies grow up and that is definitely what has happened at my house.  But, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Parker's wry sense of humor, ability to do difficult tasks, and growing sense of responsibility are way better than baby toes.  And diapers.

Love ya, Parks!