Friday, November 30, 2012

Folger's Thanksgiving

One of my all time favorite commercials is the Folgers commercial where the older brother comes home from college and there is Folgers brewing in the coffee maker and the whole family wakes to the smell of it.  They all come downstairs and are hugging and smiling and drinking coffee.  Gosh, if that's not the dream life, then I don't know what is!  I love the fact that the family has an older brother and they all are so happy to see him.  I bet he's home from college where he's studying to be a pediatrician or something awesome like that.  Then, there is the whole family being together and smiling and sipping hot coffee that just makes me smile. I really think that is about as perfect as it gets.  Well, that's kind of how this Thanksgiving was for me.

We had amazing weather last week, which made for great playtime outside.  After saving Thanksgiving last year, John naturally took charge over cooking some amazing pumpkin pies and a juicy turkey.  Even though I love cooking for friends and family, when it comes to the bigger holidays, I don't mind handing over responsibility.  Without having the burden of cooking a bunch of food, I got to hang out.  A lot.  

It started on Tuesday.  I got to have lunch with my in-town cousins, then they came over later that night, as well as Abby, my home-from-college cousin.  This is the thing about Abby: I'm not mad at her, but I'm mad about her.  She's about to take the title of Tallest One In The Family from me and I don't like it.

Wednesday was another Folger's day as Daniel was in town!  It took a few days for Fern to warm up to him, but eventually she did.  

With both my brothers in the house, the play gets pretty rowdy and fun and loud.  The kids love it!

This year, we made the Turkey Trot a family affair.  John, my bros, and I ran it.  The boys did the real one (the 8k) and I ran the 5k walk and pushed Fern in the stroller.  Everyone did well, and if anyone is keeping score, I was the first stroller to cross the finish line.  I'm still waiting on the cash money prize for that.

John had a lot of fun too and I think he's so happy he did it.  He kept his 7 minute mile pace, all after making the turkey and pies for Thanksgiving.  Props to my mom who drove around and took pictures and carried Burl as they cheered us on.  I think Joseph has been running this for about 15 years, so it's a fun tradition for us.  It's a huge race for our town, so we get to see so many people we know!  They serve coffee too, so it's almost like a Folger's moment.

Since we all ran the race, we stayed close to home for Thanksgiving.  We had fun eating, lounging, and going to the playground.  Folgers moment to the max!

That night, I ended up going to a last minute movie with my childhood second family neighbors and best friends.  What a title.  Jason, Heidi and I went to see the new Bond movie.  After the movie, we decided to plan a game night while they were in town.  On Friday night, Jason, Heidi, Brad, Deb, and my mom came over and we played Pictionary late into the night.  Folgers moment once again.  

Thank you, holidays, for bringing people that I love into town.  Too bad I didn't get more pictures of everyone.  My brothers really hogged the camera.  The rest of the weekend had some fun times as well, but what I remember most about this year is how many people I got to see.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Sometimes I find a craft or come up with an idea that is so fantastic I want to rock it on everything I own.  This week: State-shaped appliques.  Plain white tee looking a little boring?  Slap a home state on there and I'm looking craftastic.  

I was going to try and write a tutorial, but I really don't like doing those.  Here are the hints, google appliques and find some instructions.  Then, google state outlines and find your favorite state to use.

I'm loving this idea and thinking that my Tennessee-loving new cousin-in-law, to whom I owe a wedding gift, might get something with her favorite state plastered across it.  Napkins.  Hand towels.  Canvas Totes. Baseball hats.  Kids' clothes.  Nothing is safe.  

For all those DIY Christmas givers, this idea could go a long way.
The question is, what's the best thing you would applique?  

Monday, November 26, 2012

This Week's Menu

Every Sunday (or in this case, Monday) I post my little menu of what I plan to fix at home.  I was liberal with my grocery budget last week, so it's a little tight this week.  Speaking of tight, I literally gained 5 pounds during my Thanksgiving meal.  Literally.  I did a weigh-in with my brothers and John.  Even though I'm the tallest, I was not the heaviest!  However, we didn't do a post meal weigh-in and I'm so glad that we didn't.  Woah.  That was intense and my body is feeling it.  This week it's back to good foods for me.  I'm avoiding grains and sweets like Superman avoids that kryptonite.  Don't even get near me!  Here's what I'm planning this week:

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
Rotisserie chicken, acorn squash, apples with cheese

Pintos, broccoli, sweet potato fries
Cream of asparagus soup, salad

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Thoughts & Goals

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I sat down and wrote some of my mental goals going into the holiday.  Holidays usually revolve around people, and these are ways that have been keeping me from seeing those people who are in my life.  Here are my thoughts:

On eating...It's about to get awesome up in here with all the good foods coming my way.  I want the meal to be about the family that I'm eating it with, not the yumminess that I get to enjoy.  Instead of gluttonously looking at what I'm about to consume, I want to celebrate good foods.  Above all, I want the food to come second to people on the list of things that take my focus.  

 On cleaning...With several cooks and way more eaters in my house, things are going to get sticky quickly.  I want to not even see it.  I want to see all my family crammed in my kitchen and not even see the mess that may or may not happening.  These times that we're all together are rare, and I don't want to be consumed with a mess.  Messes are temporary, but so are those family gatherings.  Only one gets my attention.  

I found some good perspective on this on Facebook.  One of my older friends who has grandchildren all over and a daughter in Spain posted this, "Got up this morning to a quiet and orderly house.  So sad.  Miss my babes."  Later in the comments she says, "I would gladly trade my neat, clean, and organized house for sticky fingerprints and toys all over the place."  I bet she's so welcoming and nurturing at family gatherings!  

On giving...It has always felt good to be generous.  Not only with money but with time, effort, and words makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.  The warm and fuzzy are really masks for proud and powerful.  My generosity usually comes from a place that is above the recipient, like I'm reaching down off my high platform.  From now on, I want to be compelled to give because it's not mine in the first place.  From money to ability to willingness, it is not me who has but me has been given to.   With joy and humility and gratefulness, I want to be generous because someone has been extremely generous to me.

When I read over these, I remember how much I failed and how much I succeeded all the same.  While there is definitely room for growth (as there always be), I am amazed at how the past year things have changed in my heart.  Perspective has been given to me.  My heart has been pierced.  Intentional thinking and living is starting to bloom.  The overwhelming feeling that I have is freedom.  I've been set free from a few things that have so entangled my heart.  A free(-er) heart makes life grand.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Approaching This Thanksgiving Differently

I've been thinking about Thanksgiving.  I've been daydreaming about how much better it is already going to be than last year.  Gosh.  Last year was when my dad got sick and couldn't cook his part, when Burl got horribly sick and had so sleep (his first time ever) in our room/bed, when I was still pretty exhausted and tired from a little thing called childbirth and wanted so badly to sleep, when I was somewhat mad because my brothers weren't sisters who would buy me flowers and mop my floor and brush my hair.

The craziness last year was a combination of three things: the circumstances, the fact that I had a baby only 3 weeks prior, and most embarrassing, was my strong hold on control and order.  It only took four booksone mission trip, a little freedom from foodsome encouraging women, and a loving and graceful God to loosen my grip on control, order, and managing what people thought of me.  If I had to say thanks for one thing, then it would be a big phat Thank You to the Lord for setting me free of all that.  It's changed the atmosphere of this house, and it's going to change the air of Thanksgiving for me this year.

Things may or may not look different than last year, but they will sure feel different.  This year, I'll probably pre-set the table that no one but my mom will notice, I might clean a little extra (or might not), and things might go terribly wrong, but I know I'll be ok.  I've learned that I want a little extra when it comes to my table, which might only be some tealights.  I've learned that I love cooking every night for my family, but when it comes to big meals, I enjoy being cooked for.  I've learned that sometimes I go into gatherings like these with the wrong perspective.  

In my head, I've been writing a little list of goals for this holiday season.  If everything goes ok, then I'll post them tomorrow.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

This Week's Menu

I'm so excited about Thanksgiving this year!  Our little family is running the Turkey Trot, the race my brothers have been doing for 15 years.  All our preparations are headed towards that day.  However, before we get to Thursday, we have to eat dinner every night before that.  Here's what I'll be cooking:

Spaghetti (spaghetti squash for me) & bolognese sauce
{whole30} Crab cakes, sweet potatoes, zuccini

Friday, November 16, 2012

Like Sisters

Long life best friends are like sisters.  They know it all.
They fill in the memory-gaps from childhood.  They know it all.
They know your intentions.  They know it all.
They understand the back story.  They know it all.  

We don't live in the same city, so my kids don't know Lauren (and her family) well.  When we got together recently, my kids felt the comfort of a wonderful friendship.  Seriously, Burl and Fern were so at ease with Lauren-Mama, Aunt Lala, or just Lauren.  Of course, Lauren is such a good friend, she makes the day the best she can for my kids.  

She buys Burl a Thor-hammer, or as Burl calls it The Bigger Hammer Ever!
She has cows for us to see.
She makes spouses for my children.  
She takes the pictures when I can't.  
She encourages rowdy play. 
She gets hot dogs for lunch.
She cleans Burl's ears. 
She says "I'll do it" when Burl says he wants Lauren to clean his bottom because he went brown poo-poo.

The ease and comfort that I feel with Lauren is unparalleled   Friendships that start so early in life and have any sustenance to them only grow better through life.  They get stronger, and nothing can replace a friend who knows it all.  I didn't realize how easy it was until I realized my kids were more comfortable than I've ever seen them with someone they don't see that often.  Maybe they feel it too.  Maybe they hear me talk about Lauren so much that they know.  Maybe good friendships just do that: bring comfort. Yep, I think that's all true.  

Lauren, ABF. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Playground Independence

As they get older, they get a little more independent and able to do more things.  While they have fun at the playground, I feel a little bit overwhelmed by how good and natural this mom thing feels at times.

Burl has mastered the ladder that used to terrify me.  Burl knows how to hold on to the big swing, yelling, "faster!  higher!" just like a big kid.  He runs and climbs and laughs and needs no help from me to enjoy the playground.

Fern is pretty good about not putting random things in her mouth, which means I can set her down to play while I run over to help Burl.  She also got the concept of the slide today.  I would put her right on the edge, she would barely lean forward, slide down the baby slide, laughing all the way.  Repeat 20 times.  (For some reason, documenting their first good sliding session is a big deal to me.)

The key to a group shot: threaten the toddler we'll leave if he doesn't stand by me for one picture.

Watching them become toddlers and children (without rushing the process), is such fun.  While they learn to play, I'm learning to be a grateful stay-at-home mom.  I'm focusing on receiving this time as a precious and sweet gift, free of guilt or worry.  While they are excited to try the next big thing, whether that be the tire swing or the baby slide, I'm excited to get to be there with them.