Sunday, November 30, 2008

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

I love that title! My friend, Dina, threw it out after I ran down our Thanksgiving guest list. My husband, kids and I usually travel to St. Louis to have Thanksgiving at my brother, Marty's house. Last year was the last Thanksgiving we were able to enjoy with my Mom before she passed away, which made us feel that a complete change-up was in order.

The Thanksgiving Celebration landed at a new house in Kansas, offering the opportunity to include my husband's family as well. The guest list swelled to include my brother and his wife and his kids; my sister, and my Dad and his new friend - all traveling from St. Louis and staying for the weekend. Additionally, we pulled in my father and mother-in-law; my husband's sister and her husband, her daughter and significant other and granddaughter, her other daughter and her son along with my husband's other sister. 22 people in all.

I would be showing you pictures, but since I was already bossing them all around on when to arrive, what to bring, when to eat, who would say grace and at which table to sit, I decided to not make them pose for pictures. You'll have to take my word for it...they all looked fabulous!

I'm 44 and I've never roasted a turkey...may we just start there on the prickly nervousness hovering in my subconscious. My father-in-law came over the night before and instructed me on brining a turkey and left me with cooking instructions for the next day. Don't be believing ANY recipe that says 15 minutes per pound! You may end up 1 1/2 hours off like we were...thankfully I was checking the turkey every 3 1/2 minutes. I highly recommend brining. The turkey was tender and succulent without being salty.

My mother-in-law decorated two of the three tables. My sister made a fresh flower arrangement for the third. Lovely, inviting, festive... some things should be taken care of by table decorations! Everyone contributed a edible delicacy.

My nervousness caused me to create all sorts of time-out plans for myself. A stroll around the pond, a game with one of the kids, a bottle of wine (glass, optional) in my closet... silly, silly girl. It was a wonderful day! Truly wonderful. The guests chatted animatedly, the food was divine and the day relaxing.

We decided to ask the kids to spit up between the three tables, instead of forming a pack of five wiggly, giggly goofballs. This led many of the couples to split up and the two sides of the family to mix together. I was thrilled to watch as all three tables bubbled with conversation.

My family stayed on until Saturday...hitting an interesting gallery and some off-the-beaten-path stores along with more communal cooking and... overeating. I enjoyed every minute and didn't realize how much energy I had expended until I crawled into bed at 8:30 on Saturday evening.

I hope you also had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Watching B-Ball with the Boys!

Tonight I sat down with my four boys to watch a Kansas Jayhawk basketball game. They were all very excited about the game, so I decided to settle in with them and enjoy the match-up. KU was playing Syracuse in a tournament game. I can't tell you which tournament because I don't really know much about basketball.

I was determined to enjoy the game. It was being played at the Sprint Center in Kansas City and they sometimes showed shots of the city. I enjoyed that part very much. Anyway, I began to concentrate on the game. The anticipation in the room was intense. I watched the dribbling and the passing... some shooting and some scoring ...and then... I noticed a little curly-que in the back of Bill Self's hair. I also noticed that many of the audience members had on the same T-shirt and it provided a sea of Jayhawk blue as a background. I then began to notice all the tattoos! Oh, my, some of those players are covered in tattoos!!!

I commented that the uniforms were really cool! I think I saw an eyeroll.

Ok, back to the game. Dribble, pass, pass, pass, dribble, shoot and score! One of my sons commented on this being a re-match of the 2003 championship game with Syracuse. Yeah, they all cheered! I complimented my son on knowing this piece of trivia...he responded with an eyeroll.

More watching of the game...dribble, pass, pass, pass, shoot and score! Suddenly the room erupted with "FOUL!!! Why didn't they call a foul? That was definitely a foul! I saw a foul!" I was very tempted to add my observation, "I didn't see a foul," said with knowledge, experience and authority. However, I was certain that comment would have been met with yet another eyeroll.

After a few more minutes, I knew I was destined for reading a good book in my bedroom. Before I left, however, I had to make one last comment. "What do all those boys have tattooed on their arms? I bet it says, I love my Momma". You guessed it...a lot of eyerolls.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's About the Hunt

It all started many years ago something like this...

Bart - John, best friends in college
John - Shermoe, hunting buddies
Shermoe - Big Wave, hunting buddies
Big Wave meets Bart and they become hunting buddies.

Big Wave, nicknames are a plus, has been driving from Michigan to stay with us during hunting season for many years. He usually comes on very short notice and stays anywhere from a couple of days to more than a week. Panic, you say? Inconvenience? Nope! He's the easiest houseguest you will ever have. He comes home after dark, goes to bed before the kids and leaves in the morning around 4:30 a.m. He also calls on his way to the house offering to stop for groceries, bears gifts of homemade delicacies from his garden bounty and tells great stories.

Why, you may ask, does this guy drive from Michigan to Kansas twice a year?


To hear him tell it, Michigan does not have a large deer population but they do have a huge hunter population. Kansas, on the other hand, has a huge deer population and not a large hunter population. Kansas also has acres and acres of prime deer much so that these areas are overpopulated.
Kansas is where Buckasaurus lives!

In the last few years, I've suspected that Bigwave has an alterior motive.

Cocobolo's Restaurant in Manhattan.

It has become an anticipated part of each visit...we head to Cocobolo's for some margaritas and de-vine food.

This year we took another hunting buddy, Ron, with us.

Thankfully his wife, Sherry, joined us, too. There's only so much pretending I can do that they are in the woods photographing wildlife when two or three hunters get together to tell stories with only one she-girl along.

Now he's a happy man! He can "photograph" his Buckasaurus and head home.
See you next spring, Bigwave.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Back to the 80s

We continued to celebrate Rechelle's 4-0 birthday last night. She and a gang of newly 40 gals decided to host an 80s party. She explains it here.

Initially I wasn't feeling the 80s vibe and decided to wear a retro-ish shirt and old knit poncho, then the day before the party I sat in my closet and tried to conjure the perfect 80s outfit. As my eyes scanned the pants, shirts, sweaters and skirts, a little something caught my eye.

Do you see it?

It's was crammed back in there with my old business suits and high school prom dresses. Thank you, Mom, for saving these treasures all these years.

I thought, "ok, if I can get my 40-something self into that, I will just have to wear it". By some miracle I got the thing on, so I explained my plan to my husband. He ran downstairs and came back with his "plan".

Here we are in our 80s glory...the Kirkwood High School hockey cheerleader and the Wamego High School tennis star!

Our friends, Dale and Nancy came over just before the party. Nancy helped me try to get big gorgeous hair like hers. Ah...well, half a can of hairspray later. I wasn't one who ever truly achieved big hair. I must not have had enough AquaNet...

Off to the party we went, which conveniently was next door!

Here are the birthday girls ...

You could start a forest fire with that cake! Us over-40s can throw down the jokes, can't we???

We spent the first half hour cracking up at all the "costumes" from Flashdance to Preppy to Madonna to High School Jocks... and lots of mullett wigs. We then danced the night away to all those unforgettable 80s tunes by the Flock of Seagulls, The Gogos, The Bengals, The Clash, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Prince... now that was a night to remember. Thanks, Rechelle and Mike for hosting!
For more 80s retrospective, check

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adventure Girls

These two - it was ALL because of these two, Nancy and Rechelle!

They were both born on November 4, you see. Do you know what a birthday means among friends... let alone two birthdays?

A reason to celebrate, of course, and celebrate we did!

Under the inspiration of Kim, we piled in the car and headed west. We met up with Katie in McPherson (McFearson in my spelling book), Kansas, at The Cook's Nook.

But that was only the beginning. We wandered down the main drag, moseying in and out of shops until we found this little treasure...

"What? Me? Why, yes, I would love to be interviewed for your story! It was 29 years ago this week that I was born. This day with my girlfriends? It's spectacular! No I would not say there is a food theme. No, definitely not! Well, yes, we met in a kitchen store... yes, we are in a cake store and... well, um, yes, we are planning on having lunch... "

Toting our bags of pancake mix, muffin mix and syrup "for our children", we slogged on to lunch at a greek cafe... hummunahummuna...hummus, anyone? We gabbed and gabbed until the the cafe workers turned off the lights and padlocked the door...ha ha ha, so it seemed, but it turned out the workers needed to set up for a wedding reception while wondering if we would ever leave!!!

We continued on our quest to investigate any shop with an interesting name, sign or window display.

We ended the brisk, breezy afternoon with a warm cup at the local coffee house.

What better way to celebrate two birthdays then...

hanging with your girlfriends.
Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rechelle writes about our day, too, right here and Nancy gives her pics and perspective here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Just a Crazy Hair Day

Youngest had "crazy hair" day on Friday. After considering his options, he wanted a mohawk. I believe it may be every mother's nightmare that their teenage son will come home with a mohawk, blue hair or a piercing. For my nine-year-old, it's just adorable and funny!

A can of hairspray and some hot air later... and I don't mean to imply I talked his hair up, although that would be entirely possible ... wah-la.

He had a great day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Back...from the Political Blackhole

We interrupt this political programming to say...the election is over, you may return to your life!

I don't know about you, but I have been consumed by the election information. I've read political commentary, reviewed polls and developed a close personal friendship with Anderson Cooper. Whether your candidate was elected or not, it sure has been interesting. Compelling, engrossing and addicting would be my personal adjectives. I've enjoyed and fretted over every minute of it! We couldn't really lose, could we? Either the first African-American president or the first female VP, which would signal progress toward a more fair and equitable future. This election, however, was even larger. We are facing the worst economic issues since the Great Depression. People are losing their jobs and their homes.

So I hope we will pull together regardless of whether or not our candidate won. We'll try to make good, responsible, personal choices, and we might even be ready to sacrifice for the good of everyone, because I have the sense that the ship carrying all of us is taking on water. When we help each other, we, in the end, help ourselves. I'm very hopeful that we will see positive change. I realize it will take a while... maybe years, but we live in an incredible country! A country of hope and renewal... one where dreams can come true.

So let's weather this storm together and know that good times will return and with them the hope of a good life for even more people worldwide.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let the Buttons Do the Talking

As I've mentioned before, my mother was politically active. Some political punch exists in my husband's family as well. His aunt once served as the Chairman of the Kansas Republican party.

We've inherited some commemoration of these experiences - political buttons.

Here's a sampling of my Mom's buttons. She worked on many civic projects including raising money for the library, the school district and the city pool. She also was a democrat, a yellow dog democrat! I recently learned from my cousin, Shelley, that this is a real term, studied in college political science classes, and I assume a moniker of great honor within the Democratic Party. It means even if the dems were to put up a yellow dog as a candidate, my Mom would have voted for her!

Here's a look at the buttons collected by my mother and father-in-law.

I love that many different parties are represented here with buttons from Reagan to Carter to Perot. Even Rockefeller. I need a little help though. Who's Stassen and Bob Ray???

A true political button collector has the cool button from both parties. You might see Carter's face while reading Ford's name, but look from a different angle and see Ford's face while reading "Carter".

How about this cool Ford button? How could he not win with a button like this?

We have followed this election so closely for the last few months. It's hard to believe it is finally Election Day! We will know, I hope, who our next president will be before we go to sleep tonight. We are going to a Watch Event this evening... the kids, too. We've got them so excited (some might suspect brainwashed)! I hope you take the time to VOTE today, because...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Celebrating A Life

Earlier this week, our family lost another beloved member, my aunt Jean Day. Aunt Jean was one of my Dad's two sisters. His other sister, Jewell, passed away a few years ago. My aunt Jean lived her 82 years in the Alton and Godrey, Illinois areas working 40 years for Shell Oil Company. She loved to travel, crochet and keep a stash of chocolate.
Over Labor Day this year, we packed our five selves in the car and traveled to St. Louis to help celebrate my Dad's birthday. On Saturday of that weekend, we ventured over to Alton, picked up my Aunt Jean and headed up the Great River Road. We dined at a family, favorite restaurant, The Finn Inn.

It's not nice to take a picture just after the food arrives. Your subjects are...well, busy ... my Dad and Bart are on the left, and my Aunt Jean and my niece, Ellie on the right.

The catfish and buffalo (fish) were divine. Ellie prefered the fries.

We learned just a few weeks ago that Aunt Jean had become very sick and she declined rapidly. My breath catches as I think of the two family members we've lost this year, so I will turn to the positives, as they are always so many.

Following the services, our family gathered for lunch at one of my aunt's favorite restaurants - Red Lobster!

Table one includes her son, Jerry, my husband, Bart, our cousins, Ted and Joy on the left. On the right are two of Ted and Joy's kids, Kevin and Shelley, and Alice, Jean's husband, Walt's sister.

Table 2 hosts Ellie and my sister-in-law, Leslie on the left. My sister, Pam, my Dad, Jim, my brother, Marty and David, Alice's son, all on the right.

Table 3 - the boys!

It was wonderful to visit with Ted and Joy. This has been a difficult time for them and I know they seeing everyone and having two of their three children with them.

Kevin, who lives in New York City, Shelley, from Tennessee and her daughter, Brianna.

Aunt Jean, thanks for those bottles of Coke, some of the only soda I had as a child. I guess you figured out that I knew where your stash of chocolate was following my weekend stays. I also remember studying the map of the United States in your basement that had push pins marking all the states you had visited with Uncle Walt. A white one for once, with a red pin added for twice. I can only imagine the wonderful memories that map holds. We will all miss you.