the real Thanksgiving around here

So many folks thought I had written the previous post . . . seriously? Is my inner domestic tyrant really that obvious to others? I actually do host Thanksgiving, but I'd like to think I'm nicer and more diplomatic!

Our first year of marriage, we at three Thanksgiving dinners--in one day! After that, I decided that we were going to host Thanksgiving and invite both of our families. It's worked out really well and we've done it for five years going on six since. Our first year was in our Mount Olive house way out in the country. We ate outside amongst the leaves on long table cobbled together from other tables and scattered with gourds, pumpkins and leaves. That was one of my most favorite Thanksgivings, ever!

Now, we all celebrate out here. Folks trickle in on Wednesday night and we share supper, breakfast and Thanksgiving dinner. As much time as possible is spent around the fire or out fishing. On Thursday morning, the guys gather 'round the deep fryer and cook a couple of turkeys and whatever else is thrown in the oil. It's fun. It is by no means a Martha Stewart kind of affair, but we have a good time.

I was telling a friend about this and she asked if everyone got along. It never occurred to me that we wouldn't! Growing up, I was blessed with such a good example of how families should be. Both of my parents got along just fine with their in-laws and we spent lots of time with both sides and often they merged on Christmas Eve or whatnot. Tuan and I have been extremely blessed to have good relationships with each other's parents. I love my in-laws as much as my own family, as does Tuan.

In retrospect, it is funny that we host this gathering, but as it has fallen over the years, this has been a practical solution. This year, my paternal grandmother, a paternal cousin, my parents, brother, sister's family, mother's sister and husband, mother's brother and Tuan's parents are all coming. I'm so excited!

Hope your Thanksgiving is lovely and fun!


How to be a (not) Good Hostess

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.

Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.

All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don’t feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don’t care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel – please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!


from awkwardfamilyphotos.com


On the Agenda

I have random things on my mind, so I'm going to share them with the world. After, I'll probably read a blog post by one of those great reformed pastors with PhDs who talk about how blogging is a waste of time unless you have something meaningful to say and you shouldn't even have comment bars or something and how Facebook creates false community and instead you should REALLY be sitting in a coffee house on a plaza, building relationships or something like that. I might feel guilty then, but right now I am very content to be on my couch, while the kids have quiet time, checking Facebook, and blogging instead of driving twenty-five miles into Jackson so I can sit in a coffee house and build relationships while I sip expensive coffee and my children run wild. There. I could stop there.

But I won't.

On pregnancy. The third time around is so different than the first and second. With the previous children, I would have these crazy mood swings where I would cry like a maniac, get so angry I would scream and in general deal with crazy impulses (e.g., "I hate these TV trays. They are in the way. Throwing them out the window would be a great solution.") Then, I was totally unaware of the irrationality of those times. I felt perfectly rational and justified in these hormonal urges.

This time around, I am more cognizant of my irrationality. It's kind of like at the end of A Beautiful Mind where Russell Crowe's character still can see the visions but he knows they aren't real. The worst one so far involved me, anger and a Baptist preacher and I didn't care one bit if I had ruined my witness towards him. ("He's a Christian," I thought, "I don't need to witness to him.") I suppose I should have clarified--mostly under control. Out have gone the pregnancy books (not one peek). I suppose I'm too busy with other things these days.

The biggest difference with this pregnancy compared to the others is the lack of sugar cravings. I've been absolutely unconcerned with sweets. It took three days to eat a milk shake Tuan brought home for me and I never finished it. We've had a small pint of Hagen Daz in the fridge for weeks scarcely touched. While I've not turned them down, what I've really wanted are savory things: cheese, Tacos from Taco Bell, cheese on saltines, grilled cheese, cheeze-its, pimiento cheese, bacon, and meditteranean and asian food.

I didn't grocery shop last week because I wanted to use up what we had. We got pretty close to the bottom of the barrel. The saved money went towards Mistletoe and it left us on Sunday night staring at the pantry, longing for something to eat. I wanted Vietnamese food so badly that had it not been Sunday night at 10:00, I would have sent Tuan for Saigon. Instead, I read our Vietnamese cookbook. I read it Sunday night and Monday morning and after that it was all downhill. I made my meal-plan for the week (all Vietnamese!) and last night we went to the Asian Market on Spillway and to to the I-55 Kroger for all the Ingredients we needed. I'm really looking forward to this week's food. For lunch we had a cabbage salad with pork and veggies with the most "remarkable" (quote, Tuan, a compliment) lime dressing. Kind of a Vietnamese coleslaw. Tonight we are making Banh Xeo--rice flour crepes filled with pork, mushrooms, onions, green onions, then wrapped with mustard greens and dipped into Nuoc Mam--Heaven!

There are five + more dishes to go after that. And, they are all mostly nourishing! Whoo--hoo.

I could blog on and on, but I will end with this: Hello Stalkers Who Don't Comment. I know you're out there--mainly 'cause you tell me you are. That's okay. I stalk blogs, too.

I think it's time for some cheese.


An All-Time Great Bargain Story

This is a slightly newer version of our double stroller and I wanted to share with you all the kind of cool story about how we purchased it.

Aubrey was due January 22nd of 2008. We had all the necessary gear gathered in early January before her birth except for a double stroller. We'd been sort of extra-jubilant and generous that Christmas and money was very, very tight. I'd had this particular Combi stroller picked out for sometime and at a retail price of 200.00 it was a bit beyond our budget. 100.00 beyond to be precise!

For Christmas that year, my mom and grandmother had given us stroller money totaling 100.00. That was absolutely all I had to spend. One January afternoon, I loaded Johnny into the car and we headed down to Magee to Hudson's. All the Hudson's had been carrying a stock of Amazon returns and I thought we might find one there. I even prayed about it on the way down. Johnny and I dug through boxes in the rear of the store and no Combi was to be found. However, I did stumble across this huge box that said, Joovy Twin or something like that. It was a double stroller that retailed for 400.00 and the stock was 75% off. Do the math. It was exactly what I had to spend!

Despite the fact that no one in the store helped me, I drug this huge box and pushed a buggy with Johnny in it to the front of the store (at 36/37 weeks, to be exact). A nice man helped me load it and I drove home with my compromise stroller.

This stroller, however, was no compromise. It was luxe. There were raincovers and sno-bibs and gadgets and gizmos galore--plus it drove like a dream! I wanted to keep it, but there just wasn't enough room in our car and our carseat wasn't compatible. The Combi was still the way to go, so we listed the stroller on ebay, sold it seven days later for 360.00 and after paying the shipping made enough to cover the cost of the stroller and fabric for the nursery!

It was such a cool thing the way that worked out. We were so grateful for the unique way God provided the stroller we needed and then some! He is so, so personal in his provision for us.