Tuesday, October 22, 2013


We interrupt house building to bring you the State Fair of Texas!  

Jeff and I have been going for 12 years now and we can’t say anything quite compares to visiting this year on High School Day.  Oh my.  From the moment we parked the car at the Walgreens across from Fair Park, I knew we were in for quite an experience.  

We always start the day at the fair off right with MONGO sized candy from Walgreens. Don't ask.

"Howdy, folks!" The day we went to the fair last year, Big Tex had an electrical short and burned.  It was bad-- sort of a freaky sight so we went to see the new guy pretty quickly.  B said he looked "creepy" but it didn't stop him from buying his fourth bobble head of the fair icon.

First ride-- Julia didn't want to ride by herself and Jeff knows to not even ask me.  I can do roller coasters but not these spin, spin, spin things.

So I learned our friend, Jack, would hang glide off Mount Everest if he could.  He chose the $49 dollar ride first, the one that you have to sign papers to get on.  Like 164 feet in the air at 70 mph, round and round.  I called his mom.  Her exact words were, "Holy Cow!  No!"

I thought so.  {You have NO IDEA how relieved my B was.}

So he settled for this.  Twice.

Here is our "altar" picture-- we had our own photographer this year.  {Thank you, Jack.  You did a great job.}

Midway wins.  

We found out Jack likes cars.  And the camera.

Julia doesn't ask for many things but to be walking from the fair empty handed was just too much for her.  She wanted a "prize".   So she tried.

And Jeff tried.

And finally they had a boat race and Julia won.  Prize in hand, she was ready to go.  {Jeff's usual hot fair skills have all been spent on his hot house building skills.}

We had stayed into the night last year due to getting off late because of school.  It was fun to see the fair once the sun went down but last year was not High School Day.  The darker it got, the more crowded it got.  So as we were walking out of the Midway--- everyone holding a hand or a shirt to push through the dense crowd-- it happened.  I sensed something strange then I heard unusual activity, then came the noise and harder pushing and when I saw people running I grabbed kids and did what any mother who has watched the news over the last 20 years-- I grabbed who I could I ran for cover--- behind a lemonade cart-- making myself and Jack and Julia at home underneath someone's feet!  I made them crouch down, called Jeff to see if he had B and listened.  Policeman were everywhere at once and thankfully, there was nothing worse than fist fighting.  It broke out literally 5 feet from us as we were walking out.  Yes, it freaked us out for a bit and we all got back together and made a bee line for the car.  And even that was an adventure as we watched two girls get arrested at the gates.  Three wide eyed kids, two of them being verbal processors-- they missed NOTHING and talked about EVERYTHING until I said, "Let's watch a happy movie!"  I still had library videos in the car from the Atlanta road trip and they watched Air Buddies all the way home.  I think they wouldn't have complained about Dora at that point.  They just wanted something calm and familiar.  

And yes, the Lord heard our thanksgiving over and over and over.  

On to no less exciting things but definitely happier things-- the Saints won their game on Saturday and play at Texas Stadium Saturday night at 6!!  Isn't that crazy?

Recognize our fair friend, Jack?  Great kid.

And, for Brighton, it was on to the the Fall Jazz Piano Festival at TCU.

And Julia had a little fun of her own with Atlee.

They've been doing this-- putting on make up together-- since they were six, I think.  This time they were Interpol agents.  But they needed make up.  Of course.

And they are getting better at it.  Less Bozo.  More, well, Interpol agent.  I didn't even have to ask them to wash it off before we headed to dinner. {These make up dates can spur on GREAT conversations.  I love these girls and am honored that I get to talk to them about things of the heart.}

And here is where I've been picking up lunch-- the truck that sits outside of Lowes!  I've had my fill of Lowes but not these tacos!

And today, I am making an almost 10 year old boy his caramel birthday cake.  And that right there makes a crazy season of life feel very very normal.  


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In the Moment

We just got in from Atlanta last night from Jeff’s oldest niece’s wedding.  She was our flower girl.  Time is marching on, folks.  At a good clip.  I have pictures to share-- of course-- but I’ll have to do that later.  There are many things I keep putting off until “next Tuesday”.  I’d like about 14 of those, please.

House building has been full of surprises the last few weeks.  The electricians showed up three days early to hang all the lighting.  We’ve been purchasing lighting for about a year so you can imagine how spread out it was, how deep it was buried and how well I had hidden the newest ones in the rental house.  My kids had already done half of their school in the car-- NOT ideal-- to make a tile run and then I had to leave them at home to finish school for the rest of the afternoon to help Jeff round up all of our fixtures.  Not the best home school day.

We are shooting for November 1st -- and it’s a grand goal, but we Sanders aren’t known for doing things the easy way.  Last week, we began referring to our rental house as a storage facility.  With a made bed.  It’s the only hint of civilization in the whole house.  How we hope we can make 11/1.

So here’s what’s on my mind...... besides 11/1....

All the help I am going to have to ask for.... why is that such an issue for many of us?

Finishing that pantry door

That the rental house and surrounding area is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better {our poor neighbors are being so gracious and patient-Thank You, S!!!  When you come for a visit to our new house, you won’t believe how contained we can be!}

A vapor of a memory that Jeff said the landlord wanted to photograph the house on  Thursday...... {this does not compute- I won’t allow it to compute}

That I need to buy some food--- and possibly cook it

That if Brighton’s football team wins Saturday, they play at Cowboy Stadium the next Saturday

How thankful I am for trail mix  {Can one live off trail mix?}

Under-sink water filtration systems and how Lowe’s just completely out shined Home Depot in the phone calls I made just a few minutes ago

An email came from Julia’s small group leader with topics the {6th grade} girls had said they wanted to discuss-- a word on the list caught my attention for reasons unknown to me, of course..... SARCASM.  {Siblings was on the list too but that’s not my problem.  And neither is sarcasm.}

Letting Margo Dean know today if Julia will take part in the holiday special in December

Bible study-- I’ve got some catching up to do in Romans

“We have moved, new address, Merry Christmas” cards

Finishing up the last session of discipleship with Mrs. Horton before she leaves for India

Keeping up with school in the craziness-- and what motivates my kids to take some responsibility

B’s 10th birthday party right around the corner

The State Fair this week-- our children would disown us if we blew off that tradition

Making a caramel cake for that sweet boy’s birthday

How grateful I am for B’s teacher and how she has helped us through some administrative hitches--- and how to avoid those hitches later, even this week

Last--- and this is extra-- the conversation beside me, as I sit and wait for a friend to pick me up to head to a funeral, is about dogs.  It took me a while because I seriously thought they were talking about their kids or grandkids.  Dogs and behavior. Stress.  Dogs and consequences.  Anxiety.  Dogs and sonograms.  Neutered and non- neutered.  Other dogs influences.  Negotiables and non-negotiables.  And I quote, “It’s a good cheat.  If you have to cheat on something, this is the thing to do it on.”

Maybe that last paragraph was all that was worth reading-- seriously?!?-- but this is where life is today.  I can do this the hard way-- all by myself-- or the easy way-- with Him.  God knows about it all and as I ask Him, He will show me what the non-negotiables are for me.  I trust Him for the space I need, the time I need and the order I need.  He is faithful.  

A few hours later.....  my friends picked me up for the funeral and I grabbed the backseat quickly imagining me just sitting back listening to them and possibly commenting every few minutes..... fat chance.  It turned into a backseat counseling session.  I think I talked the entire way there and back.  ?????????  Oh, these sweet friends love me-- all my mess I shared today.

I am practicing gratitude as the day goes on and depending on Him to give me what I need.  He knows better than I do.

And now for that food I might possibly cook...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Home: Keeping it Personal

One night last week, Jeff said our landlord called to say they were ready to start showing the house to new renters.  He could just as well said, "We are going to torch the new house and start over."  REE-diculous.  We give new meaning to "in transition".  I have officially run out of hiding places and the worst of that is that I don't care anymore.  The count down is on for sure.  However, this newsflash of "showing the house" seems more like a joke.  I took it upon myself to call the landlord and assured him he did NOT want to show the house right now.  It would not be beneficial for him and his projected monthly income.  I used this project as an example.

We have a tarp over our dining room table right now--where we eat every meal--- working on an old door we picked up on, you guessed it, CL-- that's "Craig's List" for all you amateurs.  This particular CL date was in Highland Park where we picked up our new-to-us dining room table that Jeff stripped down and refinished.  We picked up the old door for our pantry later that night.

I am all about making things personal but not at the expense of my home looking like an antique store.  I love antique stores, but I don't want to live in one.  I know people find unique pantry doors and I looked for a while but never found anything that was in our budget that I just loved.  When we found this very normal window paned door for sale at the right price, I wanted it.  I thought of several options to make the door unique but the idea that won out was to decoupage family recipes onto the window panes.  I need to say--- JEFF IS NOT CRAFTY.  He is HANDY, but on this particular project....... I've been impressed with his .......ummmm...... craftiness.  He's making this one happen with my paint collection, his wood stain and his sander.

Let me remind you.  I grew up in South Georgia.... in a very small town.  Everyone knows who cooks what and you wouldn't dare show up at a potluck with "so and so's" cake.  You just don't.  Make it for your family but don't try to pass it off somewhere in town as "yours".  No-no.  Delectables are referred to as "Mrs. Ann's pecan pie", "Joyce's Caramel Cake", "Mrs. Bowers' Italian Cream Cake", or "Miss Denise's Chocolate Cake". The list is longer than Main Street but you get what I am saying.

I come from good cooks.  Both of my grandmothers were good cooks.  They never pitted an avocado or cooked with coconut milk but they could put out a spread like no other-- and whip up a batch a "soft boil stage" chocolate icing with their eyes closed.  My parents got it honest but they can do both types of food-- good plain food or good fancy food.  My daddy had a house built on their property dedicated to hospitality {plus lots of mounted things that used to be alive} complete with inside kitchen AND a porch kitchen--the porch one for the dirty work-- frying, cleaning game and such---with open space for plenty of folding tables and chairs to sit around to enjoy a delicious meal and good company.  Many memories for so many families have been made at the "pond house" and you can't beat the cooking anywhere.

I specifically asked Mom for "growing up" favorites-- Texas Straw Hats, Snowtime Barbeque Ring {fancy name for meatloaf}, Chicken Cacciatore, Caramel Icing, Lemon Pie, Pecan Pie {probably Mrs. Ann's recipe but my Daddy likes the pecans whole, not chopped}, her amazing grilled chicken marinade, peppered nuts {pecans, of course} and last but not least, her Whipping Cream Pound Cake.  Oh my goodness.  Weighing in with a cup of whipping cream, 2 sticks of butter, 3 cups of sugar and SIX eggs, why, oh why, do I lather it in butter and toast it?  Amazing.

Jeff's parents grew up the same-- in the South-- being raised on good cooking and delicious baked things.  I see names written on Mrs. Sanders' recipes too-- who was known for making a certain dish.  The first time I had a meal with Jeff's family, it all felt very familiar and all tasted so delicious.  Jeff's sister, Tricia, a wonderful cook too, saw how important it was to preserve all of this goodness and had many of the family recipes typed into a booklet which she gave to everyone.  I use it very often and am grateful to have Aunt Ruby's Tea Cake recipe and Jeff's Mom's oatmeal cookie recipe.

I wanted the memory of all this yum- and hard work over many years-  on my pantry door, in their handwriting if at all possible so I emailed a few special ladies and asked for  a few of their original recipes or handwritten recipes.  I made copies and got to work.  I have not finished but here is a sampling.

Each pane will look something like this-- without the wrinkles and the bubbles I hope.  I am not a professional decoupage-er-- but I might be once this is finished!

I am a homemaker and great food for my family is a huge part of making a home.  So many good times and special memories are made while passing the dishes the around, savoring the familiar tastes, anticipating a favorite meal and the best thing that happens?  The conversation that weaves the whole experience together.  It just might be my strongest memory in my family of origin.  We typically ate late so it wasn't that unusual for us to still be talking around the table well after 9 o'clock.  But the talking- hearing about each other's day, who was dating with who, what we were going to do that weekend, what crazy customer Daddy had that day, how the team looked for Friday night-- that was crazy special and the food brought us together and gave us space for just that.  {Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making that happen.  I know it wasn't easy, but it sure was fun.}  With Julia and Brighton in 6th and 4th grade, our meal times aren't there yet.  But it's the vision.  A safe spot, enjoyable company, time to connect and delicious food.

I'll have one of those, please.

Fifties Day

Just had to post this one of B's complete compliance with getting out of the car to have his picture taken with the girls.  Got our morning off to a GREAT START!!!

This is my brother and me in the 5th and 3rd grade.  It might just be my favorite picture of us together.  My Mom made that pink skirt above and the red poodle skirt below.  I wore the poodle skirt in high school for different things and used it when Jeff and I were doing youth ministry.  Blinked and now my daughter is having me pin it to fit her!

Blake-- what do you think about B's impersonation of you?