Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our departure date has been changed

Yess sirrreee! They changed our plane tickets.

Did the school call and ask us what date we would think best?

Take your best guess?

If you guessed "yes," you have misjudged the communication ability of Koreans by great lengths. I don't think they know the saying "Assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME."

We are still leaving from Houston but an entire week later. Jan. 11. (The same day Kyle's diploma will be mailed out from Austin, which means that if they had us leave the 12th, then we could bring it with us.... but they didn't ask. Did they ask if Houston was our best option? I bet you already know the answer!!)

What family member gets to host us for an entire week in Houston?? Who is so excited to keep us in their home? The hungry hungry hippo, and the neurotic newt. An amazing couple indeed. (Newt is the only animal name I could find starting with an "n." Can that be? Is that really the only animal that starts with an "n." Surely not. Anyone have any others?) I am the newt is this scenario, which I don't particularly like, but I have been particularly neurotic lately and as I couldn't find another animals starting with "n" I guess I will have to play my part as a slimy lizard like creature.

The answer as to what family member gets the pleasure of hosting this strange couple in their home univited for an entire week is still unanswered as we have yet to tell anyone, as I only got the email this evening. Anyone? anyone? (echo echo echo)

At least the streets of Houston won't be too cold...

At least we weren't fired for being royal pains in the butts.

We still have jobs. I am thankful.

Please let 2010 be less challenging!! I'm ready for a year with a little less stress.

Heading to Houston

Next on our trip is the Houston Rogers Christmas, our final Christmas celebration. The plan was to leave from Houston directly after this get together however we have come up on a hitch. The Korean consulate isn't issuing visas this week. Yep, I didn't get it done earlier because I wasn't able to while I was in Lubbock.

What does this mean?

Our leave date has to be changed....

It hasn't happened yet, the schools hasn't contacted us about whats happening yet.

I am starting to sweat bullets.

I keep trying to tell myself that worrying doesn't help anything, and that the situation is completely out of my control, and to a degree that helps, BUT it doesn't really stop me from worrying.

We will keep you abreast of the situation as we know more....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Christmas EVER!

"Hey sweetheart, are you planning our anniversary date or am I?" I asked as we lay on the floor lazily one afternoon in early November.

"Ummm..." he said playfully, "do you already have an idea for it?" he mumbled with a mouth full of my hair.

"Yes, yes I do." I grinned as I pulled at my hair gripped tightly in my husbands teeth.

"Alright" he proclaimed releasing my hair from his trap "you plan it then." poking his finger in my ear.

"Argg! You're such a two year old. Must you always pester me?" I guffawed. "Ok, so I am in charge this year? You have NO ideas?" I asked in a hinting manner.

Looking at me innocently, "Nope, you do it."

This manner of questioning was my way of discovering whether Kyle was planning on buying Lion King tickets for our anniversary. We had discussed offhandedly a month before how the Lion King was coming to San Antonio. It didn't need to be said, that the Lion King was a show we had wanted to see for years.

However, a few weeks later, something Kyle said made me re-think his innocence. On the way back from a run Thanksgiving day, looking through squinted leery eyes I asked, "Are we getting each other the same gift?" Peering at me suspiciously with his handsome green eyes "I don't know, are we?" he said raising one eyebrow. Many years before, when we were in college, Kyle and I got each other tickets to the Phantom of the Opera. This situation seemed suspiciously like that previous and an expensive mistake to make.

As we were discussing our dilemma with Leslie and Peter as to how to tell each other without spoiling the surprise, Leslie had the idea that I tell her what I got Kyle and Kyle tell Peter. They then convened after whispering our secret gifts in their ears.

Walking back towards us after they deliberated Peter exclaimed "You guys are dorks!" Those words were all we needed to hear to understand that Kyle and I had in fact both planned on getting each other Lion King tickets.

When my grandmother got sick however, our plans dramatically changed as we moved 400 miles away from the Majestic Theater where the Lion King was playing, to Lubbock to assist my Grandmother in her healing process. As you might recall a few posts back the Lion King was not our anniversary present but rather an improvisation was necessary and the nutcracker was the substitute.

So we arrived back in San Antonio a few days before Christmas, and Kyle hadn't mentioned the Lion King in a few days, but I was pretty sure it was still playing.

"Are we doing anything I need to know about Kyle? I implored with large sweet puppy dog eyes. "What I mean is, is there a date/time that I should make sure not to make plans?"

After camouflaged and covert language we decided to discuss this secret Christmas present openly as we both knew that I knew what was going on.

The afternoon of the 23rd was determined to be LION KING day. However, we ran into a dilemma. Our "reliable" ticket supplier for some strange reason wouldn't guarantee changed tickets until after January 2. Sounds fishy I know, but it was a very large and very popular ticket supplier that will remain anonymous but has a habbit of shady practices. Anyways Kyle had bought tickets for dates much earlier, but as we were suddenly in Lubbock, the tickets were changed and were left hanging in cyberspace, if there happened to be an opening. But an opening in the Lion King was as likely as a rainy day in the desert, so we began our search on Craigslist. Two hours before the start of a show, we received a phone call from a father who had a family emergency and was willing to sell his tickets for a lesser price.

When we arrived at the theater, the line was at least a block and wrapped around the building, but went surprisingly quick.

Once inside, we were directed to the "Starlight terrace" which had the special extra feature of a separate balcony, bathroom and bar. It was like the VIP lounge and we were part of that VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE grouping! It was very exciting.

The Lion King was amazing. The choreography, the creativity in the puppetry, and the costumes were stunning. However it followed the movie much more closely than I anticipated, and I was a little disappointed at its lack of surprise. But other than that, it was fantastic.

After the show we stayed downtown to meet up with my Dad's side of the family for dinner on a river barge under the glowing Christmas lights dangling from the several hundred year old trees decorating the tree. The weather channel predicted thunderstorms, but luckily it held off until several hours later when were decorating stockings with the Grojeans. The dinner was queso with personal fajitas and fried ice cream. Somehow even though the food on the riverwalk is mediocre at best, I ate so much Kyle had to roll me to the car. It was a magical evening and one of the best Christmas celebration days ever!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The woebegone story of a Gingerbread house

Me, the gingerbread house Vanessa made.

Where to begin my short yet deplorable story... You could say that my origins are in a candy store... or possibly in the graham cracker manufacturing warehouse. But as I have little recollection of that time scattered across continents in cold unfeeling buildings, I will begin my story at what I consider the genesis, my design and construction by my ingenious master (sarcasm): Vanessa.

Merry notes of Alvin and the chimp monks Christmas song grazed the sickeningly sweet icing flavored air. They sat around a glass table, sipping their drinks chatting away as I lay waiting. I had been waiting a long time. From the time I was conceived of that loud machine, I knew I was destined for more that just someone's mouth and gut. Other crackers called me arrogant and idiotic, but really they were jealous because they must have known too. They must have seen that I was made to one day be the greatest invention of our century at least for our kind; A GINGERBREAD HOUSE. There was no doubt in my mind that one day some munchkin would mold me as the main decoration for Christmas. My life would be at least double as those of my sad pathetic kin folk. Each day, I worked to remain strong yet agile, solid yet malleable so that when the day came for my destiny, I would be the creme de le creme for a designer to mold me into that creation of such desirability amongst us.

"Why won't they stop talking and build already!" I demanded from my boxes and bags I lay dormant inside. Didn't they know that this was the moment I had waited for all of my life. Couldn't they feel my anticipation emanating from directly in front of them. Gingerbread making is the most prestigious of arts and yet they laughed and joked. Had I not been raised with more dignity, I might have smite them, but I held my composure.

My designer, an older specimen, not exactly munchkin size, seemed unprofessional as she hastily threw graham crackers up in a structure needing many more supports than she understood. But of course, what could her tiny brain understand? Did she feel the weight of the peppermints, chocolate chips and gum drops on her back? No, she did not, so what I ask, could she know of the needed structure I so desperately lacked. I deserved to be created into a ten story mansion, a tree house of great magnitude, even a Santa's workshop would have been acceptable, but how was I created, into what unseemly base construction? I'll tell you. A ONE story, yes O-N-E story house with a pitiful wrap around porch. I guess I should be grateful at least for the porch, even if it was poorly designed, but there were so many other grander homes being constructed around me, I yearned to be part of their creation. A church with stained glass windows, a home with solar panels and a palm tree, another with a chimney and a sign atop the roof with Santa and an arrow written out of red hots, but the most impressive was an igloo complete with penguins made from gummy drops and an Eskimo ice fishing made from tootsie rolls. My eyes roamed about envious of my kin who laughed in my direction. I didn't actually hear them laugh, but I knew what they thought of me, lamentable and inferior.

I was surprised how long I remained whole considering, but as soon as my delicate state greeted the humidity of San Antonio, I could feel my strength give way to the moisture. The car trip was miserable as the driver took each turn like a racecar and seemed to find every single pothole and bump in the road purposefully, just to mock my sad state. When we arrived to our destination, my creators aunt's house, my gumdrop doorway was falling, but worst of all, one of the side porches had taken the plunge. And my standing only deteriorated from their. It is always said of miserable situations that their intentions were good, but what use do we of "good intentions" if they end in slaughter. Yes, slaughter. And no I am not exaggerating. Her grandmother "accidentally" spilled tea on me and then "unintentionally" crushed me with her arm as she attempted to rescue the tea. What became of me? I was drenched and dejected. I had lasted as a whole and complete gingerbread house for an entire evening and met my fall the following day. I guess I should be grateful that I was created into a gingerbread house at all rather than ending my days in some sticky handed two year old's gut, but I can't say I'm not disappointed. Because as I said before, I was deemed for great things and my time has come and gone. And soon, as those greedy hands pick at me, I will diminish into nothingness, and only be remembered as the gingerbread house who could have been.

Jen's house (Santa, here's the chimney in case you can't see it!)

fisherman made of tootsie rolls

Do you see the tree? Or the solar panels?
The Church with stainglass windows and a very tall Heineken
Aaron and Laura, the cutest couple!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas has come and gone

Christmas has come and gone, and there are so many posts left unwritten I'm not sure even where to start to catch up. With each flustered day of scrambling to wrap that last present, flinging food together to make dishes (of food), dismantling our already disarrayed closets to pack for our year adventure, running around to visit with not all (unfortunately) but many of our friends before leaving, we have officially left San Antonio for the last time in probably a year. It was a bittersweet departure, as I was sad to leave my friends and family, but it would be an understatement to say that this moment has long been awaited.

My composure became unhinged towards the end from the many things juggling in my head pushing their way to the front for the most attention. Thank God for my husband who for some bizarre reason enjoys packing and relieved much of my stress. If it weren't for him, you might find me banging my head to the rhythm of "Little drummer boy" and running around screaming "Silent Night" like a banshee in an asylum for the insane. Seriously, how did I get so lucky to find someone who not only enjoys packing but in my humble opinion is a packing genius . He looks at it like a giant puzzle waiting to be solved. That man could pack a two ton elephant into a carry-on. Dishwasher, trunk, suitcase, he loves to pack them all and how I love him for it. My relationship with packing is dangerously volatile to say the least. Patience is typically not a friend I hang around with, and packing requires copious amounts of it. Luckily Patience is in love with Kyle, so between the three of us, we can get along with only a few terse words.

How was our Christmas?

It was a fabulous Christmas, and it's not even over yet.

Four Christmas meals later, I feel a bit like a beached whale moaning sad whale songs of a tummy ache. Yes, you read that correctly, FOUR Christmas meals:
1) Christmas Eve- we opened gifts AND had Christmas dinner. It is our tradition to open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve and have Santa gifts Christmas morning. But typically we have Christmas dinner on Christmas itself.

2)Christmas Day- Christmas with the Pennycooks (our second fam). Yummy

3) Christmas Day evening (after lots of packing)- we ate leftovers of the Grojean (our other second fam's) Christmas meal.

4)The 26th- With Kyle's mom's side of the family at the coast.

And we have one more Christmas event in Houston yet! But who except the Grinch gets tired of opening presents and eating yummy food.

Expect many back stories from this Christmas as there is much to share! Hope your holidays were as loved filled and plentiful as ours!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This is what Christmas is about

A friend of mine just sent me an article from a blog she was reading, and it moved me nearly to tears. It is an act of kindness which dominoed into something much bigger.

This is what life should be about, being kind to others, for no other reason except that we are from the same race, the human race. Sometimes it is hard to remember that we are all apart of the same place, because we walk around like individuals who have nothing in common with the person in line in front of us. But the truth is that we are all one, we are God's children, we are a part of Mother Earth. What would life be like if we treated strangers as if they were someone who deserved kindness just for being alive. Sometimes it is hard to remember that we are made up of the same elements, that we are the same people, just living in different locations of the same planet. When we are blowing each other up or disputing over health care, we are on this side, and they are on that other side, and that is that, as if we aren't really the same at all. But we are all under that big umbrella called humanity and this story below is a wonderful reminder of what a little kindness can accomplish. This is such a wonderful reminder of what the spirit of Christmas is about, not how many gifts are under the Christmas tree, but humans being kind and generous to one another in the spirit of love.

Last Saturday, Dec. 5th, something startling and wonderful happened at The Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond.

The 52-year-old landmark restaurant at 3356 Aramingo Ave. is open 24 hours a day, so it's always a-bustle. But the place really hops during weekend breakfast and lunch time. Last Saturday was no different, and both wings of the diner - the booth area and the bigger dining room - were lively.

The manager on duty, Linda (who asked that I not mention her last name here, for reasons I can't get into but let's just say everything worked out okay...), tells me that a couple in their 30s paid their check at the register, then asked the cashier to let them secretly pay the check of another couple in the dining room - a couple they didn't know.

"They just wanted to do it," she said. "They thought it would be a nice thing to do."

When the unsuspecting patrons went to pay their check, they were floored to find out that strangers had picked up their tab. So they asked the cashier to let them pay another table's check, also anonymously.

When that table's patrons approached the register, they, too, decided to pay the favor forward for yetanother table of unsuspecting strangers.

You know where this is going, right?

For two hours, delighted customer after delighted customer continued to pay the favor forward. And a buzz began to grow. Not among patrons, who had no inkling what was going down at the register, but among the dining-room wait staff - Marvin, Rosie, Jasmine and Lynn - and other Aramingo workers moving in and out of the room.

"We were amazed," says Linda, adding that neither she nor her staffers that day recognized any of the participating patrons as regulars. "Nobody knew each other. But once they found out someone paid their check, they got excited and wanted to do the same thing for another table."

The checks weren't huge, says Linda. They varied between about twelve bucks and $30 (many of the sneaky do-gooders even included tip money in the gift).

But the impact made an out-sized impression on the staff, who marveled at how that initial, single act of generosity kept repeating itself.

Says Linda, "In thirty years working here, I've never seen anything like it. You might have someone pick up a check for another table, but usually it's because they know them."

All in all, about 20 checks were "paid forward" (a term coined by author Catherine Ryan Hyde, whose 2000 book, Pay It Forward was made into an earnestly schmaltzy Hollywood movie).

The lovely cycle finally ended, two hours after it began, when a lone diner, clearly unacquainted with the "pay it forward" concept, seemed befuddled that someone had picked up his check. He simply accepted the favor, grunted, and left.

Notes Linda, "He didn't even leave a tip."

Which didn't diminish the day's sweetness, which has lingered among the Aramingo staff. Linda herself decided to pay the lesson forward a few days later, when she was standing in line at the Wawa.

"There was a cop behind me. I said to the guy at the register, 'See what's in his hands, and charge me and not him.' It was a cup of coffee. I told the guy not to tell the cop I paid for it. I didn't want it to look like a bribe."

The cop figured things out, though, and gave Linda a wave and a smile when he got outside, which made her feel good.

Says Linda, "It was a nice thing to be part of."

So, on the off-chance that the first pay-it-forward couple at the Aramingo Diner is reading this, please know that your gesture of kindness didn't end when you walked out the door.

It morphed into hours of additional kindnesses. And who knows what kindnesses those gestures prompted?

Maybe, when folks read this blog post, the cycle will rev up again - not necessarily at the Aramingo, but wherever readers are inspired to give to others, just for the fun of it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We've arrived

Last Thursday at 11 am, we rolled out of the driveway absolutely packed to the brim, and steered our car heading South towards home. Wherever that may be as we have been leading very nomadic lives of late, hardly ever sleeping in the same bed two nights in a row.

San Antonio, the home in which packing and the holiday runaround has already commenced:

Packing, screaming, wrapping, ripping, cutting, visiting and running around like a chicken without it's head are all of the activities we have in store for us this Christmas season.

Viva Christmas Bliss!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things I might not have mentioned....

After 2 weeks and some in West Texas with my grandmother, we have finally come to the end of a never ending string of doctors appointments. AND have an OKay to go to San Antonio! Yippee!! Which means, we will be crammed in the car tomorrow on the four hundred mile drive, with:
an oxygen machine (think big)
bags upon bags of our goodwill goodies
recycling that isn't accepted here in Lubbock
and enough oxygen tanks to create a crater here in Lubbock
not to mention people- we, including Grandmother, has to somehow fit in in or Toyota Camry

I might worry about not having enough air to breathe in the car with all of our stuff, but Grandmother has plenty of oxygen to go around.

I don't think I mentioned before on the blog, that Kyle and I drove to Lubbock to stay with Grandmother after she got out of the hospital. Our jobs: to help the patient out with whatever she needed done.

Grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the mounds of dishes we let pile up (until we didn't have any forks left).

Our official title is; chauffeurs with pizazz! Thank you very much!

But as of tomorrow, we are on Christmas break, and we are so excited to be going home. Many of our friends will be in town, and our time here in the states is quickly coming to an end. That's right folks, we have jobs in S. Korea. We will drive home, pack, have Christmas festivities with my Mom's side of the fam.
Drive to the coast.
Have Christmas festivities with Kyle's mom's side of the fam.
Drive to Houston
More Christmas festivities. We might look like Santa and Mrs. Claus by the time we leave Houston.

And then... (we leave on the 2nd of January!)

By the time we get to Houston, our heads (not to mention stomachs) will be so full of sugar plums and chocolate mint, I am not sure we will have room for any more Christmas delights.

What am I talking about, there is always room for more Christmas delight!

So Look out Christmas fun, here come the Rogers!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pillow talk

"Vanessa?" Kyle whispers to me sheepishly before going to sleep.
"hm?" I cooed, as I lazily switched my head position on my pillow to face my husband.
"Can we play my favorite game?" he grinned with that twinkle of hope in his eye.
"Fine, but only a few this time okay?" I insisted, smiling at his playfulness.
Okay!" he agreed, flipping over on his stomach, readying himself.

I laid my hand on his back, deep in thought. "What haven't I drawn lately?"

My first drawing, made with my fingernail on his bare back, was of an umbrella. It was an easily recognizable object. We had played a team game with my Korean children in which two teams played telephone, except that they had to draw pictures on each others back, and the first team to write the word on the board won the game. Umbrella was an object even the Korean kids could get. It took some hinting, such as a cloud with rain droplets, but he finally guessed the correct answer.

The second object, he suggested that I draw produce.
"Produce?" I inquired sceptically
"yeah, like fruit or veggies." he offered

I drew a beet.

He guessed bananas.

To be fair, I did draw the beet underground with leafage to indicate it's growth above ground (not that I have ever seen a beet in the ground, but that is what I imagined it to look like).

The third and final drawing was a snowflake.
"I have no idea." he admitted, holding his sleep- leaded eyelids open with much difficulty.
"Okay, hint: Its tiny, minuscule and white." I hinted
"Draw it again..." he managed to articulate. Drawing on his back is like a drug for Kyle. He just can't get enough, but it has the added effect of putting him to sleep like a milk drunk babe.
"There are no two alike. They are like fingerprints." I insisted

I drew four straight lines in the shape of a star.

"What is that?" I asked before continuing
"An egg?" he drawled sleepily.
"Sweetheart, an egg is round. And an egg is like a fingerprint?" I countered jokingly
"it's a snowflake!" I cried, giving up.

"Oh." He smiled "Goodnight. I love you."

And with that, he was out like a blown out candle flame.

You can see how one might get confused with a snowflake and an egg right?

Did I mention that I married a five year old?? But I can honestly say, life is never dull with Kyle around!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

9 years down, 90 more to go!

It's funny sometimes to think of just how long Vanessa and I have known each other. While we are both over 1/4 of a century old, it doesn't seem that long ago that we were making out in the costume closet at MacArthur High School. Time does go by so fast. Nine years ago on December 11th, Vanessa and I "officially" declared our romantic feelings for each other. That's really just a fancy way of saying we kissed for the first time (off stage) ;) Now I know that this may seem like a silly thing to celebrate but for us it represents something special and who doesn't like having an extra day a year to appriciate being with the one you love?

So this year to celebrate, Vanessa surprised me with tickets to see the Nutcracker. For most guys this would seem more like punishment but who here doesn't know that I'm a girly man? I actually enjoy ballet quite a bit and not just because of the sexy ballerinas. If you ask me, people who don't like ballet just don't pay much attention to the details. Have you ever stopped to watch their feet? Those girls are balancing on little blocks attached to their toes that are maybe 2 inches by 2 inches. INCREDIBLE! And I still get chills when I see people leaping through the air in ways that seem physically impossible. Now I have yet to see a rendition of the Nutcracker that portrays an even closely realistic sword fight between the cracker and the rat but at least there's a battle at all! If it were just the fru fru girly dances I think I might have a different opinion of it but as it is, I'd say the Nutcracker was pretty good for such a feminine work of art. Not to mention the fact that nothing makes a WASP Christmas more jolly than a night at the Nutcracker.

To top the evening off we went to Carino's and enjoyed a nostalgic Italiano dinner. Van and I frequently went there on dates while we were going to Tech. It's not exactly authentic but come on, it's Lubbock. Can't get to picky can we?

Anyways, I feel so privileged to have spent the past 9 years falling more in love with such an amazing person and I just wanted to share some of the mushy gushy with you all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


My husband more than myself, enjoys a trip to a thrift store. He loves the sorting, the scourging, the endless hours of finding nothing, only to find that one valuable item. For me, the search is tiring and usually a barren pursuit. The act of rummaging through old things proves only to pain my feet and lower back, rather than create a since of accomplishment when that small treasure has been found. But perhaps, I carried this despondent feeling with me because I had never found true treasure before. This time however, I followed the rainbow with a copious golden harvest at the end of the colorful arch. I have yet to sit down to calculate exactly what was excavated from the rubble of Goodwill, but $120 later, I feel like I have a new wardrobe! I left the musky smelling store floating on a cloud of euphoria. Although, I typically don't enjoy the chase of treasure, I DO LOVE a good deal, and with nothing over $5, I do believe I found some AMAZING deals; Dresses, skirts, spaghetti strap shirts, sweaters, cute tees, work out shirts, pajama pants and long sleeve shirts for work. Most of the clothes I purchased looked brand new. Some even still had tags still attached. I can't wait for my next trip to this gold chest Goodwill only found here in West Texas. I need to save up for our next trip.

I know that ya'll are dying to see what all what all we bought. So without further adieu, I bring you the Rogers Fashion show from Goodwill. (Keep in mind, this is only a sampling as we did not want to spend all day taking pictures of our new clothes)

The t-shirt with butterflies and the black mini sweater.

What a cute, simple summer dress!

The black poka-dot spaghetti strap and the pink sweater are perfect for spring.

What can I say, I love this dress.

This dress is more like a mu-mu, but it is soooo comfy.

Kyle calls these pants pirate pants, and although they are actually girl pj's we are keeping that a secret :)

Long sleeve work out shirt, sexy!

Work shirts are always a plus.

A new fleece, Yay!!

I hope you have enjoyed our fashion show, as much as we enjoyed the shopping. And if you ever find yourself in Lubbock, take thyself straight to the Goodwill, you wont regret it!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I married a five year old

An orange foreign object wizzes overhead, dangerously close to hitting me. I look around for the source of the dart and sigh. My husband is standing in the door way like an assailant ready for battle. His weapon, he grasps in his grimy hands and although its length is foreboding, at least two feet long, it is made of orange and blue plastic. His ammunition, orange nerf bullets. That's right, my twenty-five year old HUSBAND has a nerf gun, and if he likes you expect to be shot!

How did Kyle obtain a nerf gun you may ask? Was it an antique from our childhood? Sadly, the answer is no. He bought it recently as a early Christmas gift for himself.

Swiggle swiggle swiggle (enter the sounds of chimes as we travel to the past)

Walking through Walmart looking for a vacuum band for my grandmother's vacuum cleaner, I turn around and see no one standing near me. I inhale deeply grasping that I have lost my husband. His disappearance can only mean one thing; he has found the toy department. I cross my arms as he sheepishly runs towards me, smiling like a puppy who has just peed on the carpet but is acting overly sweet to mask the smell. Under his arm, is a box half my size.
"Please??!!" he pleads looking up at me in that adorable way he knows I can't say no to. But I am stronger than he has anticipated.
"Are we five now? Kyle, if you want that, ask for it for Christmas! We came to buy something for a vacuum cleaner, not a toy" I say determinedly crossing my arms to punctuate the point.
"But this is an awesome deal. I have been looking for these online, and this is $15 cheaper than any other I have found. Plus it has an extra barrel for when you run out of nerfs, so you don't have to stop and reload. Come on Vanessa. It will be an early Christmas present. You aren't going to find another deal like this!" he says as he walks towards the front of the store, grasping the box tightly, afraid I might tear it from his bear like grip.

What was I to say? I am weak and give in to so many of his whims. It must have been so difficult to say no to him as a child. His pleading smile is well practiced at melting the most ferocious heart to an icy puddle which can only respond with "yes."

As we were walking to the front, we saw a boy who couldn't have been older than seven carrying the same gun, mirroring the excitement worn on Kyle's face. Oh the irony.

After the first attack, it was determined (by my mom) that someone else must have a weapon to fight off the onslaught of orange nerf bullets effectively.

The first battle was between my mom and Kyle. When it ended, nerfs covered every inch of the house. I, however, will never erase the image of my mom carrying the blue and orange gun on the prowl to attack her son in law. Way to go MOM!

The next battle, was between my aunt Nancy and Kyle. This, however, was not a fair match, as Kyle has the skills of a lion stalking it's prey. He is as quiet as a slithering snake and as quick and accurate as a Cherokee warrior. Nancy on the other hand, laughed the entire time, giving away her position, and her shot... well, let's just say, she needs practice.

There were a few other battles in between, but the most epic of them all occured Thanksgiving day. Unbeknownst to me, Kyle had already purchased several nerf guns before my arrival back in the states. When I asked why he needed another one, his response was, "I wanted a better one." Arrggg... boys! Two others plus a blow gun emerged from the wreckage which is our garage. Thanksgiving day, we spent with my BFF's (Leslie's) family who we consider to be our family. The fight began originally between Leslie's cousin Bella and Kyle. (Do you see the pattern, they all start with Kyle, the pacifist.) Kyle's excuse for the beginnings of the war was that he only wanted to entertain Bella, who was eight and exhibiting boredom signs: it had nothing to do with his own five-year old attention span. Leslie's sister and friend entered the fight as well as Leslie and Leslie's husband. The war raged for over an hour upstairs, and down, behind the couch and between the banisters. In ever corner lay either a gun man or a collector (of nerfs for reloading). It was the war of wars , culminating in a battle between the sexes in which the better sex won. I don't need to explain which that is. It was one of the best Thanksgiving events of my lifetime and in my snow-globe of memories, that is one I will cradle carefully. Thank goodness for my five year old husband!

We exhausted QT with the battle. He looked on condescendingly!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Death by chocolate and pepermint

I typically cook from Cookinglight as I try to eat a healthy diet, however this Thanksgiving I found a recipe that called out to me in a way I just couldn't resist. "Vanessa," it said in a sweet innocent voice, "I'm worth it. Don't worry about the pounds of butter or piles upon piles of sugar, your tongue will thank me." And I gave in, but ya know what, it was worth it!

With a total of 1 1/2 cups of butter, 2 cups regular sugar, and an entire BOX of powdered sugar, and not one but TWO icings, this cake was NOT LIGHT; deadly might more accurately describe this chocolate mountain, but it was delicious.

If you find yourself needing some peppermint and chocolate that just might kill you, this is the recipe for you! Enjoy.

Prep: 30 min., Bake: 20 min., Chill: 1 hr.

Yield: Makes 2 (9-inch) tarts


  • 4 (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate baking squares
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil
  • 1 Chocolate Glaze
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes


Microwave chocolate squares in a microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 1 1/2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals until melted. Stir until smooth.

Beat 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.

Add flour, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in vanilla and chocolate morsels. Spread batter evenly into 2 greased and floured 9-inch tart pans with removable bottoms.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on wire racks.

Beat 1/2 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk, beating at low speed after each addition. Stir in peppermint oil.

Divide butter mixture between each tart, spreading evenly over cooled brownies in pans; cover and chill 1 hour or until firm. Divide Chocolate Glaze evenly between each tart, spreading over chilled butter mixture in pans. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candy around outer edge of each tart.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


By Ralph Waldo Emerson

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!"

I'm so very thankful to have my grandmother living and breathing in her home in Lubbock. My heart which was close to broken, has been frightfully reminded of the blessings that only grandparents can bestow. Thank you God for giving us more time to walk on this Earth together.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The treasures of a pantry

(Some of the fam and all of the dogs in their sweaters)

Imagine living 40 plus years in the same house. Imagine living through a time of such scarcity, no one threw anything away, and reusing wasn't just a ideal taught in schools, but a necessity. My grandmother lived during The Great Depression, in one of the most devastated areas of the country, the dust bowl. The dust bowl centered around the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma was despoiled by severe drought and extensive farming without crop rotation and other preventative erosion measures which led to dust storms and lack of food and work. People learned to live with what they had and took the phrase, "Waste not want not" to an elevated tier. Resourcefulness was imperative and what we might consider trash today found another use outside of the trash bin. My grandmother still lives by that motto today, and though we tease her for never throwing anything out, she never goes wanting because of her pervasive resourcefulness.

While grandmother was in the hospital, we did some clearing and cleaning. Now, it should be noted that immaculate housekeeping is not a gene any of us inherited. However, because of grandmothers resolve not to throw things out that might one day have another use, her pantry had become a cave for trolls. It was jerry-rigged with a light bulb hanging from a wire near the door, in a not so fashionable matter. One could only step inside the 10' x 7' pantry a mere foot before being detained by boxes, bags and trash bins. It's a wonder that she was ever able to get in without falling and breaking a hip. This pantry was so full of STUFF (stuff that u're family forgets (about)) that there was hardly any room for food. In fact BB, my aunt, said that until she left home after college, she had no idea a pantry was primarily used for food.

Interesting things found in grandmother's pantry included:

  • A desk piled high with at least 200 sheets of used aluminum foil (waiting to be used again another day)
  • I am unsure of the number as I didn't take the time to count but probably 150 used styrofoam containers.
  • Executive decision maker ball (precursor to the eight ball) (date unknown, but very old)
  • puke yellow measuring spoons and cups unopened from the 70's (We have now replaced her old measuring cups which were being held together with glue and rubber bands with the "new" ones from the 70's.
  • an unopened nail kit from the 70's with creepy smiling floating heads of a very suburban happy white family.
  • Tax returns from the 1960s. I think we can throw those out as the seven year mark has passed.
  • Deeds for land, one from 1910. (Those we are keeping)
  • George Buckett poster (kinda cool children's illustrator)
  • A huge stamp collection- even one stamp with "win the war 1944" on the front (Anyone know the value of those?)
  • My mom's psat scores ( I couldn't figure out her score though as the scoring has changed a great deal from when she took the test)
  • The most adorable Christmas card made with love from my mom to my grandmother as a child. On the front it was decorated with a glittering angel and inside a poem that attempts at rhyming, but just misses the mark,
"It's Christmas already and packages are wrapped I have the sweetest mama of the whole world on the map."
To some trash, other's invaluable treasure. (The aluminum foil and stryrofoam were in the trash or rather recycling pile) On our drive home, our entire back seat was filled with recycling which she had separated for us to take home to San Antonio, as Lubbock is lacking in a decent recycling program. And when I say our entire back seat, I mean that the review window was only just visible through a small opening in between the recycling bags.
I wish we had had the forethought to take a before picture of the troll cave also known as a pantry, however we didn't so all you have is the after picture. But if you imagine, every shelf filled to the brim with boxes of sytrofoam, aluminum foil and other treasures/trash with absolutely no floor space, you might start to get an idea.

The after pictures:

Happy homecoming Grandmother, a pantry used for food!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thinking about Christmas gifts?

Instead of giving a gift that might be thrown in the closet and forgotten, think about giving a donation to children in need in your friend or family member's name.

While we give thanks over our meals on Thursday, UNICEF field staff will be distributing supplies to help thousands of severely malnourished children, including:

  • innovative packets of nut spread, created specifically to help malnourished children;
  • high-protein biscuits that are easy to distribute to children in need; and
  • a formula of nutritious milk and vitamins that boosts children's chances of survival.

Malnutrition causes up to half of all preventable child deaths. My wish for this Thanksgiving is to give these children the supplies they need to survive until the next holiday.

Visit, where you can purchase lifesaving nutrition products to nourish the starving children of the world. We'll give you an eCard that you can use to dedicate your gift to a loved one.

Live Saving milk:

Giving a gift of lifesaving milk will help children in emergency feeding centers, refugee camps, and hospitals.

High Energy biscuits:

During emergencies, these high-energy biscuits can be quickly and easily distributed to children who desperately need the nutrition and vitamins.

Therapeutic nut-spread:

Your gift of therapeutic nut spread, a protein paste for malnourished children, can feed ten children for one month!

It's a gift of true love and humanity. Let's share the wealth.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Success! Yay Grandmother!

Friday evening: Grandmother asks a neighbor to take her to the emergency room. (She never complains which means she was in serious pain)

Saturday: Aunt Nancy drives up to Lubbock in a frenzy. Grandmother has to have a blood transfusion, and she has continuous struggles breathing even with an oxygen mask.

Sunday evening: Grandmother is placed on a ventilator. We pack our bags in a haze for the 7 hour trip to Lubbock from San Antonio.

Monday: (As we are on the road) We are told grandmother may not make it through the day. Silence occupied our car for what seemed a lifetime as we listen to the mad flutterings of our afflicted and grieving hearts. We arrive to the hospital to find grandmother in a hospital beds with an uncountable amount of tubes going in and around her entire body. She looks at us, and squeezes our hand with the strength of someone who has the will to live. She writes in my palm with her forefinger three meaningful words, "I love you." The tears, already hiding behind my lashes pushed to surface, but I held them back as I told her that I loved her too. It was hard seeing one of the strongest women I have ever known, and one of my greatest role models in that bed in such pain, but she was much stronger than I had expected considering they had given her a 10 percent chance to live through the day. Optimism crept in for the first time all day.

Tuesday: She grew stronger.

Wednesday: She gave us orders to clean the house, and shampoo the carpets. We were ecstatic. If she was giving orders, she was on the mend.

Friday: She asked, "When do I get eat?" (When people are on the ventilator they have to be tube fed, which also has a tendency to cause diarrhea. Lovely eh? Not only does she have tubes shoved down her throat preventing her from verbal communication, but it also can cause more unpleasantness.) She also gave a belly laugh at one of our stories. I think it was the story about Kyle and his nerf gun. Look out for that post.

Saturday: An attempt was made to take out the ventilator, but it was unsuccessful. The doctor wouldn't say she was in the clear until the ventilator was successfully removed. We were all biting our nails with anxiety.

Sunday: The ventilator was successfully removed after they cleared her lungs of excess mucus. Hallelujah and Thank you God! We are so thankful that grandmother who was on the death's doorstep has now been pronounced "in the clear." Thank you all for your words of encouragements, thoughts and prayers. It was most definitely appreciated.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Update from the Hen House

First and foremost, Grandmother is miraculously on the mend. We're not in the clear just yet but the numbers are getting better day by day. Thank you all for the prayers and please keep them coming.

Now then, as Vanessa said earlier, the Sanders women have something of a reputation for being particularly...determined and...assertive. Some of those who are none the wiser might say stubborn and bossy however, I have seen first hand what happens to those men who brave those risky waters. Let's just say, nearly none are left to tell the tales. Seriously. Now consider that the past three days, I have been with 4 very determined and assertive Sanders women and one particularly feisty apple that didn't fall far from the Sanders tree. Now in all fairness, Grandmother has every right to be ordering people around, whether she's in the hospital or not and as Vanessa pointed out earlier she's on the mend and tossing out orders. She's truly an amazing woman. The other Sanders women certainly haven't failed to take the opportunity to get some things done around Grandmother's house that have been needing it for a while . Their approach to this however, has truly been an intriguing and novel approach to me.

Exhibit A; Betty Bob who is vacuuming nearly the entire house says to Sharon who is walking around doing an amazing job of supervising, "Sharon, will you move that chair out of the way?"
Sharon replies, "I'm gonna complain!"
Nancy chimes in, "What else is new!?"
And the chair gets moved.

Exhibit B; After dinner, while we are all sitting around the table discussing the day, there's a lag in the conversation and the time to clean has come. Sharon says, "No wash, no rinse, no dry!"
Betty Bob responds, "Well you can't go pretend to practice piano anymore cause there isn't one around!"
And the dishes get washed.
Sidenote; Sharon really did used to practice piano just to get out of doing chores. She admits it now, rather proudly I might add.

Now I have to say, it's been quite nice to feel useful lately. It's not often that I have 4 different tasks being "requested" of me at once and the progress being made around here really is inspiring. Furthermore, we haven't turned the TV on once and yet, I feel like I have had all the entertainment I need just listening to the bickeri....I mean conversations these Sanders women have. More than once, it's been pointed out to the nurses attending Mary Jo that she's not a complainer so asking her if she want's some Tylenol for the pain is like asking a polar bear if it wants more ice. It just won't make sense to the polar bear. Neither does it to Mary Jo. So without going into details, while her children have inherited so many of her good traits, they also differ from her in some ways. For every complaint Mary Jo chooses not to voice, her loving daughters are more than happy to pitch in 3 and toss in a few of their own! The thing about this that I find very interesting is while most groups accomplish tasks by having one person delegate and the rest following the orders, the Sanders hen house functions by having 4 delegators and one man to follow the orders! Ingenious!

Truth be told, everyone has been doing their part and we have truly been making some huge strides in getting Grandmother's house in order. If things keep going the way they've been, we will have a wonderfully clean and organized house for Grandmother to come home to. I just hope I'm still around when it's all done : \

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Update on my grandmother

On our drive to Lubbock yesterday, we were told Grandmother might not make it through the day. She originally went to the hospital because she was struggling to breath and had serious loss of blood. Even with an oxygen mask, her lungs weren't getting enough oxygen. Sunday evening they put her on a ventilator and Monday morning, we weren't sure she was going to come back enough to join the land of the living. However, when we arrived Monday evening, it was reported that she was doing significantly better. She was fully conscious and aware, even responding to questions with nods or shakes of her head. (She can't speak with the tubes in her mouth) She isn't out of the woods yet, but two messages she wrote to us, made us all feel as if she were getting back to her old self. The messages were:
" You need to shampoo the carpets."


"The dishwasher isn't working"

And as the women in my family are commonly referred to as "Those bossy Sanders women" the fact that her bossiness is returning, is an excellent sign.

Of course your prayers are still incredibly appreciated, but we are feeling increasingly optimistic. Thank you for your continuous thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Please keep my grandmother in your prayers. She is currently in the hospital. We don't know many details, but she is intensive care. We are driving to Lubbock tomorrow and I don't know how long we will stay. Your prayers will be most welcome. Thank you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Finale of "THE UTAH TRIP"

I am a terrible blogger, keeping you all in suspense for so many days, waiting on pins and needles to hear the end of our magnificent trip to Utah, but we have been oh so busy. I have been working for that non profit I was mentioning before, Music in the Schools, and Kyle has been running errands, cleaning house, doing everyones bidding, and just playing the perfect little house hubby. AND we just got back from Fredricksburg visiting some new friends. It was lovely, and oh so Christmasy, with lights and wreaths, a camp fire, and even a cool breeze to give the illusion of some type of cold weather in fall. All of the above is to make a pitiful excuse for why I have kept you waiting an unjustifiable and torturesome amount of time. I might as well have prodded under your fingernails with pins, the suspense must have been such a torture. At any rate, you can rest easy now, as the legendary story is to come to it's end.

Where were we... ah yes, I believe we were at Friday and taking a nap, a much needed and well deserved nap if I remember correctly as all naps are.

  • THE BEEHIVE HOUSE! Beehive house, Brigham Young's estate. Brigham Young was one of the founders of Salt Lake City, and as Ida Mae pointed out, had a very large family, 50 wives and 56 children to be exact. His house, or mansion, what have you, is called the Beehive house because deseret, which is a name coming from the book of Mormon which was said to be translated from a language similar to ancient Egyptian supposedly means swarm of bees. The house was beautiful and had many furnishings imported from France and other far away countries. In one room, the price of the curtains was listed as $37/yrd. That is an outrageous price today- in the 1800s, that would be equivalent to royalty I would imagine. Another question we had, which wasn't answered on our tour was how this man, who was said to have been so poor that he had to borrow a pair of shoes to come to Salt Lake City in the pilgrimage gain so much wealth? Anyone know?

The wedding dress one of the daughters made for her wedding.
  • Which was then followed by a riveting game of pictionary, boys against women. And of course we women showed those men folk who could draw and guess more accurately. Alright, alright, that's not the truth, in fact it might even be a blatant lie, but it was rigged I tell you. Sorcery was used, I am sure of it! :) Because everyone knows, women are better at everything.
  • Hiking in the mountain surrounding Salt Lake City was absolutely breathtaking. I love the outdoors and feeling the sense of oneness with the Earth. When much of our time is spent in suburbia with cell phones and televisions, it is easy to forget the majesty of the Earth's wonders, and many blessings.

  • We hiked to the SUMMIT, or what we decided was our lunching destination and then decided summit as the real summit was too far.
  • Snow, snow, what a foreign thing this white stuff on the mountain side was for us Texans. And by our behavior, one might have thought we had never seen snow before. Unfortunately the snow was hard, not soft and fluffy, so snowballs were more painful, and our shoes weren't waterproof, leaving our socks damp from our playfulness.
  • And then to Park City- the famous skiing enthusiast resort town. With a population of aprox. 7,000 and is considered part of the greater Salt Lake City area, often has more tourists than permanent residence at any given time. Shopping and din din were on the menu before we headed back for a riveting game of Apples to Apples in which Leslie won hands down and Jennifer participated by spouting out random comments from her dream state on the couch.

  • Breakfast with another friend who currently resides in Salt Lake City whom I met in Italy and last saw in Korea when she was visiting a friend. Small world ain't it? Anywho, it was wonderful to see her and catch up over Salmon eggs Benedict (which wasn't so fabulous).
  • Tea/coffee houses was difficult to find on a Sunday in Salt Lake, but eventually we located one, and sat down for a lovely fall afternoon chat.
  • And then, it was time to say our goodbyes, which is the least fun part of vacation. I have such love in my heart for these friends and without their friendship, my life would be greatly lacking.