January 31, 2009

Yes, She's Alive!






















Jeni spent quite a while last night looking through our blog and wanted me to reassure everyone that though she's not pictured as much as my recipes or everyone else, she is alive. She is at most of these functions and very much a part of all our lives. Sorry Jen!

January 28, 2009

Quote 26

I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion - which raises its head in every temptation - that there is something else than God - some other country... into which He forbids us to trespass - some kind of delight which He 'doesn't appreciate' or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn't there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as He can, or else a false picture of what He is trying to give us - a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing. Therefore God does really in a sense contain evil - ie, contains what is the real motive power behind all our evil desires. He knows what we want, even in our vilest acts: he is longing to give it to us. He is not looking on from the outside at some new 'taste' or 'separate desire of our own'. Only because he has laid up real goods for us to desire are we able to go wrong by snatching at them in greedy, misdirected ways. The truth is that evil is not a real thing at all, like God. It is simply good spoiled. That is why I say there can be good without evil, but no evil without good. You know what the biologists mean by a parasite - an animal that lives on another animal. Evil is a parasite. It is there only because good is there for it to spoil and confuse.

C.S. Lewis, Yours, Jack, p. 41

January 26, 2009

Mirror, Mirror

















I love seeing a mother's inspiration at work. There is something so comforting and motivating to me about it. Countless times in our marriage Jeni has followed her feelings, even when I or others or the world would have gone a different direction. And every time, without exception, blessings have come as a result. I am continually amazed by her gift which comes because of who she is and because she is a mother.

Several years ago, Monte J. Brough gave a devotional at BYU and described this "woman's intuition" much better than I can. He said:

"I have always considered myself a very logical, deductive person. When Sister Brough and I were first married, we were adjusting to each other’s decision-making method. I would go through the process of explaining a logical conclusion. She often would say, “But I just don’t feel that way.” “Feel?” I responded, “What does feel have to do with this?” I would then again explain the logic leading to the decision I favored. Now, years later, I have learned that if Sister Brough has a feeling about something, I have that same feeling. I believe that there really is a special women’s intuition—for which I have enormous confidence." (I Know What I Know, Monte J. Brough, BYU Devotional, May 18, 2004)

This morning as went into the kids' bathroom, I saw, written on the mirror in green pen, motivational messages that were personal and exactly what they needed to hear. The mirror was full of her inspired words and I found myself marveling at how in tune to the Spirit she is, always, and how grateful I am to stand by her side. In a world that beats down upon us and tells us we are never good enough, it is a wonderful blessing to have a righteous woman in the home, grounded and faithful, helping raise, nurture, guide and protect.

January 24, 2009

The UFO

One of our first stops on our trip to Las Vegas was the magic shop for Joey. Ever since he was little he's loved to do magic as you can see by his excitement over getting a magic set for his 6th birthday!































The enthusiasm has never waned. After seeing "The UFO" floating card trick performed in Vegas, he knew that this was one for his collection. With a little bit of practice, he's actually gotten pretty good at it. See for yourself!

video

January 22, 2009

Finsanity

As you may recall from previous posts, our kids' last experience with individual pets ended with a neglected, unsanitary guinea pig and dead fish, gooey water and moldy aquarium parts. You may wonder then why the parents would give in to their kids' persistent desires for new pets, namely fish. Maybe it has something to do with their adamant promises to take care of them this time and to do whatever it takes for their comfort, safety and well-being. Or maybe the parents have lost all ability to make rational decisions. At least Jeni made a deal with Joey that he wasn't getting any fish worth more than $1.00 until he proves he can keep his $0.10 Goldfish alive for at least a week. The countdown has begun.

Maddy's fish is the purple Beta named King Henry. Joey's goldfish are named Fish 1, Fish 2, Fish 3, Fish 4 and Cuddly Flame.


















January 20, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

















Our kids had a four day holiday this past weekend so Jeni and I decided to make the best of it by taking a last minute, whirlwind vacation to Las Vegas. We had a great time shopping, eating and seeing a few shows. Here is our top 10 list of memories:

1. Eating at Cheesecake Factory - nothing beats their Miso Salmon. Nothing. In fact, I not only finished mine but helped Maddy finish hers. See my previous post about this amazing dish.

2. Eating at Grand Lux Cafe - one of our favorites from our days in Houston. This was the original at the Venetian. Jeni gets the Herb Roasted Chicken and I get the Santa Barbara chicken sandwich every time.

















3. Seeing Vegas' version of "Phantom of the Opera" - Jeni, who has seen the Broadway version several times, prefers this version as the theater was custom made just for this show. From the falling chandelier to the incredible special effects, this was a memory for sure.

4. M&M factory - Every trip to Vegas includes a quick stop here to buy some M&M's from their colorful wall display as well as seeing the 3-D movie.






















5. Being called up on stage as part of Nathan Burton's magic show - Joey loves magic so I took him to this family friendly 1 hour show and ended up as part of it. Very embarrasing, I had to wear a clown mask, blow up balloons and then pop them with my rear. At least I got a free DVD out of it.

















6. Shopping at the Miracle Mile, Home decor and outlet stores - Jeni and Maddy's favorite, not neccesarily Joey and mine but we were good sports (I hope).

7. Dinner at Lombardi's - Great Italian restaurant in the Miracle Mile shopping center. I tasted Truffles for the first time as part of my Risotto with Parmesan and Truffles dish. Wow!

8. Joey's new floating card trick - Joey couldn't resist this one and mastered it pretty quickly.






















9. Ice cream at Ben & Jerry's - need I say more? I have no idea where Joey gets these faces.

















10. Backwards dinner - One night we sat down to eat at a restaurant and realized that the menu wasn't very appealing. The waitress had already brought bread and drinks, so...quick solution. We ordered dessert and then moved on to another restaurant for dinner and then an appetizer. I'd like to continue that tradition, at least the "dessert first" portion.

January 13, 2009

BYU vs. TCU

















Tonight I took Joey to the BYU basketball game against TCU - the first time either of us had been to a game at the Marriott Center. We went with Kara and Todd and had a good time, especially with BYU winning by 12. The highlight of the night though came during one of the t-shirt throws. A shirt came flying right at Joey and landed at his feet but the man next to us grabbed it for his son before Joey could get his hands on it. Unfortunately, he also smacked Joey's head with his own in the scramble. Thank heaven for the Dippin' Dots stand just around the corner which made up for the trauma!

















January 09, 2009

Oral Surgery














It must be in the genes. When Maddy was just 5, she underwent major oral surgery to remove several teeth and replace them with "silvers." For some reason the majority of her baby teeth were rotting out. Yes, she brushed her teeth and no, we weren't leaving her with juice or pop in her bottle at night. It just happened. There's something that tears at your heart when you're watching the anesthesioligist place a mask over your 5 year old's face to put her to sleep and the mask has a picture of Minnie Mouse on it. We learned several lessons about the importance of faith, hope and having sufficient dental insurance.

Today Joey went under the knife also, thankfully though for a more minor procedure. One of Joey's incisors was stuck in his gums and was struggling to break through. So, the oral surgeon sliced into the gums to expose the tooth and give it a path to come through. One of Joey's other teeth was coming in at an angle and if we didn't get this incisor out, the other tooth may have grown into it's root, dissolving it and causing the incisor to fall out. Can you say "implant?" Not something we want our 11 year old to have to deal with.

Being by Joey today brought back many of the emotions I had standing by Maddy's side those many years ago, feeling completely helpless, a little scared, and incredibly proud of my child knowing that I would be a nervous wreck if it was me in their place. I don't do well in these kinds of situations as I have a deathly fear of knives, blood, and surgeons starting before the anesthesia has kicked in (more on this another time).

Take one Doctor out of the picture above and you've got a snapshot of today's event. Joey's face was covered, he was draped in blankets and all I could see was his nose and mouth sticking out. Thankfully Joey did great, was very brave and even ended up at school before the day was over. Like son, unlike father.

January 04, 2009

Quote 25

What we call hindrances are really the raw material of spiritual life. As if the fire should call the coal a hindrance! One can imagine a little young fire, which had been getting on nicely with the sticks and paper, regarding it as a mere cruelty when the big lumps were put on: never dreaming what a huge steady glow, haw far surpassing its present crackling infancy, the Tender of the Fire designed when he stoked it.

C.S. Lewis, Yours, Jack, p. 20

January 03, 2009

Fancy Pants Dinner
















Tonight we started a new, New Years tradition with our first annual Fancy Pants dinner party. There were 12 of us total - Jeni and me, Bob and Carin, Steve and Kim, Kara and Todd, Spencer and Tiffany, and Kelly and Jeanice. I made an 8 course meal which lasted almost 3 hours, and one of the conditions of attendance was that everyone had to wear their fanciest pants. The invitation is above and the menu is below. Everything was made from scratch. No pictures this time though - I was too busy in the kitchen!

1. Brie en Croute
2. Buttermilk Blue Wedge Salad
3. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Pecan Butter
4. Tomato and Asparagus Risotto
5. Honey and Lavender Sorbet
6. New York Steak
7. Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic
8. Chocolate Truffle Torte with Raspberry Coulis

January 02, 2009

New Years Bowling






















Yesterday I took Maddy, Joey and Steve bowling in Payson. We bowled two games and the kids did pretty well considering it had been almost a year since we had gone. Maddy had two strikes and Joey had the same, almost scoring a Turkey in game one. Steve had the highest one game score of 150 and I had the highest average for both games at 125. Not the highest scores ever, but I can't imagine how low they would have been without the bumpers!

































January 01, 2009

4th Annual Eggnogathon

















The tradition continues! Last night we had our friends the Woodbreys, Steve and his friend Kim, Todd and Kara and Spencer and Tiffany over for New Year's Eve. Bob and Carin stopped by for a little bit too. It was a fun night with some games and food and next to the countdown to 2009, the highlight of the evening was our 4th annual Egnnogathon. I blogged last year about how Kelly and I squared off and called a truce after one quart each. This year, we changed the rules a little bit so that we could enjoy the food also. We decided to split the competition into two phases.

Phase 1 - The Eggnog Chug - Who could drink 2 cups of eggnog the fastest. Kelly cleaned up on that one, finishing before most of us were even halfway through. I came in a distant 3rd out of 5.

Phase 2 - The Eggnogathon - Who could continue to drink the most eggnog after the chug. I am happy to report I won this one, hands-down. In fact, I was the only one of the 3 that played this phase that did NOT throw up within the next 30 minutes, the 30 minutes after that, and then the 30 minutes after that. For the sake of keeping the dignity of those who DID throw up, I will not mention their names here. You know who you are. Thankfully we were all still able to enjoy the rest of the evening playing games and joking about it.

The "Nutrition Facts" count was high also. My winning total was 1900 calories, 90 fat grams, 600 mg of cholesterol and 220 carbs. Healthy? Not even close. A fun memory? Yes, and thankfully one that gets repeated only once a year. I figure if I don't eat anything today, all those nutrition counts will even themselves out.