Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Confessions of Reality TV

Confession time...

For whatever reason, I think Tori Spelling is adorable!

What has prompted this soul-bearing confession?  Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood the new season premiered last night and I just have to admit it... I have NO IDEA WHY, but I really like watching Tori Spelling and her family.

 There is no logical explanation for this -- I never followed the career of her dad, Aaron Spelling, I have never seen a full episode of Beverly Hills 90210 -- I did love the Tori Spelling Saved By The Bell episodes, but I have to admit it is only in the last 3 years, I realized it was Tori who played Violette Bickerstaff.

 Last night, the channel aired previous episodes of Tori and Dean leading up to the new season's premier, and I further have to confess that now that I'm married, I love the show even more.  I have such a better appreciation for Tori and Dean's marital dynamics... and I think there are things I can learn from them.

The crazy thing is, I could probably list on one hand the number of things I have in common with Tori Spelling, but ever since grad school in Nashville, I have found her -- through her reality shop (and yes, her books) to be so relatable.

 Everyone has a guilty pleasure... and for whatever reason, Tori Spelling is one of mine.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Productive Evening

I had a very productive evening last night... I ordered our Christmas Cards...
and since I had figured out how to use the website... I ordered my parents' Christmas cards too.  :-D

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.
This is my first year of sending out a picture Christmas card and I am SO excited about it!  Something tells me this is just the first of many pictures cards Chris and I will send out as our family changes over the many years.
This thought really excites me as my parents sent out a picture Christmas card every year of my childhood... it is what families do in my mind -- and Chris and I are now a family.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

We Are So Blessed!!!

We have had a WONDERFUL and BLESSED Thanksgiving with so many loved ones.

We do not take these moments with so many loved ones for granted

Even our animals were with us

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Go Michigan!

This time with family surrounding Thanksgiving has been wonderful.  :-D

Yesterday involved family members skiing for the first time -- and skiing Vail mountain for the first time and we had a great time.

Also, last night we enjoyed a Sanden family tradition of watching PILLOW TALK the movie.  This is such an good, old movie with good values and a hilarious plot.  It was fun to introduce this movie to the Miller clan.


We are all cheering hard for University of Michigan in this, the final game of the regular season.

Chris and I have all the siblings clad in Michigan gear!
I feel so blessed to be a part of this family

How are you enjoying this post-Thanksgiving weekend?

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!


Our Thanksgiving will not look like the one in the Norman Rockwell painting above, but hopefully it will be our own version of family happiness.

God bless you!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

I haven't mentioned it before, but the little house that Chris and I rent was built in 1926 (I'm almost certain, that's the year...).  We LOVE renting this little old house with so much character and we are also very glad we do not own this little old house (as anything built in 1926 will have its quirks).

When Chris and I first moved in, I cleaned the house from top to bottom -- light fixtures, floor boards, ceiling fans, shelving so high they had not been used or cleaned in years, top of cupboards, inside storage cupboards, draperies... it was a regular old-fashioned spring cleaning at the beginning of August.  The entire time I was cleaning, and my arms were getting more and more of a workout and I went slowly but surely from room to room, I kept thinking about the many generations of women who have cleaned this house ahead of me.

In the cleaning process, I began wondering about the new brides (like myself) who have learned about marriage in this house; I began wondering how many young couples have lived here?  How many young parents have lived here?  How many babies were welcomed home to this little house?  How many sons or husbands left for war from this house?  How many sons or husbands were welcomed home from this house?  How many women learned how to cook in our kitchen?  How many five-year-olds were sent off to their first day of kindergarten from this house?... and the curiosity continued...

As I lay in bed tonight (Tuesday night) and think about my day tomorrow... think about the many pies and dishes I'll be cooking tomorrow and the more dishes we'll be cooking on Thursday, I am again filled with thoughts of the women who have gone before me in this house.  How many Thanksgivings has this house seen?  How many large family gatherings have occurred here, like ours will be?  How many small family gatherings of just a few people have happened here?  How many young wives have hosted their FIRST EVER holiday meal for parents and in-laws in this house?  How many older wives have hosted innumerable holiday meals here?  How many women have known this kitchen and had the holiday meal routine down to a science (the way my mom has it down to a science in her kitchen in Michigan)?

Tonight, as I think about the cooking and upcoming Thanksgiving meal, it is not only the shoulders of the other wives in this house, which I stand upon.  Even more than my curiosity about the previous wives in this house, I think about my amazing female predecessors who have hosted more Thanksgiving meals and fed more family members than I could even dream of serving.

The only female relative I have observed fixing holiday meals is my mother -- but she embraced the traditions, the recipes and the holiday hostessing of both sides of the women in my family tree.  My mother's mother taught her everything she knows about cooking, baking and feeding an army... and she died when my mother was 16 years old.  Most of my mother's delicious recipes come from my mother's mother... including the pie crust recipe I made with my mom for the first time this Thanksgiving and will become homemade pies tomorrow.

My father's mother was old enough to be my mother's grandmother and my mom respected and embraced all that my father's mother had to share and teach.  It was my father's mother who taught my mom that you can set your dining room table days in advance so you're not running around at the last minute.  My father's mother also taught my mother how to make her famous cranberry sorbet... a recipe I made this year for the first time and will be served at Chris and my Thanksgiving table.

As I begin the marathon of cooking in the next 36 hours, I stand on the shoulders of giants -- gentle, motherly, strong, beautiful, wifely, women giants.  Giants that share my blood... giants that have shared my house... giants with whom I share recipes... giants from whom I hope to draw strength... and giants from whom I hope to learn.

Rest assured, I will not be cooking alone.  My hubby loves to cook and so we have divided the work load and we'll be sharing the kitchen.  It will be the first time either Chris or I... and especially the first time that we have both cooked a big holiday meal for 9 people, including both of our parents, and both of our in-laws.  The entire group will include two mothers (aka two-mothers-in-law), two fathers (aka two fathers-in-law), one sister, one brother-in-law, one brother, one Brooke, one Chris, one kitty, one puppy, one turduckin (more on this later) and a partridge in a pear tree.

I am praying for a day filled with love and laughter and an easy-going-nature in myself to cope with the unexpected, laugh at my cooking mistakes and welcome others into our home and our kitchen.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's America!

I went skiing yesterday -- the first day skiing of the season and it felt WONDERFUL!

Vail is where I grew up.  Not officially, as I grew up in Michigan, but we came to Vail EVERY YEAR and we VACATIONED here every year.

Vail is a place where my family has always related in a different way than we do anywhere else.  This is a special place for us and I felt all of that today on the mountain.

The first day of skiing is not always great -- not many runs are open and the snow is not great... but when I'm on skis for the first time in seven months and it feels WONDERFUL.

As I was skiing, I was listening to music, and "It's America" came on my ipod.  What a perfect song for the week of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is such an American holiday.  A celebration of American work ethic, American faith, American family, American tenacity, American strength, American love, and American values.  I found special meaning listening to this song the week of Thanksgiving.


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Images of the Weekend with Mom and Dad

This past weekend was wonderful.
My parents arrived from Michigan and it was their first time visiting Hubby and me in our first house together as husband and wife.  It was a wonderful, wonderful weekend of productivity and relaxing, of parents and animals, of football and fun.

Enjoy the pictures I snapped on my phone (so poor quality) -- my hubby had the camera because he was hunting and hoped to get pictures of a great elk for our Thanksgiving table, but the only picture I've seen so far was this one snapped on his phone:

Here are images of our weekend.  It was such a precious time!
Lloyd exploring snow for the first time!
I made home-made Chili for lunch!
Great for a snowy day of football

I am loving our dish-warmer as the weather is colder
Daddy having coffee, petting Lexie and Lloyd is jealous!
I made my grandmother's recipe for Cranberry Sorbet
that is now in the freezer until Thanksgiving dinner.
Our China Cabinet is now a well-stocked bar -- not
that Chris and I are big drinkers, but we want to be
able to accommodate our guests.
Lexie and Lloyd remain at odds, as so aptly captured here
Mom relaxing on her computer at our dining room table
I saw Lexie more this weekend than I have in weeks...
she was really happy to see her "Gammy and Papa"
Here my hubby hunter is in from a snowy day,
and I am in comfy, relaxing, Saturday, football clothes!
My Momma with Chris!
Snow covering outside and we were cozy inside!
What a sweetheart!
Lloyd has his toy at my dad's feet.
My parents relaxing with Lexie on their laps
(really hard to see)
How was your weekend?

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ready, Set, RELAX!

 Today begins a nine day vacation full of family, football, food, skiing, entertaining, hosting, cooking, dishes, laughter (we hope), love, and memories.

I am so excited that this week is over, but truth-be-told, I am still completely wound up.  I went from work-mode today to flying home for last minute cleaning and cooking I wanted to get done before my parents arrived... my parents arrived and hardly settled in when another dinner guest arrived, who met with my parents before dinner on a matter of business -- I half listened and half worked on getting dinner ready.

We had a lovely dinner, and I did the dishes, cleaned up the kitchen and am now telling myself "its time to crash" -- it's just hard to crash on cue when I've seriously been running on MODE CRAZY and MODE NOT-A-MOMENT-TO-SPARE for the past seven days.

Even now (written Friday night), I have a HORRIBLE migraine that I've been fighting all day, but I'm having a hard time laying down and trying to sleep.

I'm hoping tomorrow the real relaxing will kick in around about the time of the Michigan v. Nebraska game.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Decision Points: Thanksgiving Surprise

I really enjoyed listening to President Bush's book, Decision Points, which I finished a few weeks ago.

I have found it fascinating to hear another side of news stories that I lived and heard the "news" version of the stories and the information open to the public.

My favorite part of the book was when President Bush shared the story about his going to visit the troops in Baghdad for Thanksgiving 2003.  Baghdad was a war zone and President Bush made the trip with only a few people knowing... only a few people in the world knew he was making this trip.  He told his wife, Mrs. Bush, a few weeks beforehand, and his daughters 30 minutes before he left.

The plan was if ANY information about the trip leaked, they would abort the trip.

I found two youtube clips about the trip:

Part 1

Part 2

What I WANTED to find was a video of the surprise as President Bush appeared to the troops, but I will have to settle for sharing the dialogue from the book.  Enjoy President's Bush account of the arrival, visit and departure in Baghdad, Thanksgiving 2003 as written in Decision Points, pp. 265-266:


With the sun dropping on the horizon, I could make out the minarets of the Baghdad skyline.  The city seemed so serene from above.  But we were concerned about surface-to-air missles on the ground.  While Joe Hagin assured us the military had cleared a wide perimeter around Baghdad International Airport, the mood aboard the plane was anxious.  As we descended in a corkscrew pattern with the shades drawn, some staffers joined together in a prayer session.  At the last moment, Colonel Tillman leveled out the place and kissed the runway, no sweat.
Waiting for me at the airport were Jerry Bremer and General Ricardo Sanchez, the senior ground commander in Iraq.  "Welcome to a free Iraq," Jerry said.

We went to the mess hall, where six hundred troops had gathered for a Thanksgiving mean.  Jerry was supposed to be the guest of honor.  He told the troops he had a holiday message from the president.  "Let's see if we've got anybody more senior here...," he said.

That was my cue.  I walked out from behind a curtain and onto the stage of the packed hall.  Many of the stunned troops hesitated for a split second, then let out deafening whoops and hooahs.  Some had tears running down their faces.  I was swept up by the emotion.  These were the souls who just eight months earlier had liberated Iraq on my orders.  Many had seen combat.  Some had seen friends perish.  I took a deep breath and said, "I bring a message on behalf of America.  We thank you for your service, we're proud of you, and America stands solidly behind you."

After the speech, I had dinner with the troops and moved to a side room to meet with four members of the Governing Council, the mayor of Baghdad, and members of the city council.  One woman, the director of a maternity hospital, told me how women had more opportunities now than they had ever dreamed about under Saddam (Hussien).  I knew Iraq still faced big problems, but the trip reinforced my faith that they could be overcome.

The most dangerous part left was the takeoff from Baghdad.  We were told to keep all lights out and maintain total telephone silence until we hit ten thousand feet.  I was still on an emotional high.  But the exhilaration of the moment was replaced by an eerie feeling of uncertainty as we blasted off the ground and climbed silently through the night.

After a few tense minutes, we reached a safe altitude.  I called one of the operators on the plane and asked him to connect me with Laura.  "Where are you?" she asked.  "I am on the way home," I said.  "Tell the girls all is well."

She sounded relieved.  It turns out she'd had a little mix-up with the timing.  She couldn't remember whether I said I would be in the air at 10:00 a.m. or noon.  At 10:15, she had called a Secret Service agent at the ranch and asked if he had heard from President Bush.  "Let me check," the agent said.

A few seconds passed.  "Yes, ma'am," he replied.  "The are ninety minutes away."

She realized he was talking about Mother and Dad, who were on their way to spend Thanksgiving with us.  "No, I mean my George," she said.  The agent paused.  "Well, ma'am," he said, "we show he is in the ranch house."

Secrecy was so tight that the agents on the ranch were still unaware that I had slipped away for the most thrilling trip of my presidency.


Leading into this week before Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for those who protect our country near and far, especially when it means sacrificing holidays with their families.  I am also thankful for those who lead them.

What a Thanksgiving gift!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

As of Late: November

Wow... third Thursday of the month already!
Wow, its Thursday of this week already!


As some of you remember, Christy hosts As of Late every month and I enjoy participating especially in this phase of my life where things seem to be so different every month.  Maybe life has been like this all along (it probably has)... but Christy's blog event every month helps me take a deep breath, look around and REALIZE all the great changes happening in my life.

That being said...
  • As of late, I look at a sky like this on my drive home, and I can't help but feel anything but Thankful and Grateful for the amazing blessings 2011 has held.
This was the sky on my drive home yesterday!
  • As of late, I have been running around like CRAZY -- especially this week, but there is an end in sight, so its a really good thing
  • As of late, I have been on-the-go from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning until 11 or 12 at night (to the tune of still answering work emails at 10pm)
  • As of late, I have been trying balance my usual caseload of students AND three additional student evaluations -- which are very time consuming
  • As of late, I've remained as frustrated as EVER because Google Reader, Blog Feeds, etc do not update for my blog.  Even though I post EVERY DAY, Google Reader says my last post was three months ago.  Despite posts to numerous blog help forums, I remain frustrated and without solutions.
  • As of late, I feel like the purpose of HOMEMAKER has been revealed to me in a completely new way as I have prepared our little house to receive our family for Thanksgiving
  • As of late, I feel the charge of keeping a lovely and peaceful home for my wonderful husband as he has spent many nights in the past month working late, or through the night at school on work or graduate school -- I love that he trusts our home to me in his absence
  • As of late, our little house has become our little home as I've learned the difference homemaking can make in a life, a marriage and a house
  • As of late, my hubby and I have been menu planning for our first married Thanksgiving, our first time hosting Thanksgiving, and the first time any and all of our family will come to visit
  • As of late, my evenings have been filled with puppy obedience classes (I'm a student) and middle school ultimate frisbee classes (I'm a teacher)
  • As of late, I have been fighting a throat thing for over a week -- scratchy, thick, sore, annoying but no fever, no cold and it hasn't gone away.  Thank you for prayer about this.
  • As of late, I have printed far too many wedding pictures and put many in frames around our house.  I probably need a balance in the photography department, but for now, I love it!
One side of the hallway between master and guest room
The other side of our hallway - I don't love the white frames
but they were on sale  :-D
  • As of late, I feel as though I have seen little of my little Lexie-girl (cat) as she spends more and more time in the basement away from our puppy
  • As of late, the sounds of cat purrs have been replaced by low cat growls and cat hisses are common sounds around our home
  • As of late, I continue to pray for Lexie and Lloyd to get along -- or at least tolerate each other, but I confess the progress is slower than I would prefer
  • As of late, I have been pondering and praying over Proverbs 12:4
  • As of late, I am getting REALLY excited to see my momma and daddy -- but really nervous to cook in front of my momma and mother-in-law
  • As of late, I have not been exercising -- I've been watching what I eat, but I have no exercise routine at the moment and I don't like it
  • As of late, I finished reading Gone With the Wind and I've been struggling to get into my next book -- part of that is probably that I haven't had time
  • As of late, my hubby won an IPAD at school and he's trying to get me into reading Ebooks -- but I don't think he realized that this would mean he has to share the Ipad...
  • As of late, as I'm making my own little home in a tiny town in Colorado, preparing for Chris and my families to come visit us, I am missing my older sister in a fresh way -- It always surprises me when I miss her in a new way, and I think this will be the case for the rest of my life
  • As of late, I am choosing to look past all of the Christmas decorations in the stores because I am very focused on Thanksgiving and Christmas comes AFTER that
  • As of late, VAIL MOUNTAIN opens on Friday and Chris and I are getting excited to HIT THE SLOPES!
  • As of late, I didn't realize I had so much going on -- but I guess I shouldn't be surprised since I have been so busy it means a lot is going on
  • As of late, I keep cheering for University of Michigan football and only two games left to the regular season (always sad to say goodbye to football season) :-(
Taken from W&L Alumni Magazine Autumn 2011
  • As of late, I have been increasingly thankful to our veterans and servicemen overseas, especially nearing this holiday season
  • As of late, I fall more in love with my husband every day
See below for pictures of my recent homemaking efforts:

Headed into the guest room
Through the door of the guest room
We're ready for visitors!
I am really proud of this room

This bookshelf used to be by the dining table
but we like it better by my desk
To fill the void of the bookshelf, I added the tall crazy black picture frame
Full of prints from the Photobooth at our wedding
Across from our bed, looking at this, hopefully Chris and I will never go to bed angry
People could actually walk into our basement now!
This room has only been this organized for 24 hours
Our new dining room table, ready to be used!
Our new China cabinet
Full of our beautiful China!
I still have ironing to do before Thanksgiving dinner
and the gloves are for handling the China

 What have you been up to as of late?

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