Sunday, November 30, 2008


This year our festivities began with a visit from my mom, sister Karen and niece Layne. They were able to come because Karen, a teacher, was off the entire week. And lucky for us, when Karen is off a week, we are her favorite destination.

Here we are at lunch at Panera. We always have to go to Karen's favorite places in the Desert. That means we were treated to Fisherman's and a trip to Bristol Farms as well. There are a few other's on her list, but time was short. Pictured is Layne's imitation of Colonel Mustard.

A bonus for coming early in the week was attending the Tiny Tots Thanksgiving extravaganza complete with a musical performance and kid-friendly Thanksgiving lunch.

Monterey, who last year did not sing and spent the whole program with her back to the audience, this year not only faced the right direction AND sang, but she sang so loud we could hear her voice distinctly. What a difference a year makes. She is loving Tiny Tots. A lot of things are clicking. Hopefully the desire to write her name will click BEFORE the Kinder evaluation in a few months.

And yes, she is dressed appropriately. It is still hot in the desert. We really wear out the summer clothes here. Winter clothes, not so much. The following pictures are from the outfits the big girls made in Tiny Tots and Kinder. They do not like wearing their own stuff, only what their sister made.

My family left and we made ready for the Caress Family Thanksgiving. This is ALL about the food. Growing up, we always had formal Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners. Goblets of a special punch were as much part of the decor as the beverage. We would wear Sunday clothes and sit down to a formal table with my dad's best dishes. He always did all the cooking. Us kids would help with one or two dishes, but they were his. My mom would do the dishes after dinner. The day before he would make his pies: always pumpkin and apple. My dad's mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing were always so good. Super duper moist turkey. I have tried to duplicate. He always worked very hard on his gravy, literally sweating as he stirred it with all the right seasonings. I think drops of his sweat were the secret ingredient. Anyway, we always had only enough dishes to fit on the table, only his specialities, only traditional food. We never had appetizers because the focus was on the meal itself.

And then I went to my first Thanksgiving as a married woman. The Caress Thanksgiving is a little different. Not necessarily in a bad way. Here it is casual. Rolls are just as likely to be thrown as passed. There is not room enough on the table to hold all the food so overflow dishes were on the floor temporarily until a space opened up to get them in the rotation. (In the last few years the food has been served buffet style to solve the food being on the floor issue. However the buffet takes a lot of room, so it would not work in every house.) Canned sodas (mostly diet coke and dr. pepper) scattered on the table. Appetizers that are so good and plentiful, we are usually full before the meal begins. It is all about the quantity. Not that the food is not good, trust me, it is. But the emphasis is always on mucho, mucho. Ryan loves this. He goes to my family (rarely) and can't figure out how we even call this Thanksgiving. So this year, like every year for the past five years, has been the Caress year.

Here is the menu:

Thanksgiving Menu 2008


Veggies & Dip
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Bacon & Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Artichoke Cheese Dip in a Breadbowl

Deep Fried Turkey and
Traditional Turkey

Sweet Potatoes (2 different kinds)
Mashed Potatoes
Spinach Soufflé
Corn Soufflé
Butternut Squash Risotto
Mac ‘N Cheese

Mint Brownies
Bundt Spice Cake
Caramely Candy
Pumpkin Pie

Usually, a few more dishes are snuck in. Dessert is typically eaten a few hours after dinner to allow for recovery time.

The next day, the weather was perfect. Maya got it into her head that we should go on a picnic. There was much planning and discussion. It started with me making everything, putting it into a basket and eating lunch on a big blanket. You know typical picnic stuff. By the time Ryan got involved in the planning, we were eating Taco Bell at the benches and then the girls played in the park. Going to the park was picnicky enough for Ryan.

The next day was the preview day for the Souplantation. We have been waiting for this day FOREVER. One of the rough things about moving here is missing our favorite places to eat. They did not have even one descent salad bar in the whole desert. You could go to Sizzler or Hometown Buffet if you were desperate, but they were not the same. We were so happy to find out that they were not only putting in a Souplantation, but it would be super close to where we live. I have already committed to the girls a once-a-week trip. We had planned on going Saturday night for dinner. Then McKayla got a babysitting job and would not be able to join us. I did what any self-sacrificing, selfless mom would do: I took her there for lunch and then went again with the rest of the family for dinner. Twice in one day. Sometimes there are things you do when you are a great mom. Eating incredible fresh and yummy food twice in one day is a sacrifice I am willing to make. It was crowded, but worth it. And, I was not the only one there twice that day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight Reviews

Finally, the day we have been waiting for ... Twilight ... the movie.

McKayla wanted me to take her to the midnight showing so she could be the first. I took the girls right after school (it was an early day out.) So we went to the 1:30 showing. Now we will have to find something else to obsess about.

Madison said: "Over all I thought Twilight was a good movie. They had the movie pretty close to the book."

McKayla said: "It's one of the best movies I have ever seen. Yeah I am obsessive over Twilight. I think it is very close to the book also."

Lisa said: "Just from watching the trailers, I thought it was going to be pretty cheesy. In fact, I kept warning the girls that they might be disappointed. However, considering the audience, I thought it was pretty good. I liked Edward. I thought Bella over-acted a little. Jasper was freaky, but so was his character in the book. I think the better you know the book, the better you will like the movie. If you don't like the book or are unfamiliar with the books, you probably will not be a huge fan."

Motivation Issues

I had a friend at BYU, Debbie, who had to take an Advanced Chemistry final and instead, skipped her final and made coconut bonbons. Later she took in some for her professor and explained she was not in the mood and presented him with a box of her delicacies. Apparently, they were so good all was forgiven and he gave her the exam right there and she got an A. (She is a genius, by the way, and also makes a mean bonbon.)

So what do I do when I have a list a mile long of things to do and zero motivation to do them? Make cookies. On Thursday I decided to make sugar cookies for the girls' teachers as a way to say thank you. That grew into making cookies for all the teachers in the school. So armed with Tabitha's now legendary recipe, I made over three hundred cookies. Two hundred were little two-bite cookies for all the teachers and one hundred were for the individual packs for their actual teachers.

Tabitha's frosting has almond flavoring, which I LOVE. I decided to experiment with other flavors. Yellow are lemon flavored, yellow-orange are coconut flavored, red-orange are the almond flavored, and the pink are the raspberry flavored. They are all so good. So I had to give them all away after we all tried one each.

I think I have some sort of disease. I have so much to to prepare for this coming weekend and next month. I can't even articulate what it is because it involves all the extended family gifts that need to be finished before Dec. 1st in order to be done on time. I have tons of projects that I need to deal with today because of the mad holiday hurricane that is approaching. Most of my gifts this year have to be "finished" by an independent contractor. So I HAVE to have it done right away. So now that I have made three hundred cookies for no reason at all, maybe I can move on to something that actually needs to be done. Maybe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tot Soccer and Sweet Ramblings

We went to Macarios (our favorite Mexican restaurant in the desert) for dinner. They have a strolling guitar player. Here is Maya joining in the fun. Here is Monterey wishing he would leave and trying to avoid making eye contact. What a difference in personalities.

Monterey loves to play with her hair. This is Maya doing one of her victory dances.
Sample soccer week: After the other team scored three goals in a row and Maya's team scored a big, fat zero, Maya ran over for a water break and started frantically yelling: "We haven't scored anything and they have three. I am SO mad. Are you mad?" To which I exclaimed: "I am SO ticked off." This seemed to satisfy her as she ran off to complete the humiliation. She ended up scoring a heroic goal; in spite of the fact that she had Monterey on her team and another girl who kept kicking the ball consistently the wrong way, resulting in two goals for the other team. Monterey performed her usual try-to-avoid-the-ball-at-all-costs technique in the which she made accidental contact twice.

The awards ceremony was brief but satisfying. The mass of trophies handed out in a line with continuous applause. A small scale Reverend Moonie wedding. Here they are with the masses. And here they are with Coach Anthony. The season is over. Yeah.

Monterey's Musings: Mom, How did Jesus make all this stuff? I don't know, what do you think? I think He has superhero powers.

Monterey trying to eat a Halloween Reese's Peanut Butter Cup for breakfast:
Mom: "You can't eat that for breakfast."
Monterey: "Mom, Reese's Puffs."
Not that I would ever let my children eat that for breakfast.

Maya pays attention in church and uses the new found info to torment her sister:
Maya: "Today I learned that we are all sheep."
Monterey: "No we aren't, we are all people."
Maya: "No, we are Jesus' sheep."
Monterey: "We are people."
Maya. "We are sheep." (Maya smiles sheepishly at this point.)
Monterey: "We are people." (Monterey starts crying.)
Maya: "Sheep."
Monterey: "People" (At this point there would have been a physical altercation, but they were straped in their car seats so they could not get "at each other.")
Maya: "Sheep."
Monterey: "People"
Maya: "Sheep."
Monterey: "People"
Maya: "Sheep."
Monterey: "People"
Maya: "Baaaa."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New McCabe Cousin

We went to visit my sister over Veteran's Day to visit her new baby boy. His name is Mercer and he is the sweetest. I am partial to him because I am his second favorite person in the whole wide world. At least, for right now. I think it has something to do with the fact that my sister and I have some similarities, like looks and voice that probably put him at ease. And you might have other people argue that point. But trust me, I was the one to comfort him when Nancy needed a shower, a rest, or a meal.

He is 8 lbs, even. He has the strongest neck I have ever seen on a newborn not a single bob or weave. Head straight up. We kept telling the girls to be careful of his head, but each time it was sturdy as can be. It was kind of different to hold something so little and light but still sturdy and strong. He was born on Nov. 3rd.

We went to my mom's house to visit. Nancy and her husband and daughter are living there for two months while waiting for a place to open up. They moved in the weekend before she gave birth, so we could take care of her. My nieces Robyn and Kathleen are living there as well while they go to college. So it was one big happy family. Luckily my mom has way too much furniture so we all had beds to sleep in.

We arrived on Saturday night, we left right after the soccer games. I inventoried the kitchen and my mom and I headed to the store to buy food for the next few days: I was determined to make sure she ate well and had plenty in the freezer after we left. We made blueberry pancakes and french toast: one batch for the meal and one batch for the freezer. We made roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls with all the trimming, with leftovers for future use. I packed the freezer with food like chicken enchiladas and broccoli cheese soup. We made her Tabitha's heavenly sugar cookies and then put some of the dough in the freezer for her to make with her three year old when her c-section heals. The chocolate chip cookie dough is in the Ziploc in the freezer. Between helping with the baby and all the cooking, I am exhausted. But at least I could leave to return home without feeling horribly guilty.

On our way home we had to stop at Cupid's Hot Dogs for our traditional chili dogs. Cupid's has the best chili dogs on the planet. I have solved the mystery of their hot dogs: Boar's Head cooked in a very wet steam. The bun is simply fresh, nothing too special. A little mustard and onions. But the chili ... oh my gosh ... it is divine. I grew up with a Cupid's right down the street and our summer days were spent in the pool (up to ten hours a day) and riding our bikes to either Cupid's for Chili dogs or Thrifty's for ice cream. Cupid's has now gone into the third generation as McKayla craves them like there is no tomorrow and has to plan her visit around when she get her chili dogs. My dad was nuts for them, he raised his children right and I have passed on the love for them to my children. May you all, someday, be fortunate enough to try them.

We stopped at The Children's Place Outlet because the big girls needed new sneakers. I can't wait for them to actually wear out a pair rather than outgrow them. My niece Kathleen did McK's eye make up. Shopping is always a party.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Uber Citizen

I love Law & Order. I love all the editing that takes you through a case from the murder to the resolution in court. So even though I did not want to do jury Duty because of time constraints, I was secretly interested. I got called for the week of Nov. 3rd. Election Week. Between voting early, my involvement in campaigns, and serving on a jury, I think I fulfilled most of my civic duties in that one week. Now all I have to do is be a good citizen and not break any laws and say the pledge of allegiance.

I did not have to go in on Monday, but as I checked online on Monday night, they called me in. A few phone calls later, I had all my kids taken care of and I was packing my bag of reading materials, coupons to sort, logic puzzles to complete, Halloween candy to munch on and my water bottles. I went in and sat. And sat. Ans sat. I watched the clock tick. "If I were home I could be ..." Maya was getting her Student-of-the Month award and I was missing it. If I was not doing anything by 11:00, I was going to be mad, since the assembly was at 11:20. (She got the risk-taker award.)

At a quarter to 11:00, I was called. There were forty of us called for 13 spots: 12 jurors and 1 alternate. We were brought in to the court room as the eyes of the attorneys and defendant scanned over us. The judge went over some details like how long the trial was going to take and what the general case was about. He swore us in as potential jurors to tell the truth. He asked for everyone who needed to be excused to come forward and give their reasons. After about eight of us explained why it would be an undue hardship, he went back with the two attorneys and three people got excused. One was a special ed teacher who conducted IEPs and would have to reschedule all of them and who convinced the judge that a substitute would be disruptive for the students. The other two took community college students who could not miss class. Employment and childcare issues were not considered. We took a lunch break.

After lunch, they called 18 people up and started with the questions: where do you live, what do you do for a living, who do you live with, what do they do, do you have any issues with criminals or law enforcement, do you have any relatives in law enforcement or who were victims, can you be fair? Then the lawyers took over: do you have issues with profanity, can you follow the law, and other specific questions about the individuals' backgrounds. Dismissal time. 10 gone and 10 more up.

I was called first and sat in juror seat #4. I gave my answers. The judge asked what grade levels I had taught. I mentioned high school. I think they figured that I could handle profanity from that response because I was the only female that was not grilled on my reaction to profanity. The lawyers asked me no questions. I was in. A couple more gone, everyone else dismissed and we were sworn in as jurors. If was interesting that we were asked to raise our right hand and swear to be a juror by saying "yes." The judge explained that we needed to be a judge. We would need to make a judgement. We would hear testimony, evidence and hear the law and then be a judge to decide it the defendant was guilty or not guilty. It was kind of surreal when you hear all your life to not be judgemental and all the sudden you are instructed to be a judge.

I returned home and fed the kids, made arrangements for all the kids (many thanks to Alyssa and Christine) for the rest of the week and settled in to hear the election returns while taking the kids to soccer practice.

The next day started with mundane, boring testimony. Where was Sam Waterston? Where were the good editors? Wednesday came and went. Thursday morning was a different story. The defendant took the stand. Now this should be interesting. This guy belonged on Jerry Springer. There was everything but the kitchen sink going on in his life. He basically threatened a witness. He was mad that the judge ordered his wife (and consequently her spouse) to pay back $250,000. He was not mad about his wife serving time for the crime, he was not mad about his children being taken away by CPS, he was not mad at the DA. He was only mad about having to pay back the money that, it turns out, was hidden away at his parents' house in Ohio. They had it all on tape. He admitted it was him. there wasn't much for us to deliberate about. 12 reasonable people found him guilty in about one minute. We debated it for 10 just to double check all the angles.

By Thursday, late afternoon, the verdict was read and my civic duty was done for at least a year.

"Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat."

"Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had 'never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life.'
"This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.
"Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.... Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat."

--- Elder Neal A. Maxwell