Sunday, March 17, 2013


Yep, I'm this far behind. Thanksgiving 2012. As in last Thanksgiving...4 months ago. I debated not posting this, but our Thanksgiving may not ever turn out better, so I had to gloat a little. :)

Our old college pals, the Jakemans, came from Kennewick, WA to join us for Turkey Day this year. I was worried about all of our kids getting along and making such a huge feast, but everything turned out perfectly. So glad they could make it down here, especially because we found out that they may be moving to Reno soon. Dang it.

I still brined my turkey like usual, but I went for a different spice blend this year. I basically used citrus and provincial herbs and it was absolutely divine. The following day I made 3 gallons of stock out of the bird and we just barely finished using it last week - it made some of the best chili I've ever tasted. "Turkey - the bird that keeps on giving!"

Our sides were pretty typical: potato rolls, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin bread stuffing, cranberry-citrus-ginger sauce, etc. BUT THEY WERE ALL PERFECTLY MADE! Anyone who has cooked a full Thanksgiving meal can tell you that it's near impossible to have every side turn out just right and still be warm right at serving time. Truly miraculous. Oh, and isn't Cynthia's centerpiece cute?

And the pies, oh, the pies!!! Pumpkin pie, Chocolate Silk, Boysenberry, and Dutch Apple. I'm not a fan of pumpkin pie but I loved this one - and the leaves made it look spectacular. The chocolate silk pie was the first pie to go - I've tried making the same pie since, but none of them tasted as good as this one. Boysenberry pies are difficult to make - my Mom used to work at the birthplace of boysenberries (Knott's Berry Farm restaurant) making the pies regularly and still has troubles getting the filling to turn out consistently. Well, I bet you can guess how well mine turned out this year. And the Dutch Apple? Perfect combo of apple pie and apple crisp.


I've been putting this post off for a long time. So long, in fact, that I promised myself I wouldn't post anything else until wrapping up these stories. So, here goes.

Jordan and I were in a musical last November. Our church stake put on the production. It consumed 5 months of our family's life. You'd think that this would be easy to write about, but...there were a lot of negative aspects. Overall I think the experience was a net gain, but theater is inherently full of various emotions and ups & downs.

I had not been in a play for 17 years. Theater was something I really enjoyed and excelled in back in high school but I quickly gave it up when I realized that I couldn't make a living out of it. Jordan had done a few short musicals in school and had been bitten by the acting bug. So we decided that as long as I passed my final actuarial exam (which I did) we would both tryout for the play. Carter also wanted to participate, but I didn't think the long, late hours would be appropriate at his age.

We started with weekly music rehearsals in June, a full 3 months before the auditions. The idea was to get acquainted with the vast span of music in the production. We attended most of these sessions and I don't think I ever saw more than 7 people there. That's probably for the best because these early rehearsals were mostly wasted time. Reason: It's hard to teach music without sheet music.

Auditions were held in September. I actually wondered if the production would have to be cancelled because I didn't see any other men at the early rehearsals. Luckily, they came out of the woodwork (all 9 guys) for the auditions. I personally had the worst audition of my life. Every single element went horribly wrong. Worse yet, I've always excelled at callbacks where there's actual material to read/sing through, but there were no callbacks for adults. Definitely one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.

Jordan was cast as Thing 1, I was cast as the Mayor of Whoville. We were both very disappointed with the roles, but c'est la vie. I was actually quite glad that Jordan was cast in a role that didn't require memorization of lines and songs (in particular harmonies). I think he was just a bit shy of the maturity level required.

A week after auditions we started the 5 hours of rehearsals per week with the 50 cast members. For a production of this size there are usually 50 rehearsals. We had to do the show in 25 rehearsals. Yikes.

I tried to use the experience as a way of meeting as many people as possible throughout my stake. Unfortunately, Seussical is split into two distinct casts (The Whos / Jungle Animals) and I was in the wrong group from a social perspective. I was mostly seen as an outsider despite my best efforts. I still made a few good friends, it's just that the crowd wasn't quite as friendly as I'd hoped.

The long hours of rehearsals started taking a toll on Jordan. His teacher noticed a change in his school efforts, he became moody at rehearsals and moodier at home, etc. At that point, we were just praying for the end of the show.

With two weeks left before opening night in November, the show seemed destined for disaster. I purposely did not tell my coworkers that I was in a show because of how awful I thought it would be. However, everything came together perfectly. It really was quite a good show in the end. I did end up telling a few coworkers about it. One came and several of our neighbors also came to see the show.

I'm really glad I got to have this experience. I really have missed theater and with my exams finished, I wanted to get back into all the good things in life that I missed out on. I thought at one point that this would be a stepping stone into doing many shows (there are TONS of production companies in Portland), I think my time would be best spent in other areas.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ted Geisel!

 Today is Dr. Seuss' birthday. How do I know? Well, I got home from the gym at 8am and found...

Cat-in-the-Hat striped snickerdoodles,  

balloons with drawings of Sneetches and the Cat in the Hat, 

 and the cutest Thing 1 that ever was reading Seuss books to his brothers.

Sometimes kids are amazing - this is one of those times! Neither TLC or I had any idea that they were planning this. What's amazing is how all the supplies were just sitting around. TLC made the (undecorated) snickerdoodles on a whim yesterday, the balloons are left over from the Blue and Gold Banquet last night, the costume was from Seussical, and everything else was just lying around the house. 

What a fun morning, and it's only 9am!!!