Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Traditions-Mathews Style...

Now that December is a few hours away, I thought it fitting to start reflecting (and comparing notes, I know, I'm shameless) on the family traditions we enjoy while waiting for Jesus' birthday.

Since we've lived in different states since 2001 from California, I found that some traditions just didn't really fit us. But these seem to be timeless and more meaningful to our little family of 5.
Ok, ready? Do you have your own list for comparison? Make sure to let me know because I think that's half the fun, don't you?

Alright... This is not Top 10 list or anything, just a list of all that we've been doing to initiate our own countdown.
1) Christmas book- it's full of stories and scripture chase challenges about the season and what it really means. We turn off all the lights, but one, light a candle, read a scripture then three short stories or one long one to end our day on a grateful note.

2)Advent Calendar- Charlie had his own felt kind, so we use that (I love how it's older than the children). Each ornament has a "to do" idea on the back. From its numbered pocket, we pull out an ornament, read the idea, and place it on the tree. Then, we do the idea, for example, "walk around and thank God". By the time we reach the ornament #24, we are told to read the scriptures about His birth and read Mary's Dream, my favorite story out of our book.

3)Christmas Eve One- people call it differently, but we exchange one gift of anything bedtime related to wear for the next day. We take pictures; the kids act like models and we send them off to bed with something new.

4)Personal Themes- each of our children have their own Christmas decor that they've latched on to and alternate each year. This year, it's Jasmine's turn so our colors will be burgundy and gold, with a burgundy angel topper. We take our family portraits according to the color scheme of our Christmas decor. Ian's is the Disney theme where Mickey as the bandleader is his topper. Lisa loves anything Asian, so we put together a Poinsettia & Stars theme for her with a poinsettia topper made in the Philippines. In the Philippines, we celebrate with stars to commemorate the star that the three wise men followed to find the baby Jesus.

(Last year, we couldn't do any of their theme, because we couldn't access the decors except for the tree skirt for Jasmine's theme! ;P )

5)Family Gifts- we started this last year; since we have not much space in our apartment, and that we no longer want too much gifts under the tree where we take hours just opening them, we've decided to choose three family gifts from a list we make of those that we can use all year. Of course, grandma and grandpa are exempted from that, but since we've told them, they have respected it by sending us giftcards instead which we don't use until after New Year's day. The kids actually love it; they combine it with the other giftcards from their birthdays and get to have a shopping spree!

6)Filipino Christmas- since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, Christmas is devoted to how the Filipinos celebrate it. In the Philippines, we love to tell stories, visit and share, poinsettias, small trees, bamboo and cellophane stars with frilly tails, caroling and lots and lots of desserts. We also cook all that we have as our way of thanking God for bringing us Jesus and we offer Him our all as our gift for his birth. So, for my family, this is how we celebrate each year...

7)Cake and present- On Christmas Day afternoons, we find the best chocolate cake (easy to do)recipe that we can find that year and make it as our cake for Jesus. We place a picture of him next to it, his baby image from our Nativity set and we sing "Happy Birthday" to Him. Then, we slice it and share His cake. We put together this box back in 1998 of all the things that our family can work on to be better followers like paying tithing, honesty, sharing, etc. and we pick one from the stash inside the box. Whatever it is, we discuss how we can do it and we place the card on the picture of Christ we have in the living room, the one from last Christmas, we discuss if we did well on it or we could've have done better and we put it back in the box. It's a great memory jogger.

8)Real Tree- the kids love hunting down that perfect tree, but sometimes, we make do with what's available. Last year, for some odd reason, by mid-December, there were no trees around to purchase. We finally found one in Wal-Mart, the last one, so we got really excited, surrounded the tree and called an associate. The manager came out, pulled the tree up, just to show why it was the last one there, there was not much on the back! I'm talking bare branches! He asked if we really wanted it, but I told him frankly that we want it though it would be amiss of him if he didn't give us a significant discount. So he did! He gave it us for $5.oo! It was perfect; our apartment had just enough room for it. And the paper snowflakes we decorated it with made it look so festive and grand.

9)Carrollton Nativity Display- this is new since last year also. We participated in the display of hundreds of Nativity sets from around the world held in our Stake Center's cultural hall. It's done the second week of December and we lend out our set. This year, we're lending our set again and the 4 small fake trees we got for really cheap! This is why I want to stay here...

10)Candles- every year I make sure that we have candles- all kinds, scented, taper and colored ones. We like to start the evening with low lights to invite the spirit and respect the modesty of Jesus' beginning.

11)Movies and books- we love to read about Christmas and watch about it, too! During the break, we read all day or pick one movie to watch as a family.

12)Aunt Kate & Mommy- both of us have December birthdays so my kids have a fun time thinking up of good presents for me and their aunt Kate even though we can't afford it. At the end of this great imaginary list, they face reality and say, "well, we definitely can afford to give you both lots of hugs!" I love those the best.

13)Cookies- we do test runs on what desserts should be on the dessert table, so one day a week, I test out a new recipe from Food Network or my cookbooks to see if it's good enough. Of course, the tried and true always make the list.

14)Family Portraits- we love doing this! Charlie gets out his tripod and do "test shots" pretending that he's adjusting his camera aim, focus and so on. We get lots of goofy pictures of the kids dancing, posing, talking and playing. He even got me looking up at the ceiling looking frustrated. :)

15)Pizza for lunch- since we eat a lot at night on our Christmas Eve dinner, we don't like to cook anything for lunch, so we just pop a pizza in the oven and we have that for lunch. No muss, no fuss!

16) Christmas breakfast- we munch all day until bedtime, so we make sure that we eat a good breakfast after we open up all the presents! How else could I justify all the chocolate I put away on this day?

17)Newsletter- every year, since 1997, we update our friends and loved ones of our yearly adventures and source of gratitude.

18) Coin Toss- this is another Filipino tradition; we collect coins throughout the year and on Christmas Eve, after dinner and story, we toss the coins up in the air and the kids collect them and place them in their piggy banks. It's our way of teaching the kids to be grateful for the blessings of loving Jesus and greeting his birth by sharing and loving each other. We find that this tradition helps the kids not be in the mode of "gimmes" and they actually count it carefully so they don't miscalculate their first tithings for the New Year.

I know this is a long list, but I love Christmas and the traditions we enjoy now. I didn't have the privilege of experiencing them as a kid. I love to see how beautiful these traditions are through my children and my wonderful husband who grew up with many traditions in his family.

I hope we had a lot in common from your own list because I know we're not that strange... ;D

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Before December comes...

I want to make sure that I've shared with all of you what else I'm grateful for. Ok, let's see if I have enough room on this blog...

1) Jesus Christ, my savior, his gospel and Heavenly Father
2) My wonderful children- I can't imagine my life without them
3) My amazing husband- his quiet ways make me fall in love with him all over again
4) Food- each morsel is precious to me
5) Our home- wherever that is, as long as we are together
6) My mom and siblings- they will always be a part of who I am
7) Friends and Family- those that truly get me, I thank you for caring about me
8) Education- I love learning and teaching
9) LDS temples- every soul needs to know about the Plan of Salvation
10)Southwest Airlines- for believing in my husband
11)Blankets, PJs and socks- toasty!
12)Flowers- colorful reminders of the eternal love of our God for us
13)Talents- that I have some (I didn't think I had any)
14)Intelligence with common sense- a rare combination indeed
15)Honesty and Love- two divine ambrosias for a healthy heart
16)Smiles and Service- gets things done!
17)Clearance sales- furnishes my home
18)Books- free flights to anywhere and anytime
19)Clothes- I don't like naked strangers...
20)Gratitude- the only grease of the cycle of happiness!

Thank you for letting me share with you. Have a great start on Christmas...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Trance

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving; breakfast, lunch, dinner and during the dessert raid. We sure did.
As promised, here's how we made this day for gratitude more special for us this year.
Yes, I designed and executed everything; but how did I do it? My whole family helped.
1) The kids made the placecards, and we used the leaves we found yesterday.
2) Charlie helped me pick the flowers.
3) All chose a dessert- best incentive!

As a family, we are truly pleased with our collaboration on this table, I'm grateful for my hubby and children in helping bring this look to life. Tell us what you think, so make sure to leave a comment or two!

Our floral centerpieces (I spent $18, but similar arrangements were being sold in the range of $35-$55! I think mine are better; the small vase was a 99-cent buy last year and the tall one, the vase is a Mikasa lead crystal we received on our wedding day. It looks much better than most premade arrangement vases. Yup, I think my arrangements are definitely better.)

Our tablescape (I decided to focus on the warm tones of Fall to invite warmth and romance even during the day. I used the same plates as last year, found matching pieces to my runner throughout the year, and the leaf-shaped decorative plates cost me less than $7! By having their shades close to the tablecloth and runner, it gave the illusion of lightness despite the heavy tone-on-tone. I calculated the whole thing retail and if I was charging to do this for someone else, the materials alone would cost about $305.00! I guess sometimes, it pays to collect dishes you find on clearance bins. Yay, me!!!).

The $1.50 placesetting (for the cost of the charger & placemat; used the leaves we gathered for the placecards and the napkins were from Lisa's party. To focus on the casual tone, I placed the utensils on the plate. The leaves on top give the illusion of a few landing on the utensils after a windy encounter).

Our mantle (after several design consideration and to show flexibility of the design choices I made. Since we'll have tons of food, like each year, I moved around the centerpieces and candles to show the theme of "freshly fallen foliage" when we moved from dining room to living room. It also shows off our unique familial culture).

The dessert table (the puff pastry on the top was a hit! Each dessert is to show what we love as a family; we love fruits, hence in the center, cookies in the front for easy access and cupcakes in the bottom to hide the best for last. The hot cocoa "station" was actually the kids' idea last year when we found these great mugs on clearance for 75 cents each! Again, the candles and the berries give an air of romance and lightness. Jasmine wants to show this to her teacher. I feel very flattered...)

Time to eat!(I was surprised that Ian loved the stuffing, but then again, he's my least picky of the three).

Our Menu:
Sage & Paprika Game Hens
Maple Barbeque'd Short Ribs
Mushroom & sausage dressing
Parsley Potatoes
Steamed corn

The Sweet Stuff:
Puff Pastry with maple-cinnamon cream cheese filling topped with blackberry
French apple pie
Double Chocolate Macadamia cupcakes
Hot cocoa station

How our day went:
Breakfast- French toast, bacon, berries and milk/OJ
Charlie and I hit Garden Ridge for some awesome deals
Started short ribs on the slow cooker
Baked cupcakes- 18 minutes
Delivered some cupcakes to next door neighbor
Finished last homework- 15 minutes
Lunch- Jasmine made her yummy nachos
Watched Disney and HGTV
Put in game hens in the oven-2 hours
Read a Thanksgiving picture book
Snack- Popcorn
Baked apple pie (Mrs. Smith's)- 1 hour
Baked puff pastry and started filling
Took more pictures- 30 minutes
Blessed the food and shared what we're grateful for this year
Ate until stuffed- 15 minutes
Watched TV, called family, played on the PC

Is this similar to your day, or where you out playing football?

We hope you had a great, memorable and safe Thanksgiving today.

As for me, I am very grateful for having leftovers enough for the next few days! Yes! No cooking for me!

To be truly grateful, serve!

Lately, I've been asking myself why I stress over dishes that I collect, tablescapes, holidays, schedules, schools and the like. If you really take a look, one may say there's no reason, but now that I've been stressing over similar issues for over 12 years, it's very easy and very clear why: I want to be grateful, not just "thank you" grateful, but "feel-it-down-to-my-toes" grateful where I see the beauty in all things when I least expect it.

Serving my children through helping them organize their days, clothes and time help me to see their worth, both individually and as my precious children, as children of God. I don't know of anyone that watched a child and said, "what a waste" (of course, those that are psychotic, deranged and evil can argue this point). They get me through my day. Like tonight, I was shushing all three almost every three minutes, but despite the chaos and the noise, I was able to organize my menu, set the table, thaw the game hens, bake cookies, plan tomorrow, read and write emails, make dinner and various other things. Serving them allows me to receive blessings that help my family in countless ways.

Serving in the church, including sustaining my husband's responsibilities, brings out the wimp in me, but a commitment I made long ago has a pretty impeccable timing in creeping up on me when I'm ready to throw in the towel. For any LDS member who never felt this way, I salute you. What's your secret? I feel that I both want to help and not know what to do, so I just dive in and hope for the best. If all I get out of it, is a forced smile, then I know that that is my blessing for that day. Though it was my favorite church calling, Activity Days Leader was probably the most confusing and trying one for me. But to be honest, it wasn't the girls that made it difficult. They were all my bouys during my wading in the "doubt" pool. It was my self doubt that kept me from truly enjoying the calling, but now, looking back, I can't help but appreciate the beautiful faces I got to teach, talk with and walked with around the Mesa temple for two Decembers. They are amazing souls. I truly loved every minute with them. As a RS Teacher, I was again a puddle of raw nerves and blind faith. The truth that I read up on and the confirmations afterwards are enough to make me run the other way, but I know that there was reason I had to do that calling. Of course, there are callings I would never wish for, but I know that with that commitment I made long ago on bended knees, I will find myself again diving in and hoping for the best.

Serving others, no matter who they are, is what the world knows to be the most noble, selfless act. How many times do we scan the papers, internet, or press our ears to the car radio hoping to come across someone sharing their "Superman complex" within their community? The fact is, the need to serve is the quickest way to break any ice, the best way to show kindness, the only way to explain compassion and the divine way of believing in something bigger than us. I love serving others. A new friend of mine said something that I never even thought of much until I was sharing it with my husband. She said, "You're so giving that most people think that there's a catch". She's right, most of us are weary about generosity, kindness and compassion. All types of media and even eye-witness accounts or hearing of our loved ones' terrible plight with a conman, leave us with mental and social alarms that keep us from automatic kindness, common courtesy and human compassion, a lot of times. For me, I can't help it, when someone needs my help, I help with hope that I will not be harmed in the process. I dive in with a prayer in my heart; I guess you can call it my internal 911 phone directly connected to the only source of help I trust implicitly.

Why do all of these, why bother? Because part of the commitment I made is that I prayed that I am "never to be ungrateful for anything in my life". And serving, in any capacity I can and given, I gladly take on so that at the end of the day, I have something to be grateful for. I want my blessings; I want my actions to forge the doorknob that Jesus Christ can finally turn from the outside so He can come in to my life anytime and direct me to where I need to be.

I am truly thankful for all that I have, do not have, will never have and have had. And the stress of it all, just add to the beauty of the picture we call gratitude.

Gratitude leads to happiness, and who wouldn't want happiness? So serve and be grateful, the lightness you'll feel is the start of an unbreakable cycle that was designed by heavenly hands and hearts...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our Fall Tradition

All of us have some sort of fall tradition, but since we, the Mathews, are an Asian/Caucasian household, we have a few very fun family traditions during Fall, mainly for Thanksgiving.

1) We make sure that Thanksgiving is in honor of my dh Charlie's culture since it is an American iconic tradition. I go all out and make our table as special as we can get it with what we can afford that year. We use the same dishes, but with different European or American twist.

2) Our two main drinks are apple cider and mango pineapple, to show our multicultural side.

3) We read seasonal picture books and watch movies and shows; for me, it's HGTV.

4) No more turkey for us since moving to Arizona and it's just the five of us. Even a breast of turkey is too big. So, we use cornish game hens instead. The individual mini roasters make it a little more fun to eat without waiting for anyone to cut it to smaller pieces; and the kids love choosing which part of the game hens they want to tackle first.

5) We have a fun time going around the neighborhood looking for freshly fallen colorful leaves that we either use to make welcome signs or to help decorate our table. While looking for the leaves, we take pictures or videos, going on a little picnic and seeing our colorful treasures of Fall.

This year, we took so much pictures, we had to show it in a slide.

What are your family Fall traditions?

I'd love to hear about them, as you know, I'm all about great ideas!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Autumn in Carrollton

Our second autumn in Texas; Carrollton, Texas in fact and the trees rose to the occasion of the season.
Here's a look at some of the beautiful trees in Carrollton during the Fall season... We don't have any dramatic falling of foliage as in some states, but they are so beautiful during this color transition that they go through.
The wind is noisier, the air crisper, the weather colder, but these colors beckon all to slow down and warm up for the coming winter... Enjoy!

This one's right outside our living room window, where its branches form a canopy over our frontdoor and its yellowing leaves bid us good mornings and peaceful evenings.

Of course, there are more, but I don't always have my camera...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tablesetting or Tablescape?

After trying to find a great idea on how to dress up our Thanksgiving table this year, I came across where they repeatedly attacked Sandra Lee for the term tablescape, her cooking with pre-packaged foods and of course, her chest.
How much time do people have to kill to come up with such a website? I think Sandra found a way to be unique and save time in the kitchen. If these people were somehow disappointed with some of her recipes, I still don't see the need to attack her in such demeaning ways.
Anyway, back to tablesetting vs. tablescape issue- I find the term tablesetting too rigid, one rule, one style to use over and over again, while the term tablescape gives you a visual of "what could be" on your table. Your creativity is not stifled in any way. A fitting way to describe that tables do not have to be flat, rigid and formal.


Friday, November 21, 2008

My First Thanksgiving

Ok, imagine this...

I was 19, and decided I was ready to be on my own. I found this cute little studio in Sunnyvale that had a walk-in closet and a dine-in kitchen in its own room enough for three people to cook in. Yes, it was pretty big for a studio, but I got it and was hyped up about that. So, with my then boyfriend, I decided to host my very first Thanksgiving dinner for my folks.

So first came the shopping.
I didn't have much money so I only bought the turkey, cans of corn and Stove Top stuffing. That's it, but I was determined to make it work, so I made sure the turkey was thawing in the fridge and the stuffing and corn are easily found. Eventually, I was able to scrape enough money to buy juice and dessert, but my main goal was the turkey. I was so excited I kept testing out the oven to make sure that it worked since I've never used it before since I moved in.

Thanksgiving Day.
I woke up early and prepared the bird. I carefully took out the neck, rubbed vegetable oil on it, cleaned the other end, and gingerly placed it on the roasting rack that came free with the turkey. I put it back in the fridge, preheated the oven and glanced at my list for what's next(did I mention I don't do recipes?). I just trusted the instruction on the turkey wrapping and hoped for the best. The oven beeped as I was answering the door. My boyfriend showed up early to help and I had him place it in the oven for me and watch the clock for the 6-8 hour cooking time.We cleaned the whole place; he mopped and vacuumed; I took care of the kitchen and the bathroom. My mattress, bed linens and pillow were folded and placed in the closet. I had one sofa, a small TV, and a table with four chairs.
After 5 hours, I checked the turkey, basted it and started to set the table in front of the sofa, surrounded by the chairs. I started the rice in the rice cooker and started to boil the turkey neck for my "turkey and corn" stuffing. I checked to see how chilled the juices are and if we have enough glasses. Prior to moving into my studio, I found very inexpensive glasses and some plates. So, my very first Thanksgiving table was decorated with a paper tablecloth but with real plates, glasses and utensils. I didn't know about vinyl tablecloths.
7th hour comes around and stuffing was assembled and cooked, rice steaming happily and the turkey's smelling great... I was feeling good!
At 6:00 PM, my family shows up, and the turkey's mouth-watering aroma is invading the whole studio from under the foil. I started to assign their seats, but couldn't fit everyone on the table, so back it went in the kitchen with the food. We ended up using the table to hold the dinnerware. After everyone had a plate full of the stuffing and the rice, I had my boyfriend use the table to carve the bird. We put it back in the living room in front of my family and everything went just great. The turkey was moist, the skin crispy and golden. The stuffing was surprisingly delicious. My mom approved. Then, my family asked for seconds,mainly the dark meat.
As my boyfriend hacked at the legs, I remembered the stuffing inside the bird and I asked if people wanted some. Everyone said yes, so that was next to be divied up. I get further inside, and I couldn't dig through, I try again and pops out this perfectly steamed envelope of giblets! (My mom, just minutes before asked if I used the giblets in my stuffing and I confidently said, "it didn't come with it, they must have forgotten".)
We all thought it was so funny, my mom was still laughing until after she was out the door. My perfect evening quickly ended with the giblets; cranberry and apple juices kept on spilling, plates full of food kept being dropped (thank goodness for carpets!) and the TV didn't work! I don't remember the dessert, but I know that we had just enough for everybody.
Overall, it was a great evening and I will always be grateful for how my family showed up and as a family, we celebrated our very first Thanksgiving together- typically, we just bypassed Thanksgiving or we were invited at some relatives house, but never quite felt very welcomed.
That night was my first real attempt at hosting a holiday dinner.

Back in 1997, as a new wife to Charlie, my family again asked me to host a Thanksgiving dinner that was followed by two more, but in different years. That adventure was another story for another day. In those three years, we always had a great time and the turkey was always a hit. Now, every year, my mom asks me, "where is the turkey?" I miss her so much...

The following pictures should give you an idea on how I, a Filipino (there's no Philippine Thanksgiving), personally adapted to this holiday after each move. One staple drink we always had since we moved to AZ, is the Mango Pineapple juice from Dole. It was our way of honoring me, a tropical chef in an arid climate. It's still a tradition to this day...

I'd like to think that I grew up a bit in my preparing for Thanksgiving.

What do you think?

Of course, we weren't always the host, some were only videotaped and some Thanksgiving where we had so much fun, we forgot to take pictures!

November 29, 2007: Texas (moved here June 2007)
$3 vinyl tablecloth, my brown swirl Easter plates, and candles from Ross; the desserts were B1G1 FREE and the dessert tablecloth was a steal at $7 from $29.99 back in 2004!

"Pin the tail feathers on the Turkey"

November 24, 2005: Arizona
found all these in clearance bins at Michael's back in 2004, except for the vase, runner and the candleholder pumpkin that my VT gave me. The dinnerware, stemware, soup tureen, napkins and placemats were from the clearance section of Linens n' Things

November 25, 2004: Arizona
We graduated to game hens; these were roated with citrus glaze. I made that wooden Pilgrim couple from a RS Enrichment back in 1997, found the wooden turkey at Albertson's and the plates were Charlie's 1st wedding anniversary gift to me from Costco.

the dessert holder is typically my plate stacker the rest of the year and the purple cornucopia was a steal at Michael's since it was the last one on the shelf. It was already 50% off, but at the register, they gave me another 25% off!

Please leave comments; I love tablescapes, and I welcome any new ideas.
Wait for my 2008 tablescape on the next post!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Birthday, The Bestfriend & The Bash

Lisa's invite for this year
This is her signature invitation, a scroll tied with a bow since she was 12 years old. She's used it for her White Elephant, Back to School, End of School, and of course, Birthday parties!

I meant to post this (seriously!) when it actually happened last Saturday, the 15th, but our day ended at midnight and my eyes said, "shut them!"

We couldn't have a BIRTHDAY party without the BESTFRIEND, so we waited until we can secure a date to fly her out.

Shelby Wagner, Lisa's Arizona BFF for several years now, arrived on the 14th, partied on the 15th and attended Sacrament with us on the 16th before heading home back to AZ.
(In front of Hebron High before Lisa's Choir Dessert Concert)

Here's how these two normally are:





and... mushy!

But if you remember from my last post, Lisa's 16th still had a BASH to conquer, so we chose November 15th and the nearby city park with the theme,
"Flag Football in the Park".

Well... The park did not quite work out; we headed out at 10:30A, got there to winds that felt like 30mph and temperature in the 30s! We froze! It hurt to look straight out or even speak.

We finally gave up when we couldn't even pin down the table cloth using duct tape! At about 2:25P, after being defeated by the wind, we decided to move the party indoors, back to our apartment!
"Oh, did I mention that the party is at 3:00?"

This cake was inspired by the necklace pendant that these two girls exchanged before we left AZ for TX. At Kohl's, they found two of the same pendant, each bought one,then gave it to each other as their BFF parting gift. It sure strengthened their friendship, just like a dragon.This was supposed to be 25 cupcakes, but the baker messed up. Oh, well; we'll just have to eat this delicious, definitely bigger, half vanilla/half chocolate, $6 cheaper 1/2 sheet cake! Oh, well... :D

This is how it went:
Lisa had to call all the people that RSVP'd to tell them that the party got moved to our place and confirm that they know our address. Then, as soon as Charlie arrived from picking up Ian from a birthday party, we drove home and scrambled to get everything up before everyone arrived!

At the apartment...
Lisa under her birthday banner (which was actually the last thing we put up!)

First, they played with Wii's Mario Kart...

Then,they played a Filipino game called "Musical Newspaper", but no newspaper, so we played "Musical Towel" instead.
First,you and a partner dance around a fully opened newspaper (or towel) until the music stops. When it does, you need to quickly get on the paper together, and wait until a judge clears your team.
Then, fold the paper in half, wait for the music to start and do it all over again until the paper is so small, you and your partner have to imitate a Chinese acrobat to stay on the paper for 3 whole seconds!

The winner got the privilege of wearing a turkey head strap and the winning towel as a cape!

Sadie, Kyla, and Lisa with Ian... Kyla was the partner of each girl, so she got to wear the winning towel! Congratulations!!!

Then, there's the "Make-Up Session"... They used their faces as canvases and created some cool artwork!
The boys went first; the 4 girls paired up into two after the boys blindly pointed at them. Thanks to Lisa's friend Kyla, we had enough make-up to do this fun game.

Before the assault... Can't you tell they're excited to do this?



After 5 long minutes...

Here's their artwork; but who won?
Daniel did, look, he's in shock!

Our esteemed judge, my dh of course, Charlie!

The girls didn't escape the artistic prowess of the boys;
I gotta be fair, right?
How do you think they did?

Of course, they needed to get Lisa back, she is the birthday girl after all...

Nice work, boys!
A group shot is mandatory...
Thanks everyone for being such good sports!

Well, there is still a Choir Concert and a Stake Dance to go to, so time to clean up!
The following pictures were after a short stint at Petland with Shelby while Lisa's at her concert and Daniel changed at his house. We all met up at the highschool, came back to our place and waited for the girls to finish looking and smelling gorgeous.

Do they look ready for the dance now?

Daniel, Lisa's school friend and former AcDec classmate, was able to come and enjoy the Stake Dance along with Shelby and Lisa. What a great missionary opportunity.

They had such a great time, I laughed till my sides hurt, and Lisa had the best Sweet 16 BASH that we could come up with in 30 minutes!

Another successful party under my belt, not bad, not bad at all...
If you were wondering where I was, I was the main photographer, DJ, Host and also acting judge, on top of the obvious stressed out, stretched out mom! Why you ask?
I don't believe in teenagers partying on their own, so I personally supervise all of Lisa's parties, provide wholesome games and get to know her friends in the process. Now, the question is, will I be able to do this when Ian and Jasmine are teenagers?