Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So Much to be Thankful For

I love Thanksgiving, and I really like to make it a big deal.  There are really so many great things about it.  There is the food, of course; the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the best part of which, in my opinion, is the Radio City Rockettes; you can start listening to Christmas music and no one will yell at you; you get a couple of days to hang out with your family or neighbors or close friends; there's usually an awesome movie released that weekend; and everything goes on sale in the stores so you can save money on your Christmas shopping!  But of course, what I really love most about it is the way it gives me an opportunity to really think about the things that I am grateful for.  This year I found myself giving an internal "thank you" for really small, simple things in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  Some were maybe even silly, but it was good for me to find something new to be thankful for every day - or several times each day.

Here are just a few of the things I found myself grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend:

  • Aunt Elaine’s Recipe Book:  Best.  Rolls.  Ever.  (And I finally learned to make them, thanks to my mom!)
  • The Internet:  Source of all the recipes we didn’t have on hand or couldn’t find or had forgotten.  This year I found probably my favorite cranberry sauce recipe to date as well as a sweet potato soufflĂ© recipe, which I made from fresh sweet potatoes, that was a favorite at the Thanksgiving table.
  • Time-and-a-half pay, so that there is at least one very positive aspect of having to work at Old Navy on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Our DVR, which allowed me to record the parade so that I didn’t miss seeing the Rockettes even though I was at work.
  • The Hansons, our awesome neighbors and long-time friends who joined us for dinner and brought a yummy relish tray (which is one of my favorite parts of the meal) and even joined in on some Harry Potter talk!
  • Movie theaters that are open on Thanksgiving and show great movies like Tangled so that my family and I can enjoy some quality entertainment together.  (Also, Disney, because basically everything they do is just absolutely remarkable!)
  • Visits from my cousin Tanell and her husband, Davinn.  It was great to see you, even though I had to go to bed early and we didn’t get to practice our usual tradition of playing card games all night long.
  • Old Navy opening at midnight for Black Friday and scheduling me to work from 11:45  PM – 7:15 AM so that I could spend the greater part of the day visiting with . . .
  • My Dad; his wife, Kim; and my stepbrother, Connor.  They live in Nevada and I hadn’t seen them in probably a year so I was excited that they came for a visit.  My siblings and I spent the afternoon and evening with them on Friday, hanging out and catching up and bowling really low scores and having a great time.  Thanks for everything, Dad and Kim!  It was great to see you!
  • And in general, and I hope it doesn’t seem trite, I do want to express my gratitude for my family, who love me and take care of me and put up with all my crazy; for my friends who do the same, whether they are here in Logan or in Ogden or Bountiful or San Francisco or anywhere else on this beautiful Earth; for the beautiful home and neighborhood and valley and country in which I live; for my brother far away in Hawaii for being an example and a source of strength for our family, and for willingly sacrificing to serve our country (that goes for you too, Dad); for my talents and abilities and the opportunities I have to do the things that bring me joy; for my knowledge of the Gospel, the love that my Heavenly Father and the Savior have for me, eternal families, repentance and forgiveness, inspired Priesthood leaders, scriptures, and hymns.  I know that everything that I have has been given to me by my loving Father in Heaven and I am so grateful every day for all these things and so many more.  THANK YOU.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This year for Halloween, I decided to go as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.  Apparently I was Dorothy once before when I was very young.  However, I do not remember  it and that dress wouldn't fit me anymore anyway, so I made a new one and I was happy with how it turned out.  I also made my own ruby slippers (and I am still finding sequins all over the house).

Saturday morning my family and I ran in the Spook Sprint Fun Run, a 5K benefiting adoption.  I ran in costume (because why not?), but I didn't want to run in my ruby slippers so I "adapted" my running shoes for the occasion.

Here is the family after the run:

Saturday night was spent at my dear "Daddy" Marc Jensen's house in Preston.  Marc gets way into Halloween, decorating his yard with a doomsday theme and dressing as the Grim Reaper to hand out candy to the littles.  So it is a tradition among some of my friends to spend the night there, watching Marc scare children and then having dinner and chatting or watching a movie.  This year RoseAnne and I made some delicious soups and rolls.  Here I am in my apron:

Kassie and Brett playing with Furd, Marc's faithful skeletal friend:

Kassie definitely won the costume contest of the night.  She came as Richard!  Can you tell which is which?

Then on Sunday, instead of continuing with our traditional alphabetical movie night, we took advantage of the fact that it was actually Halloween and had a Halloween movie night (we watched Clue and Rear Window) and costume party, complete with spooky treats like crushed bones and human fingers!

Me with Mariska as Jane Bennett (I went as Elizabeth Bennett in that same dress last year, cool huh?)

Stephanie and Adrienne came as Sick and Tired  :)

Scott made this awesome no-strings-attached Pinocchio costume:

Allison as the Greek Goddess Artemis

Chuck as a Fish and Robert as the Karate Kid (which was one of our "K" movies...)

And the whole A-Z Movie Group (Well, some of us, anyway...)

All in all, a pretty fantastic Halloween!

Pumpkin Walk

For those of you who have never spent a Halloween in Cache Valley, every year we have this awesome event called the Pumpkin Walk.  It is held free-of-charge in a park in North Logan, and schools, businesses, families, and other groups create scenes from movies, television, books, and the like using mostly harvest vegetables.  It’s pretty much cool.  Here are some of my favorite scenes from the Pumpkin Walk this year, which had an animated theme:

The Flintstones

Partly Cloudy

SpongeBob Squarepants


They also have TONS of wooden cutouts so you can pose as your favorite characters.  We had a little bit too much fun with them...

 And here is a shot of Austin, Mom, Braxton, and Shannon before it was dark and cold.

They say HOORAY for the Pumpkin Walk!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Flood of Family Fun!

It was Sunday, October 24th.  It had been raining off and on all day and for most of the day before.  It was about 10:30 PM and while Mom, Grandma and Grandpa had already gone to bed, my siblings and were in the basement watching Raising Arizona.  A little while into the movie, I kept thinking I could hear dripping noises, but when I asked Shannon and Austin about it they said they couldn’t hear anything, so I didn’t check right away.  A few minutes later I could swear the dripping was getting worse, so I followed the noise into our downstairs kitchen to check it out.  The rain outside had mostly filled our windowsill (two or three feet deep, since we have a daylight basement) and water was streaming through the bottom and sides of the window pane.  I sent Shannon for some towels, but they didn’t do much good.  We would put them on the window sill to catch the water as it leaked through, and after just a few seconds the towels would be completely soaked; so heavy with water that they would just fall off the window sill.

By this time my mom heard the commotion and came into the kitchen with us and we all soon realized that not only were the towels insufficient for cleaning up the water that had already flooded into the kitchen, but they definitely weren’t helping slow the flow from the outside in.  So my mom went to work sucking the kitchen dry with the Shop Vac and Shannon and Austin and I headed outside to try to empty out the window sill.

We went to work filling buckets and dumping them out – first onto the lawn and then, when the lawn started collecting giant puddles, into the street.

All that work made Shannon thirsty….

Soon the kitchen was all Shop Vac’d and Mom came outside and stuck the vacuum hose into the window well, and even with the vacuum running and the three of us kids continuing to work with the buckets, the rain was so torrential that it seemed we were hardly getting anywhere.

There were huge puddles developing on the lawn, the walkway, and in the garden, and we found a sinkhole in the flowerbed right in front of the window well, which may have contributed to the mass amounts of water leaking in.

Grandma and Grandpa got in on the action then as well.  Grandma brought out more light and helped us to organize ourselves in all the chaos, and Grandpa redirected the drainage pipes from the roof so they were facing as far away from the window as possible.

While Mom and I kept working on emptying the window sill, Grandpa, Austin, and Shannon went into the backyard and filled the wheelbarrow with dirt to refill the sinkhole and try to prevent further water leakage.

After the window sill was almost completely dry and the sinkhole pretty well filled in, my mom and my grandpa used a tarp and a shovel and some big rocks to build a little tent over the window sill to keep as much of the continuing rain storm out as possible.


Despite the cold and the wet (so cold and so wet, in fact, that my mom and I had to go inside halfway through the project and change into dry clothes!) and the late hour, we managed to have a fair share of good old Burgess/Wright family fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Picnic + Bountiful + Soccer = Fun Day!

So I have a bunch of really great friends, and October 19 was one of those days when I got to enjoy the company of some of the best of them in some very fun circumstances!

That Tuesday morning, I packed myself and a few of my belongings into the good car and sang along with my Glee soundtrack all the way to the magical land of Clearfield, UT.  There I met with my Terrace Plaza theater friends, Andrea Scanlon and Annie Ferrin, and their youngest children, Kyra and Xander (the older kids were in school of course), for a lunch picnic in the park.  We chatted and caught up on each other's lives and watched Kyra drag random strangers around the playground, calling one man "Daddy" and asking to be pushed on the swings or helped down the slide.  It was a lovely couple of hours and I always love getting to spend time with these amazing ladies and their beautiful kids!

After the picnic, I had a couple of hours to kill, so I called my best friend from high school, Melissa Cannon Hislop and asked if I could come down and visit with her for a while.  She and her husband, Sammy, and their one-year-old daughter, Lucy, moved from Cedar City to Bountiful at the beginning of the summer and I hadn't yet had a chance to visit her there, so I was excited to see her new-to-me apartment - and her and Lucy!  We had a nice visit and Lucy wasn't too shy of me and I got to see all of Missy's cute crafts, my favorite of which was her candy corn tree (which can be seen here:  Missy's Cunning Craftiness).  I really miss having Missy right across the street to entertain me and to be dragged around on all my misadventures, but she is such a great wife and mom and homemaker that I guess I can't be too upset about it.  (Also I look forward to all her crafty, homemaking help when I have a house and husband of my own!)

The final event of my awesome fun day was my very first Real Salt Lake soccer game with my friend, Marshall Stoddard.  Marshall buys season tickets and has invited me a few times to accompany him, but this was the first day I was able to come and I was so excited!  We met in Ogden and Marshall drove us down to Draper where we ate dinner at Chipotle and then went to the stadium.  We sat down and this was what I could see:
And Marshall said in a sarcastically apologetic tone, "These aren't bad seats, are they?"  Haha Marshall, no, they are definitely not bad seats.

I was a professional soccer virgin, because my soccer experiences as a child were not fantastic, to say the least.  When I was on the U-10 Hillcrest Strikers soccer team in the second grade I spent most of my time on the field running away from the not-so-high flying ball with my arms covering my head.  And in middle school, every time we played line soccer I would somehow manage to get a ball kicked right at my face or smack into my stomach.  So I had kind of a bad taste in my mouth when it came to soccer, and flat-out refused to watch the World Cup with Melissa in our senior year.  However, I am at a point in my life when I am excited to try new things and determined to be open-minded and fearless.  So I went to the Real game not only with no trepidation, but with an adequate amount of enthusiasm.

The game was actually awesome.  It was weird getting used to a professional sport where very little of the action was replayed over the loudspeakers.   Despite the music and shouts from the crowd, it seemed so quiet without commentary that it felt at times like I was watching the little men kicking around the tiny ball on a TV on mute or something.  And Marshall had to keep explaining what was happening in the game.  But I caught on okay, I think, and I really enjoyed myself.

That night the Real played against a Mexican team, the Cruz Azul (Blue Crosses), and when their supporters kept shouting "Azul, azul, azul!" the Real supporters around us made comments about all the sneezing.  And of course, there were many choruses of "Ole, ole, ole, ole!  Real Salt Lake!" especially after the Real scored goals.  Despite a lack of action in the first half of the game, there was still plenty to watch and keep my interest.  All of the goals in  the entire game were scored in a period of about a half an hour, and the game ended 3-1 in favor of the Real!  Hooray!  Thanks Marshall for the ticket and I would love to go again sometime!
P.S.  I think I could do a pretty darn good job of being a soccer announcer, since I can hold out "GOAL!" like nobody's business.  I'm probably not at a professional level just yet, but maybe when I am a soccer mom I can give it a try!