Thursday, November 22, 2007



Michael is out playing "Turkey Bowl" Football. Evan is asleep (yes, it is almost 11:00 in the morning!). Lane is searching for Michael and the "Turkey Bowl" game; I'm assuming he found it, since he hasn't come home yet...Joshua is upstairs making a Thanksgiving Day craft--I'm not allowed to look, only to print out the turkeys. I am here, enjoying the peace and quiet (and the after Thanksgiving Day sale ads).

Michael, after listening to me whine and complain about the work and the mess and the work and the mess and the work and the mess (get it? He finally did, too) of Thanksgiving, did the most wonderful thing (besides buying me awesome boots). He helped.

Last night Michael gathered the family into the kitchen (after instructing me to purchase all necessary ingredients ahead of time) and put everyone to work making food for Thanksgiving Day. In my world Thanksgiving has always been about the appetizers before dinner, and pie after dinner. Not about dinner. So last night everyone helped me make yummy finger food (chili dip and chips, Little Smokies in BBQ sauce, driveway dip, apple dip, vegetable tray, cheese ball, etc.) plus yams, rolls, mashed potatoes, and apple pie. Then they helped me clean it up! So here I am on Thanksgiving morning with a full fridge, baked goodies, and a clean kitchen! It's a Thanksgiving Day miracle, and I am thankful!! I sense a tradition in the making here...

I am also thankful that I don't have to cook all the rest of Thanksgiving dinner. We are going to Michael's parents' house for dinner. Marianne is the consummate dinner party hostess. The house will be decorated from porch to porch, table to table, counter top to counter top. Her beautiful Thanksgiving spread will look every bit as beautiful as this, in fact, more so:

We all love to tease my mother-in-law about her enormous table decorations--you really can't see the other side of the table (or the people sitting there) around, above, or underneath them! And she sets the most beautiful place settings I have ever seen. That usually means that the dishes have to be hand-washed, though, so last year my sister-in-law, Denise, and I threatened to scan Marianne's china pattern onto paper plates (high-quality paper plates, of course) so that we could survive the after-dinner onslaught of dirty dishes. We're still working on that...

My dear, sweet mother-in-law is from Sweden, but has succeeded in making as glorious and American a Thanksgiving Dinner as possible. It really is spectacular. I love to hear her tell the story, though, of her first Thanksgiving meal. She was newly married, and newly American, and wanted to pull off a feat of wonder: a real turkey dinner for her husband. Gary's only instruction to her was, "It had better taste like my mother's." With that to go on, she worked on making the stuffing and all the trimmings and, of course, cooking the turkey. With no one to call for help (her mother-in-law relationship not being nearly as peachy keen as mine is), she called Gary's secretary for some turkey advice. The secretary told her that the turkey was done when the drumstick would pull off easily. This probably would have been sufficient if only Marianne had known that the drumstick was part of the turkey. Instead she searched all through their tiny apartment for a drumstick, and found one in a gift basket that had a small drum set included in it. She pulled the miniature drum stick out of the gift basket, put it into the turkey, and voila! When it indeed pulled out easily, Marianne pulled out the turkey!

Of course she's had years of successful turkey dinners, so it really is unfair to bring up the ones that weren't so great, but those just happen to be make such good stories! Last year Marianne flooded her newly refinished wood floors while thawing the turkey (she forgot to turn off the water in the bathtub with the turkey in it) so Thanksgiving Dinner was at my house. She brought all the decorations she could manage, and tried to make it look somewhat beautiful, but it was nowhere near her level of gorgeous. The food was good, though, and we all (barely) fit, so what more could you ask for?

So, anyway, while I'm here relaxing on a lovely Thanksgiving Day, Marianne is bound to be at her house decorating, preparing, and cooking up a storm. The results are certain to be amazing. Amazing or not, Lane keeps telling me that he wishes we could do away with turkey altogether. He hates turkey, and would definitely appreciate and agree with this:

Sorry, Lane, the Vances aren't likely to break with turkey tradition!

As I mentioned before, my mother-in-law is from Sweden. Surely you remember the Swedish cook from Muppet Show days...I love speaking the "Swedish" I've learned from his cooking shows, and certainly enjoy knowing where Marianne learned to cook (just kidding, except when it comes to Christmas Eve dinner, which is all very Swedish, and all still a bit scary to me...). Here are the instructions for a perfect holiday meal:

First, the Turkey (okay, so it's with a chicken. Just substitute birds as needed.).

Then, and most importantly, dessert:

Or, if you prefer, donuts:

Just make sure, whatever you do and whatever you eat, you have a very

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Yesterday I went up to Park City and met Michael for lunch, dessert, and a little Christmas shopping. It was great fun! Actually, we started with dessert: chocolate mousse from a little cafe. Dessert first is exactly how it should be done! After chocolate mousse Michael introduced me to some cute girls in a makeup store that he delivers to. Then we made our way down the street where we had soup and sandwiches at Quizno's. Next we visited another store where he delivers and talked with the shop keepers there. Everywhere we went and everyone we talked to absolutely adores their UPS driver, Michael. He is pretty awesome.

Just to prove it, and to make me practically hyperventilate with excitement and surprise, Michael brought me home a present. New boots! New adorable, too cute to even talk about without becoming delirious boots!

I am going to have the best dressed feet at Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow! I told Michael how sad I was that I would have to take my boots off at his mom's house (it's a shoes-off household). He said he didn't want me to ruin "my look," so he gave me cute tights to wear! They are turquoise with stripes and purple flowers! I think I truly may have died and gone to footwear heaven!

Even without the surprise presents Michael is pretty awesome. Admittedly, though, the presents (shallow Sal that I am) do make me like him all the more! Yep, Christmas came early at my house. Hope your holidays are equally exciting!

Monday, November 19, 2007


And super glad he's MINE!


Yes, a very happy Birthday to you, Joshua! You have been an absolute joy in our lives. You are smart, kind, witty, and (although you might be slightly picky when it comes to eating) you like the same birthday cake as me! Angel Food Cake with strawberries and whipped cream--YUM!!

The first thing I heard after you were born was not, "It's a boy!" or, "He's here!" or any other much anticipated proclamation. Instead I heard the nurse exclaim, "Look at those feet!" Your feet were so big that everyone was amazed. I had purchased darling little white dress shoes for your blessing day which you never fit into; in fact, your first shoes were a size 5! I bring that up because people often comment on how tall you are, and, judging by your shoe size (your feet are bigger than mine!), how tall you're likely to be as a grown up. They all expect you to be a great basketball player. I'm sure you would be, if basketball interested you much. You'd rather be skiing on a winter Saturday, than making it to any Saturday basketball game. And anyway, if you had your way, you'd be playing football!

Too bad your mom's too mean to put you on a team...

When I was pregnant with you, your dad and I were so positive that you were going to be a girl. You are definitely anything but! Still, you did look an awful lot like your cousin Jane when you were a baby (minus her super-blue eyes). Aunt Dana might disagree, and Jane is definitely prettier, but until I learn how to scan your baby pictures in, Jane's face is the closest resemblance I can find!

I hope Aunt Dana won't mind me thinking that you looked an awful lot like Carson when you were little, too. I know that's not entirely possible, since Carson looks just like his handsome daddy, but this is my blog, so I can believe what I want.

You had a great conversation with your Awesome-Dude Grandpa on your birthday. He asked you questions in typical crazy Grandpa lingo (where else would you learn words like "vituperative," "apocryphal," and "malodorous"?); I loved overhearing this:

Grandpa: Well, Joshua, I have a very important (although I'm sure he didn't use a normal word like "important." It was most likely something I'd have to look up in the dictionary to spell, but "important" was the meaning) question to ask you: Do you like being Joshua?
Joshua: Yes.
(You are not a man of many words, Joshua.)
Grandpa: So, Joshua, what did you learn while you spent a whole year being eight?
Joshua: To be kind.
Grandpa: That's a great thing to learn, Joshua.
(At this point Grandpa began telling you the etymology of your name, being derived from the Hebrew form of Jesus, etc, etc. or some such stuff...We actually just named you Joshua because I like the name, not for any sort of meaning or importance...)
Well, Joshua, are you going to be kind everyday when you're nine?
Joshua: Probably not.
Grandpa: That's probably true.

Kind or not, Joshua (and you are mostly kind), you are LOVED. We are so glad to have you in our family. I'm so excited to get to know you through the years. Thanks for nine fabulous ones. We love you.

Friday, November 16, 2007


This has to be a highlight in Michael's life: a conversation any father would be proud to overhear...

Evan: Mom, do you have any make-up I can borrow?
Mom: Go ask your brother Lane. He used some yesterday.

Now let me explain. Evan and Lane are in their school musicals. Performers, even guys, have to wear makeup on stage. So they both came to me. Well, Lane came first, and then Evan went to Lane...

Lane performed last week and was BRILLIANT as Frederick, the romantic lead in "Pirates of Penzance." He really was darling and if I were a junior high aged girl, I would have been sighing along with the rest of them! Word is, "He's HOT!" I am merely quoting what I heard in the hallways.

Evan's show opens tonight. His high school is performing "Damn Yankees." They had two matinees this week for the local elementary and junior high schools but sadly, no one came. I guess nobody wanted to send their classes to something that has a swear word in the title. Actually, I don't blame the schools. There would have been hell to pay from many a parent if their children had gone. Funny thing is, it's a pretty tame show. It came out in the mid-50's, and it's the story of a baseball player who sells his soul to the devil in order to win the world series (am I getting this right?). Good wins over evil (well, love does) and I don't even think they swear...but I could be wrong. Wrong, or just calloused to such a vocabulary, after years of working in the theater. HA!!!

I do have to admit to a measure of excitement at seeing my children taking to the stage...and at being good at it. I didn't mean to push them into it, and I don't know that I did. But it is what I do, so I probably pushed in one way or another. Of course, I read a lot, too, and spend an enormous amount of time doing laundry and dishes (despite what previously posted pictures may portray...), and that hasn't seemed to push any of my family into similar action. So go figure. Maybe performing is just plain fun! I'm happy to share my love of it, and my makeup, with anyone!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Recognize this? I do. Apparently the placard I bought to inspire the "hired-help" to actually help, doesn't.

If it were just my laziness, or even just my children's children-ness, that would be one thing. But then they have to have friends over, too! Lane and company were jumping on the trampoline when his friend cut his lip (darn braces) and came in to clean up the blood. On his way to the bathroom, this happened:

I was cleaning up the above mess when I found the below mess.

Michael and the Park City toy store owner are buddy-buddy. They both share an appreciation f0r giant ape costumes and fake poo. I'm not sure, however, that the cable man has that same sense of appreciation. Either that, or perhaps (is it possible?) he just didn't see Michael's joke on me when he used our restroom. The cable man didn't seem to have much appreciation for my messy house or overly-friendly dog, either. Imagine that! Would you? Well, then come on over. I can't promise what you'll find (last week there was a big fake-poo footprint in our entryway...), but I promise it will probably make us laugh. Later.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Marianne, my mother in law, and Lane, my son, and I went to a concert Tuesday night performed by the United States Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants (the Air Force Choir). It was phenomenal. I know this not only because of what I heard in my ears and felt in my heart as I listened to the music, but also because Lane told me afterwards that he didn't completely hate it.

One of the songs they performed was "America the Beautiful." It was so glorious. The YouTube video doesn't do it justice, but at least it's a good reminder to me of what I heard, and what I saw a few years ago when Michael and I went to Washington D.C.

I suppose the entire concert may have seemed even more poignant to me because it took place on voting day. I had my "I voted" sticker on, and listening to those American songs was very overwhelming. I felt such gratitude for this country that we live in and for its governing system.

Yes, I voted that day, and yes, one half of the items I voted for were voted down, but we all had a say in the matter. That is what matters. I hope you made it matter.

So enjoy the video and the song. Hopefully it will inspire each of us. At the very least it might get us traveling to Washington D.C. or another one of the great historical sites of our country. Hopefully it will also inspire us to do something great, like vote when the opportunity comes, or to raise another person higher, or to stand for a cause we believe in. The freedom to do that is what makes America BEAUTIFUL.

P.S. Alma 58:40 "But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually..." That is how we do it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


The last few days have been very fun! It was U.E.A. (Utah Educator's Association) weekend so school was out and there was time to play!

Saturday we spent the day at Lagoon.

Sunday we went to the Daniel's.

Monday we went to see "Triller" by the Odyssey Dance Company--a family favorite every year!

Tuesday we went back to Lagoon for "Frightmares." My friend Trevor is a performer in the "Monster Classics" show there.

Then we came home for a great Scavenger Hunt with our church youth group.

Wednesday was an Owl Chorale performance for Joshua and me.

And, of course, we had a great time Halloween night with dressing up and trick or treating. We being everyone except Evan. Sadly, he had to work at Wendy's.

Tomorrow is the Vance family Halloween/October Birthdays party.

Saturday Michael, Evan, and Lane are going to Manti for a church group trip to the temple there.

Joshua and I will be staying home for his final soccer game.

Monday night we are going to see "Little Shop of Horrors."

Tuesday night we are going to see the United States Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants perform at Temple Square.

Wednesday night it's back to rehearsal for me, but I think that's great, too!

I love being entertained!