Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God Is So Good

Apparently, I got in a car wreck on the interstate coming home from work, last Thursday. I rolled the car at least four times. I don't remember it at all, and am still recovering from the concussion. But God protected me and everybody else. I was wearing my seat belt, and nobody else got hurt.

Somebody hit my back quarter panel and drove off. But we're not mad, just glad everybody is okay. God is so good.

Brad has been the most wonderful man in the world, since the accident (as always). He lovingly takes care of me and has so patiently answered my loop of questions that I have continually asked over and over. I know it has to be more frustrating for him than it is for me that my memory is out of whack, but he just keeps on loving me. It is getting better every day. I'm pretty sure I can remember all of yesterday and today, so that's a really good sign.

I had a follow up appointment with the doctor today, and he wouldn't clear me to do anything, yet, at least until he sees me again next week. He says that my reaction time, energy level, and memory isn't good enough to resume regular life. Symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome can last up to six weeks, but we're sure praying for a speedier recovery than that.

However, on the bright side, at least it's Christmas time! If I have to get knocked out for a few days, there's nothing better to wake up (over and over) to than a Christmas tree! I have been pleasantly surprised every time. I do love my Christmasness.

Also, I have some great friends who have been here for me, visited, called, brought food, and offered prayers on our behalf. Truly, God is good, and we are blessed. He most definitely protected me during the accident and continues to care for us during the aftermath. And, oh yeah, Chester has been almost as great as Brad, constantly staying by my side. I'm definitely in good hands.

I pray that you all have a Merry, and safe, Christmas! God Bless!!

Only if you want to, (some people have asked) you can see the rest of the pictures of the car. Also, sorry if this post was incoherent. Hopefully, soon, I'll be 100% again. Love you all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

That's the Spirit!

A group of Christmas Carolers just gathered on the bottom floor of our office building, dressed in holiday cheer. People on the floors above gladly gathered around the open center to look down upon them as they merrily sang Christmas songs to the entire complex. What a great break in the middle of the work day. Oh, how I love Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving, 2009 #2

Brad's family is really good about celebrating holidays after the fact. Since they have three boys, they've found that it's easier if those three boys spend actual holidays with the girls' families, and then the following weekend together as Mehaffeys. As a married-in, I so much appreciate that stress-free solution.

Also, since all three of the boys and their prospective girls live in Nashville, they decided that it's more convenient for the parents to travel down South than for the 6 kids to go up North. For our commencement of a Nashville Mehaffey Thanksgiving, Brad and I hosted the meal for the family. Yep, you heard that right, Brad and I hosted the family Thanksgiving. How grown-up is that?? I was a little nervous since our kitchen is about the size as my office cubicle, but we somehow made it work.

We turned our dining room table sideways, and added our card table to the end of that to have enough room for all of us. (Classy, huh?) Which turned out to be a great idea for the cooking, too, because we used that card table in place of counter space. Don cooked the turkey in the laundry closet, and the girls were completely pushed out of the kitchen when it was cutting time as all of the Mehaffey boys crowded in to gathere around their dad and learn the art of turkey carving. But overall, Heather and I totally proved ourselves worthy of the Mrs. Mehaffey title, as we split the meal with the Momma Mrs. Mehaffey. You won't even believe how much food we cooked. Let me just tell you.

Turkey, dressing, cornbread stuffing, noodles (upon Brad's insistence and thanks to the Amish people at the Farmers' Market), mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, a relish tray, grape salad, cranberry sauce and crescent rolls. And we had both fudge pie and pumpkin pie for dessert. Oh yeah, I totally had my hand in that. I even baked pies!

Seriously, we loaded the table with all of the food, sat in our seats, and held hands to pray. But before we could give thanks for all of our numerous blessings, I glanced up and down the table(s) at our feast, and yelled out "What?? Look at this! We are totally freaking awesome!!" and Heather and I high-fived across the table. Yeah, I'm not going to lie. I was pretty darn proud of ourselves. For this anti-cooking amateur, I crossed over a huge hurdle that day. I couldn't hear "Mmmmm..." "Yum!" "This is great!" "Wow! So delicious!" or "You girls did amazing!" nearly enough. We were all beaming with pride.

One very great thing about hosting Thanksgiving dinner, is that you get to keep (most of) the leftovers! And believe me, even eight grown adults couldn't consume all of those fixin's! We had so much extra turkey, that Chester even got to enjoy a piece! Now, as a general rule, Chester does not enjoy the luxury of people food. But all the other dogs were getting some (oh, I haven't told you yet? Yes, there were other dogs), so it was only fair. I do believe he loved it!

Each year on Thanksgiving, we pose for the Mehaffey Family Photo that will accompany the annual Christmas letter. This year, Heather finally got to be part of it since she and Matthew are officially married and she's a legit Mehaffey! (Pay no attention to the clock in the background of the following pictures. Don't judge us. It could be referring to the morning.)

We also took the opportunity to take pictures of each mini-family and then a picture of each couple with their dog, since each couple had their own dog... Here's Don and Elaine with their new schnauzer puppy, Buddy!

Here are Brad and me and our little family photo with Chester.

Married Matthew and Heather and their baby girl, Kate.

Jeremy and Madison with his new (4 year old) dog, Abigail (Abby).
Of course, we had to take a picture of all of the proud Mehaffey Men with their dogs. Yes, the heights of the boys and then of the dogs is very humorous. I totally agree.

We could not resist trying to get a picture of all four dogs together. You can tell that "Grandpa" has a bag of treats off to their right. Abby (who loves food enough to steal a cinnamon roll right off of our kitchen counter!) couldn't wait. Then, when we got Abby settled, Kate was bored and decided that if she had to sit there and not move, then she was going to lay down. I think that the "cousin" picture (well, Buddy is technically an "uncle" even though he's the youngest) is absolutely adorable.

Surprisingly, having 8 people and 4 dogs in our house for 3 days wasn't nearly as chaotic as it could have been. Sure, Scattergories did get a little bit out of hand, but we had a great time spent together. I always count our family as one of the biggest blessings in our life. Definitely a great way to spend Thanksgiving.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving, 2009 #1

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day with my family at my brother's house. Jennie (the creative school teacher that she is) made us girls matching aprons to wear while we cooked. Hers says "Mom," Rachel's says "Rachel," and mine says "Aunt Mindy" with both Rachel's and Clinton's hand prints. I absolutely love them! They are so cute, and were the perfect ensemble we needed to embark on the cooking challenge of the year.

This was the first Thanksgiving since my parents' divorce, so Jennie and I really had to step up and prove that we were grown-ups enough to handle a big undertaking like Thanksgiving dinner without my mom around. We were, of course, a little nervous (and a little sad). But I do believe the meal was a complete success.
We didn't even overflow the candied yams with too many marshmallows, like we've grown so accustomed to doing! However, we did forget to allow the rolls to rise, and then did the "quick rise" method that worked so well that they kind of blew up and became big, soft, roll monsters. But they were good! (And funny.) Rachel was our "Big Helper" for the day. She tried to help me peel eggs, and successfully peeled away the entire white part in one swipe, and then licked the yolk. Maybe 2-year-olds shouldn't be in charge of the deviled eggs. Hmm. However, she did offer her great assistance with the Waldorf salad, perfectly placing the diced fruits into the bowl and then helping stir them up.

Jennie impressed us all with made-from-scratch noodles as well as pies. Seriously, she's setting the bar very high. I made the deviled eggs, green bean casserole, and two corn casseroles (on accident. That's what happens when you're not paying attention and you mistakenly double an ingredient). We also feasted on mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, cole slaw, cranberry sauce and a relish tray. You would be surprised how many casseroles can fit into the oven at once! Thank goodness they all baked at 350 degrees.
For the most part, the boys (including Clinton and Chester) all hung out downstairs watching football, but Brad and TJ did take responsibilty for the turkey basting and cutting. TJ, the firefighter, got called out during the last five minutes of the turkey roasting, so we set the oven on low and kept everything warm, while we cleaned up the dishes. It was a weird feeling to be completely done cooking with a clean kitchen but no food to eat yet. But the wait was well worth it. When we finally dug into to our overflowing table, we were completely satisfied. It even took us hours to get up the courage to attack the delicious desserts.

It was great to spend time with my family, including my brothers that I don't see very often. And later in the evening, my mom stopped by for a visit. What a good feeling to see her again! Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without my mom around - it's her absolute favorite holiday. I'm pretty sure it was the first time I'd seen her since last Christmas, so I really needed that visit. We all sat in the kitchen and talked for hours. She even ate some of the Thanksgiving leftovers we had made, and approved of our cooking! Yea!

It was wonderful to have my whole family in the same house for a bit. As we've gotten older and more spread apart, that's been harder and harder to achieve, even before the divorce. I'm so pleased to know that we're still making wonderful Thanksgiving memories together, even with all the changes going on in our lives. God is so GOOD! And I am so blessed with this family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Counting My Blessings

As Thanksgiving approaches, I try to take some time each year to literally count my blessings and give thanks to the One who has so richly blessed me with all good things.

It would be impossible for me to collect an exhaustive list of my limitless blessings. However, I have compiled a collage of images that represent broader blessings in my life. They are in no particular order (other than which pictures fit best in the frames, kindly provided by Megan at Shabby Blogs.)
1. My adorable niece and nephew represent my entire, wonderful family - immediate, extended, and in-law.

2. I just love Chester a little more than should be commonly accepted. In a way, he represents our future family and the children that are to come for us. Until real babies show up, Chester is most definitely serving the role as my child.

3. God's Word. This really should be located first and foremost on my list. I am so grateful for God's love, mercy and grace. For the avenue or prayer, which He so graciously opens to us. Also, for the family that I have through Him in my church home. Oh, what a blessing!

4. My husband. How in the world did I end up with such an incredible, strong man to love and care for me? He is the greatest man in the entire universe, and God gave him to me! I'm so thankful for him and the relationship that we share with one another.

5. All of my friends (not only the few featured in the picture) and the great times and fun that we have together. Life would be so boring without the laughter we share, and so lonely without the constant companionship.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it pretty much covers the bases - the Lord, love, family, and friends. What more could a person want? (Well, besides the food, shelter, and various capabilities that I so often take for granted, but for which I am still extremely thankful.)

This holiday, I encourage each of you to take a moment to actually write down some of your blessings and truly Give Thanks to the One that deserves all praise.

I'd be thrilled to know what you consider to be some of your richest blessings and what you're thankful for this season. Please feel free to share them with me as we, together, give God all the glory.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lost in the Leaves

I love Fall. It’s my very favorite season of the whole year. (Weather season, anyway, not holiday season – Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday season.) Besides the temperatures, the sweaters, and the colors, one of my favorite parts of autumn is watching the leaves fall down like snow all around me. As I watch the foliage conceal the grounds outside, I can’t help but relive some of my childhood memories. Please indulge me as I reminisce and tell you a little story.

Growing up in Illinois, we lived across the street from a public park. Bliss Park, to be precise. It occupied an entire city block. The neighborhood mostly consisted of the four streets of houses that outlined the park. We were pretty much all bf's. Well, mostly my brother was bf's with all of the boys in the neighborhood, and I just crushed on them when they came around. But there were a few "sisters" of those cute boys that I spent some time with, as well.

Anyway, we lived right next door to my grandparents (mom's parents), and they naturally were the hub of our whole family. Grandma and Grandpa had an open door policy, which meant that the entire family was always in and out, constantly visiting and hanging out there. I was pretty tight with my cousins growing up, and they were always over at grandma's, which basically meant they were always over at my house, since I more or less lived next door.

So, essentially, I grew up alongside a lot of other kids, some related, others not, and we all virtually lived at that park. My mom was a super cool mom. She was really young and always hung out with us kids a lot, so she was included in that “peer group” that I spent so much time with.

The park was completely full of really big trees. You know, the really nice, full-grown kind. Each year, the leaves all fell, and the city paid people to mow the grounds and mulch them up. But year after year, before they had a chance to destroy the opportunity, the entire neighborhood would get together, grab rakes and tackle the park. Spearheaded by my super cool mom, of course, we would create a gigantic maze through the leaves, complete with dead ends and short cuts and the whole shebang. The labyrinth covered the entire city block, wrapping around the slides and winding through the swings and spiraling into circular dead ends that, if you found yourself in, forced you to trail the whole spiral to back out in order to escape.

And then we'd play tag in it!!

Whoever was It would run after the others through the maze at lightening speed, trying to tag them as they worked their way through the paths without getting trapped in a dead-end or spiral. I can’t promise that I never “hopped” a trail of leaves to help maneuver the path while no one was looking, but I can definitely promise that I had a great time playing with my friends, enjoying the season, and basking in the glory of everybody cooing over how cool my mom was. Yeah… that leaf-maze-tag master of the park was my mom!

The entire maze culminated in this GIANT pile of leaves located in a perfect spot in the middle of some hedges. Since it was contained by the bushes, we could pile the leaves up super high without worry of them flying away. The leaf pile was always base, if you could find your way to it through the trails. After we were finished playing tag, we'd conclude our fall festivities by taking turns climbing the tree above the pile, and jumping down into it, trying to see who could do the most impressive acrobatic stunts on their way down into our personal soft landing. It was so, very much fun.

These are the memories that spawned my love for fall, and these are the memories that I can’t help but recollect every time I see the leaves mask the earth.

What are some of your favorite fall memories? Do you love jumping into a big pile of leaves as if there is no care in the world? Did you grow up with as cool of a mom as I did? I want to hear all about it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Farmers' Market Frenzy

Have you ever been to a Farmers' Market? Neither had we. I can't believe that we hadn't ever, really. We're all about fresh produce as well as supporting local businesses and farmers. A Farmers' Market is just what we needed. Apparently, Nashville has a pretty great Farmers' Market that is open every day, year round. Brad and I finally had our inaugural visit, this past weekend.

I couldn't believe all of the produce available! It really was just like a giant, outdoor (although covered) grocery store. We spent quite a bit of time just looking around and getting a feel for it all.

As far as the eye could see, there were mountains of apples, carrots, pears, peppers, bananas, carrots, peanuts, potatoes, and even some jams, pies, and breads. One guy even coerced us into buying one of his green tomatoes, by offering us a discount on the rest of his merchandise. Okay, how can we refuse that? Besides, he was very anxious for ust to fry it up and experience the Southern specialty for the first time. (We followed the recipe he told us as closely as possible, but I'm just not sure we'll ever be big Fried Green Tomatoes eaters.)

We bought some organic milk in glass jars from a farmer from Kentucky that drives down each weekend, and we also bought a bunch of meat from an organic farmer that lives in a neighboring county. He spent a lot of time with us, gathering a combination of beef and pork that fit our budget and explaining how to cook each type (since we totally don't cook regularly). He also cut us a deal on the price. Wow, the Farmers' Market is kind of cool. People are nice, spend time talking with you, and give you discounted prices? Yes, please! The healthy, fresh produce and support of local people like us is just icing on the cake!

Needless to say, we walked out of there with our hands loaded. It was really a great experience, and a lot of fun together. I don't know if we'll only do our shopping there from now on, but we'll definitely consider it when we have the time and opportunity. If you've never been to one, I totally recommend finding a Farmers' Market in your area. Just try it. I bet you'll like it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You

I can't easily talk about Veterans Day without getting tears in my eyes. I am just so incredibly thankful to each person who has ever served our great country. I'm overwhelmed with pride in my own family. Dad, TJ, Grandpa - thank you. Thank you for your courage, bravery, commitment, strength, integrity, devotion, and sacrificial love. I understand that Freedom is Never Free, and I know that this country could not possibly be the free nation that it is today without the dedication of military men and women like you. You truly deserve honor. And I, along with the rest of the nation, honor you today.

Thank you to all our veterans and men and women who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces. You are continually in my prayers.

*Originally posted, Veterans' Day 2008

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Birth-Day Flashback

This year for Brad's birthday, we decided to not only celebrate the anniversary of his date of birth, but to truly remember his actual birth day. So last night, as Brad was turning 26 years old, we stepped right back into the glorious decade in which he was born. The 80's.

Let me go ahead and warn you, now, that viewing some of these photos may trigger your gag reflex. Read and view at your own risk.

Brad thrift-store-hopped to find us some sufficiently atrocious clothing (he succeeded), and Emily teased and sprayed my hair until it defied gravity in order to really bring us back in time. A dozen of our friends joined us as we reminisced of the glory days (of which we, honestly, barely remember). We created the setting with decorations of Care Bears, Garfield, and various records of period hits.

Our 80's activities began with the Funfetti birthday cake that boasted the vibrant colors that were so embraced during our youth. With Footloose playing in the background, we played Totally 80's Trivial Pursuit, boys against girls. Or should I say the Care Bear against the Trapper Keeper? Since all of us (but a couple of old guys) were born in the 80's, the questions were nearly impossible. I won't even go into the stressful drama of me accidentally giving the boys Cyndi Lauper, or of me totally knowing it was Billy Idol, but second guessing myself and blowing the answer. Man, it got pretty intense. Suffice it to say, the boys ended up coming out with the win. But I don't want to talk about that, seeing as how I basically handed it to them, anyway. (So it really hardly counts, boys!)

We also watched the Super Bowl Shuffle from the 1985 Chicago Bears on good ol' VHS. Just fyi, it is totally lame. I was embarrassed for them. How in the world did this grip a nation? The boys played some Atari as we jammed to some 80's tunes on cassette. At one point, I realized that the music stopped. When I asked Brad what happened to it, he matter-of-factly explained to me that he had to rewind the tape. Rewind.the.tape. Whoa. I forgot "rewind" ever even existed.

A few other friends also dressed up for the occasion! (Despite the fact that the theme was really short notice.) However, Brad happened to be the only boy brave enough to go there. Here is Audrey, Emily, Brad, Heather, and me all sportin' the decade of the night.

The cool girls, holding Tommy Tutone's record of 867-5309, Jenny.

There has been a birthday explosion in our group, and we had all of the birthday people get together for a big photo. All of their birthdays were either last week or are this week. Talk about party time!

There were more people there too, but in my excitement of all things 80's, I failed to get a true group picture of everybody, including the undressed up ones. But if you still want to check out the rest of the pictures from the party, go right ahead!

*Special thanks to my work friend, Bryan, for totally providing us with all of the rad games and 80's memorabilia! I guess that's what happens when you're actually old enough to have truly lived during the 80's!

I've always really thought I was an 80's child. I mean, after all, I was born in the 80's, and so was Brad. However, I do believe that a single night of trying to relive the era forced me to realize that I have no real idea of anything about the 80's, at all. I have superimposed my memories of 90's events and Saved by the Bell episodes into the 80's and relied a little too heavily on VH1's I Love the 80's series. Oh well. The mystery made it even more fun. And it also helped us to still feel young. I mean, c'mon, we don't even remember the 80's. What are we? Like babies or something?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween at the Metcalfs

Got an email from TJ this morning along with some pictures of their Halloween. I laughed:

Thought you all might like to see some recent Halloween pictures. Mindy you need to tell your husband to come over next Halloween and we can do some good pumpkin carving with MAN tools not those wimpy 2nd grader girl carvers. We still haven't managed to talk Rachel out of wearing her swimsuit every day and want to go swimming even though its 40 degrees around here. I guess she is just going to be in a swimsuit year round.

I mean, for real, Rachel is so cute. I can't believe she was brave enough to touch the guts!!
I guess these were the "MAN tools" he was referring to. Seriously, TJ? A saw? And then you put your daughter in a helmet just in case it gets away from you, or what?? No wonder he was making fun of Brad's "wimpy 2nd grader girl carvers." That is so my brother...

Here is the result of all of that "MAN carving." A very manly pumpkin display, indeed! I cracked up when I saw this. The Pumpkin Horror is apparently wreaking havoc among the townsfolk. He's destroyed one, beat up another, is eating a little one, about to throw another, and causing one to vomit all over himself in terror! Honestly, somebody has got to gather some control over Pumpkinville! (Sheesh. And I thought Brad's pumpkin wasn't very nice...)

Here's the fam trick-or-treating. Those Metcalf girls sure do make beautiful Snow Whites! Look at Rachel with all that lipstick on! I'm not sure what Clinton was, except staying warm. But he's still super cute!

Oh, and here's Rachel in that adorable swimming suit she loves to wear. Of course, it's princess. I love that she's wearing boots to keep warm, but still chooses to wear the suit regardless of the temperature. She is hilarious. Such a diva.

Okay, that's all. Thanks for indulging me. I just enjoyed the pictures so much and laughed so hard that I couldn't help but share them. What a great family. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Grins and Grimaces

Remember those giant pumpkins we got for dirt cheap? Well, they had just been sitting around our house as un-animated decorations. With Brad's crazy schedule, it had been extremely difficult to plan our Annual Pumpkin Carving Ceremony, this year. We finally managed to squeeze in the oh-so-important fall tradition on Halloween day. Thank goodness. I was beginning to get nervous!

With the second appearance of our helpful Pumpkin Super Scooper, Brad and I each created our very own masterpieces. (Also, the second appearance of the now-traditional eat-the-pumpkin-goop-from-the-super-scooper-picture. Nice.) While I sought his opinion regarding eye shapes and teeth placement, Brad refused let me see even a glimpse of his design until it was fully complete.

And now you can see why. Since he was doing his own jack-o-lantern this year, he decided to make it spooky, creepy, and "not wimpy." Obviously, his pumpkin didn't like being stabbed in the head, hence the grimace. He was very proud of his handiwork. (I believe he used his own portrait as the inspiration.)

Boy, mine sure is cute and cuddly. Such a sweet little thing to see glowing in our home. However, I guess boys will be boys. I never anticipated that the Pumpkin Carving Ceremony would exhibit our true gender differences, but alas, we are indeed much different at heart... (By the way, notice, in the previous picture, which pumpkin Chester prefers. Ahem.)

Even though the ceremony was last-minute, that didn't meant that we neglected the important things, like self portraits of us using the camera timer! Who knew we were such great artists??

PS. Notice how much shorter I really am than my husband. In nearly every other picture of us together, I'm unconsciously standing as high as I can on my tippiest tip toes to diminish the height difference. However, with the combination of the running to grab the pumpkin and get into position in under 10 seconds, and the weight of that ginormous pumpkin, I stood flat-footed. Wow. Maybe our friends realized how much taller he is (notice, that he's taller, not that I'm shorter), but I never see us next to each other except in pictures in which I'm on my toes. Honestly, how do we even kiss each other??

Anyway, tell me all about your own Pumpkin Carving Ceremonies! Did you get super creative? Did you go for happy or scary? Did you stand on your toes for the picture? I'm dying to know...

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