Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Memories, Super Treats, and the Super Bowl

I find the close of football season bittersweet- bitter because I will miss the all of the weekend games and sweet because March madness is around the corner! Those of you who know me are well aware of my love for sports- especially football. It never ceases to amaze people that I love it and am much more interested in football than my husband or my brother- they'd much rather be in the woods chasing after that "trophy buck." In fact this year, Ansley would watch a game with us on Saturday and yell "Go boy, go...get ball...yay!"

My family would tell you that I get my love for sports honestly- from my precious grandmother, MaMaw. Our beloved MaMaw would sleep late in the morning so that she could watch every game covered by the satellite...she would watch them from the East to West Coast never missing a beat. Her enthusiasm for the game was contagious. Not only was she a loyal fan of the team(MSU always- no matter the success of their season), she knew the story of every coach, player, and their families. She could also tell you whether the new recruits were any good! She was amazing in so many respects- a true gentle spirit and lady in every aspect of the word- which makes her love for sports all the more ironic and fascinating! The older I got, the more it amazed me that a woman of such grace could quietly point to the TV and say "Yeah, I think they'd better blitz here. . ." and the TV commentator would almost immediately chime in to say "And they're showing blitz snaps the ball..."- she knew what she was talking about! It was my MaMaw who brought my attention to a player wearing #22 of the Florida Gators- turned out to be one of the greats of the game, Emmitt Smith. She would be so proud to know that I have continued to be a Gator fan since that day- except when they play Ole Miss! Memories sitting at her feet watching the games with her and eating popcorn candy are cherished ones. . .every Saturday with her was the BCS Championship or Superbowl to me.

The traditions were also in full-swing at our home. My dad and I watched game after game together on Saturdays and some Sundays. I loved this time with him as he taught me about the I-formation, option routes, and the blitz. We had so many exciting 4th quarters, overtimes, and uncontrollable laughs at the commercials. My mother encouraged this time together by cooking all day- even when it was just my father and I watching games all day and night, Mom would make at least 4 appetizers or meals and still wonder if it was enough for the two of us! What a precious lady. . .always loving us through her cooking. . . I pray my family one day feels loved through my cooking!!! I don't pretend to know a lot about the game- I just love it and the traditions that go along with it: tailgating (or "Groving" for the Ole Miss fans in the crowd), air horns (or cowbells for the MSU fans in the crowd), and even the crazy fan (you know the one) in the stand who always knows the perfect play that would have worked had the offensive coordinator just listened to him.

I do hope and pray that as our girls reflect on their childhoods, they too carry such fun and simple traditions into their homes- after all, it is the time spent with one another that is truly priceless. So, thanks MaMaw, Dad and Mom for sharing this great tradition with me- little did you know that those days would be many of my favorites from my childhood.

In honor of the close of the season and those who instilled in me the love for the game, here is a recipe from MaMaw's kitchen, my mom's kitchen, and my kitchen for the big game!!

MaMaw's Popcorn Candy (a recipe to be passed on to my girls with love):
2 bags popcorn
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix popcorn and nuts on cookie sheet. Combine sugar, butter, and syrup in pan and boil 15 minutes (should be light caramel color). Add vanilla. Pour immediately over corn and nut mixture.

Mom's Cheese Soup (I could eat my weight in this soup!):
4 stalks celery
1/2 bunch green onions
1/2 yellow onion
3 carrots
3 cans Cream Chicken soup
3 cans chicken broth
1 lb. Velveeta cheese

Blend celery, onions and carrots well in blender or food processor. Mix with other ingredients in large microwavable dish. Cook 45 minutes on high in microwave-stir every 10 minutes.

K-Mart's Layered Dip (Katharine shared this recipe this year and it is one of our new game-day favorites!):
Frito's Bean Dip
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package taco seasoning
chopped tomatoes (or chunky salsa)
4 green onions, chopped
shredded cheddar/mozzarella cheese

Spread bean dip all over dish. Mix mayo, sour cream, and taco seasoning. Spread mixture over bean dip. Spread guacamole over mixture. Spread tomatoes and green onions. Top with shredded cheese. Refrigerate. Serve cold with tortilla chips or veggies.

Hope you enjoy! Go Arizona!!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

From Swinging Wide to Swinging High

You know the old saying "nothing in life is free"? Well, this "proverb" ran through my head this week as Josh and I worked to get our new play-set into our backyard for our girls.

Some dear friends of ours gave us their play-set since their children are no longer in a play-set season of life. We continue to be so grateful for this gift and its timeliness as we continue our season of being "grounded" with Emma Kate!

Josh and Ansley took off last weekend to get the set. Trailer securely hitched to the Sequoia: check. Bungee cords to tie down set: check. Chick-fil-A biscuits and juice: check. Mama Mia soundtrack so Ansley can sing "Honey Honey" 25 times in a row: check. Sweet one-on-one time for them, no doubt.
All seemed to go so well until it came time to pull the 14-foot trailer carrying the set into our backyard. As I held the gate open and watched Josh swing as wide as possible pulling into the backyard, I felt it. There was no mistaking that feeling in the pit of my stomach that we all dread: the instinct- I have a bad feeling about this. What was that cracking sound? I looked up to see my passenger side mirror shattering before my eyes. AHHH! Josh immediately stopped and jumped out to make sure that I was okay. After what seemed like a very long moment of silence, we burst into laughter at the sight of the demolished mirror. I mean really,- what else can you do at this point but laugh?
There was a time in my life when my head would have spun around and steam would have come forth from my ears. (See Emme's hair-do at right for reference!) However, twenty-four years of living with my patient and relaxed mom and three years of living with my patient and relaxed husband seem to have finally taught me to laugh at what cannot be undone in life. I wish that I could say that I always get it, but at least I seem to be making some progress!

After we pulled ourselves together, Ansley and I stood by while our gate and my Sequoia's mirror battled to the finish- the gate won. Alas, the set was IN the backyard. Josh worked tirelessly to get the set up and together for his girls. Each time I asked if he wanted to take a break, he told me in the most determined of tones that his girls would swing on this set before dark...and swing high they did! Three cheers for Daddy...we sure have had a lot of smiles this week due to our friends' generosity and Daddy's hard work.
True, some (including myself at times) would choose in this situation to lean on "nothing in life is free"; however, I have chosen to lean on "the best things in life ARE FREE." After all, we have the smiles here to prove it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The "5 W's" of We 4 Pooles

In English class, I remember studying the "5 W's": who, what, when, where and why. (For my dear friends and husband- you English teachers and English majors- I do know that there is truly a "6th W- How"; however, How was simply not catchy!) My teacher drove home day after day that these five details were the fundamentals of clear and concise communication. According to her, this formula was the best method by which to grasp the full story. Seventeen years after receiving a B+ in Mrs. Herren's class (because I did not complete the Christmas ornament extra credit project(!)), she is still correct and still my favorite teacher in my twenty years of school.

WHO are we Pooles? We are a happy little family of four that began only four years ago next month. Josh is a commercial banker with the Bank of Yazoo. He is a patient, kind and loving husband and father. My name is Anna. I am an attorney (hence all of the school) but do not practice. Our oldest daughter is two years old and her name is Ansley Grace. She lives into her middle name even at two as she shows us daily about unconditional kindness and the sweetest love. Emma Kate was born only fourteen months after Ansley arrived (SURPRISE!) and continues to be the "spice" of our home!

WHAT should we say about we four Pooles? As you many of you know from being a part of our journey thus far, or simply from the URL of this blog, our life has been one led by a fast pace thus far! A wedding, a move, two daughters, 3 trucks, 2 SUVs, 3 dogs, and one cat in sixteen months speaks for itself. We would not change a thing about life thus far (except for that one cat, right Josh?!); however, we now live our lives at an intentionally slower and simpler pace. It has been a beautiful time as we learn to enjoy each season of our girls' little lives. Josh enjoys his work very much and is thankful for those with whom he works. He also loves anything outdoors- from hunting anything in any season to mowing the lawn- you can most often find him outdoors! I enjoy my family most. They are my sunshine, my source of laughter and pure joy. I also love to read- again, hence the twenty years of school and still would love to teach or go back one day! Ansley enjoys reading too which thrills my soul. She also loves to color and be a little mother to her Elmo and her baby dolls- what a nurturer already! Emme- now she keeps us on our toes. Truly, she is the reason that I am starting this blog, but more in our WHY section (shameless plug for readers to continue unless they have gotten bored already at which point, this sentence is a moot point). Emme's spirit is completely opposite than Ansley's- still precious and sweet, but completely opposite! She is feisty, active, unafraid, curious and incapable of sleep. She makes us laugh constantly throughout the day and often Ansley and I find ourselves just watching to see what she will do next. I shudder to think what our teenage years will bring!

WHEN did Josh and I meet you ask? Four years ago in February- 2005- best year of my life!

WHERE do we Pooles live? We live in Jackson, Mississippi. We are fortunate to have our families so close to us. Josh's family lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi which is ten minutes from our house. My family, the Gibsons, live in Madison, Mississippi which is about twenty minutes from our house. Thanks be to God that our families live so close or our last two years with two babies fourteen months apart would have been MUCH tougher. We are forever grateful for all of their help and support.

WHY start a blog? Great question. Many of you reading have asked me time and again (and again) to join Facebook. I have declined thus far for fear that it would take over my free time and I would become obsessed with checking to see how many "friends" I had. However, many family members far from us have also asked for a more routine way to keep up with our girls. I thought this blog would be that great avenue. Also, I have truly enjoyed reading many of your blogs and thought to myself for months that I would love to start one for our family and friends to keep in touch better. The catalyst for my finally getting around to this blogging that I so often hear of was one of Emme's many doctor's appointments last week. Our Em, while precious and spunky, has been sick about every three weeks of her life since she was nine weeks old. Therefore, after this last illness, her pediatrician advised that we keep Em pretty quarantined (not his word- mine) until April. . .no Kroger, no Walmart, no church- just our home and our parents' homes. You would have to know me to understand what this suggestion meant to me. I am an extrovert in the most extreme definition of the term. I love people. I love any and all conversations. I love going anywhere- Kroger was even a blast for me with my girls. So, to hear that it would be best for us to keep Em out of the public for a couple of months to try to keep her healthy was distressing for this people-lover. I want to stay in touch with all of our friends and family and a phone call is not always (or most of the time) possible with two little ones who deserve my full attention- so the blog is born!

My hope is for this blog to open a line of communication between our family and yours. I don't know how good I will be at keeping this blog current- I will do my best as time allows. Please always post (or whatever they call it) us a message. I would love to hear from all of you and know how your family is doing in your hometown. We miss you all and hope for a healthy Summer so to visit many of you. Until the next time- here are some current pictures of our girls from the holidays and previous fun months!

Mrs. Herren, I do hope I did you and your untold dedication to us proud.