Getting My Bearings. -Ish.

Apparently I made an unconscious decision last week to spend untold energy thinking about Things That Are Getting On My Last Nerve (2011 edition). Oh my. I WAS A PILL. I would blame it on jet lag, but there’s only a one hour time difference between Ecuador and Alabama. And for the first part of the week I thought maybe I was just tired (which was a valid assumption considering the fact that I’ve never been more in love with sleep than I was last week…I liked it so much that I totally would’ve put a ring on it if I could have).

But now that I have the benefit of a little bit of perspective, I think I was a little bit, well, ticked. I was mad that I slipped back into my comfortable suburban life so easily. I was mad about the poverty of my own dadgum spirit. I was mad because a family member had another setback with her health, and she’s been through more in the last few years than anybody I know. I was mad about everything that I needed to get done last week when all I really wanted to do was crawl in my bed. I was mad when the dishwasher didn’t empty itself and the clothes didn’t hop from the washer to the dryer and THE DVR DID NOT RECORD “THE OFFICE” EVEN THOUGH WE SPECIFICALLY TOLD IT TO RECORD “THE OFFICE,” CLEARLY EVEN THE ELECTRONICS ARE CONSPIRING AGAINST ME.

So I think the bottom line is that the whole re-entry thing forced me to take a long, hard look at my spoiled American self. And oh. I did not care for what I saw. I did not care for what I saw at all.

It’s getting better, though. The fog is lifting a little bit. We’ve had a whole bunch of family time over the last few days, and it’s helped a lot. Because you know how there are some husbands who see their wives going through a touch-y transition and they’re all “Oh, I’ll back off and give her some space and she’ll talk when she’s ready to talk?”

I am not married to that person.

However, I am married to the person who says, “Woman, you’re about to miss a whole bunch of fun with your people if you don’t get up out of that bed, so GET ON UP OUT OF THAT BED BECAUSE WE’RE GONNA MAKE HAPPY MEMORIES IF IT KILLS US. HAPPPPP-Y MEMORIES!”

And then he’ll make up a really bad song in a silly voice that’s kind of a cross between Rosco P. Coltrane and anyone who lives in the southernmost portion of Louisiana.

And do you know what I do?

I get up and go. And it’s good.

Plus, this week we have family coming to town for Thanksgiving, and I’m always a happy camper when I get to spend a couple of days chopping and mixing and cooking for a crew of people. Martha actually called me last night to confirm what she’s going to bring, and she was delighted to tell me that she’s going to bring a lemon pound cake and a sweet potato pie and a pecan pie and a congealed salad and is that enough? Do I think that’s enough? Am I sure that’s enough?

I bet you a dollar to a donut that she ends up bringing an Italian cream cake, too. Because WHAT IF WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH?

I’ll put Mama in charge of the dressing when she gets to our house – she has a talent for chopping onion and celery into the tiniest, most perfectly shaped pieces – and then I’ll do the pork tenderloin, lima beans, rolls, asparagus casserole and sweet potato casserole. I’m going to let Honeybaked Ham bake the, you know, ham, and we’re not going to have turkey because a few years ago we discovered that nobody particularly enjoys it.

We were going through the turkey motions, y’all.

And it was time to stop pretending.

What are your big Turkey Day (or Non-Turkey, as it were) plans? Is there one certain dish that you cannot wait to see in the Thanksgiving Day line-up? Because I’ll go ahead and tell you that sweet potato casserole is my FAVORITE. My SHUT-IT-DOWN, MAMA’S-GONNA-HAVE-ANOTHER-HELPING-FOR-DESSERT favorite.

What about you?

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  1. We have sweet potato casserole with the meal – yummm!!! Do you top with marshmallows or with pecans?
    We do turkey, but my second son doesn’t like it, so we usually have a smaller meal with our immediate family that includes beef! (He’s in the military, as is his older brother, so we won’t be celebrating that tradition this year.) My second fave is a dish we call “Swiss Beans” – sort of a variation on green bean casserole, except with French style green beans (skinny slivers of green beans) and a bechamel sauce liberally covered in Swiss cheese and baked till melty and bubbly. If you like Swiss cheese, you’ll love it!

  2. It makes me itchy to have to choose just one very, very favorite, but I’m going to say, ummmmm, The Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad. Yes. Thank you. I have chosen.

    Now I shall spray myself with Benedryl.


  3. Our DVD is not recording the office either! We have set up three different record settings and none are working. You are so right! There MUST be a conspiracy! It also did not record Regis and Kelly for his last show!! It records EVERY day so why choose the most important one not to work!?!
    On a lighter note, I love me sum mac and cheese as well as the delightfully healthy (ha!) sweet potatoes too!

    • My DVR didn’t work for Regis’ last show either. I’m thinking they changed the name to just “Kelly” and the DVR was confused. You can watch most of it on their website, thankfully!

  4. I love HAM! Not turkey but HAM! And I love sweet potatoe casserole as well! I love it all really! But I’m not a turkey lover! Save the turkeys!!! Hope you have a wonderful week! Can’t wait for Friday for the LSU/Arkansas game! One more game Tigers…..just one more game!!! Praying for the Arkansas team tonight. So sad that the young player died so suddenly and without warning. Praying for his family in this time of grieving!!!

  5. I love that you are ditching the turkey. I do enjoy it, but only the white meat, and I am (happily) not in charge for the family. So I buy a little turkey breast and roast it in the house while I make some of my favorite stuffing (since my husband’s family makes a different one, and while good, different is not what I’m looking for). Then I have just what I need for my favorite leftovers, and life is good. But oh, I wish I were having a Honeybaked Ham instead! Happy Thanksgiving and may it help you with the re-entry. One quick note on that: our new pastor worked in a very, very poor neighborhood in one of the poorest sections of our city before he came here. And that very poor parish was able to put together a mission trip to Haiti, and nine of their members went to Haiti to volunteer. Every one of the nine was under the poverty line for the US, and they all came back SO thankful for what they had, and so humbled to have their eyes opened to the rest of the world. It really is too much to process. I know you’ll pray on it, and know that you’ve inspired many of us to get involved and make a difference, through Compassion or otherwise, and sleep as easy as any of us with things like beds and internets can. Hug those beautiful family members, and have a great Thanksgiving. May the Black Friday Stein Marts be kind!

  6. Asparagus casserole? Sounds interesting!!! I love asparagus. Would you mind sharing the recipe??

  7. If I could only have 3 items on the menu, they’d be turkey, dressing & pineapple casserole. I’m glad I don’t have to limit it, though, because I’d miss the pie, rolls, and cranberry salad. Mmmmmm!
    Praying for Garrett Uekman’s family & the Razorbacks.

  8. Hands down, the sweet potato casserole is my fave of the day. I only make it for Thanksgiving. Mini-marshmallows on the top.

    We have turkey and ham both. I love the turkey. I love the leftover turkey. I love that Luby’s Cafeteria cooks my turkey for me.

    The other must have for me is green olives. Rarely have them but must have them, especially with the leftover turkey.

    Sophie, don’t be too hard on yourself. God knows your heart and we all see it here everyday. And like MemeGirl said above you inspire others to action and that counts for a lot.

    Now go make some happy memories with your peeps and tell Martha hello for us.

  9. Sweet potato casserole- #2 from a Taste of Georgia cookbook. And I like turkey- so much I was willing to pay the outrageous price to have the little commissary ship one in from the base in Germany…because I’ve been to the market in Kyiv to buy my own before and the price is SO worth it! :)

  10. You know the truth is you just can’t eat turkey unless it’s deep fried….and no one does it like your most favorite neighbor ever!

    Love and miss y’all.

  11. I am a fan of the BooDaddy. God knew what kind of husbands we needed, huh. Love you, friend. Praying for your re-entry. And a wee bit scared to come home from Cambodia in January.

  12. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s holiday parade, but what in blue blazes is a congealed salad?

    • It is a salad that involves geletin and usually has some fruit flavor to it, but it is not limit to anything but what is edible (although I’ve come across a few that had questionably edible ingredients)

  13. Welcome home, Sophie! I know those transitions home are really hard, and I’m thankful for your sweet hubby’s words of truth. I too love the days of preparation; chopping, fixing sleeping arrangements for all the family coming in, cooking and game-playing, football watching that will ensue. God has blessed us so richly. My favorite is my mom’s wonderful rolls Best of all, she will be with us to make them herself! We are so sad for the Razorbacks and that sweet boy’s family. Praying God’s riches of comfort for all the Razorback family. (Go Hogs! Beat LSU! Go Tulsa! Beat Houston!)

  14. Without a doubt my favorite is is my mom’s chicken and dressing.

  15. In our family we do candied sweet potatoes rather than a casserole. Seems like we only ever have them at Thanksgiving, and they are my FAVORITE. Sweet potatoes that are boiled whole until tender, peeled, sliced and then baked with brown sugar and butter (a combination that makes the most delicious syrup!). Yum. I cannot wait until Thursday!

  16. Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. I found the recipe in Southern Living years ago and it’s become our Thanksgiving must-have.

    I’ve been through and watched my children go through culture shock many, many times. What you’re feeling is so normal for reentry. Family will be a great healer!

  17. I’m afraid I may be related to Martha. Some DEAR AND BRAVE souls invited us to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with their family. (She works with my hubby, hubby just finished directing the play and I was dang near to just call off life and order Domino’s for Thanksgiving this year.) She told me to bring rolls and one dessert (but not pumpkin pie, she’d do the pumpkin pie. Well I tell you I laid in bed tossing and turning and worrying about how I had to bring more than just those two because what if there isn’t enough! Sigh.

  18. Love the honesty about re-entry. No matter how many missions trips I go no, re-entry is the worst. God can use it in mighty ways to challenge, encourage and grow you :-) Thanks for sharing!

    My favorite thanksgiving dish is pumpkin pie–I love how easy it is, tasty, and how my husband could eat the whole thing in one go. We’re celebrating thanksgiving in Canada as usual ( It’s not a day off, but we’ll be partying nevertheless!

  19. Dressing. Hands down. We also gave up on the turkey and are turning to ribeyes for Thanksgiving. It’s Texas and it feel wrong to celebrate withou a good cut of beef!

  20. Well, I am glad you are back! I was apparently suffering from a similar syndrome last week. I had a bad cold virus type thingy and did not sleep for three or four nights, and apparently I was a bit of a “Grumpy pants” to quote a few, or all, of my family members. Lots of other bad stuff happened, ruined my laptop at work with a cup of hot tea, somebody hit my hubby’s car and left the scene, some work stuff, you know… all at once. Long story short, I feel your pain. Church was soul salve!
    Opps, you just asked what I like to eat. My Granny makes to die for dressing, and macaroni cheese pie. Yum!

  21. We’re doing something different this year. Since we don’t have family here in town and we’re not traveling until next weekend, we’re going to a restaurant. I can’t wait to eat to my hearts content and NOT have to cook, clean up or deal with leftovers. I do love strawberry pretzel salad and all that stuff, but I’ll take the trade off! Happy Non-Turkey Day, Boo and all!

  22. My mother in law’s dressing – hands down, the best thing ever. I never liked dressing until I had hers — I get excited just thinking about it!

    On a separate note, my DVR has not been recording The Office unless I go in each week and tell it to record – my “series recording” has not been doing its job…I figured this out when I missed the Halloween episode – strange!

    Happy Thanksgiving – I am thankful for you, your message, and your humor!

  23. Leah Atha says:

    I will be at my mother in laws on Thanksgiving Day, so far I don’t have to take anything. The next day will be dinner at my mother’s, where I will enjoy some Stove Top stuffing. I’ll be making the rolls. I also get to enjoy mac & cheese at both dinners. Then on Saturday (which is also my husband’s birthday), we will go to a Fish Fry at my father in law’s house. For some reason, Kentucky weather thinks that it’s spring or something. Last year it was freezing and snowing, this year you can wear capris and have a cookout!

  24. Hands down, my favorite is the cornbread dressing with a little gravy and a side of cranberry chutney. Oh, yes!!!

    We sort of gave up on the turkey several years ago as it finally sank in that we were throwing away most of the bird every year because all of us only eat the white meat. Now, on Wednesday I head to a local BBQ joint that smoke turkeys and purchase several pounds of thick sliced turkey breast. And, BONUS… that frees up my oven for baking the extra large dish of dressing!!!

  25. My sister does the turkey a la Alton Brown, and IT IS A REVELATION. It is the most juicy, delicious turkey ever. I got to meet Alton Brown a couple months ago, and that’s exactly what I told him in my most deranged star-struck, super excited voice. “MY SISTER ALWAYS MAKES YOUR TURKEY FOR THANKSGIVING AND IT IS THE BEST TURKEY ANY OF US HAVE EVER EATEN!!” “Well. Tell her I like her style,” he said. Thank you, Mr. Brown, for not having me swept away by body guards. I save my gravy for potatoes – it’s that good. My must-have is the potatoes, and pumpkin pie. My husband’s is a carrot casserole (sliced parboiled carrots, mixed with Velveeta, cream of celery soup, and some french fried onions – more onions on top and baked). And then, MORE PIE! And maybe a glass of wine.

  26. My go-to recipe is Drunken Cranberries (fresh cranberries, 1/3 cup of spiced rum, 1 cup brown sugar. Mix together, bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Delish). Of course, this is the same dish that, 3 years ago, almost burned down my mother-in-law’s kitchen. I thought I had the recipe memoriezed and thought it was a 1:1 ratio of rum to sugar (1 CUP of rum to 1 cup of sugar). So when said cranberries went into a hot oven powered by gas, and a certain mother-in-law went to check on the cranberries, a fire ball shot out of the oven.

    Oh. And did I mention that they had JUST remodeled the kitchen? Yep.

    But they turned out lovely, the kitchen was still in one piece, my mother-in-law still had her eyebrows, and they are still requested every year. Only now, they ask that I bring them over already cooked. :)

  27. My mom tried to pull the we aren’t having turkey because no one likes it card and well, as the baby of the family, I threw a proper fit and got my way. So we might be having 3 kinds of meat this year. And by might be, I mean we totally are.
    I like turkey and it’s thanksgiving. And where would the gravy come from?

  28. I love it that you’ve called it like it is with the whole re-entry thing. Welcome back and cheers to your husband for being who he is. I feel like he would get along well with mine. There are a lot of songs made up in our residence. I am making a German chocolate cake to celebrate my grandpa’s birthday and I’m considering a new stuffing mix but we shall see on that one.

  29. SUGAR CREAM PIE!!!!!

  30. I want your sweet potato casserole recipe! I love the kind with the crunchy, pecan topping, but I’m up for a new one if you have one that is better. I’m totally in agreement on the turkey situation. I much prefer the ham! I just love your Martha stories! I’m curious to know if Melanie’s Nena has ever met your Martha. I think they would do well together…not to mention, the hours of entertainment they would provide. :)

  31. Gracious, do I have to choose? Honestly, I am a sucker for a good casserole and would you believe I married into a family who does not do casseroles? I almost needed therapy during my first Thanksgiving with them. Now, I bring my own casserole to share so I feel like I have had a true Thanksgiving.

  32. I am nearing 40 years of age, but I went on my first-ever blind date a couple of months ago. It was a smashing success and so, my Thanksgiving will consist of my parents meeting my new man for the very first time.

    Yes, I do feel like I’m 17 years old all over again. Such are the true joys of life’s second chances!

  33. My mama’s dressing is my favorite dish to eat. I can make myself sick eating that stuff!

    Glad you are coming around somewhat but am sorry you have beat yourself up and had a hard time making the transition. I know you will find your peace again but will hold on to enough turmoil that you won’t forget and you will be called to action again when that time comes.

  34. Stuffing, baked stuffed artichokes, and stuffed shells. Gotta include Italian dishes for this big Italian family! And notice everything I love has the word “stuff” in it. A whole lot of goodness in every bite!

  35. Hey Sophie, I’ve been traveling, so I just found this post. I don’t even know for sure what the date today is. That’s how we roll when we are with the hub’s family in WI. Lucked out this time though, because the mom-in-law got WiFi. I am glad to hear you are getting your groove back. Your hubs sounds a lot like mine! I am often on the receiving end of a “pep talk!”. I hope you really enjoy your (non) Turkey Day. I love the sweet tater casserole with pecans on top. Since this is our first time to do TG in WI, I am sure I will get some new treat that I’ve never had before. Blessings to you and yours!

  36. Chestnut dressing! I only make it once a year, so I tend to get a little giddy when this time of year comes around :-) Quite delish!!

  37. turkey! Yes, I actually love turkey. I’m one of the rare few. My Mom announced that we were going Turkey-less this year as no one (apparently she didn’t check with me) likes turkey! Hello? What about me?
    Anyway, I decided to cook a turkey just for me — since apparently I’m the ONLY one who likes it. And I picked up a small 19 lb bird! Goodness, what was I thinking??

  38. My mother , Martha’s separated at birth twin, is bringing a slew of things. She would love to try to cook something on the car engine if my dad would let her.

  39. Cornbread dressing…the real reason for Thanksgiving.

  40. I appreciate your being real & blogging about days when we are just sick of ourselves. I get that way, too.
    I love my husband’s grandfather’s dressing. He is a retired Methodist minister & prays with us, cooks for us & takes care of his wife. A true blessing in our lives.
    My job is deviled eggs, rolls & tea this year, so I don’t have it bad at all. He also makes a strawberry cake from scratch that rocks the Haoo-ouse!

  41. Debbie in Austin says:

    Oh my… NO TURKEY?? ON THANKSGIVING? I cannot even imagine. :)

    My wait-for-it-all-year Thanksgiving dish is my sister’s cheesy broccoli casserole. Mmmmm. There is a chance my sister and family won’t be able to join us this year, and I said “Oh no! So sad. Um… you’re still sending your broccoli casserole, right?”

    Happy Thanksgiving, Sophie! We all have so much to be thankful for (even in rough times, which we are just coming out of.) Gave a blessed day with your people. :)

  42. I love sweet potatoes. My husband has for whatever reason just loved yams out of the can. Okay I’m not into that sort of thing. I cook up my own yams put the regular stuff inside but then top them off with a little mixture of brown sugar, flour, melted butter, pecan and coconut. Everyone loves them but my husband and step-son. The step-son named it Yam Fudge. I can live with that.

  43. My mom’s dressing is my favorite thing at Thanksgiving! And she makes a mean cranberry relish to go with that. As opposed to mother-in-law who does a very ‘liquid’ dressing (it sloshes when she takes it out of the over…what???) and her cranberry jellied straight from a can. I’m not a fan of in-law dressing but her ham is divine!

    Now I’m wanting a strawberry pretzel salad to eat too! Must check in to see if that is on the menu as I may have to bring that one along with my broccoli salad and sweet potato casserole (with brown sugar and pecans on top).

    • Evidently, dressing is a divisive issue! My M-I-L’s dressing isn’t as good as my mom’s but over the past 13 1/2 years I’ve learned to like it.

  44. I too am a BIG fan of the sweet potato casserole but a very close 2nd is the strawberry pretzel salad.

    Hope you get your DVR woes resolved. Maybe that will help with your slump! ha ha

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  45. Well. I do not like turkey. In fact, the scent of it baking throws my stomach into pre-vomit motions. TMI? Perhaps.
    However, everyone else in this house LOVES the turkey and because I am not the preparer of the Thanksgiving main dish, that’s what we have. Anyhoo, thankfully for all involved, I am an incredibly huge fan of side dishes. So, my Thanksgiving is just one giant buffet of broccoli cheese rice casserole, macaroni and cheese, salad, hot buttered rolls, mashed potatoes with gravy, deviled eggs, black olives, hashbrown casserole, and a generous helping of desserts. Since I am not the biggest meat eater on the planet anyway, this all works out super well. The buffet o’ sides. Love it and am thankful for it!

  46. You need to try a turkey breast rubbed with a package Lipton onion soup mix in the crock pot! It’s to die for and sooo easy! We are year-round turkey eaters here so I have to look for all kinds of recipes.

  47. Traci Sims says:

    I’d love to have your sweet potato casserole recipe so THIS Mama can shut it down and have seconds too!

  48. Confession – I am NOT a fan of the sweet potato casserole. One year, Mom was presenting the casserole to the table and dropped it right on the floor – marshmallows down of course. A spontaneous cheer rose from the table followed by a guilty silence as Mom looked horror-stricken. I don’t recall her ever making it again…

  49. kellli @living in grace says:

    Do not hate me, but sweet potatoes are finding their way onto our Thanksgiving table this year for the first. time. ever. I have to admit I am nit the fan, but somehow in her 1 month of I-Have-Moved_out-On-my-own-Miss-Independence-ness, Kati has discovered she loves them sweet potatoers (as she now calls them). So, what with her doing most of the heavy lifting Thursday (did I mention how hard it is to manage a 20 lb turkey from a wheelchair? Geesh!), Them Sweet Potaters will be in the table for my baby girl if it kills me .

    And, it just might.

    So, any great, easy recipes out there y’all would love to share? Share, share away :)

    And thankyouverymuch.

    (And, S? I was puttering around in PayPal last night, and relived our whole phone experience from so long ago. And it made me laugh. Out loud. So, I am thankful again, yet still, for you my dear, sweet, crazy friend. Happy Thanksgiving).

  50. come again?? asparagus casserole?

    sister, i am going to NEED that recipe. or ress-puh-pee, according to goo.

    (wisner girls love us some asparagus.)

  51. Dumplings and White Castle Dressing are my favorites!

  52. Kimberly/OKC says:

    Just want to say that I am so happy for you that you pulled out of the slump and that your husband sounds like a really great guy and I am so happy for you to be married to a really great guy!! I still think about the 15 year old boy from Ecuador who is all by himself and I pray for him…

  53. Betty Boop says:

    For dinner my fave is stuffing, for dessert I am all about french silk pie! Yummmm

  54. Happy Thanksgiving, Sophie! I was tickled to read that y’all have asparagus casserole. We’ve always had it and I grew up thinking everyone else did, too, until I went to my first Thanksgiving with David. There were a ton of green beans but no asparagus, much to my horror. Ever since then, my contribution to our dinner with his side of the family has been asparagus casserole. I feel like it’s my duty. Anyhoo, enjoy the holiday. And Go State!

  55. I wait all year for Thanksgiving dinner…. turkey, potatoes of any kind, and pumpkin pie are three of my favorite foods of all time, so to me, it’s like a huge meal of all my favorites. If I had to pick just one, though? My mom’s sausage stuffing. She started making it a few years back and I have made her swear not to try another stuffing recipe, ever, because this one is amazing.