Voice and Dance Recitals for Sarah Fryer (May 2016)

Yesterday Shelly and I were blessed to watch and attend Sarah’s spring voice recital at Poteet Theater in Oklahoma City, and our entire family attended the third performance of her dance recital in the evening. Wow! It’s amazing to see how much she’s continued to grow and mature. Sarah is absolutely receiving top notch preparation at Poteet for musical theater. She has taken SIX classes this semester in jazz, tap, point, ballet, MTP (musical theater production) and voice. She’s taken all these classes on top of a full load of classes at Classen School of Advanced Studies, where she’s a drama major but continues to take IB (International Baccalaureate) versions of her core classes like English, History, Chemistry, and math. PreCalculus has been a huge challenge this year for several reasons, but it’s shown her to be such a tenacious and hard working student. (We’ve already known this, but it’s confirmed it in big ways.) Sarah is incredible, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her dad. What an amazing young woman she’s growing up to be! She’s finishing up her sophomore year this year, and has grown up so much in many ways, not just in her artistic, musical and creative talents. We are so proud of her. We’re in for some amazing years ahead as she starts her junior year in high school.

I combined both of her voice recital pieces into a single video, which is about 5 minutes long.

Sarah was in several different dance numbers during last night’s recital, since she’s in so many classes, and this really showed off the range of her skills and talents. The combined video of these is almost 9 minutes long. Notice the segment that is strongly influenced by Hawaiian hula! One of her dance instructors goes to Hawaii every year to lead hula workshops. I absolutely love the diversity and high quality of all the dance as well as voice and theater instruction Sarah has been blessed to receive at Poteet.

One of the most touching parts of yesterday’s recitals was a short message shared by Chris Grimes, who has been the director of programs at Poteet this year and Sarah’s voice teacher. She’s leaving Poteet and going to Lyric Theater, and we’re hopeful Sarah will be able to continue studying voice under Chris. Her message to her students was this:

Remember God says YOU ARE ENOUGH. There are so many people and situations in the world of theater and performance which try to tell you you don’t have what it takes. YOU ARE ENOUGH. Right now, on May 7, 2016, at 1:30 pm in the afternoon, YOU ARE ENOUGH. God has made you perfectly, and His truth is that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Oh how important it is for Sarah and her classmates at Poteet to hear this message! This has been an incredibly stressful and challenging semester for Sarah personally and for us as a family with her schedule and all the demands she’s had… including the demands she places on herself. Thanks to God for Chris Grimes and her spirit-filled leadership of Sarah and her other students! It’s a huge blessing to have Chris living and speaking God’s truth into Sarah’s life at this pivotal time of development and growth.

Praise God for our healthy and loving daughter, who loves God and has such a kind heart. We are so thankful to God for his blessings and we see these manifested so clearly in our daughter, Sarah, who is flowering into womanhood before our very eyes.

Homemade Jalapeño Roasted Poppers (recipe)

Tonight I made a tray of homemade jalapeño roasted poppers, and they were yummy! I made my first batch over the Christmas holidays, and I modified the recipe a bit further and liked it even better. It was also popular with the rest of my family. Here’s what I did. I’m sharing this for my own future reference, as well as to possibly inspire you to try these. If you use this, please let me know by sharing a comment on this post or a tweet to @wfryer. I waited about a week after purchasing the jalapeños this time, and that made them ripen and taste a bit spicier. They were still pretty tame though, since I removed all the seeds. I used the “regular” jalapeños from our WalMart Neighborhood Market.

Ingredients:

  1. Two bars of cream cheese
  2. Four pieces of bacon
  3. 15 medium sized jalapeños
  4. 1 tablespoon minced onion flakes
  5. Half tablespoon dried cilantro
  6. One cup Mexican style shredded Kraft “Four Cheese”
  7. 2 tablespoons minced garlic (from a jar)

Directions:

  1. Fry bacon, set aside
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, if necessary microwave at 50% power one minute to soften cheese. (I did this twice, stirring in between)
  3. Cut up bacon and add to the mix
  4. Halve and seed jalapeños
  5. Use a knife to put the mix in the jalapeños
  6. Bake 15 minutes at 350°

Modified from this Rachel Ray recipe!

Celebrating 53 Years of Marriage

Yesterday for Valentine’s Day, The Dallas Morning News ran a special article about Shelly’s parents, “True Romance: They came from opposite sides of the track.” The retirement community where they are living now in Allen, Texas, is having a special wedding vow rededication ceremony later this month. This article shares some special stories about their lives and how they were brought together. We are very blessed and thankful for both Shelly’s parents and my parents for the loving and loyal examples they have set for us and our children.

His father worked for the railroad; her dad was a banker. Growing up, they lived on opposite sides of the tracks in Dalhart.

But Carl Ward wasn’t about to let their different upbringings deter him. He met Clara Lovell in fifth grade. By high school, he was dating Clara’s best friend. But as he spent more time with the two, he realized his heart was with Clara.

“I liked Clara better but couldn’t say anything,” says Carl, who would often see the girls when they shopped at the grocery store where he worked. “I’d follow them around. Clara didn’t much care for me in high school.”

Carl was very chatty in class, it seems, and would often sidetrack the teacher from giving out tests, which irritated Clara.

“I liked her because she was cute and feisty,” he says.

Carl knew the only way he was going to move up in the world was by getting into college. A music scholarship landed him at West Texas State College in Canyon (now West Texas A&M University) in 1958.

He had no idea that Clara was on the same campus until he bumped into her one day. Clara finally saw Carl for who he really was.

“He was just a nice man,” she says.

They became inseparable.

“We were hooked then,” he says. “I’d drive her home and her father would help pay for the gas.”

Clara often would join Carl when he directed a church choir or played his trombone for the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra. He’d often have her carry his trombone so that she could get in free and sit on the front row.

“He’s very smart about doing things. I enjoyed being with him,” says Clara, 76.

She even signed up for a piano class in the music school so they could see more of each other.

“She was into music and did this to kind of keep up with me,” he says. “It got her into the music building and practice room where we could meet. She’s a really good sport.”

Before graduation, Carl and Clara just happened to walk by a jewelry store and decided to pick out rings. They were married on June 3, 1962, at her parents’ home.

Carl became an assistant band director in Spearman while Clara taught third and fourth grade in Amarillo.

Carl then worked the next few years in Canadian, where Shelly was born. In 1966, they moved to Whiteface, where Jana was born. Clara stayed home with the girls for a few years. In 1968, they moved to Lubbock.

Both Clara and Carl retired from the Lubbock schools in 2001. By then, Jana had moved to Allen.

“One day Shelly came up and said, ‘We need to go to the animal shelter and get you a dog. We’re moving to Oklahoma City and taking all the grandchildren with us,’” says Carl, 75. “I got a four-legged son, which we still have.”

“Coco is our son,” says Clara.

Carl, Clara and Coco stayed in Lubbock until 2002 before moving closer to Shelly.

After eight years, they returned to Texas to be near Jana and her family. They’ve now settled into an assisted-living facility in Allen, and often can be found at the dog park with Coco.

On Feb. 23, friends and family will join Carl and Clara as they renew their wedding vows.

And as memories start to fade for Clara, Carl doesn’t have to remind her why the kids from the opposite sides of the track stayed together all these years.

“You marry for the right reasons and stick with it,” he says. “Every day was Valentine’s Day.”

Perfect Holiday Prime Rib 4.0

This is the fourth time I’ve cooked prime rib for our family for Christmas dinner. My wife thinks tonight was the best meal we’ve ever had at home in almost 20 years of marriage, so whatever we did this time I want to remember and be able to repeat again! In this post I’ll recap what we did, the changes I made from previous times I’ve cooked prime rib, and what I want to do again if and when we have an opportunity to prepare another amazing meal like tonight.

I wrote two previous family learning blog posts about cooking prime rib, back in 2013 and in 2011. Like I did in 2013, I used this recipe from Prime Steak Houses as my primary guide. Here are the three things I did differently this year which helped make this a remarkable prime rib dinner.

1 – Digital Probe Thermometer

One of the Christmas gifts this year I am most excited about is a probe thermometer that shows the temperature inside meat when it is cooking in the oven. My wife and son bought me a Oneida Digital Probe Thermometer with Timer. Bed, Bath and Beyond sells it for $20. The oven thermometer I used previously had a minimum temperature of 140 degrees, but that’s a problem since the Prime Steak House recipe recommends removing the prime rib from your oven when the interior temperature reaches 120 degrees. So in past years, when I removed our prime rib from our oven, I was just guessing that the meat was ready based on recommended cooking times. Unfortunately, ovens can vary considerably in the cooking time they require, and the result in the past has been prime ribs which weren’t cooked long enough. This afternoon after putting a rub on the meat, I put the thermometer probe into the center of the prime rib. Instead of 120 degrees, which is the low end of rare meat, I set the target temperature for 130 degrees. Our prime rib tonight was 6 pounds, so I initially set the timer for an hour and a half of cooking time to follow the initial 15 minutes of cooking at 450 degrees.

This is the cooking procedure and times I ended up using tonight for our 6 pound prime rib:

  1. 15 minutes at 450 degrees (uncovered)
  2. 1 hour, 55 minutes at 325 degrees (uncovered, with no basting, till the internal temperature reached 130 degrees)
  3. Removed from the oven, about 15 minutes covered with foil, until the interior temperature reached 140 degrees. The top temperature it reached after removing the foil covering was 143 degrees, before we served dinner.

2 – Meat at Room temperature

The second thing I did differently this year when cooking prime rib was to get the meat out of our refrigerator about three hours before I started to cook it. This allowed the meat to warm up, closer to room temperature. This is something included in the Prime Steak House recipe, but a step I hadn’t taken the time or care to follow in the past. According to my thermometer, our prime rib started cooking this year at a temperature of 50 degrees.

This is the clear instruction given by the Prime Steak House chefs:

It is crucial that you allow the roast to come to room temperature to ensure even-cooking. This means leaving it out for up to two full hours right before roasting.

3 – Herbes de Provence Seasoning Salt

The third main thing I did differently this year was use a new seasoning for the rub. We have a fantastic store in Oklahoma City called “Savory Spice.” One of the employees there recommended “Herbes de Provence Seasoning Salt” to use as a rub with prime rib. This turned out to be a FANTASTIC idea.

Following the Prime Steak House recipe, I made a series of half-inch cuts in the meat, and rubbed the seasoning salt all over it. before putting it in the oven.

This resulted in some absolutely AMAZING prime rib!

 

That’s it! Those were the three critical things I did tonight which helped me our prime rib dinner a smashing success. If these tips prove useful to you, please leave a comment or contact me via Twitter @wfryer.

Sarah Sings “What Is This Feeling” from Wicked

Sarah and Amber did a great job singing in tonight’s church talent show!

I shared this on Periscope, and both Nana and Trudy were able to tune in and watch it live! but since Periscope videos are only available for 24 hours, I have my account set to auto-archive to Katch.me. I also posted a slightly edited version of the video to YouTube. I wrote a little more about the technical details of how I did this on my main blog.

Alexander did a great job running sound for the entire talent show tonight. His knowledge and skills about sound engineering continue to grow under the patient mentorship of Tom Bowles.

Fall Break on the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country

This week, prior to the annual MoRanch Men’s Conference Planning Council Meeting, our family spent three nights at River Run Cabins on the Guadalupe River in Ingram, Texas. This is a fall break trip for our family, and has provided a much-needed opportunity to just hang out together in a natural setting and “mostly” be offline. It turns out the LTE/4G connectivity at our cabins was ok, and wifi was also available… so this was not an entirely “unplugged” vacation. Still, it was a more more “nature-focused” vacation and gave us changes to simply hangout by the river, go canoeing and kayaking, and read a lot.

This 360 degree Bubbli panorama is the most compelling representation of what our space was like by the river. This was EXACTLY what I hoped it would be: A great space to relax and enjoy the river.

This week was the first time Rachel has ever gone canoeing! She and Sarah also went kayaking by themselves, which was both fun and exciting. The part of the Guadalupe River where we stayed has almost a mile of water to explore by boat… the eastern side has a damn stopping the water before a bridge, and the western end has an area of rocks and rapids.

Yesterday before we left the river we recorded a short (4 minute) audio podcast, reflecting on some of our favorite parts of the week had been. Some of the animals we saw and heard during the week include fish, ducks, donkeys, deer, and a water snake.

Play

I recorded a few 6 second Vine videos during our time in Kerrville and Ingram, and also shot some “slow motion” videos with my iPhone6S on the river. I combined these videos on my phone using iMovie, and published it to YouTube with a copyright-friendly music track using YouTube Capture.

I used the “burst” feature on my iPhone to capture a series of photos when Alexander made his first rope swing jump into the river, and created a collage of it using Diptic.

One of the culinary highlights of the week was campfire foil dinners. It’s been several years since we’ve cooked these, and I forgot that these taste even better with fattier ground beef. They were still good, but next time I’ll buy either 73% or 80% lean meat.

We dined at several restaurants in Kerrville during the week as well. Mary’s Tacos was the biggest hit, we actually had breakfast there twice. It had over 20 ratings on Yelp with a perfect average of 5. That’s rare to find on Yelp, in my experience… and it was 100% accurate.

Overall this was a great experience and I am so pleased with how things turned out. If you are looking for a great family vacation spot in the Texas Hill Country, definitely check out River Run Cabins. Mid-October is a spectacular time to come visit too!

More photos are available in this Flickr set.

Photos and Stories from Washington DC

The past two weeks Shelly, Rachel and I have traveled together in Philadelphia and Washington DC. I created two different, short digital stories using the free iPad app “Adobe Voice” to reflect on some of our experiences around the DC area.

I also posted a lot of our photos from the trip to several different Flickr albums:

  1. ISTE 2015
  2. Tall Ships in Philadelphia
  3. Washington DC July 2015
  4. Harpers Ferry

Over the fourth of July when we hung out with our friends, the Casebeers, I had an opportunity to interview Jonah about his amazing experiences last year at MIT for the Battlecode competition. I published that interview as a podcast on my main blog.

Today is our final day of sightseeting before we fly home to Oklahoma, and I’ll add our photos from today (which we expect to include the National Archives and the Library of Congress, among other destinations) to our Washington DC July 2015 photo set. We’ve had a great trip!

Rachel Reports from the Volcano House

Today in my STEM class I showed an amazing video of eruptions from the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. This was one of our “curiosity links” for this week. In one class, student questions about how lava cools led me to discuss “lava tubes” and show this photo of a lava tube which I took in 2009 when our family visited the big island.

I ended up also finding this short video of Rachel, at age five, reporting from the Volcano House. Oh how this makes me want to go back to Hawaii with our family!

Saving Bruce the Shark

This short video, “Saving Bruce the Shark,” is a creative story told and created by Rachel yesterday using the iPad app, “ToonTastic.” Since we added a new iPad to our family collection, Rachel has inherited her own. Mom is encouraging her to use more apps for creative “making,” since her favorite computer activities continue to be WATCHING YouTube videos and playing Minecraft. Rachel is a creative storyteller and “maker!”

 

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