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Dear Reader


by Vaun Thygerson
Staff writer and mother of three
They say confession is good for the soul.  So, here it goes… I have been married for 22 years and I have NEVER cooked a turkey.  If we have a turkey at our house, it’s either been cooked by my husband, or catered, or brought in by a family member or friend.  Growing up, my mother didn’t cook very often, so I figure I’m genetically predisposed to cook as little as possible, or at least that’s my excuse.  And, for some reason, preparing and baking a turkey intimidates me.  Everyone tells me it’s easy, but I’m not convinced.

As newlyweds, I got out of cooking a turkey because we tried to have our Thanksgiving dinners in different cities each year – Washington, D.C, Orlando, St. Louis, Chicago, and many more.  However, once kids entered the picture, a good, old-fashioned, home-cooked turkey dinner seemed more fitting.  After many Turkey Days spent with our extended family, we changed up our tradition again.  The last several holidays we have eaten our turkey and trimmings Mickey style served on black, Styrofoam plates shaped like mouse ears on Main Street in Disneyland.  We love to watch the fireworks and experience our first snow of the season (even if it’s commercially produced).  For this year, we haven’t fully decided which convention will win out – a home-cooked meal or a Mickey-made meal?  The jury is still out.  Maybe it’s time for me to conquer my fear and cook a turkey.  Maybe it could be the start of a new tradition!

This month our cover photo and article, “Blue Collar Smokers,” features two local families who aren’t intimidated by cooking at all.  The Williams and Arnold families make up Bakersfield’s Blue Collar Smokers and they are taking the burgeoning barbecue circuit by storm.  With the majority of their team consisting of their kids under the age of 13, these barbecue aficionados are on a quest to perfect their culinary creations.  With the entire families getting in on the competition, these families have found the perfect combination for a winning team.  To find out more about their barbecuing adventures and two of their “secret” recipes, turn to page 10.

Speaking of adventure…  Tracie Grimes writes about her new undertaking of returning to college after a 14-year break in her Humor at Home article, “Back to School,” on page 17.  On her first day, even though she feels a little out of comfort zone, she tames her nervous jitters with self-talk and relaxation tricks.  And, guess what, someone might mistake her as a “grandma,” but she survives!  

Also this month, Tracie writes about how some of the reading tactics we use to encourage our little ones to read might actually be backfiring.  Find out what works and what doesn’t in her article, “Are You Accidentally Increasing Reading Resistance?” on page 15.  She also recommends adding some book titles to your home library.  Some of these books include “Captain Cats,” by Inga Moore, “Cheese Belongs to You,” by Alexis Deacon, and “Bugs:  A Stunning Pop-Up Look at Insects, Spiders, and Other Creepy Crawlies,” by George McGavin.  And for mommy, she says “Porch Lights,” by Dorothea Benton Frank provides readers with a heartwarming story of grief and healing.

November’s setting might just be perfect with Fall’s crisp air and delicious turkey ready to be eaten on the table.  It really is one of my favorite months, especially because I can break out my favorite sweaters and boots.  Whether your holiday plans mean spending hours cooking together, curling up in front of the fire with a good book, or strategizing on how to avoid the crowds at Disneyland, the most important part is creating memories that will last a lifetime.  

Happy Turkey Day!

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