Thursday, June 18, 2015

Who Gives This Woman?

Doug and I saw both our daughters get married in the last three months. I feel like I should have something profound to say about such a happening, but I find myself oddly “wordless.” Usually, I am compelled to write about such things. I often begin writing in my head as events are unfolding. I’m sure my writer friends can relate.

But this experience was different. Perhaps it is because this was not a “writer” moment for me. It was a deeply “mom” moment. Even as I write those words I feel the tears welling. It was both a great joy and a great sorrow to see my girls get married. Abby and Kate both married fine men in Aaron and Tony. Seeing how much those young men love my girls—it makes my heart sing! That’s the joy part. And it is great joy!

But in stating their vows, in creating their own families, Abby and Kate removed themselves from me somehow. They are establishing their own homes, and in so doing become a little less part of mine.

It’s difficult to express. I know I’ll always be their mom, they’ll always be my daughters, and that my family has increased—not decreased! But I still feel like I had to let my girls go . . . and that makes my mama heart a little sad.

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

“Her mother and I do.”

Yes, I gave them willingly, happily. And yet sadly.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thing #52.  Be grateful.
Science has studied the power of gratitude. One report showed that gratitude is the character trait most closely linked with mental well-being. They say if you want to be happy, be thankful. Gratitude gives us more energy, makes us less anxious, makes us more forgiving, lessens depression, gives us better sleep, and fewer headaches.

Oprah is a proponent of gratefulness. She says we should be grateful because it makes us feel better, makes us nicer to be around, and it “generates more goodness for yourself.

But there’s more to it than that. Those of us who worship God, can direct our thankfulness heavenward. We're not merely thankful for something, we're thankful to Someone. Gratefulness gets our eyes off of ourselves and onto God. Gratefulness puts an end to our pity parties, and gives us new reason to celebrate.

I don't believe it is overstating things to say we can always find something to be thankful for. If nothing else we can be thankful that God is still on His throne, even when life is hard.

So go ahead. Be grateful. You'll thank me later.

" . . . in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."                                                                        1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)

P.S. Thanks, friends, for sticking with me through my "52 Things." I hope you enjoyed them all!

Image from by David Castillo Dominici

Thursday, May 14, 2015

    Thing #49. Look for ways to simplify your life.
      A friend of mine dressed her young boys in primary colors. Any shirt would go with any pair of pants. Another mom I know bought one style of socks for her boys. Any sock matches any other sock. 

   Thing #50.  Make healthy--and tasty--ice pops.
      Frozen treat molds can be filled with applesauce, yogurt, bananas and orange juice . . . I did this regularly when my children were growing up to give them a cool, tasty treat that wasn’t simply sugar water. Hmm, why did I ever stop doing that?

Thing #51. Help kids fall asleep by telling them to hold their arms in the air.
When I was a little girl, unable--or unwilling--to go to sleep, Dad would come into my room and tell me to lie on my back. Then he'd take my hands and prop them up in mid-air, so my arms were sticking straight up, perpendicular to my body. "Hold them up as long as you can," he'd say. Soon I was asleep. I used it with my kids, too. I think the trick is it forces you to lie still, and gives your mind something to think about, even if it is the simple act of keeping your arms in the air.

What I do now when I’m having trouble sleeping is envision myself doing the backstroke in a large body of water. The repetitious action keeps my mind from dwelling on whatever it is that is keeping me awake. I tried counting sheep, by my sheep started doing back flips, ballet leaps, the Fosbury Flop, . . . it’s hard to sleep with all that going on.

Photo from,by imagerymajestic

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thing #48. Master a couple quick 
cookie recipes.

More than once, my young children failed to tell me they needed to take cookies to school until the night before, or, if memory serves, the morning of. I suppose I could have zipped to the grocery store, but I opted instead for a batch of  “No Bake Cookies.” Really more of a candy than a cookie, it’s a confection that is cooked on the stove rather than baked.

It’s a little tricky to master. Cook them too long and you have a dried mess that doesn’t hold together. Cook them not long enough and they don’t set up. I finally made note of my exact stove top setting (“6” for example, rather than “medium”) and the number of seconds things should boil. 

I have my sister-in-law Marla to thank for the recipe. Thanks, Marla.

No Bake Cookies
2 c sugar
2 T cocoa
½ c milk
4 T butter or margarine
1 t vanilla
3 c uncooked oatmeal (I prefer quick cooking oats; they’re a little softer)

Combine first four ingredients in 2 quart saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Boil about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls on waxed paper. (Even better with ½ c peanut butter added to the first part.)

Another not-quite-as-quick option is “Cake Mix Cookies.” As the name implies, the cookies are made from a cake mix so they go together quickly.

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box cake mix, any flavor
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
(Optional: add ins like chocolate chips, nuts, . . .)

Mix all ingredients well. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thing #44 Dry flowers from special occasions.

To dry flowers from a special occasion, hang them upside down in an out-of-the way place. Roses do especially well this way. Tie a tag to a stem that records the occasion. Once dried, put the flowers in a vase, and you’ll have a lovely arrangement—and a reminder of a lovely event.

Thing #45. RSVP.

Having recently helped with a wedding and reception, I’ve come to appreciate the RSVP. RSVP an abbreviation for the French phrase "répondez, s'il vous plaît," which means "reply, please." The few minutes it takes to let someone know if you plan to participate in their event eases stress and creates enthusiasm. So RSVP, and please do it ASAP.

Thing #46. Learn from an expert.

I took a tennis class in college, and learning a few basics really improved my game. It improved it from terrible to mediocre, but it did improve. Read a book—or a few web articles—about caring for houseplants. You’ll be surprised at what you don’t know. Same for photography. Better yet, spend time learning from a friend who is good at something you’d like to master. Then you’ll deepen a friendship at the same time.

Thing #47. Slip your electronic device into a resealable plastic bag when you need to protect it from drips and spills.

I learned this from my friend Cindy who didn’t want to drop her iPad in her hot tub. I use this tip when using my Nook as a cookbook.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thing #41.   Be a voter.
Voting is part of what makes our country great. Don’t complain about our elected officials if you ignore the opportunity to be part of the process. I know I’m suggesting this just after an election, but I didn’t want to suggest it in the context of something you needed to do in the coming week. I want to encourage you to make it part of your life, that whenever there is an election, you vote. Don’t just vote now and again. Be a voter.

Thing #42.   Save money.
If you stuck $5 in a safe place every week, you’d have $260 by the end of the year. That’s enough to replace your microwave oven. Ten dollars a week could get you some new tires for the car.
Better yet, create an emergency fund. Most experts agree that a good emergency fund should represent three to six months’ worth of household spending. Financial advisor Suze Orman says, “I don’t think it’s asking too much of twentysomethings to have them start building an emergency fund by making automatic deposits from their paycheck or checking account into a savings account.”
Three months’ worth seems like a lot of money, but in this day of frequent unemployment, it’s worth considering.

Thing #43.   Learn to sew a hem.
You shouldn’t have to pay someone to shorten your slacks or skirts. Here’s a great tutorial:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thing #40. Be kinder than necessary.

Be kinder than necessary.

Doug and I came across this phrase recently written in white letters on a small blue billboard at the edge of a tiny Utah town. We looked at each other and smiled. It summarized what brought us to that small town to begin with.

We were on a road trip, driving from Idaho to our home in Colorado, when we saw a man standing on the side of the interstate, waving his arm at passing traffic, asking for help. Without hesitation, my generous, helpful husband slowed the car and pulled over. As we stopped, we saw he had a blown out tire lying on the shoulder next to his small pickup.

I don’t always go for this kind of thing. I’m afraid the person “in need” will turn out to be an ax murderer. But in this case, it was obvious he was in trouble. Besides which, he was not a big person. I figured Doug could take him. Shoot, I could probably take him. But mostly I saw him as someone who genuinely needed the kindness of strangers.

“My tire, it is bad,” he said in heavily accented English. “Where are you going?”

“We’re headed to Ogden,” Doug said.

“Good, that’s good,” the man said.

Doug threw his shredded tire into the trunk, I shifted things a bit in the backseat, and our new friend climbed in.

We learned his name is Gandhi, he lives in a small town in Idaho, and was on his way to Ogden to look for work. He and his wife have three children. We didn’t talk much. His English was pretty good, but my Spanish is muy malTerribles.

We pulled into the nearest town, but it was too small to have a tire store. The woman at the service station told us to try the next town over, and even recommended where to get a good deal.

Pulling into the next town over is when we saw the sign. “Be kinder than necessary.” I probably would have been kind enough to take Gandhi to the tire store. But my husband was kinder than necessary. He suggested we wait while a new tire was mounted on the rim and take him the 50 miles back to his truck. I knew it was the right thing to do. When we got back to the truck, Doug helped him change the tire.

Before we parted, Ghandi invited us to his home for dinner the next time we come to Idaho. We exchanged names and phone numbers. We just might give him a call. He said his wife makes great gorditas.

It added some time to our trip (which was already going to be a good 15 hours), but was the right thing to do. You and I need to be good to each other in this crazy world. So be kind. Kinder than necessary.

For an inspiring story of “unnecessary” kindness, watch this story from CBS Sunday Morning.