Posts Tagged ‘children’

As my husband prepares to leave for a business trip, I pepper him with questions like, “How can I reach you?” “What airline will you be flying?” “Which hotel will you be staying at?” “Who’s the contact person at the conference?” etc. My husband takes it all in stride and patiently answers my questions. He is aware that I’m on a need to know fact finding mission. I’m like this all the time with everyone in my family. Even my parents can’t go on a road trip unless I have their itinerary first.

My daughter, who is seeking her independence daily, rolls her eyes at me whenever I ask her questions about her travel plans. “Do you really need to know this, Mom?” she impatiently says to me. My reply is, “Yes, I need to know and this is why I need to know:  If something happens to you on your trip and I don’t have a clue about your whereabouts, there will be no way of retracing your steps.” Inevitably, I get the information I need to satisfy my overactive imagination.

I need to know my kids are okay. I started “Sunday Night Check-ins” when my oldest child went off to college. Primarily, I wanted him to stay in touch with his siblings and to not lose track of what was happening in their lives and to share with the family what was happening in his. Basically, it was just good to hear his voice. I figured Sunday was a good choice, because if he had gone out of town or if any part of our family had gone away for the weekend, we’d all be back by Sunday evening. When my second son went off to college, he rightfully assumed he’d be making Sunday night calls. To this day he checks in with me whenever he’s been out of town for a while to let me know that he made it back safely. He knows I just need to know.

Apart from being a mom, I can attribute my “need to know” behavior to one particular event in my life.  When I was in my twenties, I went home to visit my parents for a weekend. One morning my parents went out to run errands while I stayed behind. The phone rang and I answered it. A voice pleaded to me, “Where’s my brother? . . I need my brother . . . .” My uncle was on the line, but this was not the voice of the intelligent and funny man I knew. His son, my cousin, was a freshman in college and had become seriously ill. Because this happened before the invention of cell phones, there was no way of contacting my parents directly. As I tried to remember everything my parents had told me about their morning plans, I frantically called store after store and had my parents paged. This proved futile; I could not find them.

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“ I can’t really recall my uncle’s exact words, but I will never forget the overwhelming cries of desperation, fear, and sadness in his voice that morning. I learned many life lessons from my cousin’s tragic death, but the one that surfaces regularly is how important it is to know where your loved ones are – so my dear family, please indulge me.

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Sitting in front of the fireplace with my furry little dog at my feet, I warm my hands on a mug of hot cocoa and savor the rich chocolate flavor. Ah, the good life. You’d never guess that just a few short hours ago I packed up my kids and sent them on their merry way. Each got a hug and a goody bag of Thanksgiving leftovers. Since they left, I’ve washed six loads of laundry, stripped and remade all the beds, cleaned every sticky square inch of my kitchen, mopped dirty floors, and vacuumed leaf-strewn carpets. That was the easy part of my Thanksgiving holiday.

Despite the nonstop cooking and cleaning, the craziness of playing referee between my kids (yes, even at their ages they still have tiffs), and the constant scheduling of family time around their social schedules, I really love it when my kids come home! But four days goes by quickly, and soon I find myself standing in the driveway waving goodbye to them one by one. As they each drive off, I feel a little emptiness in my heart and sadly I turn around and head back to the house. Miraculously, though, every time they leave and I pass through the threshold of the front door and see the chaotic mess they’ve left behind, that sad feeling is gone! It’s replaced with the Do-You-Think-I’m-The-Maid feeling!

So whether you’re feeling blue because your kids are gone again or you’re just happy to be by yourself again, here’s a recipe for a nice, comforting spicy mocha beverage. A neighbor gave it to me many years ago and it’s a good mix to have around the house during the holidays to serve to guests. For a great gift idea, put the mix in a cellophane bag, tie it up with a pretty ribbon, attach the directions, and tuck in a small bottle of brandy or your favorite liqueur (such as Frangelico or Kahlua) to make your gift complete. Wrapping a bag of mix with a cute pair of coffee mugs is another way to give this mix as a gift. Marshmallows optional with this version!
Spiced Mocha Mix
Mix together:
1 cup nondairy powdered creamer
1 cup hot cocoa mix
2/3 cup instant coffee powder/granules (decaffeinated or regular)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container.

Directions: Place 2-4 tablespoons in the bottom of a mug. Add 6 ounces of boiling water and stir until smooth and blended. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Add your favorite liqueur or brandy to taste – not optional during the holidays!

Don’t forget: When packaging this mix as a gift, make sure to include a printed copy of the directions!

Note: My “Falling Leaves Snowflake” cards were made from outdated calendars. Calendars with beautiful images and high quality paper can be reused for other projects!

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The crisp air and clear blue skies were enough to lure me outside to enjoy the fall weather. This past weekend my husband and I paid visits to two of our favorite local produce haunts. Struble Ranch has just opened for the season with a bumper crop of mandarins and is located on one of the prettiest pieces of property around. Otow’s Orchard grows a multitude of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but right now is selling fresh persimmons, hoshigaki (their famous dried persimmons), and winter squash. Wherever you live, please support your local growers.

#1 – Mandarin Oranges
According to Peggy Trowbridge Fillippone of About.com:
“Mandarin oranges” is a term that applies to an entire group of citrus fruits. This group, botanically classified as Citrus reticulata, includes such varieties as Satsuma, Clementine, Dancy, Honey, Pixie, and tangerines in general. Most are sweeter than their other citrus cousins (yet there are some tart varieties), have a bright orange skin that is easy to peel, and inner segments that are easily separated. There are seeded and seedless varieties.

Depending on the variety, mandarin oranges are in season from November through June in the Northern hemisphere, with peak season being December and January.

Select fruits that are unblemished and heavy for their size. Avoid those with cuts, soft spots, or mold. Bright color is not necessarily an indication of quality as some are dyed and some naturally have green patches even when fully ripe.

They may be stored in a cool, dark spot for a few days, but ideally should be refrigerated to extend shelf life up to two weeks.

#2 – Identifying Drinking Glasses
My kids are coming home for the Thanksgiving holidays, so the rubber bands are coming out of the kitchen drawer. Years ago I figured out a system to prevent my kids from reaching for new glasses every time they were thirsty. I purchased wide, colorful rubber bands and wrote my children’s names on the rubber bands. As soon as he/she took a glass out of the cabinet, his/her rubber band was slipped onto the glass immediately. This little trick continues to save me a lot of needless dishwashing!

#3 – Wearing Red This Holiday?
Here’s a tip straight from stylists Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, “We love red with silver as opposed to red and gold. The latter combo can look a little too much like a Christmas ornament. An alternative to metallic accessories would be another bright color; accents of violet or light blue look spectacular with a red dress . . . !”

#4 – Consider This
If a man has a talent and cannot use it, he has failed. If he has a talent and uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he has a talent and learns somehow to use the whole of it, he has gloriously succeeded, and won a satisfaction and a triumph few men ever know. Thomas Wolfe

#5 – Random Act of Kindness
Each of us must do our part to make the world a better place, so how about carrying out a little random act of kindness this weekend? It could be as simple as giving someone a complement. Here’s something I’ve done before: I’ve wrapped up cookies in cellophane, tied them with a ribbon, included a brief note of thanks and stuck them in my mailbox for my letter carrier to pick up.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and have a great weekend!

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