Posts Tagged ‘my life’

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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I always say that raising three children is a juggling act. In three ball juggling, there is never a moment when all three balls are in the air simultaneously and that’s pretty much how it is with my three kids. If I can get two of them in the air, or in my analogy, concern-free, then the third is at the bottom and needs a boost up. Not to say that any of my children have huge issues or troubles, but more just a matter of dealing with the curves that life throws at them. Periodically, each of them needs a little parental support and my husband and I are happy to give it. That was the deal when we signed on to be parents. We knew it was a lifelong commitment.

My husband and I always wanted three children. When our first two children were born, we were over the moon with happiness, but in our hearts we knew we had room for one more. When I was pregnant with our third child, a wise friend informed me, that having three kids was not just a simple equation of 2 + 1 = 3, it was more like the chaos theory. Her point was that with two children you achieve equilibrium because you have one hand for each child. With three, there’s always one on the loose and you’re always off balance. Without a doubt, having three is challenging just by virtue of being an odd number. Pairing up for amusement park rides is awkward, packaged toys are often packed in twos, and the two-against-one argument is commonplace.

The thing about having three children is that there has to be one in the middle. Being a middle child myself, I know about threes. I am sandwiched between an older sister and a younger brother, so I am well aware of birth order characteristics. My sister, the oldest child, definitely has the leadership characteristic stamped in her DNA and my brother, the baby of the family, is characteristically comical and entertaining. As for me, three, yes, three, middle child characteristics jumped off the list when I first read it. “Creative.” Yes, I am creative – that’s why I’m a blogger! “Doesn’t like to follow authority.” Hmm, I view it more like I have a lot of questions for authority. “They can usually read people well, they are peacemakers who see all sides of a situation.” I’ve certainly had on the job training as peacemaker in my family.

As a kid, I thought I would never have three children, because I didn’t want to create a middle child. Obviously my husband convinced me otherwise. But as I raised my children, I made a concerted effort to be especially fair to my middle child. The tough thing, though, is life is not fair and will never be fair, so maybe I should have taught my middle child that lesson instead from the get-go. From a middle child’s perspective, it’s all about expectation, therefore middle children are better off if they have no expectations and then they can be pleasantly surprised.

If I had to do it over again, I would still have three, because I cannot imagine my life without anyone one of my children. They are three wonderful individuals marching to their own drumbeats who every now and then need a boost from their parents to get back in the air. Who will be up and who will be down next? Your guess is as good as mine.

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