Category Archives: Motherhood

A GOOD ONE

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It’s 11:35 p.m. on June 29, 2016. The last few minutes of my birthday are ticking away.  It’s been a very good birthday. A delicious birthday dinner prepared by my younger daughter, surrounded by my family.  My favorite cake and birthday song as my grandsons sit on my lap and help me to blow out the candles. A day at the beach and swimming at the pool with my daughters and grandsons. Special time together.  Nothing over the top.  Just quiet, happy, precious time together.

Unlike years past when I usually get depressed on my birthday, today I am satisfied. Usually, I’m very good at beating myself up on my natal day with the coulda…woulda…shoulda’s.  You see, I’ve only recently realized that I set my goals way too high at a very early age, and each passing year reminds me of what I didn’t accomplish and never will. Then I look into the future of a very narrow passageway and know that time is running out on the things I used to want to do.

IMG_2095But this year, I’m not thinking too much about the future.  I’m trying just to focus on and enjoy this day and all the joys it is bringing me. I’m trying to live life that way in general.  Just one day at time doing what I can with what I have and not dwelling on loftier things. I’m learning to accept what is instead of beating myself up over what isn’t. I am standing on even ground.

I looked over at my daughters this afternoon as they were watching a video on one of their phones together. They were laughing over something then looked thoughtful over something else. They didn’t know I was watching them. In that moment the thought “you did good” came to mind. Look at what I did. Those two wonderful daughters of mine turned out to be very good people.  Kind and smart and loving and generous and beautiful inside and out.  And I had something to do with that. And that is enough. They are the pride and joy of my life. When I look at them, the need to do more, be more, have more vanishes.  And when my twin grandsons run to me and greet me like I’m a rock star with their gleeful smiles screaming, “Mimi, Mimi!” I know there is nothing better in this world.

As I drove home tonight, I was thinking that this year my birthday is different.  This year I am happy. I yearn for nothing in this moment.  Sure, life has not been easy.  Who has an easy life? And many dreams did not come true.  So what? How many people live a fairy tale life? But the fact that my family loves me enough to plan a special day to celebrate my birth – well, how great is that?! And what more of a dream come true could there be?IMG_1193

It’s 12:17 a.m.,  June 30th.  My birthday is over for another year. I re-read my cards and come across one from my 88 year-old (ex) mother-in-law, who still thinks of me as her daughter, and it reads, “Sweetest Birthday Wishes to You….May each moment of your birthday be filled with the sweetest memories.” At the bottom of the card she writes, I like to remember the good ones, I hope you do, too.  I love you!  Mom

 This was a good one. I’ll remember and cherish it forever.

 

 

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I’ll Love You Forever

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It’s a cold and rainy night, the wind is howling, and I’m feeling kind of lonely. I sit cuddled up in my easy chair with Bella trying to entice me to throw her ball as my cat purrs peacefully by my side. I have a lot on my mind…more changes…all good. I’m a little apprehensive since there is fear in the unknowing, especially change you don’t see coming. Not a fan. But the changes I see coming are exciting, so I’m anxious in a good way.

I received a gift today from a friend…two baby books and a grandmother brag book. Yes, my baby is having a baby…two in fact! Twin boys…twice the love! I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. One of the gifts was a book called “Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch. photo2 It’s about a little boy who goes through the stages of childhood and becomes a man. It’s also about the enduring nature of parents’ love and how it crosses generations (this, by the way, is the description on the liner). I used to read this book to my girls when they were little. I always cried because it’s kind of sad in a way, especially if you picture yourself as the mom who is growing old. As I read, my younger daughter Megan used to watch me intently waiting for me to cry. I can still see her beautiful blue eyes peering up at me from her round, cherub face, rosy cheeks, blonde pigtails bound high on her head. Now she is having babies of her own. My heart aches tonight for that little girl.

The other night my older daughter Katie curled up next to me in my chair like she used to do when she was a little girl, telling me about something on her mind. I thought about how I missed the nearness of her. I miss the warmth and comfort when all three of us cuddled up and read. Now they are all grown. I just don’t know where the time goes.

In a few short weeks I’ll be holding my precious little grandsons. I’m imaging what they’ll look like, how big they’ll be, the sounds they’ll make. I’m praying all goes well and trusting in God for all good things. I’m wondering how my life will change for the better with the arrival of these precious bundles from heaven. I try not to think too far into the future because I want to enjoy each day and not fret about how fast the time will go before they are grown. I tell my daughter to cherish each moment with them, especially infancy, which will go by in a wink of an eye. I’m already trying to slow time down before they are even here. I’m looking forward to the liveliness of new life, and the joy they’ll bring. The new, fresh air they’ll breathe into our family. I’m so excited!!

But for now I’ll just sit back and relax as I await the new arrivals. I’ll hold my girls close in my heart as I read:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be.

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INDIAN SUMMER

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According to Wikipedia, an Indian summer is a heat wave that occurs in the autumn.  It refers to a period of above-normal temperatures (70 degrees), accompanied by dry and hazy conditions, usually after there has been a killing frost.  The North American Indians – native Americans – depended upon periods of fine, quiet, sunny weather at this time of year to complete their harvest to see them through the winter. Thus, the name.

We in the Northeast section of the United States happen to be in the middle of a gorgeous Indian summer right now. These are perfect beach days with comfortably warm temperatures and sunny blue skies, not that I’ve had time to go to the beach. As the massive flocks of birds fly overhead as if they were in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, heading for the South for winter, they seem to pause to rest on our electrical lines.  Maybe they’re a little confused about whether to come or go since the weather is beautifully comfortable right here, right now.  And although I enjoy all things autumn including chilly sweater days, apples and pumpkin picking for pies and the return to hardy meals of soup, chili and stews, I have to say that I’m enjoying this last burst of summer before the cold sets in.

The Birds!

The Birds!

As kids, my Mom used to have us looking forward to the warm days of Indian Summer as if it were a magical happening like a blue moon or eclipse.  Why?  I’m not really sure.  But she had us anticipating this enchanting time of year as if it were Christmas.  “I wonder when Indian summer will come?” she used to say. “We won’t put the summer clothes away quite yet because Indian summer is coming soon.” On and on she went. And as we trudged off to school in our heavy sweaters, we knew that the special unseasonably warm days were coming when we’d be able to wear our shorts and summer clothes for one more brief time. Sort of like a last hurrah.  Looking back I guess it was kind of weird.

Eventually the chill of autumn and then winter will return. But I still look forward to Indian summer like a kid, and now that it’s happening, I can’t help but think of my Mom and how much she loved it. I’ll never be sure of why and for what reason she loved it so much since she’s been gone for quiet some time. But in any case, it’s a warm reminder of her.

My Mom

My Mom

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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K&MI love Mother’s Day.  From macaroni necklaces to current day treasures, to me it is a positive Wedding-Key West 075reinforcement that I’ve done at least two things right in my life – Katie and Megan. I can still recall those soggy Cheerios breakfasts in bed as the girls, with big grins, eagerly watched me choke down the gooey circles. And my first Mother’s Day was so special as I proudly carried my firstborn Katie, adorned in a little pink dress with an eyelet bonnet framing her little cherub face to Church. I gazed at her in awe during the Mass, utterly amazed at this miracle, as the people around me smiled knowingly…so much love for and in one little creature. Two years after that my beautiful Megan was in my arms, carried to the same pew with big sister in tow as a rambunctious two year old making lots of noise.

When they were little, it was easy to know how to care for them.  First as babies and then as little girls, it was instinctive to fulfill their needs and make them happy. Even in times of restlessness, I savored and enjoyed each moment.

The years have swiftly passed with many evolutions and powerful changes. There’s been so much learning and growing together, my girls and me. Now as a mom to adult children, I often find it not so easy to know what to do. To see them floundering or going in a difficult direction is hard when you want to steer them to your way of thinking of what would be better. The advice I give during times of stress doesn’t always go over well, and I’m finding, through experience, that listening is the only thing they really want from me at the moment. I have had to train myself to hold back my advice, along with the words I want to say. I’ve learned that most times they have to go through what they need to experience in order to learn and to grow into who they are meant to be.  But it’s still hard, as a mom, to watch their struggles.

I can still see those two little cherub faces in the beautiful, grown women they’ve become.  My heart bursts with pride at all the wonderful things they’ve accomplished and for the lives they’ve made for themselves. Although I fight the urge to dry their tears away and pick up their pieces, I continue to assure them that everything will be alright in the end, even though I know from experience that most things won’t turn out the way they’ve planned. But that’s life, isn’t it?!

So on this Mother’s Day I count the many blessings that have come to me through my two amazing children ~ these miraculous gifts from God!  Without question, becoming a mother was the best thing I ever did.

Thanks, girls, for being such great kids and for making me proud! Wedding-Key West 066

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FAVORITE FALL FUN

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Me and Katie at the farm.

The leaves are falling and the Southern-bound geese are cawing – time for my favorite fall fun!  Sounds corny, doesn’t it? But it is time to harvest the corn after all, so why not?! My family has a lot of fall traditions that mean a lot to us. When my kids were small, apple and pumpkin picking were looked forward to with as much excitement as Christmas morning.  Taking that hay-lined wagon ride out into the crisp autumn fields to choose our wares was a fall rite of passage.  Carving pumpkins was our ultimate pleasure.

Katie mixing her cookie brew!

Halloween cooking baking was the most entertaining.  By the end of the day, the table and floor were covered (as were we) with inches thick of flour, sugar and all kinds of assorted, colored jimmies of every shape and kind. It took a lot of patience because it always turned out to be a big mess, but it never bothered me. I realized this was precious, special time with my kids.

Flour-covered Susezit.

We would then settle into watching “The Worst Witch” all together on the couch under a shared blanket in the dark with candles burning eating our Halloween cookies and milk.  My girls loved it, and so did I!  The movie isn’t scary.  It’s a kids’ movie that lasts just a little over an hour about an awkward young girl trying to make it in a young witch’s academy.  It’s more about doing good over evil, and we’ve been watching it annually since my youngest was 4 years old. I’ve always had a thing for the handsome grand wizard/warlock (much to my children’s chagrin!) played by Tim Curry.  When he says “absolutely” my heart melts!My kids are grown now, but these are still revered traditions.  It’s a little harder with Megan living in Florida, but I know she tortures her fiancé Matt into watching the movie with her each year.  I usually send her the Halloween cookies that Katie and I still bake.  Katie is a die-hard for traditions as well and also tortures her beau Blake with the annual watching of “The Worst Witch.”  Blake also enjoys the pumpkin picking/carving. We’re all kids at heart!

So gather your kids, go out to a farm to pick some apples and pumpkins, carve them, bake cookies, cozy up together, watch “The Worst Witch” and have a very Happy Halloween!

(P.S. I thought I’d share the cookie recipe with you in case you want to make these cookies with your little ghouls and goblins.  It is a recipe I also use for cut-out cookies on all holidays – Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas bells and stars, Valentine hearts and Easter bunnies.)

HOLIDAY SUGAR COOKIES

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. ½ and ½ cream

4 cups flour

2/3 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla.  Beat well.  Sift flour, soda, salt and baking powder together. Add to butter mixture alternately with cream; chill thoroughly in refrigerator for at least an hour.  Roll very thing.  Use cookie cutters – different shapes.  Bake in 350 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Icing

1 lb. bag of confectioner’s sugar

½ tsp. of salt

4 tbsp. butter

1 tsp vanilla

Touch of milk to creamy consistently (not too soft but spreadable)

Cream butter; add salt and vanilla and sugar a little at a time with a touch of milk to help in mixing.

Ice cookies and decorate with assorted jimmies.  You can also add a touch of food coloring to the icing if you want different colors.  Place finished cookies on tray and set in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set. Store in air tight container.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACK TO SCHOOL

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First day of school – Meg & Kate, Grandmom & Pop

Fruit punch and cheese doodle stand.

By the time you read this, your children will probably be back in school.  Oh yes, I can hear you shouting, “HOORAY!” Now, I know we’ll all miss the slower pace of summer, whether it’s getting to sleep in later, going to the beach or lounging by the pool. It’s great just to be outdoors, and mealtime is so much simpler – burgers or hot dogs on the grill with some Jersey corn, and you’re good to go.  It’s the time when kids are less stressed since there are no tests to take or homework to do.  They get to hang out with their friends, ride their bikes and have sleepovers. Summer is just more fun, but eventually those little darlings are driving you nuts, and you feel it’s time to turn the page and get some kind of order back into your life. When school starts, parents who work get some relief since child care arrangements ease a bit.  Those who are lucky enough to be able to stay home with their kids will probably be happy that they don’t have to act as master of ceremonies for the daily game show, “What Are We Going To Do Today?” In either case, you just can’t wait until they get back to school, and you’re back to packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and waving goodbye as the bus sputters down the road.

Kate moves into her first dorm room.

The kids may be back at school and out of your hair, but now all the other stuff starts. You’re driving them to dancing lessons, soccer and lacrosse games, school play practice, cheerleading and birthday parties, and life is zooming by at the speed of light. The house is a mess and laundry never gets done because by the time you return home from all of the activities, you fall into bed and crash to sleep. But autumn turns into winter then spring, and before you know it, summer is back, and you start all over again.

Kate graduates.

Elementary school, middle school and high school are all whizzing by, and you’re tired and wish you had a life of your own. Before you know it, you’re taking your kids, now sort of all grown up, to college, and you squeeze them so tightly they can’t breathe. Tears are pouring from your eyes, and you can’t stop them.  They graduate, they get careers and they’re off on their own, and you sit with that life of your own you wanted so badly where you can do anything you want, except now you don’t remember why or what that actually was.

Meg graduates.

You find yourself wanting to go back to those lazy days of summer when you ate ice cream cones with your kids on the porch. You want to build sand castles with them and color and play Barbie dolls and have tea parties and make lemonade for their stands, unless they’re like my girls who insisted on selling fruit punch and cheese doodles. You want to recapture those school days all over again and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but that time is gone – in a wink of an eye.

Tearful goodbye – Meg moves to Florida.

Summer, autumn, winter, spring; summer, autumn, winter, spring – the seasons come and they go, and you don’t realize how fast until your children are all grown up.

Kids are exhausting and amazing, and the best thing you’ll ever do, so slow down and don’t rush time. Appreciate the precious present and give your kids an extra hug today while you still can. It will be winter before you know it.

REMEMBRANCE OF A SIMPLER TIME

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Katie fishing at the lake in the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my kids were young, we used to spend our summer weekends camping with friends at Lake-in-Wood, a beautiful campground set in a densely wooded area just outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Our friends had two girls just the same age as ours, so you can imagine the fun they had together exploring the campground, swimming in the pool, fishing in the pond, browsing around the general store or playing bingo. There was always some kind of fun activity going on, and it was a magical place to experience.

Catch of the day!

Megan and Jill

When night fell, we would light a campfire and gather round to cook hot dogs or make smores and watch the girls do twirling routines with brightly colored sparklers. We’d talk and laugh and even sing sometimes, much to the girls’ chagrin! And the night sky was breathtaking – I’ve never seen a sky more brilliant with stars than in those days at that place. At bedtime we would douse the last ember of the crackling fire and turn in to be lulled to sleep by the sounds of crickets and tree frogs.  Some nights were louder than others depending on the creatures of the night.

Then – Katie, Jill, Megan and Jamie at the Freeze and Frizz

Sometimes we would venture out to the local shops and markets or we would visit educational places like the One Room School House, a working farm to learn more about the Amish culture or travel the Strasburg Railroad.  Horses and buggies traveled up and down the hilly roads, and the farms were meticulously patched into the countryside.  Houses were neatly kept with gorgeous gardens laden with brilliant arrays of flowers, and freshly hung laundry blew in the crisp, clean air. It was such a quaint and lovely place to explore.  The weekend wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the local Freeze and Frizz for the girl’s favorite grilled cheese and cheese fries with a milk shake.  And a few times over the summer we would visit the Shady Maple Smorgasbord to feast on a wide variety of Amish dishes. There were so many special memories of such a precious place and time.

Now – Katie and Jamie at Katie’s Kitchen (aka Freeze and Frizz)

Time has marched on, and the girls are now grown. Life has changed so very much since then. Recently my friend Jane and her daughter Jamie, my daughter Katie and I decided to go back and revisit the old haunts we used to know not so very long ago.  We were sad Jill and Megan couldn’t join us. We didn’t camp this time but stayed in a hotel. It was exciting to venture out and visit the old places we used to know. The Freeze and Frizz is now Katie’s Kitchen! But the Amish boy sculpture with the pigs and barrel are still there, and the grilled cheese, cheese fries and milk shakes are surprising just as good as we remembered! The Shady Maple Smorgasbord has quadrupled its size with 200 feet of smorgasbord and seating for 2,000.  The main drag in Lancaster now sports all the modern establishments like Wal-Mart, Taco Bell and Olive Garden among other chains. It was mind-boggling to see how commercialized certain places have become. But touring the countryside and shops with the familiar sights and sounds, seeing the horses and buggies and smelling the familiar scents like cinnamon rolls and handmade vanilla/caramel candles brought us back to the time we knew well.  It was a feast for body and soul, and we enjoyed getting lost in the quaintness of it all once more. We laughed until we cried remembering the comical things that happened way back when.

Katie and Jamie feeding the ducks at Kings Homestead.

In some ways everything seems to have changed but in another it has all stayed the same. The cultures of the Amish and Mennonites hold dear their past customs and way of life, and for that I am thankful.  It is because of these traditions that most of what we knew in the past is still the same today. We were able to go back and recapture a part of our happier past when our children were young and our families together. And my heart ached in remembrance of a simpler time when the most precious thing in the world was sitting around the warmth of a campfire talking and laughing with our families and friends all together in one loving embrace.

Dedicated to Katie, Megan, Jamie, Jill and Jane

 

 

 

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