Dear Children,

I love you. You are a wonderful addition to my life. How much I have changed and grown because of you.

When you grow up and leave my house, your father and I will be just fine.

WHAT?!

Yes, I just said that. Your father and will be just fine. In fact, we will be happy to see you go out and be in the world, no longer dependent on us as parents. We will enjoy our home, our freedom, our financial independence. Yep, we are going to have a party.

The thing is, I loved having you, teaching you, being your mother. But your father and I were sweethearts long before you were ever born and we will be the ones who stay together in this house, this relationship. Our love will never change.

My love for you will always be strong but our relationship will change. You won’t need me. You will leave me. You will start your own life and do what you want to do.

Daddy and I will stay, remain here and continue to enjoy each other’s company.

So you see, when we go out and don’t take you, when you think I take his side over you, when you feel like he is more important to me than you are, you are right. That is how it is. He is my first and last. You are the wonderful, amazing middle.

My advice to my beautiful little girls is, when you find a man, and you are thinking about marrying him, ask yourself, “Is he enough? If there are never children between us, will he be all I need? When I need someone to trust with my secrets, will he be the first one I want to tell? When we move from one location to another seeking jobs and lifestyles, and I have to leave my friends, will he be enough? When family dies or friends desert me, will he be my first and last?” If the answer to these questions is “YES!” MARRY HIM, because you will be fine too.

Love MommyImage

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Project Abby

Abby and I have been watching project runway together. She is a very artistic kid and has been begging me to do a project with her. She says, “I’m DYING to make a dress, Mommy,” as if she’s 16 and not 5. So finally it is Sunday and I thought maybe we would try something. I want to encourage her creativity with projects that are realistic for her age, that move her towards more find arts, that develop her sense of worth and fine motor skills. I want to make it simple but real. I started her out by saying, “You see how they start their dresses on the show? They start out by sketching what the want to make.” This was Friday. She made a bunch of sketches and described in detail how she wanted her dress to look. It was fascinating to see how much she had picked up from watching and wanting to simulate the process. She wanted a dress with no sleeves, just a neck piece that held it up. She wanted another one with one sleeve that was ruffled and that came to the knee with no belt. It was so fun to hear what she had in her little head.

Today I decided that we would make her first dress. It’s not as fun to make doll clothes or paper doll clothes. She needed to feel the rush that accomplishing a REAL grown-up project gives you. I remember being that age and feeling that rush and that sense that I could do anything if I had the materials.

We found an old pillowcase and used it for our “fabric.” The linen closet is Mood. Image

Then we talked about where your arms, legs and head have to come out from the dress. I asked questions that led her to the conclusion that she would have to cut out the bottom seams to make room for her legs to come out the bottom. I showed her how to use a seam ripper. She’s 5 so this was all done with heavy supervision. The three year old wanted to cut so I got out some felt and an old baby doll model I used for anther project and let her cut away. There is felt everywhere and all her fingers are still on so that went well.IMG_3604

We tried on the dress several times during the making of it to talk about where cuts needed to be made and where the ribbon needed to go. She was downright focused. Just saying… that’s kinda unusual.

It turned out like it was supposed to, not perfect, not fashion forward but wearable for her. It’s not totally about the end product although that should be a bit of it. It’s about the process – the learning. It was a great go at a first dress and she loves it. She is prancing around the house in it  and thinking about what she will make next. I’m totally proud.

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I NEVER do things like this with her because I’m so busy at work. I come home exhausted and rarely have the time to encourage all the creativity I know is dying to get out of my little girl. Here’s to hoping I can have more of these experiences in the future.IMG_3620

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Airport Madness

Andy has a new job. He works for Great Lakes airline. Therefore we get to travel for free… on standby. It’s sometimes very crazy. If we get a flight halfway to our destination, we might not get a flight the rest of the way for several hours or even days. This can be a little crazy… especially with little kids. I have named the condition that sets in during those long hours of waiting and chasing flights from terminal to terminal “AIRPORT MADNESS.”

Airport madness starts to set in when you are getting tired from the travel.

When you are sitting in the terminal and your eyes are getting heavy but you can’t sleep because someone is saying over a loud speaker, “John Smith, Mr. John Smith, John Smith, Mr. John Smith, please go to a white courtesy phone,” – that’s airport madness.

When you are afraid to leave your terminal because you have been delayed 6 times only 15 minutes at a time but you have to pee like crazy – that’s airport madness.

When you are buying stuff at the overpriced gift shops and kiosks like a late night infomercial shopper – that’s airport madness.

When you look longingly at a restaurant that is just outside of TSA and you can’t get there without waiting for 2 hours in a line and being frisked, all for a cup of coffee – that’s airport madness.

When your device is dying and you spend all your time in the search for places to charge up – that’s airport madness.

When you are taking a sponge bath in the sink, purchasing t-shirts for a city you will never see because you checked everything and can’t stand the smell of your clothes one more minute, brushing your teeth in a drinking fountain just to stay close enough to your terminal to hear if you are boarding or not – that’s airport madness.

So, when traveling, just remember, we’ve all been there. Most of us have at least one pair of ill-purchased sunglasses from an airport kiosk that never came out of the overnight bag we put them in at the airport.

It’s ok… Just a little airport madness.

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The Real World

Recently I was looking at a former students posts and she mentioned that she was about to end her scholastic career and go out into the real world. It started me on a bit of a reminiscence.

Remember when we were kids and mom and dad would say, “When you have your own house, you can do whatever you want.” That’s what is about to happen, former student. You are about to have your own space. You can stay up late. You can go to bed if you want. You can watch what you want on TV. You can eat at random times during the day. You can have only cake for lunch. You can leave socks on the floor forever and NEVER PICK THEM UP! You don’t have to clean your room before you get to eat dinner and homework suddenly, AFTER 12 or more years, doesn’t exist! You can stay in your underwear all day and NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU WAKE UP WHEN YOU AREN’T READY! It’s the best!!!!!!!!!!!

And then you get a job, get married, and have kids and suddenly, even though no one is making you do them, you do all those things that your parents and teachers “made” you do BY YOUR OWN CHOICE. Can you believe it? It was all a vicious circle.

But I still say being a grown up is awesome. I love it. I wouldn’t go back to being a kid for nothing… accept the awesome ability to eat an entire pizza and not gain a pound.

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Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes

Sun Rise at the Sand Dunes

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by | February 23, 2013 · 6:48 pm

Best EVER Black Bean Chilli

This is a GREAT Sabbath evening meal as it’s a slow cooker meal and can be served over rice (also quick).

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. dried black beans

1 7 oz. can roasted diced green chillies

1 1/2 cup diced white or red onion

3-4 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 heaping tsp McKays Chicken Seasoning or other chicken bullion

1 1/2 tsp dried cilantro

1 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup Morning Star Farms griller bits (or whatever you like as far as meat substitute. Real meat must be separately sauteed first and then added.)

Directions:

rinse and soak beans overnight

In the morning, rinse beans again, put them in a pot and cover them with water. Bring them JUST to a boil. This helps the skins pop and speeds the cooking process. While these are coming to a boil, put all the other ingredients, except the griller bits, in a Boston Baked bean pot for the oven or a slow cooker. Put the boiling beans and all their liquid on top of the other ingredients. Bake at 350 for one hour and then 250 for at least 4 hours, adding water as needed. It’s fine to leave them on to cook for WAY longer than that. I stir the griller bits in as soon as I turn off the heat and let them cook in the hot beans for a few minutes.

I serve this as a haystack base but it’s awesome alone or with a bit of cornbread or over rice. It’s just YUMMY comfort food.

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Mason Jars

Last year, my sainted mother-in-law came and canned TONS of jars of applesauce for us. As the jars were emptied, I just put them away in the garage waiting for the next year when I would inevitably beg her to come and out and repeat the process. I have now been educated by Pinterest and I will never let another mason jar, or baby food jar, go to waste sitting in the cold garage.

You can premake salads in them.

As long as the spinach is on the top and the dressing is on the bottom and are not touching, it keeps for up to 4 days. This is a great way to pre-make stuff when you know you aren’t going to have time to do it later. It can really save you from spending money at a restaurant when you don’t have to. This is also a great way to pre-portion (if you are on that post-holiday diet.)

You can also portion out dry mixes. I recently discovered how to make my own gluten steaks and although they are wonderful, they are filled with unusual ingredients (at least to my kitchen) and in making them, I fill the whole sink with measuring spoons and cups and the whole counter with spices and bags of different kinds of flour and whatnot. Besides not always wanting to do all that measuring and finding of spices, I’m not always sure I even have everything I need. The reality is, people have been making money off me for years because they mix something up in some factory and package it and tell me how much water and an egg to mix into it. I’m not going to stand for that anymore. I’m making my own dry mixes when I have the energy and whipping up a homemade meal faster than I ever did before. After today (and any day when I feel like doing dry mixes), all I have to know is whether there are any mixes left and if we have soy sauce. NICE!

There are many other uses of mason jars. You can make them into pretty candle holders or use them to organize craft supplies. There are a bunch of cool examples on Pinterest. These are the things that were the most useful to me. Happy organizing.

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