Category Archives: Friends

Give Me a Break!

I love my family. I would rather spend time with them than any other people on the face of the earth.

I love being my kids’ mom. I have enjoyed all the little stages of their childhoods that have brought us to this point and I truly love the people they are becoming.

Even if sometimes the people they are becoming can be a little bit goofy.

Every time we are at Aloha Tower, they have to pose like the statues.

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One of the three was not in much of a posing mood.

However…..

I need time to not be with my children.

One of the best bits of advice Sus gave me when I was a brand new mom was to schedule time away from the kids. She told me that even if she got away for just a little while, she was always a better mom after a little break.

As usual, she was right.

It has been harder to find time to myself since we moved here last summer, but this weekend, I had the opportunity to get some hairapy and spend time with two of my favorite people. It was fun to laugh and eat and talk with grown up friends. Not to say that we weren’t a little goofy at times ourselves. Conversations took strange twists and turns that resulted in weird and random Google searches.

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I don’t think we ever figured out which newscaster Alex was trying to remember. It wasn’t either of these.

I came home Sunday evening to a clean house and a family who loves me.

So here’s the takeaway point on this short little post:

Friends, no matter how hard it is to schedule, you need time away to recharge your batteries. You need date nights alone with your husband (That’s still a challenge we need to make happen at my house!), you need time with girl friends, and you need time all by yourself. Of course, you also need a husband who will support you in these endeavors and I am more than blessed to have a man who doesn’t begrudge me any time that I get to sneak away.

I’d be curious to know how you all schedule time away from the kids. And if you had a dream weekend all to yourself, how would you spend it?

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The Post That Wouldn’t Write Itself….Tanya

I write most of my blog posts while driving my minivan or in the bathtub. Well, I don’t actually write the posts (or text, Oprah!) while I’m driving or when I’m in the bathtub, but that’s where I do my best thinking. Usually by the time I sit down at my computer, all I have to do is type the words that are already in my head. But this post was different. I find that sometimes when I really want to get something just right, I struggle with the flow. The words just won’t fit together the way that I want them to.  And I really want to get this one right.

Today is my friend Tanya’s birthday.

I have a package for her sitting beside my front door that I still haven’t mailed. Inside the box, tucked between a couple of other surprises is a Yankee Candle. The minute I smelled it while I was shopping in the home goods section of T.J. Maxx I knew I had to buy one for myself and one for my friend Tanya. The candle smells just like peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks, a drink she introduced to me. And it reminds me of how incredibly blessed I am to consider Tanya my friend.

For two years in a row, Christmas completely overwhelmed me. We spent Christmas 2008 in my dad’s hospital room where he was recovering from his first brain surgery. Christmas 2009 came one month after my dad left for Heaven. That second Christmas seemed even emptier than the year before because at the time, it felt like we’d lost our fight and our hope. I didn’t care about buying Christmas presents, but I have three children who needed Christmas to be as much like Christmas as it could be, considering the circumstances.

Tanya is not a procrastinator or a late-night shopper, but she asked if she could help me do my Christmas shopping. So late one night that stretched into the early hours of the next morning, we took advantage of the extended shopping hours and we checked off my Christmas list, item by item.  She was my brain when I just couldn’t think the next thought. Because of her, my kids opened gifts that they actually wanted instead of the cigarette lighters, Mentos,  and Slim Jims I would have grabbed from the checkout line offerings in my grief-induced haze. Instead, we fueled up with peppermint hot chocolate at the Target Starbucks and she helped me do something incredibly normal when life seemed anything but.

When you are in the middle of a life crisis, you will always have friends who will ask if they can do anything for you. Tanya is one of those rare friends who doesn’t need to ask, she just does what needs to be done. She can do that because she takes the time to really get to know her friends so she knows what they would need or want. I can not even give you a rough estimate of how many ways Tanya ministered to me during the time my dad was sick and after he died. My kids practically lived at her house for two years. Knowing they were with Tanya and Jeff allowed me to scratch “Worry About the Kids” off my list of things to do because I knew that at that time, they were able to be more to my children than even I was able to be.

Tanya is the kind of person I’d like to be when I grow up. She is so strong in the areas where I feel very weak. She is orderly, calm, and always working in the background. I am….not. When Tanya loves you, she loves you with all of her heart. I am certainly a better person because I know her and because I have been the recipient of her love.

Tanya, I wish I could make the words on this screen match the feelings in my heart. You are precious to me and I cherish our friendship. I know that I haven’t been anywhere near the friend to you that you have been to me. You have prayed for me, loved me, and trusted me with your true self and I am grateful. Some friends are for a season, but I hope that God allows me to have you as a forever friend. (So glad we have that arranged marriage between the kids to look forward to!)

Happy Birthday, sweet friend! I love you muchly.

The last two days have been self-indulgent posts. Most of you don’t know either of these friends, but they’re a very important part of what makes me who I am. If I could sum up the last two posts in a “take away” snippet, I’d want to remind us to be the kind of friends we’d like to have…..To not just ask people in our lives who are hurting what we can do for them but to do what needs to be done….To be a safe place for our friends to fall….And to take the time to make sure the people we love know how very special they are to us.

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The Making of the Next Food Network Star/Junkie…..And a Plea for Help!

I used to be a serious Food Network Junkie. I TiVo’d Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Giada, Emeril, Next Food Network Star, Good Eats, Unwrapped…I honestly don’t remember what else. When he was three, my oldest used to know Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals intro by heart and would say it with her every time the show came on. “…Hi there I’m Rachael Ray, and I make 30 minute meals. Now that means, in the time it takes you to watch this program, I will have made a delicious and healthy meal from start to finish.” The Little People think we’re actually related to Paula Deen. But when we got busy preparing to move and then actually moved and then had to recover from the move, I quit watching Food Network for some reason. Probably because during that time I wasn’t doing very much cooking so watching it made me feel guilty.

Anyway, for some reason this morning I turned to Food Network while we were doing our daily “get ready for the day” chores. My daughter’s eyes have not left the TV yet. She can now make a homemade coke float thanks to Emeril, knows how to make a delicious vegetable fondue, can stretch our mealtime budget, and will be able to turn our chicken leftovers into a delicious soup. I had walked out of the room for a few minutes when I heard her exclaim, “I knew it! I knew she’d be here! She’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for her!” Before I even walked back into the room, I knew I’d be seeing Paula Deen in all her glorious Southern splendor dishing up pure love with a stick of butter. We’re supposed to be going to the grocery store but I don’t know how I’m going to get the Princess Diva to leave her Paula. Maybe if I can promise her we’ll get the ingredients for the white chocolate cocoa Paula was just making….

The cocoa reminded me of a side story: Monday the whole fam spent the afternoon in the front yard making a snowman. It was a real Hallmark moment for me. The Princess Diva and I were the first ones to go back into the house because the boys wanted to engage in a little snow warfare and she didn’t think that was an activity in which she wished to participate.

She said, “Mom, can we have hot cocoa?” Fortunately, we still had some homemade hot chocolate mix left over so I was happy to oblige.

“Do you want marshmallows in your hot chocolate?” I asked.

“It’s COCOA, Mom,” was her retort.

So we sat at the table and talked girl talk for awhile. We talked about our favorite chocolates (she likes the ones that have caramel in them) and favorite foods (“Of course you know I love PB& J best, Mom. You’ve seen me eat them everywhere!”).

“I sure am enjoying our hot chocolate date, sweet girl,” I said.

“It’s COCOA, Mom.”

Whatever it was, we had fun.

Okay back to the real reason for today’s post. I need your help, Barry Manilow (That’s an old Ray Stevens song. Good grief, how old AM I?!) I’m doing a little project. When I was home with the family right after Dad’s surgery, our incredible church family provided meals for us. What a HUGE help!  Over time, I started collecting good ideas for “take over” meals (the meals you take over to someone’s house when they have a baby, surgery, etc.). I’ve decided I want to make a collection of recipes and helpful hints so that the next time I need to take a meal to someone (which will be this weekend, as a matter of fact), I can go straight to this collection and  pick something from my list. So, I’m wondering what’s your favorite “take over” meal or “take over” idea? Do you have  a standard meal that you usually prepare? If you’ve been on the receiving end, what was your favorite meal that someone brought to you? I’m looking for meals that can be put in disposable dishes so that the recipient doesn’t have to worry about returning anything. So, to my five loyal readers (and you’re exempt, Mom, so that brings us to four), what are your best “take over” ideas? If you have a great recipe and don’t mind sharing it, either link it or post it in your comments section.  I’ll put them all together with the ones I’ve already collected and put them in a central place that we all can enjoy! Won’t this be fun?! 

By the way, I’ve found a couple of really great recipe blogs that a couple of my new favorite bloggers have in addition to their every day blogs (lots of blogginess in this sentence). Meredith’s even has meal plans. Kelly’s has cool pictures to go with the recipes and is Paula Deen approved ;).  Both have great ideas that sound delicious! I’m taking several of the recipes I found with me to the grocery store (if we make it out of the house before swim lessons!) to get the ingredients so we can try them!!

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