Out of the spotlight…

My mom recently turned 80. She has never liked the spotlight. She probably won’t like the attention, but she deserves to be celebrated. We couldn’t go see her on her birthday because our son was exposed to Covid and had to quarantine. It broke his heart and mine too. We want her to know how special she is and how much we love her.

Where to start? My mom is the oldest of 10 kids. I remember stories about the one room schoolhouse and the farm they grew up on. I remember big Christmas get togethers and family reunions filled with laughter and food. But it’s the small things too that make her special. My oldest son says she makes the best toast. My youngest son says she makes the best mac and cheese. Everyone is convinced her scalloped potatoes and ham have some secret ingredient because we can’t quite replicate it. Not only the food she makes, but her smile, her warm laugh, her hugs and the way she loves her family makes her one of a kind.

She has always been an example of giving. As a church secretary for many years, she was often a listening ear to whoever was waiting for the pastor or happened to stop by. She would write notes to people in need of a smile. She listened to many hours worth of teen heartbreak and drama (and I understand now how difficult that must have been.) She went to my band/choir concerts, 4-h events, track meets, plays, basketball and wrestling to watch me cheer. She’d make pizzas and malts for me and my friends before a game. Many slumber parties and sleep overs were held on that orange shag carpet and my friends always knew there would be treats.

She taught me to sew, how to bake, how to do laundry and how to write thank you notes. She showed me the importance of faith and giving. She used to have “Hobby Club” and “Homemakers” and Bible study meetings. Aside from her weekly hair appointment, those were the few “self care” things she did. She is an example of how to show up for those you love. It’s one of the reasons I was sad that I couldn’t show up for her. It was beyond my control, but sometimes lack of control is hard to accept.

80 years is a big deal. I’m sad to have missed most of the last year with mom, but know it was important to keep them safe & healthy. Too often we wait to tell those we love what an impact they have on our lives. So, to anyone reading, I hope you tell someone today what they mean to you. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. If your loved one has passed, sit quietly and talk to them as if they are still here. Their spirit is with you.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Mom, you’ve always been more than enough and I’m forever grateful God chose you to be my mom. It was worth the wait!

Before selfies…

This week marked 26 yrs since my husband proposed. This photo wasn’t taken at the proposal. It wasn’t common to have people photograph or document it. Heck, we still had regular film cameras where you had to take your film in to be developed (& hope for some good ones). Selfies weren’t a thing yet. We took this picture at the International Peace Gardens in 1997. We went after Labor Day and there were very few people, so we took the phot ourselves. Odds are, there are 10 others that have part of our heads or just the sky in them, but this one was good. We camped in a tent there, saw porcupines, deer, tons of beautiful flowers and we did lots of biking.

It got me thinking… what would I say to my “26 years ago self?” My experiences brought me to where I am today, but that young 21 year old had no idea what was in store. What would I say to that young lady?

  • Your wedding day will be the fastest day of your life. Enjoy it.
  • Sometimes it takes a while to have a family. Hold on, it’s worth the wait.
  • Hold those babies more! Let them sit on your lap longer, rock them and give them even more kisses than you already did.
  • Lighten up. 21 yr old me went from wild to serious and stayed there too long.
  • Don’t lose yourself. It’s ok to have dreams and goals of your own. Don’t get too lost in everything else that you forget to take care of yourself.
  • You cannot pour from an empty cup.
  • One day you will look back at the “Rice a Roni years” and realize you can get by with less.
  • Jalapeño peppers will burn your hands.
  • You will meet some magical ladies. Listen and learn. They help you discover part of yourself that is also magical.
  • Date night. Seriously. Get a sitter and go out more.
  • Love your body in all it’s phases. One day you’ll wish you were the size you are now. Love yourself through all of it.
  • 529 plan. Look into it. College is no longer $12k for 4 years!
  • Slow down. Life goes by fast enough.
  • S’mores for breakfast & pancakes in letter shapes are totally ok when camping. Your kids will remember it.
  • Before you know it, you’ll be knocking on the door of 50. Enjoy the journey.
  • Have more massages, take more walks, spend more time by the water.
  • You will complete half marathons and then forget you’re capable of it. Don’t forget.
  • You’ll experience the power of prayer and feel people praying for you.
  • Keep sharing. Keep sending notes and baking treats for people and sending care packages.
  • Be in the pictures. The number on your jeans doesn’t matter. Your family loves you at all sizes.
  • 26 years later, you’d still say “yes” again.

I’m sure there is more. But, like I said, all of those experiences, victories and mistakes got me to where I am today… so maybe I wouldn’t change much. I bet she wouldn’t listen anyway. She was pretty stubborn. I would tell her to make more photo books because her iPhone will run out of space. (Then she’d wonder what I was talking about!)

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Have some grace with your younger self. She/he did the best they could, and brought you to where you are.

You can’t skip the flour and the dishes…

I have always loved to bake. I make pies, cookies and breads for the farmers market. Pies are a favorite. There is something special about a homemade pie crust. The flakey, crispy, melt in your mouth pie crust brings back memories for many people. It brings me back to my mom’s kitchen in the 1911 farmhouse I grew up in. It makes me think of the red and white Betty Crocker cookbook (the crust recipe I always use). I remember her saying, “Save your fork,” after the meal… then you knew there would be dessert!

Aside from pumpkin (which HAS to be Festal), I make all of my fillings from scratch. It isn’t quick but I’ve gotten better at pie time management. Before a market, I’ll prep the filling mixes (the sugar, flour, cinnamon etc) so that it’s ready to mix in with the fruit when the crust is made. I’ll have my son help line some pizza pans with foil to reduce oven drips. I’ll make sure I have the cinnamon and sugar mixed up for the pie crust crispies.

There are some things about pie baking you just can’t skip. For mine, I need flour. I haven’t tried gluten free pie crust yet and I don’t have a flour free kitchen, so there is flour everywhere. It’s difficult to keep flour off the counter, the apron and even the floor. It’s a key ingredient to the crust. It can’t be skipped. Dishes are the other thing that comes with baking. Even though I put pies in disposable tins, I have bowls for the crusts, the special fork I use to mix it, the rolling pin, all of the measuring spoons and cups and even a small basting brush to make the top of the crust extra tasty. Dishes. Ugh. If ever I could hire help, it would be solely for the dishes. But they are necessary.

The mess is necessary. You can’t skip it. You can’t skip an ingredient and the dishes have to be done. Similar to life, you can’t skip the middle. You can’t skip over the messy parts or the clean up. You’ll get covered in flour and have a full dishwasher, but in the end, you’ll have a wonderful, delicious pie. (Ok yes, you could just buy a pie, but you get the idea). To me, baking is therapy. It’s soothing. I am creating something and sharing a skill. I’m baking JOY. I’m offering a connection – since most people share a pie (although I do not judge if you chose to keep one for yourself!)

I love seeing the people smile at the market when they buy a pie. They talk about bringing it to a friend for pie and ice cream, or a having a coffee snack. They don’t think about the mess behind it, they just get to enjoy the finished product. They have their own “flour and dishes” to deal with. We all do. Let people into your flour mess. Let them help with the dishes. And let them scoop up some ice cream when you’re done. We are meant to help each other in some way. We might as well enjoy some pie too.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I also wish for you to have flour messes and dishes so you can get to the pie part. Save your fork, the best is yet to come.

Detours and rerouting …

This is a small dam near our place. The water from the lake flows over the dam and down the river. If you look closely, you can see the erosion on the far side. The water decided it wanted to go on the other side of that metal wall. It eroded the bank and started to flow a little too quickly.

This is the river we float down in the summer. This is my relaxing spot. For a couple of hours, time slows down. The water and the sun, the slow pace, the wildlife and fish… it’s all just what I need. Catching up with friends while we slowly float down the river is a highlight of the summer.

I’m not sure what it will look like this year. They are adding rock and trying to fix the erosion. Since it’s only March, (and in MN that means we still have potential winter), we have time. Also, the lake it flows from is one of the deepest, so it melts last. This means the water is pretty cold in the spring. We have some time before we need to air up the lounge floaters.

This wasn’t part of the plan for the dam. It’s a detour, a rerouting. It got me thinking about all of the detours or rerouting I’ve gone through. Some times I welcomed it, and other times I resisted. It came either way, whether I was ready or not. It’s more comfortable to stay in the stream, to stay the course. We get caught up in routines and before we know it, a whole year has gone by. Cancer was a detour, moving was a rerouting… they both created experiences I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed where I was. I wouldn’t have met the people I met because of cancer. I wouldn’t be writing a blog each week. I wouldn’t have gotten rid of household cleaning chemicals or become aware of my health. I wouldn’t get to wake up to rows of trees and chickens and a cat if we hadn’t moved. I wouldn’t have grown a huge garden and become a cottage food producer. I wouldn’t have perfected a pie crust and found almond cake recipes.

Sometimes it’s ok to be rerouted. Sometimes it’s ok to have a detour. You never know where you will end up as a result. For me, I hope the actual river will be great for tubing when May rolls around. Wherever your life detour takes you, I hope you have someone to share it with. While you’re being rerouted, I hope you know you are enough. If you’re struggling with that, please reach out. Talk to a friend, a pastor, a counselor… someone. Sometimes we just need to share our story and to know we aren’t alone in the detour. I wish you peace on your journey of enough.

But we will…

Last weekend, my husband and I drove to Fargo to return some things. Outgrown, duplicates and just plain “not needed” stuff filled the back seat. We left our house for the afternoon, just the two of us. As we drove away, I said, “This is kind of like a long date!” He looked at me like I was nuts. The thing is, I can’t remember the last time we went somewhere alone. It might have happened in the last year but it certainly wasn’t want a regular thing. It was enough to make it seem special. No occasion, just a Saturday afternoon to go to “the big city,” return some things, see friends in person and have some delicious food.

Our short shopping trip was successful. Items returned or exchanged quickly and easily. I’ve been working from home a lot and just don’t go out much. It felt good to be away from home. I no longer live near a Kohl’s or Old Navy or Scheels. I miss the variety and the selection (& quite honestly, the thrill of shopping.) I remember thinking, “I’ll never take shopping for granted again….” but we will. We will get vaccinated and get herd immunity and some parts of life will get back to normal. We will look at a trip to Target as a chore instead of a rare outing.

We went out for supper and met our two friends. We couldn’t recall the last time we saw each other in person. We weren’t sure when the last time just the 4 of us went out for a meal either. We enjoyed some appetizers and flights of beer (or ciders in my case). Our meal was great. I remember thinking, “We won’t take this for granted again.” But we will. We will eventually be eating in full restaurants. We will sit down instead of getting take out or delivery or contactless drop off.

I remember when I broke my foot after my radiation was done. The long wait of wearing a boot, using a scooter and not putting weight on my foot seemed endless. “I’ll be so thankful when I can walk again. I won’t take it for granted.” But I did. My son did the same after he broke his leg. He doesn’t think much about it now.

We aren’t meant to dwell in the past. We may think we can’t move forward, but we will. The bumps in the road are reminders that we are human… we aren’t immortal or invincible. There are no capes or magic wands to wave. We will get through this. Will their be changes and even loss? Unfortunately, yes. Our journey is meant to bring us together, and that seems so contradictory when we’ve spent so much time apart over the last year.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. We may think we won’t ever get back to normal, but we will.