They went on without us …

We rang in the New Year last night in a way that we normally don’t. With a cough, fever and chills. Yuck! We usually go to the movies with family friends, then we all head over to a local restaurant for a late dinner and New Year’s Eve festivities. We have celebrated this way for years now and it has been a lot of fun. We went to college with these friends and our kids have grown up together. We have literally created a lifetime of memories with them. As our kids have gotten older our time together has changed. Sometimes the older kids just can’t make it. Whether they are off at college or at work things are missed … and that’s OK. Life does that sometimes. But what happened last night couldn’t have made me happier. Not the sick part! Despite their parents being sick and older siblings being gone the other kids still all got together. That’s right! They went to the movies and then went back to our friends’ home for s’mores and hung out until after midnight. Isn’t that incredible?!?! Even without their parents they still continued on with our little tradition. It made us sick parents super happy because THAT is what decades of friendship looks like.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you go on without them!!!


Forgiveness …

I did something today that I don’t often do with strangers who offend me. I do it easily for the people I know and love. But I’ve never really done it for someone I don’t know. It really made me think and made me want to change my ways. I’ll get to it, but let me first share what happened to me around noon today.

Unfortunately, I had an encounter with … let’s call her … ROAD RAGE LADY. For the record, I use the term “lady” VERY loosely. Typically when I have these types of interactions I BRIEFLY wonder what gets people to THAT level of enragement. Then I move on with my happy life.

Anyway, about 20 minutes later I had a lovely interaction with a young woman who was my cashier at a local department store. She said that she liked the pattern of the SIXTEEN Christmas cookie plates I was purchasing. I figured that she probably thought it was a little nutty to be buying so many cookie plates, HA! So I explained.

A few years ago I started a tradition with Reese’s teachers, aides and therapists. Every Christmas I give them a new Christmas cookie plate and other treats. After explaining, this young woman immediately said that she loved our tradition. She then shared with me that her nephew was born very prematurely and has many therapists as well. She said that she and her sister were trying to brainstorm Christmas present ideas for her nephew’s therapists. She said that she was excited to share our tradition with her sister and thought that it might be something that she would want to start too. This sweet woman thanked me profusely and then we wished each other well. I left the store with a smile on my face … and then I remembered ROAD RAGE LADY.

And I actually felt badly for her.

Just 20 minutes after experiencing her anger (screaming, honking and fists slamming against her steering wheel) I was blessed by a woman who freely shared her life with me. We connected, albeit briefly, because of two very special children and a village of therapists and helpers who are appreciated beyond measure. I was reminded, in that moment, that my life is filled with an abundance of good souls. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

It took me a while to process the good and the bad that had just rapidly entered my life. I thought about the balance of all of it and it made me laugh. Life can be so weird sometimes. And then, I found myself moved to pray for ROAD RAGE LADY. I didn’t just go on with my happy life this time. I thought about her and her fury. And then I prayed that she be blessed with an abundance of good souls in her life too. After all … we are all human.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you forgive someone who you don’t even know!!!

A different kind of adventure awaits …

Although by the feel of our weather you would never know that autumn has arrived. But it has! As much as I love summer this season is often a welcome change. Despite all the back-to-school business and looming craziness of the holidays, life somehow gets a little bit cozier and fun takes on a whole new shape. I am proud to say that we have a lot of family traditions, and during this time of year we have TONS that fill my heart with a special kind of joy. And I simply can’t wait to start them all over again!

Well, I hope you all have a day where a different kind of adventure awaits!!!

Cookies …

Every new school year one of our traditions is to make homemade cookies. Ideally, each week one child picks a cookie they want me to bake and put in their lunches. I say “ideally”, because some school years I can keep it up for quite a while. Then there are those school years that this tradition quickly falls by the way side. Regardless, the day before the first day of school we are baking. But it’s not just baking, it’s spending time together. Talking. Laughing. Reflecting on our summer and discussing the new school year ahead. It’s truly a special time and a tradition that I have come to love.

Well, I hope you all had a day where you made some sweet memories!!!


It looks (and feels) a lot like Christmas …

Decorating. Lists. Party planning. Shopping. Menus. The smells. Oh my, yes, the wonderful smells. Guest lists. Trees. Boxes. Wrapping. Tape. And more tape. Music. Santa. Elves on shelves … scary. Chilly weather. Baking. Cookies. And more cookies. Lights. Traditions. Family and friends.

Well, I hope you all had a day where it looked (and felt) A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS!!!

Creating some beautiful memories …

Hello, my name is Jen and I’m a pumpkin-aholic.

No really. I love all things pumpkin. OK, wait … everything but pumpkin pie. I’m not sure why, but that pumpkin thing I don’t care for much.

OK anyway, come the end of summer I usually mourn until I realize all the pumpkin products I love are coming out. This is a fairly new luxury for me too. In my early 20’s I came across a fairly large amount of pumpkin recipes in a magazine. I cut them all out and made them my own, tweaking them here and there, over the next two plus decades (YIKES, that makes me sound old). Back then, you couldn’t just buy the pumpkin products you can today, and certainly not to my chemical and preservative free standards. But now, places like Trader Joe’s and Sprouts have a huge selection of tasty pumpkin foods. You can find pumpkin cookies, bagels, cereal, yogurt, tortilla chips, tea, coffee, waffles, muffins, and ravioli! HECK, YOU NAME IT, and it’s probably out there!

But early on in my adulthood, I had to “work” to feed my pumpkin addiction. It definitely didn’t come easily packaged. I had to shop for individual ingredients, wait for seasonal items, create and bake my own pumpkin treats … and I enjoyed every bit of it. Many of the recipes I found all those years ago are tradition for us now … and THAT brings me to my point.

It’s amazing how one year of trying something new can turn into 5 … 10 … 15 … 20 years of traditions. Who knew that something so simple, as cutting out fall recipes, could turn into things my own children would grow up on. Things that they have come to expect at holiday celebrations. Things that they too may bring into their own families.

I remember the first time Sidney asked to make our pumpkin coffee cake that I serve every Thanksgiving morning. I cried. I know it sounds silly, but it meant something to me. I remember the first time I baked it with her. She was just a baby … and then years later … she asked to be the one to make it. Goodness, I’m crying now!

But I guess all traditions are like that. The good ones are anyway. They evoke emotions and fill your heart and head with tender thoughts of times past. Traditions allow us to look back but also allow us to look forward into our unknown future with a sense of something constant. No matter how much life changes around us, no matter what directions it may pull us in, we will always have the wonderful traditions that we’ve shared together as a family. And for this, I am truly grateful.

Well, I hope you all had a day where you created some beautiful memories!!!