“The Sick Cup”and Other Delights of a Day at Home.

I was secretly excited when my daughter-in-law asked me if my 9-year-old grandson could come over for the day. She was on her way out-of-town and he had a bit of a fever and couldn’t go to school. Crazy, but I really enjoyed my kid’s minor sick days years ago and was eager to play nurse again.

A “slight fever” was always the best kind of sick day. I’m speaking at a retreat this weekend so knew I could keep on working during his movie time, but we could still get a game or two and a few stories in.

A few decades ago, a day home from school for our four also meant a visit to the “sick cabinet” on the back porch: A tall metal storage piece from my husband’s Czech grandmother that landed with us after her death. Originally laden with her homemade pickles and jam, we filled it with toys, books and movies which could only be played with on a verified sick day. Verified that is by a thermometer or frequent bathroom visits.

(No, we didn’t buy all these items.) Our extended family supplied our kids with oodles of toys at Christmas, many more that we did. Before they got too attached to the new items, I swooped a few up and stuck them in the cabinet. Garage sale finds added to the supply. Everything was “new” on sick day! As soon as health rebounded, all items returned to the cabinet until the next time. The plan worked.

The other bonus of the day at home was to get to use “The Sick Cup.” A somewhat gaudy light green goblet once won by my mother at the Illinois State Fair when the carnival worker failed to guess her age correctly and took about ten years off. She didn’t need the “prize” after that elation and offered me the cup. Right away I decided how I would use it.

So I climbed on a stool a little while ago and reached the old glass from the top shelf where it has always resided. After a good cleaning, I filled it with juice and handed it to my grandson to sip during his movie.

Wasn’t it just last week I stood in the same kitchen and filled the same cup for one of mine?

With all the winter illness going around in my circle of friends (I took my turn too!) maybe it’s time to create “sick” specialties for ourselves as well. A new book, movie or TV series, special beverage, soft tissues or even pajamas to wear only on under-the-weather days. Cute ones! Best gather that now while health is strong. At least I already have a sick cup!

Hope for the best,

Tish

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Dinner Special Tonight! (with recipe)

I can tell I’m finally past the holidays when I feel like making something new for dinner. During the long, fun-filled stretch from Thanksgiving to Tom’s January 15 birthday, the what-to-make-for-dinner question is usually answered by looking around. Most of the time I have stuff on hand or in my grocery cart for our favorites: Soups, stir-fries, fish, and Saturday night homemade pizza. I don’t have an Instant Pot but get similar results on slo-mo with items from the pantry and fridge I throw in the crock pot, sans recipe.

Last night I felt creativity slipping back in and decided to look for a fresh idea for dinner. A good sign for me that my holiday hiatus was back in storage with the Christmas decorations.

I probably could have tried anything new-to-us but decided on Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups. I only had to pick up a few items and was good to go. In case that sounds good to you too, here is the recipe:

Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups

  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil (I used sesame oil)
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 12 Butter Lettuce Leaves (I used Romaine, Butter would have worked better)
  • 1 ½ C chopped English cucumber (the seedless kind)
  • 1 C shredded carrots (bought them already shredded)
  • ¼ C chopped peanuts (also purchased pre-chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped mint (omitted)

Combine 2 Tbsp. of the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar in a bowl, stir with whisk.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and brown the turkey. Cook about 7 minutes, stir till crumbly.

Add ¼ cup of the soy sauce mixture, cook about 4 minutes till absorbed.

Place about 3 tablespoons turkey inside of each lettuce wrap, top with carrots, cucumber and chopped peanuts, drizzle remaining soy sauce mixture over. Sprinkle with mint if you have it.

Easy and delicious!

Maybe I’ll keep this up or create a new tradition of something new every Wednesday.

Do you change-up your recipes?

Hope for the best,

Tish

Happy St Nicholas Day: Are your Shoes Out?*

st-nicks-shoes

Neither are mine but when my husband was a child, his heroic mom of 9 children managed to fill each one’s shoes with a special treat the morning of Dec 6 so St Nick could make his first run-through.

Did you know Nick was a real-life bishop who had a reputation for secret gift-giving?  He liked to put coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, especially the poor.

Some Christmas customs, like celebrating St Nick’s Day survive for generations, others drop off or transform into new traditions.  As a self-proclaimed traditionalist, I think we need both!

This year I am trying three new things:

1)     Small poinsettias in each room.  They are cheap and colorful and don’t need unpacking and are easily tossed after the holiday or when you get tired of them in February.

 

 

2)     Attaching a photo of the recipient instead of a gift tag. I have a huge supply of never used photos and it’s easy to cut out just one person to use as a tag.  Older photos are even more fun!

2012 Christmas Tags

3)     Do you send out holiday newsletters?  I stashed a copy of each of our past letters into a file and decided to put them into a red binder for display.  Office supply stores sell packages of letter size sheet protectors already punched with three holes.  Fun to look back over our highlights each year.

How about you?  Trying anything new?

Hope for the best,

Tish

*adapted from 12/6/12

 

Mimi Musings

The Oldest

I’m thinking about my grandmas a lot these days. Grandma Schwartz and Grandma Wiewel. No cutesy names for these women, I don’t think the thought ever crossed their minds to be called anything else. ..not like me and most of my girlfriends.

Their birthdays are both this month, one today in fact, but I know it’s more than that.

Mostly I’m very aware that my beloved Grandma Wiewel died the December I was eleven. My oldest grandchild is now eleven. I’m suddenly seeing me from her eyes and wonder how deep the imprint is going. More than wonder, I pray all the time for wisdom to impart what has been sewn in me to pass on to them.

The Youngest

All of us have/had a grandmother, two of them in fact, even if we never knew them. Most of us will be one as well. Unlike motherhood which often takes us by surprise, lots of time is provided to prepare a nest in our hearts for the new generation of little ones to land. Make it soft, cozy and very secure.

The seven year old

More than the snippets of conversation or the fun outings, I remember how these strong women made me feel. Welcome, wanted, loved, safe. Many things I often didn’t feel on the playground. They never raised their voice at me or made me feel less than anything.

Painting at my kitchen table.

So today I’ve painted and baked with one and will pick up another one from school for tea soon. With seven in town and two a train ride away, it does take some juggling of the calendar to make it happen and still get a work week in.

I go on a train to see this one.

What drives me is the thought that someday, not too far away, their array of options of whom to spend time with will be very vast. I hope to stay on the list!

Sometimes Papa comes along.

So I’m in it to win it, this role I will own the rest of my life. Can you help me out? If you are a grandmother, tell me your best tip. If you remember your grandmother, tell me what you loved the most.

Hope for the best,

Tish (or as I am known to nine, Mimi)

PS More Mimi musings:Grandma You Left me Too Soon, Pray it Again: My Grammas’s Rosary, Freeze These Moments!,Dates on Our Hearts

Friday Night Lights: Back on the Field

Tom and I and our star.

Friday Night Lights – Evanston Township High School football, filled our calendar, our basement, and swept us away 20 years ago. Our son, Gabriel, #70, was the Center, that’s a position, not a mom’s bragging. I can’t really define that exact role but I always liked the sound of it.

After four years on the field, this 1997 season looked like the big one. Victory after victory, the wins kept coming. Each week the ranking got higher and soon they were ranked #4 in the nation by USA TODAY. Winning the state title felt like it was in the bag, but it didn’t happen.

USA TODAY 11/11/97

The sensational run ended abruptly during a snowfall at the last game of the season when no more victories came through and we all mournfully filed out of the stadium for the last time.

Tom and I stayed in touch with some of the players, they still came in and out of our home occasionally when passing through town. Most conversations still included at least some snippets about THAT fall when hope flooded the field and all dreams seemed possible.

Every autumn we said to each other, “let’s go back to a game” but we never did.

Until a few weeks ago.

The boys came back.  Twenty years had passed and it was time to gather again.

Our grandson looking out on the field where his dad played.

Like stepping into a time machine, we headed back to the field. Tents were set up and a long table of barbecue lined the perimeter. Player’s parents like us showed up but now also wives, girlfriends, and kids. A whole new crowd that wasn’t around back then but had heard all the stories of the season that blew everyone away.

We swelled with pride once again when the announcer proclaimed that this team’s record was still standing and invited them all out on the field for half time. Tears wet my face as my son picked up his son and strode out there with his teammates to thunderous applause.

I know football is under closer scrutiny now, for good reason. I also know the camaraderie, community, and common vision that fall impacted us all in ways we’ll never forget.

Thanks, ETHS Wildkits, for the chance to cheer again, one more time.

Hope for the best,

Tish

What Story Are You Walking Into?

Ironically, the evidence splayed all around on the pull-down diaper changer in the women’s bathroom of a well-known sandwich shop. Someone had taken a pregnancy test and fled, leaving a trail behind.

The result was negative, I didn’t have to do any snooping to see that. All the packaging and the testing tools were strewn around the surface.

I thought a lot about the mystery not-now-mom on my long drive home.

Was the negative result good news? Was she not ready for motherhood? Did her family feel full? Was this not a good time? Not a good relationship? Was she so excited she ran out without cleaning up?

Or, was it a sad result? Another loss? Hopes dashed? Bitter news? Was she so heartbroken she slipped out without picking up the pieces? Could she not face the result again?

Why was she doing this in a public place instead of home?

Either way, I longed to congratulate her or mourn with her. Obviously, a big event in her life that night.

So many stories all around us. So much hidden joy and unexpressed pain.  If only we could see, but then what would we do? How many stories can one hold?

I hoped someone was waiting for her outside that bathroom or in there with her. Someone who would know just how to respond with happy laughter or heartfelt compassion or maybe swoop her up and give her a hug. Some events shouldn’t be solo-runs.

Even for those of us who hold a lot of stories in our circles, we sometimes don’t hear ALL the stories. Some details are too fragile or vulnerable or not ready for sharing.

So, I said a prayer for her. And left everything as is. Maybe she was coming back in to scoop up the evidence or long gone. I did leave with a snippet of her story that I am passing on to you. Maybe one is unfolding around you at this moment too.

Look around, there are stories everywhere. Here is an excellent 4-minute video from the world renown Cleveland Clinic to illustrate this:

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

Month at the Beach (not what you think!)

Selfie at the beach on my “Little Mermaid” towel.

Yesterday I lugged my bulky beach bag about a mile and a half on foot to Lee Street Beach because I didn’t have the car. Last month or the one before or, in fact, any of the other eleven, I would have just kept working or found something else to do for a break like laundry. Not this month.

This August, I resolved to go to the beach every day before autumn came calling and so car or no car, I’m getting there. Monday, I rode my bike, harder to manage all the stuff.

My self-employed work load hasn’t eased up, in fact, I’m working more. Which means, I get up earlier or stay up later or bring my grandchildren along or whatever it takes to get my visit in.  I only stay a short while, enough to feel the sand, smell the water, read a chapter, take in the sights. I haven’t gone in the water yet.

My Local Beach

My husband, who has never had his own beach token, decided to get in on this too but can only manage to go occasionally, later in the day. Evanston tokens are half off now so I got him one, better late than never. Sitting at the beach the other evening after work seemed to put us in another realm. It was nice.

Not just “my” beach.

This is a new one for me, there are only a couple of items that go in the “every day” category and this one is just for the month.

I’m keeping this promise to myself, maybe it will propel me to keep a few more.

Like clear off my desk before I go to bed, think about dinner before 4:00, keep chocolate in the “occasional” category, write down the expenses. Or maybe even the harder ones like putting the phone down.

Sometimes, even for a Life Coach like me, it is hard to know the difference between a wish, an intention, a goal, a promise.  I do know deciding in advance makes it easier to stick with resolution in all areas of our life.

So, I’m going to the beach. Not like committing to the “Whole 30” or the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) Both never tried. Yet.

Cloudy Day

What have you committed to for a month? What would you like to?

Hope for the best,

Tish


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