Archive for the 'Intentional Family Life' Category

When Tish Met Tom

48 years ago today an uneventful meeting in a high school gym forever altered the course of my life. But the story started the summer before that…

I landed on the campus of Denver University in the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college to take a couple of classes.  Didn’t know anyone, just how I wanted it.

My soul and the rest of my life was restless and uncertain. All I thought I believed in felt questionable, God especially.  My young-girl faith couldn’t quite bridge the gaps.  The mountains seemed like a safe place to hide or find myself again.

Next to my dorm sat Evans Chapel.  Same John Evans that founded my town, Evanston, but of course I couldn’t see that far ahead.  The small aisle inside the chapel allowed me to stretch out and cry for help, if anyone was listening.

Apparently, someone was.  As I exited the chapel one evening, a guy began to talk to me about Jesus. I told him no more religion.  “No problem, this is Relationship.”  I desperately wanted relationship.

And then I fell in love.  Not with the guy (I never saw him again) but with Jesus.  OK, so it wasn’t love at first sight but by the end of the summer I didn’t want to break up.

We’re still together.  He knows all my quirks and loves me anyway.  I get mad but don’t walk out.  Our communication skills are pretty good after all this time.

Soooooo…back to campus in the Midwest.

My Colorado friends told me to look up a group called “Intervarsity” a campus group of Jesus’ followers. I never heard of it.

The first day back, I was moving too fast coming out of an elevator and literally ran into a girl carrying a poster which got knocked out of her hand due to the collision. Apologetically, I picked it up to hand it back and saw it advertising an event, for Intervarsity!

Me: Oh Intervarsity, I was going to look that up here.

Her: Why don’t you come to the event, it is this weekend?

Me: Yeah, maybe!

Her: Have you met Tom Suk? He lives in this dorm, he will be at the event, I can introduce you.

Me: Don’t know him. Thanks for the info.

Friday night, Sept 18, 1970, I nervously walked into the “Action Bash” my new friend invited me to. Fortunately, she was watching for me and quickly came over to talk.

Let me introduce you to Tom… and she led me down the hall to the gym. His long hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing a white tee-shirt and blue jeans, he was playing basketball. Politely, he stepped out of the game to meet me.

No immediate sparks but we were in the same dorm, the same group, pretty soon the same Bible studies and by January, I was totally smitten! Him…not so fast ☹

Three years later we pledged our lives in marriage to one another forever.

And every year, on September 18, we remember the nondescript start that set everything else into motion.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

The Lost and Found Napkin Ring

My mom was what you would call “big on manners.” She had very definite ideas of what could be on the dinner table like bowls and pitchers and what wasn’t allowed like pans and cartons.

From time to time she would fine us for “bad manners” like a dime for an infraction. Sometimes it was more fun to choose crude and sacrifice a dime for the cause. Or my brothers thought so!

I have a memory of going to something like charm school on a small-scale to improve my skills. No boys allowed in the class. She tried hard.

Cloth napkins were held in high value at our house and one day a package showed up in the mail with a silver-ish napkin ring for each of us with our name on it. My mom was so thrilled with these like she had just won the sweepstakes.

At the end of every meal we would insert our used napkin in the ring for the next round at the table. Cut down on laundry she thought, another high value.

Then the napkin rings stopped showing up because we stopped showing up. Off to college, jobs, new locations with new families. I forgot all about them.

Funny, but when I started setting my own tables though, napkin rings often made an appearance. I picked them up at my usual spots like garage sales and resale shops. I guess folks were downsizing and cast them off. I have quite a collection 🙂 Bowls and pitchers too. I guess the message “took.”

Some of my napkin rings.

Last May we had an auction for my mom’s stuff she no longer needed. Like minded stuff sold together and one of my high school classmates bought a kitchen box. A few weeks later she called my brother to tell him she found something I might want: my napkin ring! It wasn’t lost after all, just hiding.

The lowly napkin ring became like the straw turned to gold. Nothing to do with the $ value and all about nostalgia: Memories of hamburgers served at the fake wood table on Saturday nights, the way mom lined up all five napkin rings like museum artifacts, her now precious insistence we learn how to dine not just eat.

Thanks Mom for the napkin rings and all you hoped they would deliver. I think they did the job. I’ll try hard not to lose it again.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

The Summer of Three Reunions (part two)

The setting!

My husband is the only person I know who came from a family of nine kids! When we were first dating in college, I spent more time trying to memorize all their names and ages than I did on my homework. Info I would need to remember a lot longer than some of my course work.

Everyone was always around for parties, BBQs, celebrations, until they weren’t. From the top down, starting with the parents, the relocations from the Chicago area began early in our marriage. One of Tom’s four sisters remained in the area but everyone else was a plane ride away.

The nine gathering for a photo in the round!

Events like weddings, graduations and anniversaries could draw a crowd but never everyone at once and the invite list kept getting bigger. Many more names to memorize! Getting all together seemed impossible but so essential. Myriads of details to plan but it finally happened.

For three days last month, in a beautiful setting in rural Washington, most of the family gathered for the fifth tri-annual reunion. An amazing array of doctors, teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs, caregivers, therapists, sales persons, bankers, paleos and vegans and more all  celebrating our common bond: family.

Puzzle almost got finished!

My mother and father-in-law never made it to one of these three-day parties but would have loved seeing the crowd hunched for over the puzzle which never quite got finished, the mob floating down Icicle River in tubes, crazy three- legged races, late into the night card games, babies passed around, cousins becoming friends.

Fun goes fast. In a minute, it was over 😦

Fun in the pool!

By the next reunion in 2021, we’ll need another vat of taco meat and double the Red Vines. Babies will be preschoolers, high-schoolers will be in college, more will hold  Medicare cards and we might need to add another lodge. We all can’t wait!

But meanwhile, Reunion # 3 is next, high school! Watch for the report!

Hope for the Best,

Tish

PS: I’ve updated the post on Reunion # 1 with the recreated photo from 1925

Summer of Three Reunions: Part One

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer of Three Reunions (part one)

Going to any reunions this summer? I’ve got three on my calendar!

I grew up with relatives all around. Except for the California ones. But we saw them too as our family piled into our non-air-conditioned car and drove across country sans seat belts. Hanging out with relatives was just what you did. On Sunday afternoons usually but for sure at the reunions.

Each side of the family had one every summer. No tee-shirts to announce our tribe but we knew who we were. Mostly I remember the food which came from those farm kitchens. Carbs galore and oh so delicious! I looked forward to the high chocolate cake with the glossy icing the most. My mom never made that kind of icing.

Then the reunions stopped, or I stopped going. Busy, you know. My immediate family of six provided my “hanging out with my relatives” and visits from and to my parents filled out the rest. I didn’t think I missed the reunions. But part of me did, and that part got bigger as I got older.

A cache of photos started it, a common catalyst. My mom gave me the old ones quite a while back, but I lost track of them for a time. Now I look at their faces and wonder, who are these relatives and what is their story? I desperately need to know.

To begin the re-connection, I started a cousins Facebook group and turns out, I’m not the only one with photos. Names and faces from the past, my past, my DNA, show up on the page along with some funny stories.

Could another reunion come together? It would be my generation’s turn now to make it happen.

The appearance of another photo (see above) jump started the momentum. Taken circa 1925, the photo’s setting was in front of a lovely old home near my grandparent’s farm. My grandpa is the one in the middle holding the straw hat, my grandmother is on the right end. My great-grandparents, whom I never met, are in the front row left. The rest of the family is great-aunts, uncles and first cousins of my mom.

None of the relatives in the photo are still living.

But the house is still standing. What if we could replicate the photo? Turns out we can.

So tomorrow we’re taking another photo, 93 years later. Not all the cousins can make it, but enough can to stage the scene once again.

After the photo, we’ll hang out with food and drink and gather again Saturday afternoon for an old-fashioned reunion picnic. This time, catered food will replace the bulging picnic baskets and there probably won’t be any high chocolate cake with the glossy icing. OK with me, I’m not coming for that anymore.

Reunions, a time to remember our “union,” our shared story, the people listed in the genealogy charts along with us. So excited to see the new picture! More important, can’t wait to see the family again.

Two more reunions later this summer, stay tuned!

Hope for the best,

Tish

PS: Here is the new picture!

 

 

 

Uno! My Favorite Card Game.

Uno with Omi a few years back.

My parents played Bridge. The best thing about Bridge was the “Bridge Mix” which was an assortment of chocolate candies served during the evening. Many Saturday nights my Bros and I tagged along to someone’s home (unless it was at our house that night) and hung out with the other kids while the parents played cards. Babysitters were never used for these nights.

I don’t remember how we passed the time (no movies then) but the reward came at the end when a huge spread of food appeared after the card playing. All the kids got some too. My favorites were the homemade tamales at Fran’s house.

You might think I would grow up to play cards. I did, Crazy Eights. Dealing the cards was an almost every night ritual during my freshman year of college. We called it a “study break” but some nights we played cards more than studied. Always Crazy Eights.

And then I got busy with protesting things, following Jesus, falling in love and put the cards away.

Until Uno came along.

Grands playing Uno at our house.

Merle Robbins developed Uno when he was trying to resolve an argument with his son about the rules of Crazy Eights. History of Uno  Can you see why I liked it?

Our oldest son, Jesh, was around four when I taught him the game and we played all the time. Once we had a long ongoing tournament over the winter where we would play when we had a chance and keep track of the score. I don’t remember what the total points we played to but he won and we went out to get ice cream to celebrate the finish.

Each of our four logged many games of Uno and especially enjoyed playing with my parents. Then they all grew up and the cards stayed in the drawer untouched for years.

Jesh had his own children and I celebrated the day I taught my oldest grandchild how to play Uno in our living room. And her brother after that and then her sister. We also play Skip-Bo now. Made by the same company and just as fun!

Skip Bo on the train.

The grands and I spend hours on the train playing the game on the way to visit my mom. No more Bridge for her but she can probably still manage Uno some days.

On a recent trip with my daughter’s family, an Uno game showed up at the hotel. I asked her daughter, almost four, if she would like to learn. She picked it up right away and loved it. We play in Starbucks now!

Uno at Starbucks

How could this simple game be on to the fourth generation in our family? We aren’t card players, and this is probably the only game I know how to play, besides Crazy Eights of course. BTW I can’t shuffle either so adopted what we call the “Babi shuffle” named after Tom’s Czech grandmother. Spread all the cards out and swirl them together!

We play, we laugh, we snack during the rounds but mostly we are together.

Little game, big rewards.

Do you play?

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

“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

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

 



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