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Six Ways to Still Capture the Essence of Summer*

1054836_flip_flopsDoes it ever seem like the endless summer of childhood and favorite novels can sometimes promise more than deliver?  Fantasies of lying on the beach, fun-filled bike rides and non-stop barbecues, entertain us all winter long, yet by the end of June we’re often still thinking about getting around to our summer plans.    It’s not too late to design a summer structure to take advantage of the best season of all 🙂

Here are 6 steps to fully enjoy the rest of the season.

  1.  Fantasize. Start with a list of all the fun things you’d really like to do the rest of the summer. Don’t worry about how realistic they are, just put them down. Learn to scuba dive, go to a flea market, grow your own cilantro, make a blueberry pie… Add anything you can think of to the list without regard to practicalities.
  2.  Prioritize. What are your top choices? Recognize that it might take a few summers to get in all your great ideas, but what seems the most possible this summer? Take into account your time availability and previous commitments and see where your best pockets of time are to add something.
  3. Pick a theme. Instead of choosing a smattering of activities to enjoy this summer, pick one theme. Would you like this summer full of outdoor concerts or baseball games or neighborhood festivals? How about bike rides or picnics or movies in the park?  Your themed activity gets in place first, then other choices fill in the schedule.
  4. Try something new. How long have you been waiting to try yoga? Wondering how to make homemade salsa? Be able to identify the birds that stop by your yard? By the end of this summer these experiences can happen.
  5.  Stretch yourself.  Does the idea of a summer triathlon entice you?  Ok, me neither but I have friends who love the challenge. How far can you ride your bike?  Can you forget about how cold the water is and just get in?
  6.  Start a summer book club.  Even if you are the only one in it!  Finish the pile on the floor by your bed, stay with one author all summer: classic or contemporary, try a new genre like poetry or biography.

Beach ReadMy Ideal Summer Book Club!

Don’t let this summer be the one that got away!

Hope for the Best,

Tish

*Popular re-post.

The Book Signing

Let me just say it up front, our family is full of Chicago Cub fans. For generations. Tom has a brick at Wrigley Field, we have a W flag, our grand kids know the names and stats for the players, etc. Those kind of fans.

So, when I noticed that David Ross, the recently retired catcher, was signing his new book, Teammate, at a nearby Barnes and Noble, the event got a spot in our calendar for last Thursday, our set-aside family night for 40 plus years.

Turns out it was a two-part deal. I needed to stop by the store in the morning to buy the book, pick up a ticket for the signing and then return later that evening. I thought it would take just a few minutes for that first part. Wrong. More like 105 minutes.  The line snaked all around the mall just to get a ticket. I was already committed, so settled in.

The long line.

Funny how these lines work but at the end of the wait, I knew parts of the life story of my little section of the fans. The story of the four-year-old IVF twins, the son who was moving away and taking the only grandchildren with him, the tennis player who would now be late for a match. Like women at the well, our chit chat revealed a lot.

Community can form anywhere.

Tom and I both returned in the evening and even though he now had a number and a time to show up, the line looked about the same. Fortunately, it was a lovely evening and they were passing out free Cubs chocolate 😊 I took walks around the area to get my steps and Tom stayed put and engaged with his slowly moving section, exchanging more stories.

Once inside, another hour lapsed. Tom kept his steady place and I wandered around the store. A conversation I had with a woman in the travel section about God was quite fun. You just never know!

Tom’s turn finally came and he had a tiny slice of time to thank David Ross for the “decency he brought to the game.” He reported that David was very kind and humble and seemed genuinely happy to meet his fans.

Total time investment, including the driving, was about five hours but the memory is priceless. Not just of the meeting and book signing but of the conversations, the chance to act like a kid again waiting to meet a sports hero, to say yes to a fun opportunity that might not come along again.

Brick at Wrigley.

Who would you wait in line for?

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

 

Splendid Summer: Make it Count*

Spring 2013 001

My husband commented last evening as we sat outside in the lovely dusk, “We’ve waited all year for this.” I don’t want it to slip away, do you? I didn’t think so.

I’m inviting myself to spend at least a short time each day of these 99 days of summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) to engage in something that can only be done in the summer. Want to join me?

Some of my favorite summer activities easily fit around a work day like taking my basket of books Books for a Summer Morning outside in the morning instead of staying in my living room chair, enjoying dinner on the patio table instead of the dining room one, reading outside at lunch time, taking a short walk outside after sunset instead of hanging around the computer. Do any of those work for you?

Summer Breakfast

I hope to get some splashier summer events in like outdoor music, movies in the park, an afternoon at the beach, long bike ride (Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Summer) but this summer I’m focusing on the daily delights of my favorite season.

Taking a hike!

As a reminder, I will daily post on Facebook which day of summer it is…

Today is 4.

Make it Count.

Hope for the best,

Tish

*Popular repost

Farewell My Husband’s Mother

A lovely but unassuming woman, my beloved mother-in-law, Geri, was the most saint-like person I have ever known. She would be so embarrassed to hear me say that and quickly deny but it was true 😊 I think her nine children would agree, I know the one I live with does.

To the envy of all my girlfriends, she always greeted me with something along the lines of how great I looked and later on, how adorable my kids were. Both were not always true. Yet I don’t recall a negative comment about anyone and certainly no unasked-for advice offered. I can only hope to come somewhat close to that standard with my in-law kids.

Even when her memory and eventually her conversational voice left her, she would pop out a smile or a look in her eyes that conveyed, “I’m still in here and I love you.” And I’m sure she still prayed for each of her over fifty descendants across multiple generations. Praying isn’t disrupted by memory loss.

I could tell 100 stories but her last day was quite significant.

On that day in December, the meteorological darkest day of the year, we sat vigil with her with along with other family members. One by one the staff of her facility came to say goodbye. Each one took time to tell us how much they enjoyed taking care of her and how kind she was.

The startling part of this is that none of them had never known her “well” and most of them had never heard her speak. In a way that can only be explained in spiritual terms, Geri had connected with them on a heart level and reached in and touched their lives. Quite consistent with the how she lived.

Beautiful younger Geri

We sat and watched, amazed but not surprised.. On the last day of her life, she finished the tutorial on how to live and how to love that started the first time I met her some 46 years ago.

Geri’s favorite times were the occasions when all her children were together so it seemed fitting to wait until the whole clan could gather to say a final goodbye. With such a far-flung gang, that took some planning.

This Saturday is the day.

Stories told and tears shed will fill the moments but knowing this crowd, lots of love and laughing will spill over all day as well. This family knows how to throw a party.

We’ll end the memorial at the tiny Czech country cemetery History of the cemetery where Geri’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, husband are also laid to rest. Indeed a holy place.

Family Cemetery

Raise your glass to Geri and join those of us who knew and loved her in celebrating a woman who extraordinarily shaped us all.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

 

“A Mess of Mushrooms.”

Do these look familiar? Just seeing the box brought up so many memories of chilly early mornings in May, traipsing out in the country with my dad looking for these elusive gems: morel mushrooms. I looked forward to it all year.

Mushroom hunting was a top-secret venture in Quincy. You took no one with you and told no one where you were going. Neighbors would talk about bring home a “mess of mushrooms” but I knew better than to inquire where they found them. It was impolite even to ask.

So, I was thrilled to find this box at our local Farmer’s Market last Saturday. Tom’s Czech grandma lived in Cicero which has an annual 3 day festival and parade to honor the lowly Houby (mushroom in Czech.) He was definitely in for the purchase.

On the way to the stand, Tom and I wondered how high the price would be and decided how much we were willing to spend, $10.

“$50 a pound” the guy pronounced. I have never purchased any food item for anything close to that price.

“But you can just buy a few if you wish” he offered. I pulled out my $10 and he put three in the bag, 3!

The adventure was on!

Cut in half and soaking.

We came home and watched five you-tube videos on how to prepare them. Didn’t want to risk ruining any sliver of the golden fungi. Good thing we did as Tom was ready to sample a tiny bite raw. “Eating them raw will send you to the hospital.” An important fact to keep in mind.

Tom started the soaking process, crucial for eliminating bugs. The videos had different opinions for how long this was to go on. Salt or no salt? Hot or cold water? Each one offered a different method.

Then the choice of: flour/egg/dry/lard/butter/oil. Each recipe had variations. Cooking our three morels was getting so complicated.

Options for coating the gems.

Houby master at work.

“Cook for one minute on each side” said one script. “Cook for seven minutes on each side” announced another. Keeping the threat of the hospital in mind, we decided to go with more like five.

Sizzlin’ in the skillet

 

Finally they were done. I decided to try to get as many minuscule bites out of my 1.5 as I could. Still didn’t take long to wipe them out.

A tad crispy!

Not quite like I remember from back in the day but the same could be said for a lot of things. Of course, we didn’t just buy the mushrooms but the culinary experience and certainly the nostalgia. I don’t think I’ll find another patch under an old tree like before so this will have to be it.

What food item would you pay $50 a pound for?

Hope for the best,

Tish

7 Questions to Ask Yourself this Mother’s Day*

1386612_mom_and_kidIt’s lovely when your kids present you with homemade cards and breakfast in bed on Mother’s day.  But before you clean up the mess they made in the kitchen, take some time away from the kids and the clutter. Take a bath, go for a walk, or relax in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea, and allow yourself to reflect on this life-altering adventure of being a mom.

The days can so easily blend one into the next.  We seldom take a good look at where we’ve been and where we’re going.  Here are some questions to ask yourself during a peaceful time away from the rest of the family.

  1. What do I enjoy most about being a mom?  Can you remember a time with the kids when everyone was having a good time, and you felt content and competent?  How did you feel in your heart then? How can you get that feeling more often?
  1. What do I want my kids to remember about their childhood?  Maybe it’s the times you laugh together, the games you play, or the bedtime prayers you say together.  It could be the spontaneous events or your family rituals.  How can you make sure to have these moments as your children grow older?
  1. What do my kids really need from me in this stage of their lives?  Do you need to listen more and talk less? Be more available? Relax some rules?  Spend more time one-on –one? What worked in one stage may need to be adjusted for the next.  What are your children’s evolving needs?
  1. Am I taking good care of myself?  Mothers are very good at avoiding this question.  After you’ve met the needs of your kids, partner, home, work, and other commitments, there is little time and energy left for yourself.  But it’s important to make the time to do something just for you.  When you take care of yourself, you have more time to give to others.
  1. Am I satisfied with the balance of my family, work and personal time? The perfect balance isn’t equal time-it’s a sense that you are living according to your priorities.  This, too, changes over time.  Like a see-saw it is always in motion but shouldn’t crash down to one side or the other.
  1. Which friends would I like to spend more time with?  What new people would I like to get to know? Take time to invest in relationships outside your immediate family and in your community.
  1. What else is my heart saying to me? Can you see all the things you doing right as a mother? Are you recognizing how much your kids love you? Are you able to take a step back and realize how wonderful it is to be a mom?

Consider sharing your reflections with your husband or a close friend.  Or write them down in a journal so you can come back to them later.  The process of reflection renews and restores us-something most moms really need.

Me and My Mom

Hope for the best,

Tish

  • Perennial post.

Set the Table

My dining room table ready for women’s group.

My Mom used to have this “trick”: Five minutes before my dad was due to come home from work (you could set your watch by his arrival, it was so predictable,) she would quickly set the table for dinner and put empty pans on the stove.

“You need to give the impression dinner is on the way.” Was her explanation. Sure enough, it worked. Dad seemed satisfied by the hope of dinner and one task was already done.

I still use the same principle. Not to “trick” Tom or anyone else but to still announce, Something good is on the way!

There is something about a table set to serve that wakes up more than appetite. A feeling of invitation, welcome, careful preparation, and honor are some of the things I feel when I see a table set for me.

What is your response to seeing a table set for you?

Table on the island.

A breakfast table can have the same effect.

Come and get it!

Or an outdoor one.

Feast in New Mexico with my son and daughter-in-law.

Somehow, once again, it’s the little props, the candle, type of napkins, the choice of color, arrangement of plates that paint the picture. Nothing costly or elaborate, just a bit of forethought to elevate eating to dining.

Feed your spirit as well as your body. Set the table, for your family, your friends, yourself.

Bon Appetit!

Hope for the best,

Tish



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