Posts Tagged 'Letitia Suk'

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

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

Six Steps to an Intentional Summer*

Do you make a bucket list for each summer? June, July and August are still ahead  so plenty of time to create your personal plan for the best season of the year!

On the last day of school we used to take our kids out to the best breakfast in town to plan the summer fun and I have carried on the tradition sans the waffles.  Here’s what works:

  1. Decide what you love best about summer and plan that first:  Beach or pool?  Buy your passes.  Hitting the road?  Pick out those dates. Outdoor music?  Grab a calendar of events. Ride your bike? Check your tires. Scribble your calendar with your summer fantasies.
  2. Plan something summer-y to do this week.  Too often we put off fun for “later in the summer” and miss the opportunity of now.
  3. Change your menus.  We switch out our Sunday soups for summer salads and eat outside as often as we can. I also change out plates and silverware for summer-only colorful tableware.

  1.  Switch-up your summer reading.  Doesn’t have to qualify for a beach novel but a change of reading pace is fun. I love to read outside on summer nights until there is no light left.
  2. Try something new: Run/walk a 5 K? Try your hand at homemade salsa? Discover a new bike path? Visit a neighborhood festival? Browse an art fair? Lots of possibilities 🙂

  1. Make a “Summer List” and put it on your fridge like my grandchildren do.  Try to cross off everything by Labor Day.

According to my Memorial Day to Labor Day count we all have 99 days to soak up summer.  I want to savor each one!

Hope for the best,

Tish

* Annual post!

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

 

 

What’s In My Book Pile?

This winter has brought a delicious crop of books to my pile! I am in the middle of all of these but couldn’t wait to share so hoping they end as well as they started 🙂

I love asking friends (and strangers!) what they are reading as well as politely snooping on bookshelves. Thought you might be curious too so here’s what I’m reading now:

Morning reading, along with prayers, journal and Bible reading:

I heard about this book at my cousin’s church and the sermon itself was enough to lead me right to purchasing this challenging book. My favorite line so far: “Living with compassion is a different story. It requires action. it compels us to get up close and personal with people. We can’t practice presence from a distance. And we can’t outsource presence to God – because he has already assigned it to us. No Easy Jesus

Also in the morning pile is this reading-for-every-day book, “Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit” by Victoria Moran. Some years back I had the privilege of participating in the pre-publication focus group for this inspiring book. I loved it then and am savoring it each day once again. Timeless wisdom from someone who lives what she teaches. Younger by the Day

Late afternoon end-of-work day reading with a cup of tea:

I read about this book in the Tribune and was immediately hooked by the inside cover: ..”explores why certain brief experiences can jolt us and elevate us and change us – and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our life and work.” Doesn’t this sound right up my alley? I borrowed it from the local library but needed to own it so I could mark it up! The Power of Moments

Nightstand reading for a few moments before falling to sleep:  (Also good for a train ride!)

This is my second  Susan Meissner novel and I absolutely loved A Fall of Marigolds (recommended by my friend) so I decided to check this one out too. Historical fiction, my favorite genre, covering the Spanish Flu and WW1 times with a lot of family stories. I have another one of hers on reserve at the library. So fun to find a new-to-me-author! As Bright as Heaven.

One more that was on the pile until I finished it: Couldn’t put it down! Historical fiction with back and forth past/present.  Before We Were Yours

What’s in your book pile?

Hope for the best,

Tish

Hola! Adios!

I don’t think I got the “language” gene. I concluded there must be one when I realized I didn’t have it. Nothing about speaking another language seems easy or even possible most days. Like playing piano. I endured years of lessons for that skill too. Must be a related gene.

Yes, my high school offered languages: Latin and French. I tried them both, two years each. “Et cum spiritu tuo” and “bon voyage” are my remnants from those classes. I made one more effort to take “adult beginners French” in my 20’s because I thought that would be cool but same results. Tres bien not.

I thought my language-learning days were over…until about ten years ago when my Colombian-born son-in-law entered my life. Well, not at first, his English is just fine. I thought about trying to learn Spanish but didn’t get around to it. I sort of knew how to count to ten from our Sesame Street years but rarely needed to use that skill.

Until we went to Colombia in 2015. My zip-a-dee-doo-dah Espanol was apparent to all. I decided to make more of an effort, but I didn’t. Now we’re going back.

This time, I have a private tutor, my granddaughter. She is quite fluent for her three plus years and always very patient with me. “How do you say____ in Spanish?” and she always knows. How is it so easy for kids?

To add to my training, in case she’s taking a siesta or something, I downloaded “Duo Lingo,” a free app which makes it easy and fun to pick up a few phrases. I now know I am a mujer who come manzanas (woman who eats apples.)  That will get me far! I do get the pronouns mixed up though and most other words for that matter. Ayuda!

I am confident, that my “so wonderful to see you” hug will be interpreted just fine when we see relatives. Gracias works well in most situations. Some statements need no words.

I’m hoping to get to 8% soon.

Do you have the language gene?

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


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