Insight

Mom and Dad, 1989

It’s been a tough few months. My mother woke up one day and said her back hurt terribly. We were hoping it would get better, but instead it got progressively worse.  

The next day when she couldn’t get out of bed, I had no choice but to call an ambulance. It turned out that she had five stress fractures in her spine, a result of osteoporosis and sitting all the time.

She spent a week in the hospital and was moved to a nearby skilled nursing facility, where she got the care she needed, but she still complained of intense pain. They took another x-ray and found that she had fractured her hip somewhere between the hospital and care center. Probably because her bones are so brittle, but I think, too, that the aides didn’t realize how fragile she is.

They sent her home a few weeks later because she really had nowhere else to go. Her case worker helped as much as she could, but the family had to decide the best option. So here we are, playing the waiting game, literally. She’s been put on the waiting list for three different care facilities. I didn’t realize there were so many older people, but I suppose it’s because people are living longer.

I always told my mom that I would stay with her until I couldn’t take care of anymore, and I’m afraid we’re there. She can’t do a lot for herself and I’m sure she will be much better off, getting the care she needs, in a care center.

It’s horrible watching your parents get old; not being able to do the things they used to, depressed because they can’t remember the things they did.  And to experience that close-up and personal, well, it’s quite an awakening. I’ve had to adjust my attitude more than a few times. My patience has been tested to the limit, and it’s all I can do to keep it all together.

But it’s not just the taking-care-of-her part, it’s all the emotions that come with it. The family unit is being tested, and with so many different personalities, everyone wanting to be heard and in control, it’s sometimes hard to tolerate. And I’m right in the middle of it all.

Some days I just want to run away.  But I won’t. I know God has put me here to take care of my mom. The things I am learning about myself and my mom are astounding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I get to spend quality time with one of the most amazing people I know.

Our relationship has changed over the years. There was a time when I was angry with her and resentful, but that has long-since been resolved. I know it’s because of the time I have spent with her. I’ve gotten to know her not as my mom, but as a person, and I have seen a side of her most people never will.

I didn’t get a chance to tell my dad how much he meant to me before he died, but I can tell my mom. Or at least show her; I do that by being here for her.

We all think we have time – time to tell people how we feel, heal broken relationships, and do all the things we want to – until we don’t anymore. I’m just grateful I have the insight to realize that.

 

 

 

 

Visit my website at tributecr.com

 

 

Tried & True: Broccoli Cheese Soup

I am slowly becoming a connoisseur of homemade soups; mostly because it’s winter, and there’s nothing better than hot soup on a cold day.

Searching for the “perfect” broccoli cheese soup, I stumbled upon a variety of recipes that varied in ingredients, but were similar in that they all contained broccoli, some kind of cheese, and were creamed.

I tried a few different recipes because I couldn’t quite get it to the consistency I wanted. In the process, I learned some very interesting things:

  1. I don’t like burnt or scorched anything. If we have this in common,  make sure you stir often, almost constantly, when the cream mixture begins to boil. Maybe even turn the heat down very low, so you can control the heating process.
  2. Make sure you don’t use too much cheese. If you over-indulge, the soup will become too thick and pastey, taking away from its delicious flavor.
  3. Cooking, or steaming, the broccoli in the microwave first ensures that the broccoli is tender, and saves a lot of time, too.

Cindy’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups velveeta cheese, cubed

Melt butter in Dutch oven, saute onion and garlic. Add flour slowly and stir until blended. Add chicken broth slowly, stirring constantly. Add milk and bring to a boil. Add broccoli, lower the heat, and bring to a slow boil. Add cheese and remove from heat, stirring occasionally.  Serves 4.

It’s funny how good things can come from a single idea. All my boyfriend had to say was, “Have you ever used queso in your soup?”

So I guess you know what’s for dinner tomorrow night …

Tributecr.com

 

 

 

 

Luck Has Nothing to Do with It

Friday the 13th wasn’t always considered unlucky. In fact, up until 500-600 B.C., january-2017-printable-calendar-1both Fridays and 13s were considered extremely lucky, with some very feminine roots.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the number 13 is the average number of menstrual cycles a woman has every year. Both the day and the number were associated with the Great Goddesses, and therefore, the day was regarded as the sacred essence of luck and good fortune.

Thirteen is also the annual cycles of the moon.  The Egyptians revered the number 13 as auspicious, and believed that life has 13 stages, with the last stage, death, leading the transition to eternal life.

According to boldsky.com, in ancient Greece, Zeus was the 13th and the most powerful God of Greek mythology. Therefore, in some cultures, 13 is the symbol of incorruptible nature, power and purity.

The number 13 is prime number and can only be divisible by itself, making it a complete number in itself. Some people see 13 as the symbol of totality, completion and attainment.

Friday is more than just the end of the workweek for most people. It was actually the day held holy to honor Shekinah, the female aspect of God. Those of Jewish and Islamic faith observe the Sabbath at sunset on Friday evenings.

Friday was associated with the early Mother Creation Goddess, for whom that day was named. She was known as Freya, or Frig. Friday was called Frig’s Day or Fredag in Danish. In Mediterranean lands, she reigned as Venus. In Latin, Friday is the Day of Venus, Dies Veneris.

Fear of the number 13 came about in Western cultures for several reasons. According to History.com, one of the reasons involves one of the world’s oldest legal documents, the Code of Hammurabi, which reportedly omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules. In reality, the omission was no more than a clerical error made by one of the document’s earliest translators.

Another theory is that mathematicians believed that because 12 was often considered a “perfect” number in the ancient world, the number 13 must be “unlucky.”

The ancient Sumerian’s numeral system, based on the use of 12, is still used for measuring time today. Most calendars have 12 months and a single day is composed of two 12-hour half days.

In the Bible, Judas Iscariot, the 13th guest to arrive at the Last Supper, is the person who betrays Jesus.

Another ancient myth includes Norse lore, which tells of the evil and turmoil that were first introduced in the world by the appearance of the treacherous and mischievous god Loki at a dinner party in Valhalla. He was the 13th guest, upsetting the balance of the 12 gods already in attendance.

Fear of the number 13, or triskaidekaphobia, is a real malady, and should be taken seriously. For example, Winston Churchill refused to sit in row 13 in the theater or on an airplane. According to Donna Henes, J. Paul Getty, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Napoleon also suffered from triskaidekaphobia (paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th).

“Christopher Columbus, too, seems to have been afflicted. In the 1950s, the Columbiana, a group of Italian Columbus experts, concluded upon careful study of his ships’ logs and notes that Columbus actually landed on the Western Hemisphere on October 13, 1492. The date, apparently, was deliberately changed to October 12, to avoid the imprint of such an evil omen.”

It’s a fear that many cannot control, and even though logic dictates that a number can’t possibly be held responsible for our destiny, we have a difficult time convincing our minds of it.

Friday, on the other hand, just happens to be the day that bad things seem to happen. According to the telegraph.co, in the 14th Century, Geoffrey Chaucer referenced Friday as being an unlucky day in his Canterbury Tales, “And on a Friday fell all this mischance.”

It is also possible that Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel, “Friday, the Thirteenth,” reinforced the superstition. The novel depicts an unscrupulous stock broker, who takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on Friday the 13th.

So, if you feel better staying home on Friday the 13th, that’s your prerogative. But if that’s the case, you might want to make plans now for Oct. 13, which also lands on a Friday this year.

Read more at tributecr.com

Nothing New About Resolutions

Like many others, I made a resolution in honor of the new year. I also wrote an article on how to keep those resolutions.  But then a thought occurred to me; even though resolutions are made with the intention of learning how to live a better life, no one seems to talk about what they learned in the process. And while 2016 wasn’t what I would consider a triumphant year, I managed to learn quite a few things. Here are a few of them:

  1. I have limits. I get so caught up in the “doing” that I sometimes neglect the quality. A few times last year, I knew I was being stretched to the limit (with three jobs and caring for my mother), but I just kept going.  I became moody and short-tempered and my work began to suffer. I found myself exhausted and constantly apologizing for not doing what I said I would. After it was pointed out to me that my work was suffering, I realized something needed to change. I learned to balance my work with taking care of myself. Otherwise, no one wins.
  2. I am only human. This is something I have tried for years to accept, but for some reason, haven’t been able to (insert laughter here). Consciously, I know I’m not perfect; but there is a little voice inside of me that says, “You can do anything you want to if you try hard enough.” Believe me. I have tried. And there are some things I can’t change, no matter what I do. I will always be clumsy and sensitive and a bit of a weirdo. I have learned to accept myself the way I am.
  3. I think I have known this for a while, but last year occurred to me that I don’t like to follow the crowd. It’s not just the fads, fashions, or the latest cool idea; I really don’t want to be like everyone else. This is strange for me because at one time, I had a real fear of not being accepted. Maybe it’s part of getting older, or maybe I’m just tired of the bullshit. But I am honestly past the whole “afraid of being judged” phase in my life. I learned that if I want to change the world, I can’t be afraid to do something different.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” -Steve Jobs

A Shoebox Full of Holiday Surprises

I saw a post the other day about an international program that sends shoeboxes of gifts to little children across the globe.lily2

Operation Christmas Child, started by Samaritan’s Purse, “a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”

The person who posted the information on Facebook is a good friend of mine through a little more research, found out the collection would take place next week, Nov. 14-21.

So, wanting to teach my grandchildren a lesson about helping others, I picked them up and we set out to buy a few toys for a little girl, who lived on the other side of the world.

I expected a barrage of questions such as, “Why do we have to buy presents for someone we don’t know?” or “Why can’t I have a present?”

Instead they asked questions about where it might go and who might receive it, and concentrated on picking out gifts that a little girl might like. We couldn’t send chocolate, or perfume, or nail polish (all the things Lily wanted), but she decided on a Barbie doll, a puzzle, some gum, colored pencils, and a notebook.

“She might like to have this, too,” she told me, holding up a little white bear.

“Do you really think she’d like something like that?” I asked, teasing her.

She laughed and handed me the little bear. “Yes, I think it’s something she could sleep with, so she doesn’t have bad dreams.”

We added a few notecards to the box, as well as Lily’s name and address, in case the little girl wanted to write her.

It will be interesting to see where the shoebox ends up. I just hope it brings as much joy to the little girl who receives it, as it did to the little girl who put it together.

 

 

 

Have a Horrific Halloween

I grew up watching B-rated horror flicks like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Werewolf, on Creature Feature,  which was shown Friday nights at 10:30. (Back then, we planned our entire weekends around TV, because, of course, we didn’t have cable or video games to occupy our time.)

These black and white films were played brilliantly by a host of talented men, including Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff. And they scared the you-know-what out of me.

I was about 10 when Alfred Hitchock’s thrillers Psycho and The Birds came out on TV. I begged my dad to let me watch, but he made sure my eyes were hidden at the scary parts. But being the rebel I am, I peeked once or twice, and had nightmares for a month.

As I grew older, it was Stephen King’s The Shining, Pet SemataryCarrie, Christine, and the Silver Bullet that made my heart race and pump adrenaline through my veins.

My appetite for horror films grew, and soon I was looking for new ways to get my thrills; Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street, John Carpenter’s Halloween, and the Friday the 13th series were just a few.

These days, I still love reading Stephen King novels, but as far as horror flicks go, I prefer a good mystery over blood, guts, and gore any day.

Here are a few clips from my favorite horror films throughout the years:

“IT” 1990 

“Poltergeist” 1982

“The Shining” 1980

“Halloween” 1978

“Child’s Play” 1988

“Salem’s Lot” 1979

And just for fun … “Dracula” 1931

 

Doubly Wonderful

My twin granddaughters turned 5 Oct. 25.  Their mother and I had taken the other kids to the trick or treat at Ushers Ferry, where Holly, 9 months pregnant, walked the yard for nearly two hours. I think she was tired of being pregnant and want to get the delivery process going. It must have worked, because she went into labor that night, and had the twins the next day by C-section, only 3 weeks earlier than her anticipated due date.gianna-and-natalie

The twins were conceived in a peculiar way, and I love telling the story, because no one I’ve talked to has ever heard of it before:

After suffering 4 miscarriages following her last baby, Holly was given an injection of steroids that doctors hoped would help prevent another miscarriage. The first ultrasound just a few weeks later determined she was carrying two babies. One of them was smaller, which led the doctor to believe the smaller one was conceived three days after the other.

Holly at 32 weeks into her pregnancy
Holly at 32 weeks into her pregnancy

After a fairly normal pregnancy, Holly gave birth to Gianna, who was born first and weighed nearly 6 pounds; Natalie weighed almost a whole pound less. But it didn’t take long for her to catch up to Gianna. By their first year, they were close to being the same size. (They are fraternal, but I still have a hard time telling them apart.)

From the beginning, their personalities were totally different; Gianna was standoffish and moody, while Natalie was quiet and cuddly. (Not a lot has changed, though Natalie has become quite an instigator-partners in crime, if you will.)

The twins spent much of the first 6 months of their lives at home. Holly and Jason were busy adjusting to being the parents of twins, and it being close to winter, it was just a great time to stay home. Period.

I visited them often, offering to help any way I could, but I could tell the constant diaper changing, feeding, and coping were getting to Holly. She had taken time off work to get the twins on a schedule, but being with them 24/7 wasn’t healthy for her, either. Isabelle was 5 and was old enough to help Holly with the little things, but she couldn’t help with the feeding or changing yet. cuties

“I don’t think I will ever get a good night’s sleep again,” Holly mused wearily, as she laid the twins down for a nap.

“You need to rest when you can, but honestly, no, you won’t ever get another good night’s sleep until after they move out. And even then, that’s questionable.”

I smiled to let her know I was being fictitious, but I wasn’t far from the truth. Once you have kids, they are yours for life.

“You’ll get through this, I told her. “Five years from now you’ll look back and wish they were babies again.”img_2316

She nodded, and heaving a big sigh, laid down on the sofa for a short nap.

They made it through the first year without too many problems, but when they started to walk, it was a whole new story.

“I always thought it would be a lot of fun having twins,” Holly told me one day while I was visiting. She was attempting a simple thing like putting on pajamas, but as we have found out, not so simple when you’re fighting two at once.

Natalie wiggled to get away, and Holly reached out and grabbed Gianna before she could get away.

Without skipping a beat, she added, “I love them so much, I can’t imagine life without them. But I also didn’t think it would be this hard.”

I remembered back to Isabelle, who was a very cranky baby, and cried so much that I cringed every time Holly asked me to watch her. (She has since passed that stage.)

“Maybe God gave you Isabelle to prepare you for the twins,” I told her with a smile. “And gave you twins to make up for the miscarriages.”

Holly laughed. “Yep, I guess you gotta be careful what you pray for,” she said, letting go of Natalie, while wrestling with Gianna to put on her sleeper.

But we both knew it was exactly what she had prayed for, and what we are very grateful for. Two beautiful little girls who have added so much love and joy to our lives.

Double the crying, double the problems, but double the love.

It all sounds good in theory

I spent the past two weeks preparing for a Halloween party for my grandchildren. It was going to be our first “real” holiday party, and I wanted it to be special.  I threw parties for my kids all the time when they were little. But this time was different. This time I had the internet to help, and I turned to Facebook and Pinterest for ideas about how I could make this the best Halloween party ever.table2

I printed off recipes and photos of all the cool things I wanted to do. I bought all the necessary ingredients and props, and I worked diligently to make sure it went off without a hitch.

But as we wanna-be perfectionists already know, it all sounds good in theory.

I imagined that everything would go as planned; the food would be perfect, the decorations, the music, and the activities would run themselves. But with 6 energetic children ranging from 5-11 years old running around, each going their own way, it was chaos.spider-cookies

After years of trying to throw the perfect party, I should have know better. And even with my party planner in hand, there were still a few mishaps. (For those who do party planning for a living, I salute you!)

The cake balls turned to mush, because I added too much frosting (and you can’t “Undo” something like that.) The spiders on the cookies didn’t get their legs piped on, because I ran out of time. And the “Pop the Pumpkin” game was scrubbed because I couldn’t get it stuck to the wall.(It was difficult to make,anyway.) And I forgot all about “Stick the Spider on the Web” game until after the party was over.popcorn

The banana ghosts and apple mouths were okay, but didn’t turn out like the picture. I scurried to get the mummy hotdogs out of the oven and get the meat eyeballs in before the guests started to arrive. Lack of time became an issue, and I found myself getting stressed out.

Next year I will take an entire day to get ready, instead of just a few hours.

So why was this party important to me? For the same reason I had a lot of parties for my kids when they were little. Kids aren’t little for very long, but these memories will last a lifetime.

I still hear from my adult children, “Remember when …?” And the smiles and laughter that follow tells me I did a good thing.

And when Lori laughed and asked me if I had ever seen the pictures of “Pinterest Fails,” I smiled, because I knew it was true. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. Otherwise, it’s no fun.

The ruined cake pops and the other mishaps didn’t matter. No one ever knew I had forgotten a few things and there was plenty to eat and everyone had a lot of fun.

I created a good memory for my grandchildren. They know I’m not perfect but love me anyway. I can’t ask for much more than that.

“Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.”

Tried and True: Apple Crisp

It’s funny how our activities, mindsets, and tastes change with the seasons.

I can only speak from an Iowan’s point of view, but once Labor Day rolls around, we start thinking about falling leaves, cooler days, Halloween, and of course, the foods of fall; apples, pumpkins, and soups.

As an artist, I take a lot of pride in my creations, including the dishes I prepare. And though I have yet to find the perfect sugar cookie, I think I may have found the ultimate Apple Crisp.

I have tried many Apple Crisp recipes, hoping that I would hit on that one that makes everyone clamor for seconds.

I took a Betty Crocker recipe and added my own special touches. However, I believe that the right amount of each ingredient, as well as the time and temp at which it is baked, makes all the difference.

There are some recipes where the amount of ingredients don’t matter; however, I recommend you follow the recipe word for word. I guarantee you will be happy with the results.

Awesome Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

5-6 apples – peeled, cored, and sliced

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup cold butter or margarine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Toss apples with white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl to coat; let sit in the bowl for 15 minutes so the apples get juicy, then pour into a square baking dish.

Mix brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Mix the butter or margarine into the dry mixture until crumbly; top apples with the mixture.

Bake until the apples are tender when a fork is stuck into them, about 40 minutes. Let sit at least 1/2 hour before serving. Best served with ice cream or whipped topping.

 

300

Earlier this year, I celebrated the milestone of being a blogger for 6 years. But that is small compared to reaching 300 posts. It is for me, anyway.

Yes, this is my 300 post, but that doesn’t count the 20 or so drafts I should have deleted, but decided not to, for whatever reason. Many are the result of rants I went on, after which, coming to my senses, decided against posting. I don’t need to spread all that negativity. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t stand up for what I believe in. I’m just not as naive as I once was.

I have learned a lot since publishing my first post, “Note to Self,” in 2010.  For example, I can’t control how people feel about me. I used to bend over backwards for people who didn’t respect me, trying to gain their favor. When it didn’t work, I thought there was something wrong with me.

It took me a while to figure out that that’s just who they are. It’s nothing personal; they treat everyone that way. And with all the different personalities in the world trying to work and live together, people are not going to agree on everything, no matter what you do.

Oh yes … you can do everything to accommodate them, but that only reinforces what you already think about yourself; that you are less than they are, and that’s just not true.

We all start out the same way. Our personalities, our environments, our family, friends, and experiences shape us into who we become. And if our personalities are such that we look outside ourselves for approval, well, we’re kind of screwed. Because no one tells us this. We may go years trying to please others to gain acceptance, when in reality,  there’s just no pleasing them.

Ricky Nelson knew this when he sang it in his 1972 hit, ‘Garden Party.’ “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

You can’t make everyone happy. You just can’t. You will be disappointed if you try. All you can do is be true to yourself and live your life the way that makes you feel good about yourself.

We have to accept who we are, all the good parts and bad parts, and either change the things we don’t like about ourselves, or learn to manage them.

And if you make a mistake, learn from it, even if it takes you a few times. It’s ok. It’s called being human.

Another thing I have learned, is that we are capable of so much more than we know. Once we wake up to this fact, once we open our minds and challenge our beliefs and look at what is possible, nothing is impossible! As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible; even the word itself says, ‘I’m Possible!'”

In the book, “Conversation with Gods,” by Neale Donald Walsch, the Almighty Him/Herself states that life is energy in motion. I take this to mean that life is all about creating. And we can create our lives to be whatever we want it to be.

It really is that simple.