How to refocus your life….

Bring out the toys and have them ready.  (They want to be played with anyway, not kept in storage in a basement.) Then just watch what happens. You will be amazed at the mess but more importantly how much you enjoy that mess. At times like this a clean house is highly overrated.
And be ready to melt when those little eyes and that grin tug at your heart, no matter how much blueberry yogurt happens to be smeared around.  Celebrate mealtimes and don’t be rushed.  Just enjoy.
Rediscover those children’s books and the imagination and wonder of a toddler as you read those stories over and over. Learn to interpret the sign language for “where did it go?” and the gobbledy gibberish that comes from that toddler’s mouth.  (Oh, and get over the fact that he prefers Grandpa to everyone else…. just get over it.)

Don’t sweat the details or the small stuff.  Learn to cuddle and snuggle and giggle, and even frown a bit if need be. Just have fun doing it.  Remember to just be there and be yourself.

Savor each precious moment…and remember that our children, our grandchildren, all children in this world need our help to grow and to be.  They are looking to us and imitating us all the time, whether we know it or not.  
Think about how you want to spend this time, and the rest of your time…what is more important to you now?  There’s nothing like a weekend with family to help us refocus and remember what really matters.  
My daughter, Erin, writes about this little guy and her family life here.

Leaving Home

I took our kitten, Rossfeld, outside to play for the first time since we adopted him some six months ago. My maternal instincts kicked in with fear for his safety, and the accompanying thought that I really don’t want him to leave home. I’m not ready for that to happen. So I picked him up several times, hugged and petted him, telling him (yes, talking to my cat) to be careful and watch out for cars.

It should be no surprise that I’m a cat lover. In my home of origin we had lots of cats over the years, and I loved every one.  Here I am today, clinging to this kitten that I allowed outside to play, to explore. He stayed out for about fifteen minutes, then chose to come back inside, safe and sound, to his sanctuary.  In here he can watch those birds and squirrels from the safety of a window sill, with a bit of screen or glass to keep him in, protected.  

A part of home goes with us when we leave, like it or not. I hope that we take with us a deep sense of love and belonging, but, sadly, I know this is not always the case. Many of us will, however, take and carry on some traditions of home, a favorite meal, a certain routine, a way of arranging our spaces, and sometimes even the faith tradition that molded and shaped us. There are those who shut the door, step out into the world and never look back, while some keep the key and are welcomed back any time. For myself, a healthy mix of all these sentiments is what I experienced. When it was time to go I tried to take the best of what I learned, but was ready to spread my wings and fly.

Leaving home is not like leaving the house to go to the store, or for a walk, or to work, and it’s not the same as taking a vacation. Leaving home is not always about a house or apartment, or condo, or any structure where you have existed and slept and ate. That’s because home is not always a well defined place.

Home is Sanctuary, where love and belonging draw you in and hold you, a place created by those who love us as we are. Home is dynamic, changing in each phase of our lives, changing as we ourselves change.

Leaving Home in 1973, at the age of 18 was relatively easy because I was ready to move on and move out…and I only moved a few blocks away as a young newlywed.  I may not have lived under the same roof, but I was in the same small town as my own family….a blessing that I did not appreciate until I grew up a bit.

But many years later, in 1998, Leaving Home was much harder than I imagined it would ever be, because I was a different person.  I had been married, had two wonderful children, divorced, and later remarried. I had seen my grandparents live a full life and die there, watched as my own parents made a move to a different state to live out the rest of their lives.  Love had found it’s way into my heart again, much to my surprise. My own children had grown up where I had, gone on to college, my son was living away from home already, and my daughter chose to continue her life there, as I left for another state, too, with my husband.  Everyone I knew, all the people who had been there and seen us through life to that point, those who loved and gave us that sense of belonging were staying…and I was leaving.  Gut wrenching is the phrase that comes to mind.

I wonder if we Leave Home by degrees, just a little bit at a time. Recently I have decided that my Chatty Baby doll is going to have to be recycled. She is broken and not fixable. I have held on to her for all these years because I wanted to remember being that happy child, playing dolls, playing mommy.  But reality, actually being a real Mommy to a son and daughter who are amazing young people…nothing can top that. 

Having a home as a child where I could play and pretend and see love in action is a priceless treasure.  Letting go of the doll is another bit of letting go, of Leaving Home. 

A Tradition of Cranberries

This time of year, when cranberries are in season, I love to make cranberry relish. There are times when I simply use my food processor, but this time I drug out this old food grinder so I could do it the old fashioned way.  I simply follow the recipe on the cranberry bag, grinding up an orange (complete with peeling), an apple (also will peeling on), and a bag of those beautiful red berries. (Sugar is added, too.) 
It’s messy. Juice starts dripping off the grinder and I have to have a bowl on the chair below it to catch the drip.  Sometimes food pieces go flying and things get pretty sticky.  But it is worth the mess. Give me a fresh roll, a little turkey, and lots of this relish, and that would be a complete meal for me on Thanksgiving!
The best part of making this batch of relish was what happened when a stray cranberry made it onto the floor and was found by a certain kitten. If you look closely you’ll see it trapped between a couple of paws. Much to my surprise he even picked it up and carried it around in his mouth!  I’m thankful today that it does not take much to entertain Rossfeld.
Wherever you are today, I’m sending you loving thoughts, blessings for safe travel, and wishes for a lovely relaxing day with your friends and family!
Happy Thanksgiving!

A Family Portrait

This is my favorite photo from the weekend. A new kind
of family portrait. Sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor,
Garrett playing with the dog, Solo, and all of us just 
watching and enjoying the moment.  A very happy baby
surrounded by lots of love from everywhere; from Mommy 
and Daddy, all the Grandparent Paparazzi, Uncle Ryan
and Aunt Chesli, Rocky, and Dora, and the list
goes on and on… 
I had a great time using my camera and capturing several
special moments.  If you would like to see more photos please
click here to view the online web album.  Enjoy!