Saturday, July 22, 2017

Relationships

Relationships. 

Our lives are made up of relationships. We are friends, lovers, spouses, parents, children, sisters, brothers, employers, employees, teachers, students, etc. it's all about people, and how we relate to them.

The cutesy quotes abound if you do a quick search online:

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”

“It's the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey.”

“Only those who care about you can hear when you're quiet.”

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself”

“Relationships don’t always make sense. Especially from the outside”

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth”

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”

Forgive me, I don't have the author of any of these - not that seeing it attributed to anyone on the internet makes it true. I saw the musical, Wicked, with my daughter and her friend last year. I love all of the songs, but this one, in particular, always makes me smile.

I want to always be the one in any relationship that makes the other person a better version of themselves. I want to be the encourager, the cheerleader, the one who can be trusted with the deepest of secrets, the dreams, the fears. I want the other person to feel that because they knew me, they have been changed, not just forever, but for good.

Partial lyrics, For Good, Written by Stephen Lawrence Schwartz • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

Friday, July 14, 2017

Live, Laugh, Love

There are life events that cause us to stop and reflect. A near death experience. The death of a loved one. The birth of a child. A child leaving home. Certain birthdays…

As I climb “the hill,” ever nearing the half-century mark, I've been more reflective, and introspective. Realizing that you've already lived more than half your life, can do that…

I know people who have said to me, “I have no regrets.” I just want to say to them, “Really? Not even one???” I find it hard to believe that one could live, and never do anything which they regret. There are many things which I regret. I can't live life dwelling on them, but rather learn from them and move forward.

Recently, my sister shared a quote on her Facebook page it struck such a chord with me, that I saved it, knowing that I had to elaborate on it. Later that same day, one of my favorite a cappella groups came on, singing this song. I loved it, and must have listened to it a hundred times since. I know that it's unrealistic, and a bit fantasy-like, but how wonderful it would be to live this way! Not selfishly, always doing and thinking of only ourselves, but including ourselves, when we think and do. Sounds blissfully happy to me…
         

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Affection

af·fec·tion
əˈfekSH(ə)n/
noun 1. a gentle feeling of fondness or liking.

It is interesting to me the things that affect whether or not, or even how, humans demonstrate affection.

There are more definitions for love than could ever be written. God is love. He embodies all that love is. And He demonstrated that love by offering His only child as a proxy, the ultimate sacrifice, that would pay for my sins, and the sins of the whole world, whether we believe or don't, love or don't, accept the offer or don't. Just a completely selfless act, because of love. Unconditional love.

Love is so much more than a feeling, though there are many feelings that are evoked by love. But love, itself, makes us want to act.

How do we show love? I love my children. I would kill for them, and I would die for them. Beyond that, I'd do anything within my power to make sure they have not only what they need, but much of what they want. I want to always be the one to encourage them to follow their dreams, cheer for them when they succeed, help them regroup when things don't go as planned. Whether or not I agree with their choices, whether or not they are grateful for anything I've done or do, whether or not they even want a relationship with me. Because I love them. Unconditionally.

Physical affection was not something that I grew up with. It wasn't even something that I witnessed often, though Southerners are often more “touchy-feely” than other Americans. I've read about, and talked with some, in other countries, where it just isn't done. It isn't that they don't love. They just don't demonstrate it in the same way.

Not only do I love my children, I like them. I have affection for them, and enjoy physically expressing that. For me, from the moment my first child was born - actually before he was even born - I have felt that I cannot express my affection enough. Hugs, kisses, and most importantly, verbally expressing my love to them, has been a part of their lives, always. I do all that I can to demonstrate my love for them, in the hope that they will never question whether or not they are loved. Because how difficult would it be to believe that God loves us, if we never experienced love by someone that we can physically touch?

It's my hope that as my children become adults, and marry and have their own children, that physical touch, as well as verbal expressions of love, will be so natural to them, that their spouses, their friends, their children, will never even wonder if they are loved.

I do not question, nor am I judging, in any way, the love of those who don't physically express affection. It's just one of those ideas that has been rolling around in my brain, so it landed here.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Waking the sleeping giant...

I cannot believe that it has been five years, but time stamps don't lie, right? How things have changed in this half decade...

Three children finished college and married:


Robert & Alyssa


Emily & Trevor


Mitchel & Emily

So many emotions in such a short time. I've miscarried two more babies, gained three "babies" via weddings, lol. I still have eight at home, with two graduating next spring. 

My dad's health caused him to need to retire, so I bought the diner. Some of the children work there, some have moved away, and some will work there in the future. I have big plans for that business - but they haven't been made public yet. 

That about brings us to today. There are bits and pieces to elaborate on, but those should be separate posts...see you soon. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

A quick update

I want to apologize for the interruption in my series posts.  I will resume next week.  Things have been super busy here, and we've driven 3,000 miles in the past two weeks, so I haven't been in front of the computer.  I have a birthday cake to make for tomorrow, another in two weeks, another in two weeks, another in six weeks........you get the picture, right?  We eat a LOT of birthday cake.  Haha. 

But I'll post the next in the series of How I Manage, early next week. 

Have a wonderful weekend!  I hope that you can spend it with family :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Almost Instant Cookies for a Crowd

Occasionally, I am privileged to be asked to cater an event.  Often, these are "boxed lunch" type of caterings, with sandwiches, pasta salad, chips, pickles, desserts, and drinks.  I make homemade chicken salad, pimiento cheese, and egg salad, pasta salad, and dessert.  These are the cookies I make most often for these.  They work great for a large family, or a family of any size, and they're quick.

The key is to make the mix ahead of time, and keep it on hand (it doesn't require refrigeration).

My 8-year old made dessert last night :)




Looks yummy, huh?  They are!

So, the original recipe, and then my "healthier" version, that our family eats.


2 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.  Mix the shortening and sugars until well incorporated.  Add in flour mixture and mix well.  Add chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.

When you are ready to make cookies, simply measure 4 cups of cookie mix, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Scoop cookies onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, or until done.

Simmons Family Instant Cookies
2 cups coconut oil
1 cup organic sugar
1 cup organic brown sugar
4 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup organic oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
2 cups 60% cacao chocolate chips


Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.  Mix the coconut oil and sugars until well incorporated.  Add in flour mixture and mix well.  Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.

When you are ready to make cookies, simply measure 4 cups of cookie mix, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Scoop cookies onto baking stone.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, or until done.

This recipe will make 10 cups of mix, meaning that you'll have an odd amount that last batch.  You can either make a new batch to add to it, or do as I do, and just throw the egg in with the vanilla and run with it anyway.   Each batch makes 22-24 cookies, using a 1 1/2 oz. cookie scoop (3 T.).  If your cookies are smaller, you'll have more per batch :)

Enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

How I Manage - Groceries

So, I guess I'll start this series with groceries, since we all eat, regardless of family size.  This post will show how my shopping habits have evolved since marriage...

First, I started using coupons at the age of 13 or 14.  My parents were divorced, I lived with my mom, and we had no money.  So every extra dime helped.  At about age 22, I got into refunding (nearly extinct, now), and began couponing "hard-core."  I told you I'm a list person, right?  Well...

When I married, I took great pride in the fact that I could shop once a month, spend $100, and we could eat all month, except for milk and bread.  Then, once I had my second child, I couldn't find the time or energy to do that monthly shopping, but still wanted to get the most for my money. 

This is when I created my "price list." Some folks call it a price book, but for me, it was a list.  A spreadsheet, to be precise, because I have always loved using the technology I have available.  Anyway, I sat down with my receipts, each time I shopped for groceries, and filled in the spreadsheet.  I had a column for the items, a column for the stores, a column for the size of item, and a column for notes.  I filled in price and size, while I still had the package.  Then I could see, at a glance, when standing in a store, whether or not this was truly my best price option.  At that time, we had Sam's Club, Aldi, Food Lion, Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter. 

As time went on, we got a couple of new options for stores, but my goal was still the same - feed as many people as possible with as little money as possible.  So I spent many hours clipping and filing coupons, scouring grocery ads, and actually shopping.  Our meals were based upon the sales at the grocery stores each week (meals will be another post), and I shopped weekly.  If there was a double-coupon event, I was faithful to be there.  I also believe in stockpiling.  No, I don't NEED 7 packages of toilet paper this week.  However, I DO plan to continue using toilet paper, therefore I will eventually use all of it, and it may not be 75 cents when I need it.  That's also another post - couponing...

Once we had 7 children, we were still living in our single-wide, and I was happy that I had a budget of $52/week for groceries (a budget is another on of those lists! A blog post will be forthcoming on the necessity of that).  A lot of things happened in our lives about 7 years ago.  We built a house.  And we welcomed the 8th pregnancy.  And I started doing research on diet and health.  I was a Pepsi addict - I always said that if I could get a Pepsi IV, I would.  And we ate what everyone else was eating - packaged foods, that were very often free with my coupons.  We ate canned vegetables, except for potatoes, and groceries were a tiny part of our budget.  After researching, those things were about to change.  I'll do a separate blog post about that...

With the change, came a change in shopping habits.  Our budget is still small, compared to some, and enormous, compared to others.  I spend between $400 and $600 a month on groceries.  Many times, the higher end is by choice (we had steak!), not by necessity.  If we have extra money for food, I splurge and buy a tenderloin to cut into chops or steaks.  Or I buy a bag of white cheddar natural cheese puffs for the children. We are home all day, every day, so we need breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts, seven days a week. So, we're averaging $150 for more than 200 meals each week...not so bad when you actually run the numbers.

I do still use coupons, and have had several people ask me to teach them - I have taken them to the grocery stores with me, and walked them through it.  Some "get" it, and others don't.  I don't use coupons like I used to, because we don't eat like we used to.  I still get some of the free or super cheap things, because it is fun, and I can give them away to friends who still eat them, or to the food pantry.

Mostly, I make a menu for the month, create a grocery list, and go shopping for the things we don't already have (another blog post).  And I make most everything we eat, from scratch (yet another blog post).

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions - I'd be happy to help.