Sunday, February 26, 2012

Call It The Present

So tomorrow is a big day at our house. We're kind of anxious about it. It sort of feels like the first day of school. It's Scott's first day back at work in two and a half months. The time has flown by. For those of you who don't know these months haven't always been joyous times. With Scott's cancer diagnosis we suffered. We were extremely scared. We waited. Patiently. Ok, not so patiently. We got results and we took and are taking action.

For these two and a half months we have supported each other. We have had this amazing ability to lift ourselves up. Just when one of us is feeling weak, another steps in for us to lean on. We have laughed. Certainly we have cried. We have been at the receiving end of a constant stream of family and friends who visit and call. We are blessed.

And when we got the news that there were some cancer cells still in Scott we thought about this. We consulted friends. And doctors. And friends who are doctors. We decided that we need to take action and we will. Scott starts radiation in May. He will go to treatments Monday through Friday, for eight weeks. We are confident.

So tomorrow is a present. It truly is a gift to us. Scott starts a brand new position at work. He is regaining his health. We've decided to live in this present and enjoy every moment to the fullest.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


We've all received them and hopefully we have given them, too. Compliments. They can make your day. Really. It can be a simple comment about your hair or your outfit. It can be about something you said or did. Whatever it is, it feels good. We humans get that warm fuzzy feeling when others feel kind toward us. At least most of the time.

There is the backhanded compliment. For instance someone may comment on how much your cooking abilities have improved. This may be true, but of course needs to be handled in a gentle way. Otherwise this may actually offend the recipient. Don't worry, this such compliment does not offend me. Mostly because it is true. I've admitted to it several times. But to some it may be hurtful.

And there is the unwarranted compliment. In my younger years, I dare say I was whistled at more than once. At the time, depending on the whistler, I would either feel giddy or completely grossed out. Well time changes our viewpoints and our looks. Last week I was waved and winked at in traffic. I didn't feel threatened in any way. I choose to believe that it was just kindness. And the fact that the fella looked a bit like Harrison Ford did not harm me one bit. So, even being the married woman that I am, I waved back. I'm sure I'll never see this guy again. And that is exactly how I want it.

It was Thursday morning and I was wishing it was a Friday morning instead. I was tired and wanted to crawl right back under my covers. When the coffee didn't do it's trick, I felt at a loss. And the traffic was thick and slow. And then I looked to my right. In the lane next to me was this man who made me smile for a minute. My mood lifted and there was once again a little pep in my step.

So my momentary encounter with a total stranger lifted my spirits. He complimented me and it worked. I felt better. And then I went on to hopefully pass this wonderful feeling on to others throughout my day. I think sometimes we forget how easy it is to be kind and how much energy it takes to be frustrated and unkind. My advice this week is to take the easy way out. Be kind. Randomly or to those you know. The good feeling you have in giving compliments is even better than receiving them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love, Ann

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! This is the week to show those you love that they are special to you. In reality we should do this each and every day. This year, this day, is especially significant for me. My husband is doing well. I couldn't and shouldn't ask for more. We are a fortunate family. My daughter is weathering this storm well. How lucky can I be? I try very hard to keep things in perspective. A life altering event can do that for you. It should do that for you.

Today was a great day at our house. We got up and went to church together. We saw and talked with many of our friends. Supportive people. We are lucky and we are loved. After church I did something that I hardly ever do. I took my girl to the mall. On the ride home from church I offered up the idea. Scott asked what we needed at the mall. I answered as vaguely as possible. I said, it's not so much what we need, but perhaps more what we want. I am visualizing shoes in my future is what I said. And then I reinforced it with the comment that a girl can never have too many shoes. A tiny reply from the backseat came to us. From our girl came the words, it's true. We laughed for a long time. Such words of wisdom.

After leaving Scott off at home we were mall bound. I'm not much of a shopper and gave Gracie instructions as to how long we would be at the mall and how many stores we should enter. This may sound harsh, but it is with a reason. My girl would shop all day and night if she could. And believe me she tried. We left at approximately eleven. We both had shoes in our possession within a half hour of entering the mall. Silly me to think that we would be on our way. Of course we had to go to the cupcake shop. We bought some to bring home and shared one in the shop. If that wasn't enough, we decided to go to one of our favorite places for lunch, too. Loosened the belt a bit. And then the negotiations began. One more store? And we did this and came home with three more pairs of shoes that just had to be ours.

So four hours after leaving home, we were officially tired, had walked off the food we consumed and had single handedly boosted the economy. This was my Valentine gift to her. Doing something totally unexpected. She loved it and I did, too. It gave Scott the afternoon to relax. I have to say overall the day was what we all needed or should I say wanted. I think my favorite part was that I did something totally out of the ordinary. Something that Gracie wouldn't have expected. And the fun we had was priceless. During this week of love, let's all remember to love in unexpected ways. They don't even have to include spending money. Just send the message that you are in love. With them. Your friends and your family. And to all of you I say, Happy Valentine's Day. Thank you for being part of my life. Thank you for enriching me by doing unexpected things. Thanks for loving me. I love you, too.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's In Your Kitchen?

Far be it from me to sell myself as a cook. But over the past several years, I've gotten so much better. My family is the biggest test and they seem to enjoy almost everything I make. And I enjoy making it. That's even better. You know I make it simple. But it has to be delicious, too. So here are a few things I do.

I've automated my shopping list. We have variety, but the easier I make my shopping, the better. I actually have a computer print out of my shopping list. And yes, it is arranged according to the layout of my grocery store. It goes a little bit like this:

Produce: apples, oranges, clemetntines, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, lemons,
potatoes, onions, garlic, spinach, lettuce, celery, carrots, snap peas

Deli: ham, turkey, cheese

Meat: chicken, beef, pork roast

Down the aisles: beans, rice, barley, pasta, pasta sauce, oatmeal, bread, soda, coffee

Dairy: milk, eggs, butter, yogurt

And here are some things I always have on hand. Soup starters/bases. I get mine from Penzey's spices. I always have at least a dozen spices on hand, too. This isn't a commercial for Penzey's, but I do love their freshness and variety. These spices are also one of my favorite consumable gifts to give.

I clean and cut up fruit and veggies as needed. If it's ready I'm not tempted to run to the store for a less healthy alternative. When I make salads and soups I just combine already cut up ingredients. It's basically effortless. When I buy meat I buy big. I'll bake ten chicken breasts at once and add to soups, slalads, casseroles or sandwiches. Same goes for the beef. I'll brown up five pounds and freeze in portions appropriate for meals I make. And ditto for the roast. Put it in he crock pot and eat it for Sunday dinner. Shred the rest and have sandwiches or freeze it. We eat a lot of salmon, too. A little lemon, a bit of dill and we're set.

If I can do this, you can, too. We have cut back on fat and sodium. We hardly eat anything that is processed or has preservatives. Our recycling bin is less full. Bonus.