Monthly Archives: November 2012

Do You Believe In Santa?

Just the other day my 14-year-old daughter caught me. She said, “Didn’t you just tell me that because you can’t see love or kindness that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist?” I said, “Yes, I said that.” She countered with, “And we were watching that movie last night and the mom said because you can’t see Santa Clause, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist, right?” I had to agree with her there. No, I don’t think she believes in Santa. I should say, NO, she definitely no longer believes in Santa Clause. She’s fourteen! However, she made a good point.

Both my kids stopped believing in Santa at about age 10 or 11, however they allowed me to play Santa for about two years past that point so they could “still get a lot of gifts”, they said. Still, every year I give them gifts marked “From Santa” and other gifts marked “Love Mom and Dad”.

My discussion with her about love and kindness made me think, “Why do I still pretend there’s a Santa Clause?”

Am I trying to hang onto their childhood, refusing to acknowledge they’re 18 and 14? Do I miss the looks on their faces when they’d see the pile of packages from Santa and their smiles when opening his gifts?

Yeah, I do. But, truthfully, I think I’m trying to keep them from throwing all belief in fantasy and things you can’t see and touch. I really need them to know there are things that exist though we can’t hold them in our hands and observe them with our five senses. Whether they believe in God or ghosts or aliens or kharma, I want them to know that the “material world” isn’t the only one out there for us to experience.

And that includes Santa Clause.

For The Love of Reading – Repost

Today is the anniversary of my dad’s passing into the great unknown. It’s been three years since he left us, so in honor of his memory, I’m reposting one of the first blog posts I wrote.

~~~

My Dad

This photo was taken during our last family vacation in January 2009.

I inherited my nose from my dad. I also inherited his calves, his easy going personality and his love of reading. He died in 2009 but my all time favourite picture of him shows him sitting on the beach in a lawn chair, a book in his hands with the sun shining down on his head.

The first book I remember holding was a beautiful hardcover copy of Cinderella, filled with strange words I couldn’t read and beautiful pictures I adored. Once I learned to read, I worked my way through Dick and Jane, on to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and in between, the back of every cereal box my mom ever bought.

When I ran out of reading material, I would sneak into my dad’s book stash, which he wisely kept in the garage, and read his Harlequin romances. He also had some racier novels there, stories with – gasp! – sex, and if my mom knew I was reading those books – heck, if she knew my dad was reading those books – she would have banned them from our reading material.

My youngest son restored an old cat that he thought his grandpa might have used back in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. When the restoration was complete, he took his grandpa out to “unveil” it. My dad was so excited to see this piece of machinery, he scrambled up on it in about 2.3 seconds, quite a feat for an old guy with a bad hip and leg.

These days I’m allowed to read whatever I want and I want to read a lot. In fact, I want to read more than I have time for. Favourite authors include Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Barbara Samuel (O’Neal), Ann Voss Peterson, Linda Style, Susan Vaughan, Virginia Kelly, Joshilyn Jackson, and Lisa Lutz, just to name a few.  And with the arrival of the e-reader, not only is my to-be-read pile contained within one small device instead of all over the office floor, but I’ve discovered indie authors like our own Women Unplugged bloggers Dianne Venetta, Christy Hayes, Patricia Yager and Sharla Lovelace. If you haven’t read their books yet, run to your nearest e-reader and download them now. I’ll wait …. 

Shortly before my dad died, he gave me the book Volcano by Richard Doyle. When he told me I had to read this book, there was a tone in his voice that I recognized so well. It was awe and wonder for a can’t-put-it-down story, emotions I too experience whenever I fall in love with a story or an author’s voice. Although I have yet to read the book – I’ve become more of a love-to-laugh-out-loud reader – Volcano will forever remain on my keeper shelf because it was the last time my dad shared his love of reading with me.

This is how I will always remember my dad, with a book in his hands and another waiting to be read. This is, hopefully, how my children will remember me, too.

So who did you inherit your reading gene from? Who are some of your favourite authors and books?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

As I write this blog, we are one month away from Christmas day! One month! Holy Santa Clause, I’d better get busy!

As I put away my pumpkins and cornucopia and spice scented candles, I realized it was time to take the dreaded Christmas card picture of my children. I realized this when I checked the mail yesterday and we’d received our first card.

I LOVE receiving Christmas cards. I love the picture cards the best. If someone takes the time to craft a witty and interesting letter to accompany the picture card, you’re my hero. I must emphasize that witty and interesting are requirements for letters. Witty and interesting letters I share with my family and friends. Boring bullet points of your children’s and spouse’s accomplishments get skimmed and trashed as I am reminded why we only keep in touch through Christmas cards. 🙂

But I digress. Every year I argue with my kids about what they will wear and how close I need them to stand next to each other and the ridiculous looks on their faces when I try to snap a picture. What should take five minutes becomes at least an hour’s project and the results are often less than flattering.

How is everyone going to think you’re perfect unless I capture you both looking your best? I want to shout at them. Except many cards are mailed to people who actually know them and realize I’m trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

So, wish me luck on this adventure and enjoy this link to funny Christmas cards: http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2011/12/13/the-25-funniest-family-christmas-portraits-of-all-time/

**photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/vfranko/331570115/”>Manicosity</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Turkey Fettuccine Skillet Recipe

Looking for something to do with all those turkey leftovers?  Here’s a favorite of mine borrowed from one of my go-to cooking magazines, Taste of Home.  It’s great with left over pie. 🙂

 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups cubed cooked turkey breast
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

  • Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray, saute the onion, celery and garlic in oil for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Stir in the milk, seasoning blend and salt. Bring to a boil.
  • Combine cornstarch and half-and-half until smooth; stir into skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Stir in Parmesan cheese just until melted.
  • Stir in turkey. Drain fettuccine; add to turkey mixture. Heat through. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Broil 4-6 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

What are some of your favorite recipes for holiday leftovers?

The buzz of Thanksgiving…

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!

Hopefully, you already knew that.  🙂

I do it traditional…with turkey and ham, candied yams, corn casserole, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, potato salad, pumpkin pie, sopapilla cheesecake, and lemon meringue pie.

It is, I believe, more of a family holiday than possibly any other…even Christmas.  If that sounds weird, this is what I mean…  At Christmas–which is my favorite holiday of the entire year, by the way–yes there is family and food and that magical feeling in the air.  But it’s also chaotic and a buildup to the craze which by the end of the day always leaves me feeling a little sad that it’s over.   Thanksgiving is the beginning to that build.  It’s the kickoff to the season, where family gets together for sometimes the first time in a while, eats great food that we also haven’t had in a while, and starts talking about Christmas.

We talk about who’s going to venture out into the madness that is Black Friday and we pull out all the sales papers and help them make a plan.  Who is putting up their decorations on what day.  What people want for Christmas.  The adults do a drawing for a fun Christmas gift game we do every year.  The parades are on, the football games are on, desserts come out, everyone flops on the floor like seals…  It’s just a good day.  And nothing is over yet, because that buzz is in the air…Christmas is coming.

We sometimes talk about what we’re thankful for.  I have a lot to be thankful for this year.  Two kids who may be scraping by but they are making it.  One is on his own and learning how to be an adult.  The other is a senior in high school who has signed up to join the Navy in July.  My husband was just able to retire this year and is enjoying it.  I’ve had two books and a novella published this year…my dream.  None of it is easy…but they are blessings nonetheless.

And then there’s that magic coming.   Yes it’s expensive magic, but still, I’m like a little kid at Christmas.  🙂

So, what are your traditions?  Do you do Black Friday?  Do you have any crazy holiday rituals?

And more importantly, what are you eating??  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

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