Thursday, July 28, 2011

High School Memories

My 30th  high school reunion was this past weekend and living 10 hours away I had toyed with the idea of going to it, but decided it would just be too expensive and hard to work out.  I had lots of mixed feelings being that I didn't have the best experience in high school.  I think others out there can relate.  I was bullied at times by other girls, and actually couldn't wait for high school to be done so I  could graduate and move on with my life.  I have wondered sometimes what my high school friends were doing.  When I decided to join Facebook I hooked up with some of my old "peeps" and compared notes on our lives. My daughter is going into 10th grade and to her high school of course is the biggest thing in her life right now.  She is building much better memories than I had.   I have told her more than once that high school is just part of your life.  More things are waiting in the future - graduating high school, graduating college, getting married, having children.  Looking back and reflecting on the 30 years since high school I realized that high school was part of my life, but that my life really began when I met my husband and started my family.  My hubby brought a son to our marriage and he and I have always got along even from the first time we met.  My relationship with my stepson is one I feel very lucky to have!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Life's Blessings

I had my son when I was over 40 years old and my hubby was over 50 years old.  I guess you could say our little guy was kind of a "surprise."  When he was little he cried more than the average baby.  I was kind of out of practice because my daughter was 8 when he was born so it had been a while since diapers and all-nighters.  Around the time of his birth things were very chaotic, we were traveling back and forth to Cleveland because my hubby's dad was ill.  After his dad passed we then cleaned out their house which was packed with stuff.  We made lots of trips back and forth to Cleveland, being my husband is an only child and at the time his mom was still in Cleveland in an assisted living facility.  I didn't notice that my son wasn't really talking or communicating.  As we soon came to find out he had Autism.  Being such a proactive person once I found that out I have done tons of research.  So many people along the way on this journey with him have been wonderful.  He had two amazing teachers at school.  To teach children with special needs you have to be a "special" kind of teacher.  I remember when he was just starting school I was feeling kind of sorry for myself about him having Autism.  His teacher said, "focus on what he can do, not what he can't."  That has been such good advice.  Autism is different for every child, which makes it hard to know what intervention is the best.  We got him diagnosed about 2 1/2 and about 6 months or so later, we found out he also has ADHD.  Even with all of my son's challenges I consider him a precious gift.  He has brought such joy to our family and just makes our life even more richer by being part of it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Too Many Bananas!



When I go to the grocery store I always seem to pick up bananas.  Even though 2 out of the 4 of us in our house really don't eat them, I still buy them.  My hubby will say, "why do you keep buying them if nobody eats them?"  I keep meaning to put them in his lunch and then get caught up just trying to get his lunch made before he leaves for work and  I end up just giving him some other kind of fruit.  So, I end up making banana bread or muffins every week.  My go to recipe for banana bread/muffins came from an old cookbook given to me by an old office mate at least  15 years ago.  I have adapted it several times, but this I have found to be the best recipe:  3 medium sized bananas, 1 3/4 cups white  flour, 1/2 cup white sugar, 2  large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons margarine or butter.   Mash bananas in separate bowl with fork.  Soften margarine/butter for about an hour on your counter top or put in microwaveable dish and put in your microwave about 10-15 seconds.  Put bananas and butter/margarine in a larger bowl and add the rest of the ingredients to it.  Mix by hand until well mixed or I use a hand mixer.  Mix until smooth, there will probably still be a few lumps of bananas but that's okay.  Preheat your oven to 375 and use a 12-muffin baking tin.  I use paper liners (the kind you use for cupcakes).  Fill the liners with about 3/4 of the mixture.  If you're feeling like you want to try a variation of this muffin, you can add 1/2 - 1 cup of walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips to the mixture before you put it in the liners.  Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool about 10 minutes and then put on a baking rack to finish cooling.  I used to make banana bread a lot that always seemed to come out kind of a little too moist.  I have found the above recipe is not too moist and not too dry.  Enjoy the day!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When you lose someone special

One thing that I have discovered (especially this past year) is that when you lose someone special to you there are two ways to view it.  One is positively and one is negatively.  I choose to view it in a positive way.  My daughter was very close to her grandfather (my husband's father) and he passed away back in 2005.  Just this past January we lost my mother-in-law (my husband's mother).  My daughter had gotten particularly close to her because her other grandmother lives back in Maryland.  When she passed away it was really hard on my daughter.  She is still actively mourning her grandfather and it's been difficult to comfort her and know just the right words to say.  One thing I heard recently is that when someone passes away one of the worst things you can say is, "I know how you feel."  Unless you have been in someone's shoes you really don't know.  The best words that I have found to comfort her and others that I know that are grieving a loved one is to say, "I feel blessed to have known her/him."  I have told that to more than one person that has lost someone special and I like to hope at least that I have brought them some comfort even if it is just a little. I have told my husband more than once that I feel blessed to have known his mom.  I know that he misses her too.  He doesn't really talk about it very much, but I know that he does.  When I am really missing a loved one I even tell myself that I feel blessed to have known them.  Life brings us many things happy and sad, choose to look at the brighter side, even when it seems there isn't one and remember there is always tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If at first you don't succeed

I have been baking and cooking since I was very young.  It really is a true passion of mine.  I love to cook and bake for my family and friends.  When I was about 12 or so I had just took a cake out of the oven and had set it on the counter to let it cool.  I guess I got a little impatient (well, okay, a lot impatient) and tried to remove the cake from the pan before it had cooled enough.  It would have been okay, except I tried to do it over the sink where there was a bowl of soapy water.  You guessed it, it landed right in the soapy water!  I remember being so upset about it.  I was telling my daughter the other day that if I had let that stop me from ever trying to cook or bake again just because I failed, it would have been terrible and my own family would never have enjoyed the benefits of my cooking and baking.  Don't be afraid to try again even if you make mistakes.  I promise you, you will be much better for it!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Memories

Being a stay-at-home for 15 years (hard to believe it's been that long) the weekends seem just like another day of the week.  Saturdays we usually go to Mass, hang out as a family and kind of goof off.  Sundays are reserved for washing clothes, getting ready for the week ahead and used to be when we would have my mother-in-law over for dinner.  My husband was an only child and my mother-in-law was very close to him.  As my mother-in-law got older and I got to know her better, I feel like she was one of my best friends.  I would wash her clothes and try to visit her as much as I could.  Starting with this time last year she started having a lot of memory problems.  Around the Christmas of 2010, she was admitted to the hospital because she wasn't eating.  As we soon discovered she had advanced dementia.  While the kids were at school my husband and I would go to the hospital and sit by her bedside.  She was really not able to communicate very well with us.  It was heartbreaking to watch my husband sit by her side and her not be able to talk.  About a week or so before she passed she had a few moments of clarity.  I wrote them down on a slip of paper and keep that piece of paper with me to look at when I am missing her a lot.  My mother-in-law had a lot of siblings and she was the last of her siblings to pass away.  I used to tell her a lot that I thought she was very strong.  I feel like I learned a lot from her and feel so blessed to have known her.  I really miss her (it's been almost 6 months since she passed).  What I wouldn't give to have her over again for Sunday dinner :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Beginnings

This is my first entry on my blog.  I have thought about doing this for some time and decided to just jump right in! I want this blog to be open to anyone!  A little about myself - I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. We moved to the Midwest shortly after 9/11 and have now been here over 9 years.   I feel like I have experienced quite a lot in my 48 years on this earth.  I have challenges just like everyone else, but food has always been a passion of mine.  I cook and/or bake every day.  I guess you could call it a hobby :)  I plan on using this blog to connect with others out there that have challenging lives and just want to talk, be it about food or just about the kind of day you've had.   I have an amazing stepson, so I have experience with that.  I have a son with Autism, so I can speak to that.  I have experienced the loss of both of my in-laws, so I can speak to that.  I have aging parents, so I can speak to that.  I have a teenage daughter, so I have experience with that.   Through all of my life experiences, and believe me there are more, I have always found that I am happiest in the kitchen, preparing foods for the ones I love and care about.  I will post some of my favorite recipes on this blog and I promise you they are not complicated!  I feel that I am blessed to wake up each morning renewed and energized for what the day will bring.  I hope you will come back and visit my blog again!

I'm Proud of You, Dad

Back at least two months ago, my dad asked me a question. He LOVES history and as much as he's tried to get me interested, I'...