Can Tidying-Up Change Your Life?

I recently read Marie Kondo’s book, the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Of all the many books and articles I’ve read about de-cluttering, this one has struck a real chord with me. She advocates going through your things by category and instead of discarding what you don’t want, keep only what brings you joy.

She also advises to start with your clothes…and that has been something I’ve procrastinated about forever. It’s on the top of my list of de-cluttering tasks and yet I always have reasons why it’s not the right time to tackle it. No more. Like most women, I have clothing in multiple sizes. The idea of following all the best advice, to throw out what you haven’t worn in a year and to never keep things that are too small for you on the if-come that they will fit again, sent me into a procrastinating spin. So, naturally, I’ve modified the rules to break my procrastination cycle.

A few years ago, I lost a nice amount of weight. Then, with continued running and training for a few half-marathons, my body changed shape and that was a good thing. I got rid of some worn “big girl” clothes and felt pretty good about it.Since then, I’ve kept a box in my closet where I throw nice things that are now too big for me for eventual donating or selling. Then, after all that healthful living, I started having some physical issues that slowed me down significantly and interfered with my running. Then winter hit with a few of those nasty polar vortexes and my weight crept up. According to my younger daughter, I was still looking good…the muscle I’d built up really helped!

Two weeks ago, I had surgery to fix my problem. I’m healing up nicely and with some time on my hands while on short-term disability, it’s finally time to tackle my closet. Ms. Kondo recommends breaking clothing down into categories if you have a lot of items. Oh, yes, that applies to me. I have had to create way more sub-categories than even Ms. Kondo recommended!  I decided to start with socks. Yes, socks. I have no emotional attachment to my socks, so this was a good place to start! After sorting out about a hundred pairs of socks, I found that I have a lot of sports-related socks. I tossed all socks with stretched-out or dried-out elastic or that had stains or holes. I also had no problem tossing some older socks into the donate bin…like the Nike socks I wore the last time I was on a golf league…20 years ago! I’ll hand it to Nike, those socks were still white and stretchy, just like new!

After my success with socks, I moved onto underwear with similar success. Then, naturally, I moved on to pajamas. This is where things started to get tough. I love pajamas! When I pick up each one and ask myself if this item of clothing gives me joy, the answer is more often yes than no. This is also where I first had to deal with size…what fits me now and what doesn’t. I decided on two additional categories to the “Konmari” method…Clothes that fit me last year and clothes that were smaller than that…that I’d planned to fit into before my physical issues overwhelmed me. My accommodation for having multiple sizes is to segregate them and to keep the smaller items out of my closet until they fit me or until I “give up” on ever fitting into them.

IMG_0740Next I moved on to sweatshirts…turns out I only have eight. My younger daughter commandeered 2 right away. One was a softball sweatshirt from her school, and one of the Tower of London (any remote connection to One Direction gets her attention…even just the country of origin). I kept three…an oddly short-sleeved sweatshirt from my undergraduate university, a Cardinals Baseball sweatshirt, and an 826Michigan sweatshirt. The discarded three are, a $4 grey Hanes sweatshirt from Target…no clue why I bought that. A Hard Rock Cafe Pheonix sweatshirt in hot pink that I don’t recall buying and that my younger daughter declared, “so hilariously 90’s, Mom!”, and a college sweatshirt from Germany that my father-in-law gave me years and years ago, even before I was married. It is horribly stained, but my younger daughter has her eye on it anyway…she wants me to soak it in Oxyclean and see if it is salvageable before I toss it.

So, two days into this project, I have one bag of trash (it’s at the curb, I promise!), a large box of donations, two stacks of PJ’s that are too small for me but which I really like, and the tiny hint of added closet space. I’m into this…I do believe it will change my life and help me meet other goals.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Joy in focusing on what you truly love and letting go of the rest!

My First Mass Mob

Last year, I read with interest that a few people had organized the first Mass Mob in Detroit. They got the idea from a similar effort in Buffalo. It’s not what you might think…it’s a flash mob at a chosen church. The intent is to fill up the pews, and the coffers, in support of a parish in need of a boost. There are so many beautiful, historic churches in the city and keeping them open is a mission to some.

This past Sunday was the first Mass Mob of 2015 in Detroit. It was held at Old Saint Mary’s in Greektown. Two of my friends and I decided to go, and we left before 10 for a noon Mass. Upon arrival, we were directed to a nearby parking garage at Greektown Casino. The casino had donated the parking for the event. We had to wait outside for the 10 a.m. service to let out and then had to sit for almost an hour waiting for the start of the Mass Mob. It was exhilarating.Old Saint Mary's

The event was very well orchestrated which made it seem spontaneous even though it was planned. As more and more people poured into the church, we all “squeezed in” to make room. Estimates are that 1600 to 1700 people shared the experience.

We chatted with the visitors around us. In front of me was a couple coming from 50 miles away. They had been married in this very church three decades prior. Other stories were told around us as we awaited the start of Mass. The Knights of Columbus led the procession of the celebrants into the church.

We were blessed to have the Archbishop preside, and I warmed to him right away. He told us that some of us might be there as a sort of Catholic tourism…but he was okay with that. His deeper hope was that we were part of a new evangelism in spreading our Faith.

When the time came to take up the collection, I noticed that a security firm had been hired to watch over the process. They wore black jackets with a discrete logo and plain khaki pants. As the ushers moved down the aisle, one came with a large, medicine-bag-style briefcase, collecting the money and moving it off to one of the guards as the ushers worked their way back through the church. When the offering was brought up, rest assured that the money had already been secreted away and the focus was on the bread, water, and wine.

Inside Old Saint Mary'sAfter Mass, my friends and I wandered out into the sunshine and past quite a few drunken Millennials in green T-shirts. They were coming from the St. Patrick’s day parade…such an odd juxtaposition of events that day. It reminded me of Thomas Cahill’s book, How The Irish Saved Civilization. Much of it is focused on St. Patrick. It is a delightful and educational telling of a part of world history that is often neglected. St. Patrick wasn’t much for green beer and corned beef, but he was an integral part of saving the Western World’s culture, and with it the Catholic church. Now, modern believers are offered the opportunity through these Mass Mob, grass-roots efforts to save some of the cultural touchstones of our Faith for the next generation.

Find the Joy in the Journey…

Just As Things Started To Fall Into Place…I Got A Brush Stuck In My Hair

I’ve struggled with motivation (lack of) and procrastination (lots of) lately. Maybe it’s the harsh winter with short days and excessively cold temperatures. Maybe it’s that I just have way more on my plate than I can handle. Regardless, I’ve managed to power through some things while putting other things off…I think there are a finite number of really big things I can deal with and, whether or not I consciously prioritize, my brain does it’s own prioritization and decides for me.

Now that my house loan is squared, which has been a hugely stressful issue for me, I’ve been able to make another big decision. Just in the deciding, I feel relief. So, today I was energized. I had two bookends to my day, with studying to fill the middle…no more procrastinating!

My younger daughter and I headed off to get her learner’s driving permit this morning. We didn’t rush to get out early, instead we took it easy. There is only one place on a Saturday to go, and when we arrived, there were hundreds of people in line! Two hours later, we walked out with our task accomplished. Next we stopped at Target to get some things for a care package for her sister who is spending a semester abroad. Back home, I ate my lunch, then launched into my homework.

I was in a zone…my phone, and all of its distractions were temporarily forgotten. Three hours later, I’d redone an assignment that I knew I’d not done correctly. My professor never collected it, but I knew I needed to figure it out. Then I went over another assignment that my professor had returned to me…I had the wrong answer. After going over it a number of times, I finally found my errors and corrected them. I e-mailed it to my professor and looked at the time. I just had time for a shower before I was taking my daughter and her friends to a high school musical.

I’d bought a new hair styling product at Target that promised to give me some volume to my non-voluminous hair. I carefully followed the instructions which included spraying my hair, rolling it in a round brush, and drying it with a blow dryer…Less than a minute later, I had a ceramic brush glued to my hair. After many failed attempts to remove the brush, including jumping back in the shower and trying to use shampoo to dissolve the spray, and soaking conditioner through it to try to loosen the grip of the brush, I ran out of time.

I ended up driving the kids to the play, half an hour away, and even stopping for gas on my way home. I’m sure that the traveling and fussing with the brush, which was kind of obstructing my view, only made my hair tangle-up all the more. Back home, I texted my son to find out when he got out of work. I ended up picking him up then having him drop me home and go back for the teens. Then he and his sister went on a mission to find me some detangling spray. By the time they got home, it was almost midnight.

In the end, there was no saving my hair and my daughter cut it off of the brush. So, now I have a big chunk of hair missing right in front. I won’t lie and say I didn’t cry. It took me over two years to grow out my bangs and in one fell swoop I’d destroyed it.  Fortunately, the old “comb over” is working to cover up my embarrassing mistake.

Tomorrow is another day, and a chance to try to get that motivation back…

Find the Joy in the Journey…the road may be crooked, but as long as you know where you are going, you will get there eventually.

Holding Still Long Enough To Feel The Blessings

I sit here on a Sunday night, swamped with papers. I want to write a post to my blog…something that I’ve neglected for months. I just missed the official deadline to file the FAFSA…but I haven’t filed my taxes yet and they are substantially different from last  year.

Credit card statements, lawyer bills, receipts from the last month, interesting newspaper articles, research for blog posts on diet and exercise, books on environmentalism, economics, and eating local, also litter my space.

TEDx podcasts on biomimicry, and other interesting YouTube offerings are spinning their way through my cerebral cortex thanks to my son who “gets” where I am at these days. I’m here, I’m there, I’m everywhere!

A crisis brews at work. My youngest is finishing Freshman basketball, squeezing in driver training, and gearing up for softball…and I am cringing at the chaufering involved. I’m halfway through a 500-level geology class, where I’m treading water without the benefit of prerequisites.

My middle child is studying abroad on Madrid and traveling every weekend. Meanwhile, her debit card keeps getting frozen and she’s off to places unknown (to me…the one trying to keep her solvent). She’s also suffering from a stomach virus…or worse. At the moment, she is somewhere in Morocco with a flight back to Madrid in the morning.

Reading, writing, and running? Off the table.  Weight control? Ugh…why bring that up? Networking with the environmentalist folks at work…equal parts feeling supported and feeling ridiculous.

So, I turn to the season at hand…to my Church and the blessings of Lent to help me focus on what is truly important. I’ve found it hard to go to church by myself. I have a plan, starting mid-March to “flash mob” the quintessential, classic churches, with my friends…but back to  Lent. I hate going on my own, but my younger daughter decided that going to church during Lent was important to her. She normally sasses me, saying that since she goes to church once a week during school, she doesn’t have to go on Sunday…she *just* got Confirmed, so you know this is major sass.

So, to church I go. I pray for an open heart, for guidance. And, to my surprise (can’t I be a believer?) the blessings started to flow. First of all, my son got a job. He’s a wonderful, brilliant, man who hasn’t figured out yet where he fits in the world. He is a boomerang kid and I am committed to helping him get to independence. He doesn’t take advantage of that, he wants it as much as I do. Even so, it took a lot of encouragement (shall we admit nagging?) to get him to this point and the look on his face when he told me he was hired warmed this mother’s heart. I feel so blessed!

Another major concern in my life has been getting my ex-husband off of my mortgage.  This has required hundreds of hours dealing with my mortgage company, providing reams of documents, explaining every single check I’ve deposited. The bank threw every obstacle in the book in my way. Eventually I got a closing date, but with under 24 hours to go, they canceled it due to a bank error. I regrouped and pursued a new date. Ultimately, the bank closed my account to protect their internal metrics. Say what? Yes, they made me re-apply so that their internal metrics would reflect that they were customer friendly. But this last week, a miracle happened. They fired my loan processor and the new one got my loan approved and gave me a new closing date.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Blessings all around you!

 

 

Eat More, Move Less, Gain Weight…Duh!

We all know the mantra, “eat less, move more, lose weight”. It is universally true, but that doesn’t make it easy to do. I was doing rather well in my goal to get fit and lose weight in the process. Then I started training for half-marathons and my body changed, if not my weight. I put on more muscle and burned a lot more calories…but I also ate more to fuel that work. It is shockingly easy to eat more without even realizing it. My real problem came on when I stopped training. I didn’t really mean to, but life intervened and I’ve not yet gotten around to re-balancing and fitting my workouts back into my daily life.

Looking back over the last six months, it’s clear to me what has happened. That is when my younger daughter started high school 15 miles away from home. It’s about an hour and a half for me to drive carpool, picking up two other girls, driving through rush-hour traffic, and then driving to work.  Fortunately I don’t have carpool every day and recently we added a fourth girl and my duties have shrunk further. Even so, on days I have carpool, I have to add the lost hours back into my workday leaving less time for workouts.

Starting in November, my daughter joined the Freshman basketball team and between practices and games, I’m driving even more, and almost on a daily basis. Fortunately, one of the other girls in the carpool is also on the team, so we do a lot of ride-sharing. As basketball wraps up, softball is starting. I have no one to share rides with for softball…so on to the end of the school year.

Just last month, I added a class of my own…back to school! Now I have even less time to workout. It is time to re-balance, for sure. I am not in a position right now to cut back at work or school, but I do know that I waste a lot of time on things that don’t support my goals but provide stress relief without all the effort of going for a run. I know that I can carve out time for getting back to a healthier fitness routine.FitBit Tracker

I am going back to basics and setting a new starting point. I stepped on the scale and recorded the disappointing results in my fitness app. I started tracking my food too. A clear pattern emerged immediately. It wasn’t a surprise, but seeing it on my computer makes it more real to me. I eat too many calories, more than half of which I consume after work. I do not get nearly enough fruits and vegetables in my diet. I am not drinking enough water. Taking a peek at my FitBit data, I am not moving much at all.

So, little by little, I will make improvements and reclaim some balance in my life. Changes, especially those that require more time and energy, are always disruptive, but time to take a deep breath and find a new routine that supports my goals.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the determination to never give up on your goals!

 

No Such Thing As A Typical Day

Today wasn’t a typical day, there is no such thing  for me lately. It was a day full of family, full of work, full of school, and full of complications.

I started out with an early meeting by calling in while I packed my lunch. I packed my backpack for school, including a protein bar, and decided to leave it at home to pick up later. At work, I was immersed immediately.

This week, my global colleagues are in town, so my focus turned toward them and their reason for being here. Simultaneously, I had to focus on a crisis. Oh, then there was my normal job…and some people-related projects that I needed to complete.

E-mail got the triage treatment and so did meetings. I went from meeting to meeting, ending up in a personnel meeting. I had carpool duty to get my daughter and her friend from basketball practice, but I couldn’t leave until I’d given my input on a particular issue.

When I got out of the office it was a quarter past four. Snow started falling as I walked to my car. I had to scrape some ice off of my car and I started worrying about the roads. I hit the highway during rush hour traffic and the snow continued to fall. Traffic crawled along. I called in to my next meeting, and my next. I arrived at my daughter’s school after five.

The girls were hungry, and wanted to stop for pizza, but I was trying to get to my own school by 6. I called into my final meeting of the day and dealt with even worse traffic and weather. I told my daughter that I didn’t really want to go to school…I hate being late. She, of course, told me that I had to go…no excuses! She got a kick out of throwing my own words back at me. After dropping the girls off and having my daughter run in the house for my backpack, I slowly drove to school a few miles over slippery roads. I was over half an hour late.

I slipped into the classroom as the professor was showing some of the students a well screen. It didn’t seem as if I’d missed much. Perhaps class had started late. I was dreading another quiz…it still takes me quite some time to puzzle through my homework. I know that the quizzes are his way of gauging whether or not we understand what he is teaching us, but they are stressful none the less. I’ve finally realized that we will get a quiz every week, but that doesn’t make me any less stressed.

At first glance, the quiz was something I hadn’t been able to do on my homework and I started to feel some panic rising …but he’d just shown us a chart related to the problem and suddenly I realized that maybe I did understand how to do it. I got to work. I plotted my data, drew my line, found my constant, and started solving equations. I was careful with my unit conversions, something drilled into me way back in college. Finishing up, I looked around and I saw that I was the only one who was done.

The professor hurried over to check my work. He smiled and handed it back with a nod of approval. When others finished, he checked theirs and made comments like, “that answer is way too large” or “that answer is way to small”…mine, it seems was “just right”.

After class, I packed up my backpack and walked back to my car. I took a deep breath of the icy air and smiled. I’m getting it, I really am!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the wonder of a lifetime of learning!

 

 

Getting My Second Adulthood Started: Back To School

When I first decided that getting a (third) masters degree was my path to late-life happiness, I thought I was unique and that I’d get a lot of odd looks and serious ribbing. Surprisingly, I found a lot of support and many similar stories.

I really only need look to my own mother and father to see examples of   growth after fifty. At fifty, my mom was pursuing a Doctorate (something that I am obviously not cut out for…Masters degrees are my “thing”!). My dad, since turning fifty, has published a book, written two memoirs, become a certified financial planner…and, I can’t fail to mention, jumped out of a plane and gone to Spain to run with (or watch) the bulls. (What happens in Spain, stays in Spain!)

When I started to tell my own peers, however, I really was surprised. All in their fifties, I’ve found such similar stories to mine. There’s a friend who shattered her hip in her late thirties and now wants to get a Masters in exercise science. Then there is the friend who found that by going to a personal trainer during a difficult time of life,  found a life couch as an added benefit and now wants to pursue both. Even my big sister is now pursuing a Masters…one which, like mine, draws upon her unique background and points her to an interesting and unique future.

Here I am, 26 years into a corporate career in purchasing, starting a Masters in Environmental Science. I started out completely bored in high school, looking for the most difficult college degree I could find. I looked to either aeronautic or chemical engineering. I ended up with chemical. It was a real challenge, one for which my high school didn’t fully prepare me.

When I graduated, in 1986, OPEC fell apart and the demand for chemical engineers plummetted. I got my MBA instead of a job. From there, I ended up in purchasing. With less than a year under my belt, I found that my company would pay for me to get a masters…so I got a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering. Why not? Degree in hand, I found a position working with my company’s suppliers to improve their manufacturing processes.

Years later, I find myself drawn to water. There are water crises everywhere…too much, too little, too polluted…but where I live, there is 20% of the world’s fresh water…The problems and solutions are unique to each location…moving fresh water around the world is not the solution.

I am at an age and at a point in my career where I just want to follow my passions…but I really want to make a difference too. For me, the answer is a new Master’s degree…for others, it’s something different. For all of us? Following our hearts!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and may your personal journey fulfill your personal legacy!

Still Time To Celebrate

I took three weeks off of work and go back tomorrow. I had plans, oh did I ever, and today I was feeling some remorse at not accomplishing “anything” during my break. With a little retrospection, though, I realize that I had a lovely time, very low-key, very different from my regular busy schedule.

I spent three days driving to and from St. Louis to help my daughter pack up her dorm room and move out. She’s off to Spain in a few days for a semester. What I feared would be a grueling trip, turned out to be way less stressful than I had feared and allowed me time to enjoy my daughter’s company uninterrupted for hours at a time. It also allowed me time to visit my sister in Chicago, where I crashed both nights of the trip.

I’ve spent a lot of time the rest of my break driving my younger daughter to and from basketball…school stops for a while, but basketball never does. Rather than drive home between drop-off and pick-up, I stuck around. Twice I did grocery shopping, for our Christmas dinner and then for New Year’s Day, when we have a special family meal to kick things off right. Then, I went to the local sub shop and ate a sandwich while reading a book. Not a bad way to spend my time at all.

Christmas was filled with traditions, old and new. I went to Carols and Lessons with friends and we all met back at my place afterward where we talked and laughed and really enjoyed the time with one another that we so rarely get. My daughters and I went to Mass on Christmas Eve, put out cookies for Santa, wrapped gifts, filled stockings, and slept-in on Christmas morning. We opened gifts and cooked all of our favorite holiday foods, then ate the fruits of our labors.

My son came home a few days later, and then my mom arrived. We had a mini-Christmas with them, then on to New Years Eve when we stayed in and drank our bubbly apple cider or champagne and toasted one another. New Years Day brought the pork and sauerkraut recipe, repeated every year that I can remember.

Tomorrow, I go back to work and back to crazy. There will be carpool for school and basketball, and hopefully a class or two for me at night. Work will start-up at a fever pitch and I may be traveling as well.

Tonight, however, we have one more celebration to go. We’re celebrating a milestone birthday, belatedly, with my mom. Dressed up, ready to go. Snow has finally shown up, and we’ll have a lovely dinner out before settling down in a house full of family and love before the chaos hits in the morning.

Find the Joy in the Journey…celebrate the moment, and don’t worry about the To Do List for a change!

 

Dissecting My Daughter’s Favorite Music

For the most part, my younger daughter listens to music that could almost be considered wholesome. She favors One Direction, Five Seconds of Summer, and Little Mix. Little Mix in particular writes girl-power songs that even I find inspiring. She likes a lot of other popular songs, and particularly favors Ed Sheerhan. I like his songs too, very catchy, but I don’t always like the subject matter.

Lately, my daughter has been trying to improve my musical literacy by playing songs while we are in the car and quizzing me on the singer or band. I’m not very good at it, easily mixing up bands, new and old. She’s always amazed when songs from my own teenager-hood come on and I not only know the artist, but all the words as well.  It’s a very narrow band of time over which I have this talent and it seems there are far more bands now than then.

The other day a song was on the radio with a refrain that went something like, “let’s get high” sung over and over. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. It is my job to point out the inappropriateness of some lyrics, but these were just too obvious. She advised me that I often blew her mind, complete with hand gestures around her head to show said mind blowing open to the obvious, with my succinct descriptions of songs. Remember, Mom, when you told me that A Team was about drugs and prostitution? Yes, I do, and also the girl freezing to death. Tough message.

We recounted how I didn’t care for Stay With Me  by Sam Smith because it’s about one night stands and I get annoyed with myself for singing along to Rude by MAGIC! (what is with all the punctuation in band names, anyway?) because it objectifies women (I know, it’s “old-fashioned”). I listen to the music and enjoy it. I even sing along. There are many talented artists singing about tough subjects, but some are just self-indulgent. Regardless, as long as I get the opportunity to teach a few life lessons along the way, I’m copacetic.

So, I told her, well, then there’s that song about the guy giving a girl a scar. What song she asked? The one where he says if she feels like falling down, he’ll carry her home. Well, she informed me, there’s nothing about a scar in that song, which by the way is We Are Young by FUN. Oh, yeah, I knew that. She started to sing and when she got to “asking about a scar” she looked at me wide-eyed. Then she got to “I know I gave it to you months ago”…and, well, mind blown.

I am a creature of habit…I listen to the same radio station all the time, but when my daughter is in the car, we listen to a variety of stations. When that’s not enough variety, my daughter plays songs from her iPhone over the car sound system through a bluetooth connection. She’s expanding my musical tastes and I’m making sure that she actually listens to the lyrics. It’s a true partnership. The best part is that when I drop her off somewhere, she’s sure to switch the music back to my station before getting out of the car.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and those rare moments when mom and daughter can simultaneously belt out the latest hit along with the radio!

Teaching My Son To Cook

I probably waited way too long to teach my son to cook. My daughters just seem to have picked up the basics without formal instruction. My son, well, he figured out how to make a few things, mainly college-subsistence meals like Ramen Noodles and boxed Mac & Cheese. He even branched out to rice and beans, but I don’t know if that was so much a recipe as just figuring out how to make rice and dumping a can of beans in for good measure…by which I mean protein.

Now he’s boomeranged back home and I find the need, if not the time, to bring him up to speed on some basics so that he can be a contributing member of the household, beyond the occasional chauffeuring stints. He does do his own laundry…but he cycles through his entire wardrobe first. This sometimes results in weather-inappropriate clothing, but I leave that to him.

I decided to focus on two family recipes. The first was lasagna. Now, a noodle in this dish is also called a lasagna, but multiple noodles are lasagne…so, a language lesson in a cooking lesson! It comes from my grandmother who was not known for her cooking prowess…she got the recipe off of the box of lasagne. Regardless, it has become a family legend and one of my best dishes. I wanted to share this “crowd pleaser” with my son.

It is really a simple recipe, but it is a bit time consuming. The first time around, I procured all of the necessary ingredients. I enlisted my son in making the sauce…the heart of the dish. It is redolent of Italian sausage, garlic, tomatoes, and basil. Meanwhile I cooked the noodles and prepared the ricotta/romano/egg/parsley layer. Together we assembled the layers, noodle/ricotta/mozzarella/meatsauce then a repeat of the above. Into the oven to bake.

imageThis time around, I had already purchased all of the ingredients and challenged him to find them prior to the start of cooking. I’d say he scored a “C” in this exercise. Nevertheless, he took the lead on the sauce and did manage some measuring and stirring on the other parts of the recipe. I would say that our first time, he did 30% of the work and 10% of the thinking. This time, he did more of both. I do believe that if he took the recipe to the grocery, he could manage the list. I also believe that he could subsequently make the dish all on his own…he might panic a bit, but I have confidence that he could master it.

For our second dish, we made something that my family calls, “Mexican Rice and Bean Soup”. I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I suspect it came out of a magazine in the 1950’s given it’s inappropriate claim to being “Mexican”. It is a comfort-food recipe which is a bit of cutting of onion and pepper, and browning of breakfast sausage links, and a lot of dump-and-stir to finish it off. It is lovely with some corn bread. We went the Jiffy route on that, although I have my own homemade recipes that are even better.

Life lessons are priceless…

Find the Joy in the Journey…especially when you pass along lessons that come back to bless everyone involved!