Five Years Later…

Five years ago today, I lost my mom. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. To be honest, there are still times when it’s a lonely world without her. However, life goes on and we’ve all learned to move on without her. 

I know I was blessed to have her as my mother. There are times I stop and think to myself…I sound just like my mom…something I swore I’d never do when I was younger by the way. Of course now that I’m older and have a child of my own, I get it. I’m thankful that she set such a great example for our family.

So even though today is a sad day, I choose to smile and look back on all the wonderful memories I have of her. My family and I will cherish those memories and continue to make new ones without her…all the while knowing, she continues to live on through us.

We were hers and she was ours. No passage of time will ever change that. 

We will see her again. She will be waiting on the other side of Heaven’s gates to welcome each and every one of us home!

Stuffed Pepper Casserole…

This casserole was a hit at my house tonight…and my daughter is a very picky eater. It’s even better than actual stuffed peppers in my opinion because it’s all mixed together in one dish! 

Ingredients:

2 green bell peppers 

1 red bell pepper

1 pound ground turkey or beef

1 bag of boil in a bag rice cooked on stove

1 can diced tomatos (any variety)

Onions (optional) I used dry minced

1 bag shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Italian seasoning

Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute (optional)

Directions:

Cook ground turkey or beef on stove and drain. Set aside. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Cut out the cores of the peppers. Slice into strips and dice. Put in greased dish. Put the remaining ingredients into the dish and mix well. (only use 1/2 bag of the shredded cheese at this time)

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, top with the rest of the shredded cheese, and put back in the oven. Broil for 5 minutes until cheese bubbles and browns. Remove. Let cool and enjoy. 

Please remember I don’t measure…I just add until I think it looks good…and I am of the opinion, the cheesier the better! You can add other ingredients or seasonings.  If you try it, be sure and let me know what you think.

K

Merry Christmas…

To all…I hope you have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year! I hope you will dream dangerously and outrageously. The only failure is in not trying. Take risks. Be kind. Be wise. Show compassion. Help others. The world needs more of that right now. It always has. Love one another as God has commanded us to do. Don’t judge. Don’t hate. Be respectful of others even when you don’t agree. One person can make a difference. You might not change the world, but you can change the world for one person. 

For those of you who aren’t experiencing the “storybook” Christmas this year…Maybe you’re grieving a loss. Perhaps you’re lonely, discouraged, or worried about the challenges you’re facing. I assure you there is no one who hasn’t struggled through a holiday or two. Be gentle with yourself. Stay open to the kindness of others and stay open to some small, Christmas miracle. 

Merry Christmas to all!! I wish you all the best… today and always!!

Small Town Life…

I was born in a small town. Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world, waiting on a midnight train going anywhere. Just a few lines from songs by John Cougar and Journey to describe who I am. 

I had big dreams of catching that midnight train and going wherever it would take me, but only ended up settling an hour away from home in the “big city”. Of course if I could go back and do it all over again, I would. The world was a big ol’ place full of adventure. At the time I had no responsibility and yet no courage to venture out. Now that I have the courage to do so, time has also brought about too many responsibilities to just pick up and go. Someday I will!

I miss my hometown, but I’m lucky because it’s only a short drive anytime I get the urge to go for a visit. I find it hard to go back to visit since my mom passed away, but I do go back to visit my dad, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

This is one of my favorite photos from the small town I come from. It just reminds me of home:

There are many pros and cons for the small town life just as there are for life in the city. 

There’s never a lot to do. Not many places to shop or eat, but it has grown since I lived there. One of the greatest past times as a teen was to “cruise” Main Street in your car and then everyone ended up parking in the church parking lot and hanging out. A short honk as you passed a friend was a way to say “hi”. If you “layed” on the horn as you passed someone, it meant you wanted that person to pull over so you could chat awhile. Sometimes you’d park your car and get in with someone else and keep on cruisin’. A good part of my paycheck as a teen went towards gas money to accommodate all this cruisin’!

It was the kind of town that you waved at everyone you passed while driving because you knew everyone. BUT if it was one of your friends, you crazy waved  as you passed…I mean it was one of your best friends after all!

It was also the kind of town where everyone knew who everyone else was. There wasn’t a lot of privacy and you couldn’t get by with much…gossip or the truth, everyone knew what was going on with you. Sometimes they knew what I’d done before I did! I always knew to tell the truth when I got home if I was asked where I’d been or what I’d done because chances were my parents already knew.

The plus side to this was that if you had a crisis or a death in the family, everyone knew and the whole town was there for you at the drop of a hat. When you had a death in the family, people would come by from all over town and bring a casserole…dessert…tables and counters would be covered with dishes. They’d visit with you and pray with you and you knew you were not alone.

Where I live now people don’t do that. The city is too big. It’s not a close knit community. However, at least in my neighborhood, if something happens I make it a point to visit and do what I can to assist my neighbors.

Here in the city, no one pulls over for funeral processions except those of us who came from small towns. Back home everyone pulled over off the side of the road to show their respect. Men would even get out of their cars, take off their hats, and place them over their hearts. That’s respect! Not only for the person who passed away, but for their families as well.

I for one think the pros of living in a small town outweigh the cons. People always watched out for you and your kids. If you needed help with something, you didn’t even have to ask and no one expected anything in return.  It was a simple way of life and simple was good. 

We all have big dreams no matter where we live or where we come from. We’re always waiting on that midnight train to take us somewhere…”anywhere but here”. And once we get where we’re going and life happens, we usually long for those simpler times of our youth.

I can’t say I’d want to move back and live there, but I can say it’s always nice to “catch that train” and go back home once in awhile. 

No matter where I live, I’ll always be a small town girl at heart. Nothing will ever change that.

Through a Mother’s Eyes…

I checked in on a friend today who took her son to his first year of college. She was doing ok, but was very emotional. She said he was very excited and she was excited for him, but asked how she could be so happy and so sad at the same time?

I told her that was the perfect explanation of motherhood. We prepare them for a world we don’t really want to send them in to. I assured her that he would miss her and that he’d be fine because she did a great job raising him. I ended by telling her to think of all the great advice she’d be able to give me in a few years when it was my turn. I hope it helped in some small way. This is one of those things you have to work through on your own and in your own time. I wrote a post yesterday…a letter to my daughter because I know I’ll be facing this in the not too distant future and it scares me.

They’re always our babies. We’re responsible for them from the minute we find out were pregnant until well, forever…maybe not in the same way as while we raised them, but you get what I’m trying to say if you’re a parent.

For the first five to six years of their lives we’re their primary influence. Once we send them off to school, each year after that they learn a little bit more from other people about the world. Teachers. Friends. Acquaintances. Their friend’s parents. Most of it is good. Some of it’s not. We do our best to instill good values and morals in them, teach them right from wrong, and hope they’ve listened so that they are able to make good choices as they grow older. 

I imagine taking your child to college for the first time is one of the toughest moments you can experience as a parent. It’s part of the circle of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s what you’ve worked towards for eighteen years….raising them to be self sufficient, productive, and successful adults, but they’re still your baby in your eyes. Turning them loose in the world to make their own way?  That has to be one of the hardest “letting go” experiences any person will ever have to face. 

For all the parents out there facing this…you are in my prayers. It’s a tough time, but if it’s any consolation at all, they’re finally gonna “get” all the things you’ve taught them and they’re going to realize you knew a thing or two after all. The days of “you don’t know anything” are coming to an end…and even if they don’t say “I miss you” I guarantee you they do. I’m pretty sure you’re gonna hear a lot more of “I love you” as well.

For all the young adults leaving your parents for the first time…remember this. They love you and want what’s best for you. That’s why they were so hard on you and strict. It’s a parent’s job to make sure their child can succeed and make it on their own in the world. You’ll face the same thing one day. 

Just a few more words…you’re always their baby and it’s hard to let you go. Pass out  “I miss you” and I love you” any chance you get. And it wouldn’t hurt to throw in “you knew what you talking about after all” or “I understand now” once in awhile. It lets them know they did a good job raising you and you’re doing okay in this crazy ol’ world after all! Best wishes to you!

To My Daughter…

Sixteen years ago next month after almost 16 hours of labor, I cradled my little bundle of joy in my arms and to me she was perfect. I remember thinking as we left the hospital…”they can’t let me take this baby home. I don’t know what to do with her”! That feeling didn’t last long and we’ve done just fine since then, but I still have moments when I think…I don’t know what to do with her. Teenagers! I sent her off to school a few days ago to her sophomore year in high school and I can’t help but see her as the same little girl on her first day of kindergarten.

Raising a teenager in today’s world is scary. We teach them right from wrong knowing all the while they’re going to make mistakes…that’s how they learn. You have to trust them, but at the same time keep a watchful eye on them in case you need to gently guide them in another direction. Sometimes you have to drag them kicking and screaming to put them on the right path! 

I haven’t encountered any serious problems with her so far, but she’s strong willed and stubborn just like me. My mom got her wish! I have a daughter just like me.

This is for her….

Dear Daughter,

First and foremost I want you to know I love you more than life itself and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. Having said that, there are certain things I won’t be able to do for you. I’ve taught you right from wrong. You’ll have to make decisions in life and please remember, you’re free to choose, but you won’t be free from the consequences of those choices. Choose wisely.

Establish moral boundaries and never compromise them for anyone or anything. Not for your friends, your spouse, your job, for money or pleasure. You determine your self respect and worth. People will respect you more if you’re true and not fake.

It’s okay to have a different opinion than others…including me. Listen and respect the views of others. You don’t have to make them the enemy because you don’t agree. You can disagree and still be respectful because I’ve taught you there’s value in a differing opinion.

Don’t forget to live in the moment. It’s okay to plan ahead, but don’t be so busy wishing your life away that you forget to live for today.

It’s okay to walk away. From friendships that aren’t good for you. From people who want you to make choices that go against your values. Walk away from bad influences and walk towards your family and God.

Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. Don’t seek approval from everyone. Love yourself.

Some people will say all the right things and not mean a single one of them. Watch what they do not what they say.

You know how you felt about that boy you liked last year and he didn’t like you in the same way? I hate to tell you this, but that’s gonna happen quite a few more times. You’re going to to break a few hearts yourself. Remember how you felt and be kind when the time comes to deal with it.

Be grateful for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. Set goals and work towards them. The world doesn’t owe you anything. If you want it you have to work for it!

Life isn’t always about you. You aren’t better than anyone, but you should strive to be the best you that you can be.

Always lend a helping hand or help someone in need. You never know when it could be you that needs someone’s help.

Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat.

Finish what you start, even when you don’t feel like it.

Anyone who will accept you for exactly who you are, are the best friends you will ever have.

Never apologize for saying no. You’re allowed to say it.

Never drink and drive. If you do choose to drink, call me to come get you. We’ll talk about it later.

It’s okay to take pride in your appearance and want to look pretty. Just remember that true beauty comes from being kind and thoughtful and compassionate. If you’re ugly on the inside, you’re ugly. Period.

Don’t judge people, but know that people will judge you. 

Don’t compare yourself to others. Someone will always be prettier, more talented, etc….life isn’t a competition. Be yourself. There’s no one else in the world like you!

Speak up for yourself and stand your ground if you aren’t being treated fairly.

Don’t lose yourself in a guy. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not to please them. You are enough. There are lots of boys out there who will like all the quirky little things about you. It’s okay to wait for one of them.

Listen to the little voice inside you. It’s never wrong.

Be careful what you post on social media. The Internet is forever. 

Read your Bible. It has all the answers. 

You will make mistakes. Forgive yourself when you do.

You can talk to me about anything. There’s nothing you can do that will make me not love you.I may not always agree with your decisions, but I’ve always got your back.  I will always be here for you no matter what. I love you.

Love, Mom