Girl Talk

Girl Talk

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Jan (dietician), Yolanda (retail marketing), Deb (dental hygienist), Lisa (high-tech sales and engineering), Theresa (special education teacher and coach), Trisha (office administrator in medical field), Tracy (grants administration) and Kathy(child nutrition specialist) – class of 1979, Holton High, Kansas

I just returned from a week-end with my gal pals from high school.  We are all now past the half-century mark in age and have been out of high school for nearly 35 years.  We have seen one another since graduation at class reunions, significant events such as weddings and sadly a few funerals, as well as individual trips to each other’s homes over these many years. Some of us went to school together all through elementary to high school.  Others of us moved to this rural northeastern Kansas community later but we all spent our middle school and high school years together.  Some of us remain living in the area.  Some of us have moved out-of-state.  Often, years have passed between visits or chance encounters. We love Facebook because it helps us stay connected.  We planned the entire week-end event using social media as the tool to communicate our plans on where we would stay, what we would do, where we would eat and shop, and most importantly where we would document the experience so we could share it with others that were unable to attend.

Intellectually, we are at our peak but physically we are beginning to feel and show the passage of time.  We are all very strong women with the common values of family, hard work, and personal responsibility.  We care about our community and the world we live in.  We also love to laugh and poke fun at ourselves and there is an ease to the companionship. One of these dear friends made the observation that “it just seems like we pick up right where we left off the last time we were together.”  Studies show that women are better than men at all forms of communication including both verbal and non-verbal skills.  We are socially more skilled at reading the nuances in people’s reactions and behavior.  I think women are generally more interested in people and relationships.  Baby girls at a very young age are more attracted to faces and maintain eye contact two or three times longer than boys.

Girl friendships are often based on shared interests or values, rather than kinship or local ties. Our female relationships are based on cooperation, reciprocal helping and sharing of day-to-day tasks.  We discuss child rearing, providing care and support for adult children and our aging parents, loss, divorces, troubles at work, illnesses and other defenseless times in our lives.  Girlfriends have a unique type of trust in that pledge that We. Will. Be. There. For. One. Another.  Women just bond.  We don’t seem to need all of the formal and organized men-only associations.  We need a place to gather and a pot of tea or a carafe of wine – maybe not even that.

Women have a secret language.  We raise an eyebrow, a knowing look, an affectionate hug or touch on the arm.  These non-verbal cues serve to include others in a group of mutual understanding. While Girl Talk may not be exactly a secret language, it is something that most men understand very poorly.  Girl Talk also includes lots of chatting or gossiping.  I admit we spent a fair amount of this activity this week-end on gossip.  While this may have a negative connotation to some, I think gossip is essential to establishing the important element of sharing of confidences between friends.  Women are more often willing to gossip about our families, private lives and feelings.  The emphasis is on the emotional, rather than facts or issues. Research tells us that women gossip, on average, more than men each day (69 minutes compared to 63 minutes for men).  This sense of conspiracy reinforces our sense of inclusion in a group.  It is important that you can be trusted to keep your secret “in the vault” as our family refers to it but it is also important when to know to share a secret and to whom you can share it with confidence.  There is a difference between secrets and SECRETS.  There are some secrets that must be kept.  We know when there are secrets that are quite serious, and must be protected.  When these confidences are breached, there is hell to pay.

Women’s friendship is special in a world that is unique to women, with subtle nuances and signals, to which men have minimal access and which they barely understand.  As women begin to realize these gifts more fully, perhaps we are about to witness a dramatic shift in the leadership of organizations, businesses and corporations…these thoughts I will save for another blog.

Here is to all of my female friends from childhood, college, from my early work days, my friends from raising children, my female business partner, to my neighborhood friends, my daughters, my family, and my current workmates.  I can either give you a hug or I could slap you on the arm –women hug and our men mentors/friends slap us on the arm.  It means the same thing but the differences are oh so subtle.  Wink, Wink, Nod, and Pat! Love you all as you mean the world to me.

Credit to:  The New Rules of Female Friendship and Communication, Social Issues Research Centre, Oxford, UK

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Stilts, roller skates, bicycles, tetherball pole, basketball court, vacant lot and pogo sticks

Stilts, roller skates, bicycles, tetherball pole, basketball court, vacant lot and pogo sticks

All of these items were provided to us Hauck kids at a very early age.  The stilts, roller skates and pogo stick were more for me than my brothers but we all enjoyed and used all of these lawn games and outdoor playscapes for unsupervised outdoor fun. Our basketball court and the tetherball pole were used by lots of children in the neighborhood. The vacant lot provided a physical space for pickup games with all the neighborhood gang.  We even had a light on the basketball court so we could play a game of “horse” late into the evening. It was one way we all learned to develop a passion and instinct for sports and more importantly, character building.

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Me and my pogo stick.

As a family, we laugh as we listen to Brian Regan’s comedic bit that he performs about his childhood memories.  He talks about how he and his brothers were often ordered outside by their mother.  She would say “go outside and do a good activity”.  The sons would then go outside to play.  The challenge was the definition of a “good activity”.  Regan jokes, is “staring at the sun a good activity?”  What makes the joke work is that we understand there is risk associated with a child’s undirected play but the results are so much more thrilling and important to a child’s development.

‘Outdoor play provides open-ended, dynamic, varied opportunities which are unpredictable and at times risky. However, the risks and challenges of being outdoors provide rich opportunities for learning, problem-solving and developing social competence’ (Greenfield, 2004, p. 1). Children need the freedom to take risks in play because it allows them to continually test the limits of their physical, intellectual and emotional development (Tranter, 2005).

It seems today that nervous parents are keeping kids from an important childhood rite — the chance to play outdoors without the feeling that adults have to watch over them every second to keep them safe. I had free reign over many blocks in the small Kansas towns of my childhood. As long as I could hear my parents calling from the yard or ringing the dinner bell, I was good. Now, because of threats real or imaged, people don’t allow their children to wander around.  I understand both sides.

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Working on my free throw.

Today, it’s rare for kids to spend so much time outdoors on their own. Instead of unstructured outdoor play, our kids have scheduled play dates and structured activities. In their limited free time, kids today are likely to be indoors. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids spend more than 7.5 hours using some sort of electronic media every day. The combination of over scheduling, lack of freedom to roam , and the temptations of electronic media means that American kids today spend a mere 4-7 minutes on average, outdoors doing unstructured play.

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“Is this a good activity, Mom?”

Growing up, I always knocked on the neighbors’ doors or answered mine, and a group of us kids would run around, play and explore. I don’t remember ever feeling afraid. But as a parent to three little girls growing up in the 1990’s, I was more protective. I did, however, allow them to walk the five blocks to school when they were in elementary school. I often walked with them when I could and always encouraged them to walk in pairs whenever feasible.  Fortunately I live on Ashland with a block full of caring adults who are willing to pay attention to neighborhood kids and watch out for adults that we are not familiar with seeing on the block. My girls benefited from lots of free play in the front and backyards of Ashland neighbors as well as many independent trips to the local community center and quick trips to and from the playgrounds at the neighborhood middle school and elementary school.  We encouraged them to travel in packs of three or more.  All three of my children are better adjusted young adults because of these experiences with freedom at an early age and due to opportunities for them to build the excellent character they have today.

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“How about this one, Mom?  Look no poles!”

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
― Plato

Market Stew

Market Stew

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I love this cookbook especially when I  am hankering for some spicy Creole-inspired combinations from NOLA. I nearly always purchase a cookbook from my favorite travels so I can enjoy again the smells and the tastes I remember from these journeys.

As I do on many Saturday mornings, I am cleaning out the refrigerator (my glamorous life) and making the shopping list for RM.  The man loves “making groceries” with his favorite stops at Aldi, Wal-Mart and Trader Joes planned for later today. He is mowing the yard first (yes…he leads a glamorous life as well).  In the veggie bin is a large brown sack full of Texas okra that needs cooking today as well as several green peppers and tomatoes that appear very ripe. Whenever I get okra in my Greenling delivery it never really appeals to me that much so I often pawn it off on my willing Texas native friends that love these green lady fingers. Okra or gumbo as it is sometimes called is not something that this Kansas native ate growing up.  I don’t know why but okra wasn’t grown in our home garden. But today, the pods looked appealing especially when I thought Louisiana creole. So I began browsing through a cookbook I had purchased when RM and I visited New Orleans two years before.  There are four recipes featuring okra in the book but the one for Market Stew sounds yummy and most importantly… I have all of the ingredients on hand.  Also, the recipe is relatively healthy and meets my recent dietary requirement of 80% fruits or veggies on my plate.  Here are the steps.

1.  Cut up bite size chunks of green peppers, onions and tomatoes (as much as you want – these veggies are guilt free). Cut the okra spears into round wheels.  This okra was so fresh it had Texas dirt flecks all over it so I had to rinse them really well.

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2.  Saute the peppers and onions until soft and then add the wheels of okra.  If you prepare this in a T-Fal nonstick saute pan (love this product!), you won’t need to add any fat to the pan.  Then add the creole spices such as paprika, onion powder, garlic salt, Old Bay, red pepper flakes (cayenne if you like), black pepper, oregano and thyme.   Add tomatoes to the batch and simmer for at least an hour.  This is an important step as all the veggies get super soft and the spices have time to meld together.

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3.  Add 16 oz of shrimp – I used the frozen shrimp that comes already cleaned with only the tails on.  I removed the tails before adding them to the pan with the veggies.

4.  Cook until shrimp is pink – only takes a couple of minutes.  Add salt to your taste.

5.  Steam some rice (I didn’t because I don’t need the carbs) and then spoon the okra mixture over the top and dig in.  If the mixture is too dry just add a little water to loosen it up and to make a little bit of gravy for your rice.

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6.  Bon appetite!

Yuzu Citrus Ceviche

Yuzu Citrus Ceviche

For a cool and healthy dinner option that doesn’t require using the stove or firing up the grill… consider chopping up some Yuzu Citrus Ceviche.  The special ingredient is yuzu juice which I discovered dining at our favorite sushi stop, Tokyo Cafe.  The chef sprinkled this flavorful elixir of orange, lemon and tangerine which added just the right zest to fresh sashimi or ceviche.  Marinate your seafood options in the yuzu juice for up to an hour in the refrigerator.  I like to use shrimp, tilapia and small scallops.  Cut up small pieces of pineapple, mango, red pepper and cucumber.  Add the marinated protein to the veggies, add avocado, chopped cilantro and a dash of sea salt.  If you want it spicy, add a chili pepper (make it Hatch this time of year).  Spoon onto cool cups of lettuce and add a icy glass of green tea beside your plate and you are well on your way to a tropical inspired taste sensation in the cool of your own home.

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty – Japanese proverb.

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Yuzu is a product of Japan and is packed with vitamin C.  I found it at Central Market.

Sometimes it is what you don’t do or say as a parent or the 7 no-no’s

Sometimes it is what you don’t do or say as a parent or the 7 no-no’s

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Happy Holidays in August from the Marshalls…anything to make us feel cooler on a hotter than hell day in Tejas. Beyond knowing what not to do, remember to poke fun at yourself on occasion and find your inner child!

We have three beautiful and talented daughters and I believe that our parenting success was more about what we did NOT do than what we actually did as parents.  Both RM and I are united on the following rules for what not to do as a parent:

  1. Don’t Choose Her Friends – we all know what I mean here, right?  Don’t insist that your daughter becomes friends with the “popular kids” or the “jocks”.  Let her find her way and she will bring home many friends that she will cherish for a life time or at least through childhood. She will bring home some knuckleheads too but you can laugh about it together (much later!).
  2. Don’t Make Excuses – there has to be some respect for authority even when the authority figure makes mistakes (they make some doozies, don’t you?).  As a parent, we must acknowledge that life is not always fair and in turn we have to deal with the outcomes that come our way.  These unfair verdicts are the ones our children will more likely remember and reflect upon in their adult years.  Your child comes home and tells you a particular injustice that occurred on the playground?  What do you do?  Call the child’s mother?  Call the school?  I recommend you give your girl a hug, tell you are sorry it happened, and suggest you read a book together or play a game of checkers.  Let’s move forward, people.  Not backward.
  3. Never Get Involved in Her Employment – what employer wants their employee’s mommy calling to report an absence or an illness? Or asking for their whereabouts?  Keep all of that private between you and your child.  Can you tell this one bugs me big time?
  4. Don’t Make Her Decisions, Both Big and Small – your children will ask you for advice but that doesn’t mean they want it.  They just want to discuss it with you (or maybe just vent…venting is important when raising girls) or just hear the sound of their own voice verbalizing their concerns…who knows?  Just take a breath, listen and say very little beyond..”yes”, “I understand”, “I can see you are upset”, or a personal favorite, “what can I do to make you feel better?”.  Avoid traps that put you in a position of the Great Oz.
  5. Don’t Resolve Her Conflicts – you are not the one to help her with these issues beyond a hug, a suggestion of a hot bath, or a cup of tea.  Her conflicts are her conflicts so provide comfort but not the answers because her answers are often about changing her own behavior not others.  That news is impossible to hear from a parent.  That is what friends, confidants, and Dear Abby provide.
  6. Don’t Finish Her Projects – you can run for supplies, help her access information on the World Wide Web, and make cookies but DO NOT DO IT FOR HER – EVER!  This will never end well and will be the start of a bad progression that will only end with a jump off a big cliff for you– dear mother or father.  Fathers are worse about this than mothers (my opinion).  Never finish a sugar cube Alamo for your child..it turns into a sticky mess.
  7. Don’t Let Her Win…Every Time – learning to lose gracefully sometime takes years.  The process is ugly but all children will get there with time.  There may be many temper tantrums and tears but it is a critical step/ability to developing into a healthy adult.  It is right up there with learning to admit our mistakes and apologize.  This is especially valid with girls that grow up believing in that awful word…perfection!

I am sure this blog will solicit comments from C1, C2 and C3 — we hope we didn’t scar you all too much and thank you for being our kids.  We love you even if we don’t say it enough but we hopefully demonstrated it to you through our actions (or lack of actions) each and every day.

Recycle Your CD Jewel Case Inserts and Booklets

Recycle Your CD Jewel Case Inserts and Booklets

We enjoy listening to music out on our screen porch on Ashland but the CD’s get the worse for wear out in the elements including exposure to raindrops, pollutants and mother nature.  Last Saturday, I cleaned each musical disc by dipping each one carefully in Windex and water solution and then drying them with a lint free rag and leaving them to air dry for a day or two.  It worked great and we are again enjoying our music collection (skip free). This time I vow to not leave them out on the porch — maybe all over the house but not outside at least!  The jewel cases and the paper inserts however did not fair as well.  Many were cracked and the paper dirty and in a pretty bad way but the artwork did hold some sentimental value.  Below is a quick project to recycle the artwork showcasing some of your favorite titles and artists.

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Above are the booklets before I cut off the front cover.  Save the insides as there are other pages that could be used as well for this project or other future ideas.

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RM cut some plywood pieces the same dimension as the artwork.

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Lightly paint on Mod Podge — I use a foam brush. Then apply the artwork on top and press down firmly.

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If you get bumps, use a roller like this one and add a little water to help press out all the air pockets.  As you can see, my artwork is not perfect but it looks very vintage when finished.

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I coated the surface lightly with three coats of Mod Podge, allowing to dry well after each application.  I applied a light coat of acrylic spray sealer at the end since these are coasters (yes, coasters!) and they will need to stand up to water.

You have to trust me that they turned out cute.  I forgot to get a final picture in my haste to depart to Tulsa.  I gave them as a gift to C2  for her apartment at college.  Do college students use coasters?  Maybe they will use these!