Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils

When I was a little girl, left in the care of my father, he would often take me along with him to work on week-ends and during the summer months.  His job at the time was principal of small rural high school. About the size of Brock for those readers from Texas.

I tagged along behind him trying to keep up with the strides of a 6’4″ rather imposing figure as we entered the empty halls of the deserted school building.  Dad’s job entailed it all — from distributing the mail, to scheduling the basic repairs and maintenance for the building during down time, to hiring all the staff, and to communicating with parents about future school plans and concerns. He would point me in the direction of an empty desk in the office, give me a box of colored pencils and some white copy paper to keep me quiet while he completed his tasks at hand, often leaving me alone in the office while he was in other parts of the building or chatting with the custodial staff or coaches.

My dad, before his job as a principal, was a biology teacher.  He loved to explain to me why my eyes were blue, just like his,while mom’s were green.  While he was not an especially artistic person, he did show me how to draw amoebas which I did with great attention to detail using many different shades of color and combinations.  I didn’t know at the time what all these amoeba parts were called or their function but I imagined chocolate chip cookies, suns and planets inside a lake.  My dad encouraged my creativity and gave me the gift of time and an important parenting technique that I call,  benign neglect.  I spent quite a few hours drawing amoebas of varying sizes and shapes, often stopping to sharpen my pencil on the wall-mounted sharpener next to my desk.amoeba-coloring1

Practicing benign neglect as a parent is not about abdicating responsibility, ignoring limits, or letting go of all boundaries. On the contrary. It is about creating clear limits and boundaries, which all children need (I knew not to leave the office except to go down the hall to the bathroom) allowing for enough freedom within those limits for true learning to occur. It is about watching and waiting and being intentional in the ways we intervene. It’s about allowing our children to feel some discomfort, letting them struggle, and helping them work through it. It is about loving them enough to let them experience the world in a way that lets them grow and learn, even when, with every fiber of our being, we want to shield and protect them from the bumps and bruises they will get along the way.

So in 2017, give a kid a little benign neglect (the only love I know): a packet of colored pencils, blank paper, a quiet corner and see what they create.

Home Alone

Home Alone

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Home alone this Christmas.  Not exactly alone, but RM and I are spending Christmas eve and Christmas day alone together for the first time since C1 was born back in 1987.  That is nearly 30 years ago.  We didn’t plan this, it just worked out this way this year.  Where did the time go?  Seems like yesterday, that I was giggling along with my girls to the relatable scenes from the movie, Home Alone. Take a heap of a Christmas movie, add a dash of kid-appropriate fun, a sprinkle of family drama, and a pinch of caper action, and you’ve got Home Alone.

Over these years, we have celebrated these holiday times in many intriguing ways. Traveling to see family in Kansas, going skiing in Colorado, traveling to New Mexico, staying home as a family of five, hosting guests, visiting friends, hosted by our daughter in Mesquite, recovering from health concerns, or just hanging out but always with our children and many friends, exchange students and family over the years.  But this year, since our girls are traveling and visiting with friends, we both rather relish the idea of two consecutive days, just the two of us, reminding ourselves of why we first decided to spend a lifetime together as a married couple in our little cottage on Ashland.

When we first started dating back in the early 80’s, we played long and competitive games of Scrabble, we cooked together (still do), read out loud to one another, completed each others crossword puzzles when we got stuck, worked on home improvement projects, did crafts, listened to Beatles albums (the older ones),  watched MASH, and scoured flea markets and antique shops for items for our new home together.  Now, we do pretty much those same things since we have successfully raised our children. We both have full-time jobs that we enjoy that provide us with purpose and financial resources to make our lives meaningful and relatively stress free.  We do engage in social media, blogging and subscribe to Spotify and Netflix. I guess I need to get on Twitter so I can find out what our future President is tweeting next. We support our chosen personal passions, for me the interests of women and children, for RM, woodturning and working on his two small businesses on a part-time basis.

But we still just enjoy the simple things.  With the dip in the temperatures, our time together may just be two days in front of the fire, watching football and cooking shows, or perhaps starting a small project from our list of to-do’s, going for a walk if the weather warms up, or reading a book. Whatever, we do, we will appreciate the precious gift of time together, and home alone.

Happy Holidays to each of you and please wish for safe travels for our girls and their families and friends and to you and yours as well.


Ticking Off the Bucket List

Ticking Off the Bucket List

RM and I are flying to Santa Barbara after Christmas for a week in sunny California for the second time this year.  Our time in Yosemite in October completed an item from our bucket list.  We lived in the City of Angels from 1984-1986 and experienced a lot of what the wide array of options California offers but we never spent time in the many beach communities north of the city.  Why Santa Barbara? Well, it is called The American Riviera and it is Santa B.

The town itself has less than 100,000 residents with moderate year-round Mediterranean climate of 60-80 degrees.  There are over 25 beaches that stretch 100 miles with scenic shoreline.  We will be following the Urban Wine Trail with the city’s 36 wine tasting rooms accessible in the walkable downtown. There is also the Santa Barbara Taco Trail welcoming us into a foodie’s haven.  We will nosh on tacos at Julia Child’s favorite Taco Stand called La Super Rica Taqueria. Cash only.

We are staying at a modest and affordable Marina Beach Motel  only 37 steps from the beach.  Many options were too pricey for us frugal travelers.  The motel offers a free continental breakfast and our room has a kitchenette as well.  We will rent a car so we can drive up Pacific Coast Highway, visit the quaint town of Los Olivos, and check out the Santa Ynez Wine Country.  I hope the motel is clean and well-maintained as advertised.

There is evidently a lot to do in Santa Barbara near our hotel.  There is Stern’s Wharf and historic downtown including State Street.  The locals are proud of their McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream. Wondering if it contends with our local favorite, Melt? It has certainly been around a while — since 1949. I will let you know.

As RM and I do on nearly every trip, we find a great coffee shop, an interesting bookstore, and simple moments to cherish. Walking a warm beach sounds divine.  For New Year’s Eve, we dine at The Lark in the Funk Zone which is billed to be a “vibrant arts district and home to local surf shops, galleries and the popular Urban Wine Trail.”  The restaurant is a favorite of local food critics and offers a shared dining experience which we are unsure of the meaning.  I hope we don’t end up doing the dishes.

C2 and her fiance (did I mention we are planning a wedding for June?) will join us for many of the days from the frigid upper midwest so we can share our love of the California sunshine with them too.


So, like, I am sure we will have a dope time, like totally epic.  Getting my California talk down now.

Happy Holiday traveling to you and yours whether traveling locally, in the states, or abroad.







Chickpea Eggless Quiche

Chickpea Eggless Quiche

For those of you that are not crazy about eggs, try making Chickpea Eggless Quiche for your next brunch or week night dinner.   The turmeric and smoky paprika are sure to warm you on a cold rainy day and the dish is full of good ingredients for a healthy body.  This recipe is dairy free too. My trainer, Jenny at Mindful Mule, told me about a clean food blog called Clean Food Dirty Girl.  Check the blog out if you like to eat more plants than meat and also like to laugh. This recipe is derived from one of her recipes.  This gal uses profanity liberally — just warning you.

 The first step in the recipe is to saute your favorite veggies with garlic (I used three cloves of roasted garlic) and parsley in your favorite saute pan. I added more herbs to my dish including fresh basil and oregano because I have ton of it and I think it is going to freeze the plants soon. 

I picked red onion, zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms and bok choy but you could really do whatever you have on hand and like.  Just keep your ratio of veg to about 1/2 cup each.  Add some salt and pepper after the vegetables have softened after 10 minutes or so.

Spray a pie pan with olive oil and line your veggies in the bottom of the pan.  It will come up about 3/4 of the way on the sides.  Heat oven to 400.

Mix together 2 cups of garbanzo bean flour (you know this flour from falafel), 2 T nutritional yeast (it gives the mixture a hint of cheese flavor), 1/2 tsp. of turmeric and salt and pepper to taste. Then add 2 cups of water and whisk.

Pour the batter over the top of the veggies and bake in your oven for 30 minutes. While this is cooking make the BEST SAUCE EVER.  This sauce makes the dish.  I am still licking my lips from lunch.

Mix together in a blender 1/2 cup of chopped red pepper, 1/2 cup of tahini, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1 clove of garlic, 1 brazil nut, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp. coconut aminos.  Add to this 1/2 cup of water and blend. I added saracha sauce to give a bit of heat or you could use cayenne pepper too.

I sliced my pie into small slices and poured the sauce over it.  Healthy and so yummy.  I know it will store great in the fridge for leftovers too for my lunch this week as I try to avoid packing on the holiday pounds. Happy cooking, my friends.  Be well.