Love Sandwich 2021 Style

It has certainly been awhile since I’ve written on here. It’s been almost ten months since I’ve written at all! Many, many reasons… but most of them were just temporary road blocks… one after another, after another… I’m sure almost everyone can relate!

I always like to frame situations as a “love” sandwich. Good – tough- good. This term is courtesy of one of my college professors during my teacher education blocks. She said it is always best to start with the good, fill in the hard stuff, and round it back out with good.

Good: My kids were in-person education ALL of the 2020-2021 school year with the exception of 3.5 days. I can’t praise our administration enough for this! They front loaded the school year with an extra five minutes each day in case we had to close for covid. We did NOT have to close, so my kids had every Friday off from the beginning of April until they finished it out in mid-May. No vocal music programs or school assemblies, but if that’s all we had to sacrifice for school activities? No big deal. No teachers, administration, or students perished. Our district did not suffer much teacher turnover after 2020-21 covid year either. Being a former teacher, I pay attention to these things!

Tough: This was an EXTREMELY challenging season for mental health. Mental health of all generations was tested, squeezed, stretched, flambéed, and left exhausted in a heap. I sought professional counseling. Our social workers and school counselors focused on student’s mental health through extra time in classrooms. We had in-depth conversations in our home and asked those harder questions.

Good: Summer activities were back in a completely pre-pandemic, normal style. We’ve dedicated ourselves to baseball March to July, softball May-July, 4H activities and the fair, and a family vacation to Florida. It felt good. We have a boat! What? YES! After boat-watching for multiple years and searching for one for a year, we bought one in February! It’s a pontoon (cue that song by Lady A). Our family has spent many days and evenings out on it since Memorial weekend. We haven’t quite located where the good fishing spots are at our local lake… or maybe it’s just that we don’t know how to read the fish finders? Kids enjoyed tubing with cousins on the 4th weekend. I’ve read a few books while just cruising.

My next post will be more introspective and with pictures. This was just a quickie. I hope you have stayed healthy and full of hope!

— Jen

Faith · Family · Health · Perspective

Giving Thanks – Memory Style

Thanksgiving. Food. Family. Giving of Thanks.

We are on the cusp of one of my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving.
My mom alternates between watching the Macy’s Day Parade and preparing dishes. After 30+ years of watching/helping this process, this is also what I do on Thanksgiving morning. It’s tradition.

Typically, we decorate for Christmas during this week as well, also a habit adopted from my mother. The whole crew gathers for a meal during this week. The last few years, we also pick a day this week to work cattle in the hills. Sadly, gathering plans are different this year.

Instead of dwelling in the muck that is a local covid outbreak, my mind shifts the focus to a couple general favorite holiday memories. All my favorite holiday stories revolve around family. My life overflows with gratitude for the loving foundation I was raised in. Surrounded with love on all sides.

My grandma Ramona laughing so hard she couldn’t finish- or sometimes start- a story. Tears would stream down her face. Gosh, I love that memory! Cramming the tables, sitting on the floors with plates, singing the doxology and eating-napping-playing outside- eating again… On repeat every year for that side of the family until we said goodbye to our patriarch and matriarch.

Similarly, mom’s side gathered and filled the house for holidays. The kitchen aromas -always Grandma Evelyn’s French bread, laughter, competitive games such as pitch, Rummikub, and spoons, and the younger boys getting into a scrape… Always placemats on the table. The enjoyment of spending time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins is treasured.

It was a crowd and volume adjustment for my husband the first years of holidays with my family. We get loud and then louder. Holidays are not just one meal. They encompass entire days.

If you are like me, 2020 has made you extremely weary of the cancellations and limitations. We’ve all been asked to undertake the uncomfortable by altering our cherished traditions. On hard years, such as this one, it is imperative we shift our focus to the beautiful holiday memories!

What are your Thanksgiving memories?