Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Quick Fixes

Why are we always surprised when it gets so hot in Oklahoma? We greet someone, it's so hot! We express surprise at the temperature as it flashes on the bank sign. Triple digits today! Or we observe, the lake has turned over. Doesn't it do that every year in the summer?

Its almost the Fourth of July.  There will be lots of people to feed.  One thing for sure. It is too hot to turn the oven on. No matter the temperature, there is still a hungry family around the picnic table or on the boat. For some strange reason, they still want to be fed. Here are a few easy to prepare dishes that don't require pre-heating anything.

Southern Shrimp Salad

2 pounds shrimp, pre-cooked and cleaned (prepare according to directions on package)
Chop into bite size pieces.
Prepare 1 cup rice according to package directions. Drain well and cool.

To rice add 1/2 cup minced purple onion, 1/2 cup chopped green olives, 1/2 cup chopped celery
Stir in 1 cup mayonnaise and fold in cooled shrimp. Chill and serve.

Make Ahead Curried Chicken Salad
De bone and remove skin from one prepared rotisserie chicken. Shred.
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. pineapple chunks, drained
1 c sliced green grapes
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 tsp curry powder
Chill overnight or all day. Before serving add 2 cups Chinese noodles

Duke Of Windsor Sandwich

Legendary Helen Corbett created this dish for a visit to Neiman Marcus by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. It is delicious. Just don't think about the calories.

For each sandwich
Toast two slices of a good rustic bread -lightly buttered
1 slice Swiss cheese
Add 2 to 3 slices of turkey breast
1 slice pineapple-water packed
3 strips of bacon (to keep the stove off, use the pre-cooked and microwave)
1 leaf lettuce

Make a topping of equal amounts 1000 Island Dressing and freshly whipped cream (unsweetened)
Put a large dollop of the dressing on the top of the sandwich and add the second slice of bread.
Serve with potato chips, a dill pickle and a knife and fork. Heaven!!!

Dessert?  The peaches are in.  The blueberries are ripe.  Grab a gallon of good vanilla ice cream and enjoy the blessings of summer!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Snips and Snails

Great insight from a Mom's Blog- Lucky Mom of Three Boys .  The times they are a changin' aren't they?  
Those boy are going to be men someday.  How to raise them to be the men we want them to be?  And what do we want them to be??  Read one Mom's observations below. 

What makes a great man? Eeek, that's a tough one! Or, more importantly, what kind of men do we want our little boys to become? And, how can we better support them as they develop?

There could be many different answers to this. What's your definition? Is a great man someone who is independent but also a team player, strong but emotionally connected and supportive, motivated, courteous, caring and affectionate, honest, protective, reliable, has good sense of humor? The list is almost endless and will be different for each person, male or female.
But what is a man's role today? Not that I aspire to the past, but just a few decades ago a man's role seemed far more certain -- the breadwinner, head of the house, protector. Now, women are actively encouraged to compete alongside men in everything from education to the workplace to sporting activities, including traditionally male-based events. This is absolutely as it should be and there is yet more to be achieved for girls and women's rights. But, while the focus quite rightly has been on female equality, is there a chance that in very recent times men, and particularly boys, have been overlooked?

What makes me say this? Well, being the mother of three boys I have a deep interest in their well-being, their opportunities and their role in life, and I have become aware of a growing number of negative challenges that boys of this generation are starting to face. You just have to hear the news to be enlightened about the concerning facts. In an Open letter to President Obama Mark Sherman quoted statistics for the U.S. (initially compiled by Tom Mortenson in 2011). These statistics state that boys are more likely to have a learning disability, to be suspended from high school, to lag behind their female counterparts academically, are less likely to graduate from school or achieve a bachelor degree and even more worryingly are more likely to be homeless, incarcerated in a correctional facility, and commit suicide. The position in the U.K. is worryingly similar. Why is this the case? And why does there not seem to be a greater focus on it?

On a social and cultural level, boys seem to face mixed messages when it comes to their masculinity. If they show too much emotion they may be branded a sissy (or dare I say a "momma's boy"!). Too much bravado and they are condemned for being unruly, rough and noisy. They should treat women as equals, but is being chivalrous OK? (I welcome it, but not all women do).

I wholly advocate boys being allowed to be themselves. Their differences from girls are what makes them unique, fun and interesting in their own right. Toy fights, mud, toilet humour, shows of strength, competition, what can seem like relentless energy, noise, thrill seeking and bravado are all things that should be celebrated about boys' characters. However, their softer side is also to be praised. Their creativity, imagination, thoughtfulness, sense of fairness and forgiveness, inquisitiveness, communication skills, caring nature and amazing ability to show love and affection are so very special. In a modern world where men are often a 50:50 partner in the home, especially when raising a family, these qualities learned in childhood will be embodied throughout adulthood. The male role seems to be evolving and so too surely must the typical male stereotypes -- hopefully including the ones relating to relationships with their mothers!

I am sure that every significant adult figure has a real lasting impact on a little boys' life. The father/son relationship is perhaps more easily defined but I would like to understand how mothers can also help their sons become some of the best men of the future. I have read a number of articles about this and the viewpoint that rings most true is that we should move away from the age old belief that a boy should be taught to be a 'man' from a young age - to be strong, stand on his own two feet and suppress his emotions. Instead, to support our sons (and if we are fortunate enough to be able to) we should try to develop solid and healthy mother/son relationships, which evolve as they grow on mutually agreed terms.

According to Dr William Pollack, author of Real Boys and a Harvard lecturer, "Far from making boys weaker, the love of a mother actually does make boys stronger, emotionally and psychologically. Far from making boys dependent, the base of safety that a loving mother can create provides a boy with the courage to explore the outside world. But most importantly, far from making a boy act in 'girl-like' ways, a loving mother actually plays an integral role in helping a boy develop his masculinity." Echoing these views Kate Stone Lombardi looked in detail at the benefits of a good mother / son relationship in her book The Mama's Boy Myth. So, as to the long list of qualities that people look for in the 'great man', I can't but try to play a part in helping my boys to achieve them... but nobody's perfect!

Looking at the bigger picture, to give all our boys the best possible start in life I would love there to be a more equal playing field, so that as they grow they feel as confident as their female counterparts that they can do and be whatever they want in their lives. In order to achieve this perhaps the time has come to raise the profile of boys and accept nothing less (or more!) than the same opportunities, choices and support for them as we campaign for, for our girls.
Ultimately, I think the kind of men our boys will become is determined by the individual boy himself. But, I do believe we all have an important role to play in providing the best possible support and environment within which they grow. Let's go for greatness!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Just Listen for a Minute

Graduation is the end of one chapter and the start of another.  Keynote speakers at college graduations are the luck of the draw.  Some speeches are shoozers, others will resonate with wisdom and common sense.  Here are a few quotes from some of my favorites.  chrissie

steve jobs commencement address

Steve Jobs, Stanford University in 2005

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.... Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”


Bono, University of Pennsylvania in 2004

"The world is more malleable than you think and it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape…That’s what this degree of yours is—a blunt instrument. So go forth and build something with it. Remember what John Adams said about Ben Franklin, 'He does not hesitate at our boldest measures but rather seems to think us too irresolute.' Well, this is the time for bold measures and this is the country and you are the generation." 

Jodie Foster, University of Pennsylvania in 2006

"There is nothing more beautiful than finding your course as you believe you bob aimlessly in the current. And wouldn't you know that your path was there all along, waiting for you to knock, waiting for you to become. This path does not belong to your parents, your teachers, your leaders, or your lovers. Your path is your character defining itself more and more every day."

Jessica Lange, Academy Award- and Golden Globe-Winning Actress, Sarah Lawrence College in 2008

"Be present. I would encourage you with all my heart just to be present. Be present and open to the moment that is unfolding before you. Because, ultimately, your life is made up of moments. So don't miss them by being lost in the past or anticipating the future." 

Bobbi Brown, CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Fashion Institute of Technology in 2014

“Work hard but work smart. Always. Every day. Nothing is handed to you and nothing is easy. You’re not owed anything... No job or task is too small or beneath you. If you want to get ahead, volunteer to do the things no one else wants to do, and do it better. Be a sponge. Be open and learn.”

Christian Louboutin, Shoe Designer, Fashion Institute of Technology in 2014

“It is a great thing to be at your age… You are at a very specific time of age … an age where you can follow all your dreams. But also at an age when you can change—you can change your dreams, you can change paths. When you start something when you’re young, you should not decide ‘this is it, this is my way and I will go all the way.’ You have the age where you can change. You get experience, and maybe dislike it and go another way. Your age is still an age of exploration.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Think Outside the Box

Maybe you are living with a college bound child.  Graduation is over and high school is now in the past tense. You are shopping for extra long twin sheets and comparing meal plans and freshman classes. Seventeen magazine shares some suggestions of what Not to miss in college.  Perhaps some pointers overlooked by an eager eighteen year old?


 College can be one of the best times of your life so far, as the next four years will be filled with amazing firsts (like first time living with a roommate who's not your sister, or the first time living without your parents!) and memorable experiences (like living in a dorm, taking a class with 400 other students, or rushing a sorority). With so many awesome opportunities at your fingertips, how can you make the most of the next four years? Start by making sure you don't miss out, as you might regret NOT...
...Living in a dorm...
We get it, you just want to be on your own, and honestly, dorms can get kind of icky (communal showers—really?!) and annoying (blasting music at 2 a.m. the night before a big Chem midterm—really?!). But do yourself a favor, and don’t rush to get out of the dorms. Living in the dorms gives you the chance to meet all kinds of new people who you might otherwise never hang out with—and really get to know them. It's good practice for learning to deal with different types of people, and chances are, you’ll find a few new BFFs within those halls. Plus, its kind of nice having someone who can help you with your seminar paper living right down the hall!
...Studying abroad (if you can swing the cost)...
Remember when you were younger, and you used to fantasize about traveling the world? Studying abroad in college is the perfect way to make that dream a reality. If you can make it work, take advantage of one of your school's study abroad programs. Not only will you get to eat delicious food, meet awesome new people, and learn a different language, but you'll also get to experience new places and cultures in a way that will totally open your mind and help you grow. (If that's not enough for you? AMAZING INSTAGRAM PHOTOS.)
...Getting ready for class…sometimes...
Let’s face it, mornings are a struggle—especially when you stayed up until 3 a.m. finishing the essay you forgot about (oops!). In college, rolling out of bed, grabbing your books, and rocking a T-shirt and yoga pants all day is totally acceptable. But once in awhile, skip the snooze button and shower, do your hair, and put on an outfit that doesn't include part (or all!) of your pajamas. Looking put-together shows your teachers that you’re serious about learning, so at least during those first couple of weeks, take the extra 30 minutes in the morning to make a good impression. Plus, the kid sitting next to you might one day become your boss or you her boss, so road-testing some non-bedhead could be a bonus.
...Visiting your high school friends...
Even though you'll be really caught up in everything going on at your own school, separating from your high school BFFs can still be hard. Save up some cash and take advantage of a free weekend to take a road trip to visit your HS friends at their schools. Getting to put faces and visuals with the names of all the people and places they're always talking about will help you stay connected even when it feels like you're living completely different lives. Plus, as much as you may love your college (obvi!), it's good to see what life is like outside of your campus, too! You can even bring some of your new college friends along for the ride. Not only will your new and old friends get to bond, but their dining hall might be a refreshing break from yours. Or at least their pizza places...
...Taking a class just because you're interested...
You have four years to complete your major. Take a class or two just because it sounds interesting, not just because it’s required. These are the classes that you'll excel in and value the most because you genuinely want to be there. And who knows, maybe it could help your find your major or minor, or lead you down the path to your dream career.
...Joining a club...
Whether it’s a social organization like Greek life, or an academic group like the newspaper, joining a club has TONS of benefits. Not only is it a great way to meet new people (and possibly some cuties!), but it also looks great to future employers! Getting involved on campus shows that you can balance multiple projects, can be a team player, and are willing to go above and beyond what is expected of you, not to mention, it's a great way to pick up some skills that might prove handy on a resume. So go to the Activities Fair your first week (even if it sounds totally lame), and sign up for at least one activity.
...Taking advantage of your professors' office hours...
Back in HS, your teachers would come to you if there was a problem with your homework or if you totally bombed a quiz, and there was usually an opportunity to make it up, or at least it gave you time to try to turn things around before the end of the semester. Unfortunately, college is not like that. It's on you to take ownership of your grades, stay on top of how you're doing in your classes, and get help when you need it. Even though your first year is going to be hectic, take the time to meet with professors. Most hold office hours when you can talk to them about anything from an upcoming paper or something in class you didn't understand to why you didn't get the grade you wanted on your midterm. A lot of profs also hold special review sessions before exams: GO!
...Switching to the major you really want...
It’s hard to believe that at the ripe age of 18 we're supposed to know exactly what we want to do with our lives. While there are some people who are #blessed and do know, it’s totally fine if you don’t (or if you change your mind!). Your first couple years of college are meant for discovering your passions, and changing your major is kind of like deciding what to wear in the morning—sometimes you have to try on a few different outfits before you find the perfect one. So if it turns out history or finance or pre-law just isn't for you, don't just stick with your major just because you don't want to start over or you'd been set on becoming a lawyer ever since you saw Legally Blonde. Focusing on what interests you is generally the best recipe for finding success, and you'll be much happier studying that all those hours at the library. Don’t be afraid to change your major once or twice (or four times…oops).
...Investing in a decent backpack.
You may be attached to your fave high school bag, but it might not cut it for college (there's no locker to keep going back to between periods). You’ll be carrying textbooks, notebooks, and a laptop with you basically everywhere you go, so get a sturdy (and stylish) backpack that’s up for the job. A two-strapper will help you avoid a seriously sore back or shoulder, and backpacks are totally trendy now, so you'll have no trouble finding the perf one to fit your style.
...Dating someone who's not your "type."
College is for trying new things—and that includes relationships. Normally into jocks? Chat up a musician! Dating different types of people helps you decide what you are really looking for in someone. That way when it comes time to DTR, you’ll know just what you want to do. And hey, you might be surprised by who you fall for!
...Cheering on your school at a game.
Even if you're more interested in what the players look like than what they are doing on the field, college sporting events can be so much fun! There’s nothing like showing your school spirit and rooting for your team with friends. So spend a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday night cheering on your school. Talking about the game could be the perfect, non-awkward way to chat up your crush!

Take a deep breath and enjoy  this summer with your college-bound son or daughter.  The house will be very quiet in September! chrissie

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What Goes Around Comes Around

If you are living with a teen, you may be feeling unappreciated.  In fact, you may be feeling down-right hostility and resentment.  Slammed doors and deep sighs may be the norm in your home.  Don't despair. Blogger and college student, Lexi Herrick shares her insight from the perspective of twenty years.  Summer's here!  Enjoy.  Chrissie

To all of the parents out there that feel as though the stubborn adolescent that you created will never change, here is some hope for you. It's just a process to their becoming your biggest fan. To all of the young adults who have this figured out, let your parents know how awesome they are.

 It seems that every time my college-aged friends and I begin telling stories about our families, we always arrive at the same conclusion; our parents are simply the coolest people ever. Now I use the word "cool" because that is the evolution of being a parent that takes place.

When you are a child, your parents are like God. Everything they say and do amazes you and you worship their every move. This is because they control your whole world. No one has really given you any ideas other than those two magical creatures. Somewhere throughout the process of learning about other aspects of life and being influenced by the presence of your peers, your parents start to become the opposite of cool to you. You feel like they just don't "understand you" and all they want to do is "control your life." This phase continues for different amounts of time depending upon who you are. There is no exact science to how long you feel this way. But during this stage you are distant from your parents. You feel you need to escape them. If you are a teenage girl, you actually view your mother as the anti-christ, because for some reason mom is always the more evil one.

 If you're a teenager in general, you think every one of your friends is the absolute most amazing person to ever set foot into your life. You start trying to find things wrong with your parents and reasons why you'd rather lay locked up in your room listening to music than be around those two monsters and their expectations that feel so outrageous to you. Growing up is confusing, and feeling inadequate is natural. Insecurity means despising being questioned, and your parents question you a lot. Therefore you cannot stand them. Everything around you is changing. Friends are kind to you. Friends are also immensely cruel. You just want to be "cool." You want everyone to accept you. Therefore you try relentlessly to accomplish that and keep reiterating your teenage battle cry that you absolutely cannot wait to get the heck away from those awful parents of yours that hold you back. But then at some point, it all changes.

For some, it's when you graduate high school. For others, it is during high school. It can even last longer than college at times. The thing is, life will eventually start showing you how much better your parents are than literally everyone else. The first time you move away or experience any change, you realize all of the people you lose. You are actually friends with maybe two or three of the 15-plus BEST friends you would have died for in middle school or high school. You start watching life change and people change, and then you look around and whom do you see? It's those freaking parents again. You stop trying so hard to be accepted by everyone and cease all attempts to force people to stay in your life. You come to the beautiful realization that you only really need the people who put effort into the relationships that you have with them. You become happy with who you are and no longer feel like you have to impress people into being interested in spending time with you. You don't need to convince people that you're awesome. After all, your parents always thought you were.  

When you get older, you want to spend time with the people in your life who deserve to be there, and you actually appreciate the reasons why they deserve to be there. You remember every school play, dorky awards ceremony, and soccer game that your parents treated like the Olympics or the Oscars. You remember all of the people that made you feel like you weren't good enough and just think about your mom running around taking literally a thousand pictures of you with your friends standing in front of a stupid tree before prom. You realize you were always good enough; you were a celebrity to the coolest people ever. You will spend your entire adolescent years trying to figure out what it means to be "cool" and realize that your parents showed you all along.

I have learned from my parents. Be honest. Be a hard worker. Be dependable. Be kind. Be confident. Be true to yourself. I have learned that if I want to have positive people in my life, I need to choose people who treat me like my parents do. You learned this too I am sure, or you will. You know when a Friday night comes around and the idea of hanging out with your parents sounds like by far the best option. You know when something exciting happens in your life and they're the first ones you run to. You know when you are choosing a couple to double date with, and you know there's only one dynamic duo you want to call. Above all, you know your parents are the  people ever that have put up with as much of your crap, and loved you so unconditionally/   So go, give the coolest people ever a hug or a phone call, they deserve it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How can I Make it Better?

Julie Fingersh, Huffington Post contributor. discusses college rejection letters.  The high school senior's angst as hopes are dashed with one thin envelope.  She has good insight. Nothing will make it easier but the tips below may help a difficult situation more bearable. Chrissie

Hear that cracking sound? It could be spring bursting into bloom. Or it could be the sound of millions of high school senior hearts breaking over college rejection letters.
If your kid is one of them, here's how it feels: Their future? Shaken and blank. All that misery and sweat invested in the school grind? Wasted. The answer to their innermost question, "Am I worthy?" Delivered in that skinny envelope -- a thunderous "No."
Now parents, you're up. You've got before you one of the most powerful teachable moments ever. And even if you think your teen would rather skin themselves alive than have this conversation with you, just know that you are singularly qualified to help them grieve, reframe and move forward.
Here's how to do it:
Meet them fully in their private hell. Fight the impulse to gloss over or short-circuit their grief. Skip the: "You'll be fine" or "It's their loss." The key to getting over this is dealing with it, not denying or explaining it away. Remember, our kids have been raised on the notion that their entire lives so far have led to this. Help them identify their worst fears and fantasies about what they think this rejection means to their future. Then give them the comfort of knowing that you truly understand and feel their pain.
Tell the truth about your own hardest failures. As parents, our most profound moments of self-doubt and rejection are valuable currency to our kids. Sharing honestly connects us to them on an adult level and will help them normalize this fork in the road. Didn't make honors when all your friends did? Passed over for a promotion you were in line for at work? Got rejected from your top college choice? Our kids need to know that we know -- and have survived -- how lousy and afraid they feel right now. Our skeletons in the closet are the ticket.
Help them see the "Appearance vs. Reality" of this moment. Remember, this is the generation of kids that has been awarded trophies just for showing up to practice. For many of them, rejection this authoritative is staggering. It's not just their future that feels at stake, it's their identity. Create some context for them: This is not the foreshadowing of a new, failing trajectory. This is one answer coming from a very imperfect admissions process run by a stressed-out room of directors trying to figure out how to make objective choices out of impossibly subjective information.
Shed light on the link between college and success. A 2014 Gallup poll found that when it comes to hiring, a mere 9 percent of U.S. business leaders ranked where a candidate went to college as "very important." What does matter most to 84 percent of top employers? Knowledge and applied skills in the field. Then there's the question of knowing how to create a fulfilling life. As we adults know, everyone's got to crack that code for themselves, and one's alma mater is a small piece of the equation. Where you go to school isn't nearly as important as what you make of where you go.
Help them see that a life story is never revealed in the moment. We live our lives in chapters whose bigger picture is revealed only over time. I always thought that I was born to go to Brown University. I knew it from the age of 12. It was my singular, youthful ambition. And yet, I was rejected while my two best friends got in. Devastated doesn't begin to describe what I felt. Reflecting back, I can see that the most joyous, important things in my life today -- my husband, kids and community -- would not have come about if I had gotten in to Brown. All roads lead to where you are. There's no telling what good may come from that skinny envelope.
Reassure them that their hard work has not been wasted. New research shows that the true predictors for a successful life are resilience, flexibility and persistence. All three are learned through failure, not success. Mention this now and they might kill you. But in a few weeks, without a word, email them this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/18/the-9-essential-qualitie_n_4760403.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share
Show them the road ahead. Reframed with the right perspective, this rejection is a pointer towards their next step. After coming to terms with the hand they've been dealt, your teen's job is to get excited about diving into the myriad of options they do have. The trick is to help them see the truth: They are in control. This is their life -- their move. The world is just as huge, wide open and waiting for them as it always was. And they've still got everything they need to end up right where they're meant to be.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's Too Quiet!

Those of you who still have small children in the house may not believe it, but one day you'll actually miss the piles of laundry and dirty dishes left behind by your little ones. Kids -- they grow up so fast. And while you treasure the ever-evolving relationship you now have with your children as they grow up, admit it: you miss when they were still your babies. 
Huffington Post"s Shelley Emling  asked it's readers about the things they never thought they'd miss once their kids left the house, and here's what they had to say. I would add the conversations around the dinner table. Finally gathering together after a busy day and catching up on our day.  chrissie

1. "The noise and havoc ... of feeding hordes of teenage boys"

"I miss feeding hordes of teenage boys who ate in the 'orange food group': Doritos, mac and cheese, pizza rolls and the like."

2. "Their friends in and out of the house"

teenagers in kitchen
3. "Reading before bedtime"
reading at bedtime
"Singing in a car pool full of little girls. Dinner time conversations about history. Reading at bedtime. Actually, I knew I would miss all those things, and I do."
4. "Learning about them just by watching them in action"
kids drinking chocolate milk
"When they are not with me, I miss the 'ambient learning' about them. What I mean is that 'empty cups' show me they drink chocolate milk and 'magazines' show me their interests. Kids may not always state (out loud) what they drink... Or who they follow... But when they leave the evidence behind (and oh, they do :-))... I get clues into who they are and what they like. I often otherwise miss that connection."
5. "All the half-full soda cans and there not being one clean glass in the house"

teenagers drinking soda
6. "Being right in the middle of the chaotic mess of their lives"
messy room
"Who new I would miss the chaos that five wonderful kids can create! Whether that's their messy bathrooms, bedrooms or lives! I miss being in the middle of the mess SOMETIMES!"
7. "Shopping for prom and homecoming dresses"

shopping for prom dresses
8. "Waiting up for them to come home"

worried woman
9. "Needing to bake for a variety of activities -- parties, bake sales, sleepovers, congratulatory cookie cakes."

baked cookies
10. "Doing laundry"
piles of laundry
"Funny you asked that because I just shared a photo on my FB page of one of the piles of towels and bedding I was left with after my daughter and her three friends just went back to college after spending spring break at our house. I was actually happy to be doing all that laundry and I loved having them here and hearing all that laughing and screaming, and the constant opening and closing of the fridge door. And I definitely miss having an excuse for buying all that junk food."
11. "Getting up and fixing a lunch. Have a good day and a kiss goodbye"

12. "Having all their friends crash here on the weekends and breakfast together and hearing all the stories from the night before"

teenagers having breakfast
13. "The jumble of shoes by the front door"

shoes by front door