Going Nuts Over Traditions

Kim made some great points in her last post on making family traditions.  Sometimes, traditions only last for a season or two and that is fine.  If you live in Michigan, you might be going out sledding on New Year’s Day.  If you live in Florida, you might be headed to the beach instead.  You just have to be flexible!

As I was thinking through this post, I started thinking about some of our family traditions and realized I may need to offer an apology to my husband.  Looking back, I was rather inflexible on the traditions front at the beginning of our marriage and when our kids were first born.  We discussed how we wanted to do certain things based on what we did as kids, and I’m fairly certain that we adopted everything I wanted from my childhood.  You know, the earth shattering decisions like….Santa/No Santa, wrapped/unwrapped presents under the tree, and opening stockings before or after other gifts.  Some things I bulldozed my way through and others just worked out.  For example, growing up, Steve and his brothers were allowed to open their stocking first thing even before their parents were up on Christmas Morning.  However, I always opened my stocking up last.  For some reason, this was really important for me to keep the same.

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One thing that we did agree on was that we didn’t want to travel on Christmas Day.  We definitely wanted our kids to wake up in their own beds and spend Christmas at home.  We even make everyone wear pjs all day long on Christmas since we don’t plan to leave the house.  My parents divorced when I was a young kid, and I hated being shuttled around on all the holidays.  We would open gifts, have a bit to eat then head off to another place for another gift session and meal.  I appreciate how sensitive Steve was to this area of my life and how he helped me set a new standard for our family.  So as new parents, we told all the grandparents that they were welcome to come to us, but we were not traveling.  I’ll be honest though, we have relented and traveled twice on Christmas day for vacations.  But we did it as a family.

Another tradition that I was inflexible on was what we served for Christmas breakfast.  My mom always made (still does actually) absolutely best scrambled cheesy eggs.  But as our family became a blended family and grew with spouses and nieces and nephews, she had to switch to a baked egg dish so she could prepare it ahead to feed such a large crowd.  I couldn’t wait to make this same egg dish for Steve when we were married.  And so I did make it….year after year.  Finally after being married for at least 12 years, I noticed that Steve didn’t really eat much of it.  So I asked him about it and he admitted that he didn’t like it and never did!  Guess what?  My kids didn’t like it either!  Here I was getting up early to prepare this silly baked egg dish that no one even liked.  We now eat biscuits and sausage gravy every Christmas morning.  My oldest daughter loves biscuits and gravy and requested it once and I’ve been making it every Christmas since.  And if you asked her, she would probably say that its a tradition.  She doesn’t remember the baked egg dish and that’s fine with me.  I learned that its ok to let some traditions go when they don’t work for your family.

You know one thing I love about moving?  Being introduced to new foods that are either regional, or just favorites of new friends.  Each place we have lived, we have had a least one neighbor bring us a traditional yummy  treat each Christmas.  In Louisville, our neighbors made the most delicious pound cake and would deliver it the week before Christmas with their daughters.  In Fort Wayne, my friend Tracey brought us a tin of spiced pecans.  Here in Texas, my friend Stacee brings us homemade snack mix.  Guess what I do?  I now buy Texas grown pecans from the local 4H club and I make Tracey’s spiced pecans to give out.  (crazy side story…Tracey and I became close friends when she moved to Fort Wayne and her childhood friend Jane introduced us.  Kim and I knew Jane from Louisville and consider her one of our dearest friends even though we haven’t lived in the same place for 7 years.  Tracey has since moved to Kanas City and Jane has moved back to Ohio.)

Aren't these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

Aren’t these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

So maybe now is a good time to evaluate your traditions.  Are you and your family enjoying your traditions?  Or are you holding on to traditions for the wrong reasons?

Here is the recipe for Tracey’s spiced nuts…Enjoy!

angeline3

 

 

 

Spiced Pecans

★★★★★

Cook 1 hr 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2-3 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves (I use allspice instead)
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Beat egg white until frothy. Add the water and pecans. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves & nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to egg white & pecans. Stir to coat well. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 1.5 hours. Stir 3 times while baking.

NOTES

I usually triple recipe

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Give a little thanks

I love giving thank you gifts.  I think it’s my Southern nature.  But it’s just fun to think of different ways to say thank you than the boring old note or gift card.  I’m not saying those are bad (my southern manners say it’s a must), but it’s just fun to see the recipient’s face when it’s totally unexpected happiness.

My neighbor watched my kids an entire day recently.  I wanted to say thanks even though she didn’t expect it at all.  But I wanted something fun and useful for her.  She’s a busy mom with 4 boys and works out of her home.  I decided making her dinner was the winner.  However, with her busy schedule I didn’t know when she would need it.  So….I found this cool idea from The Kitchn….A TACO BOX!  Who doesn’t love tacos??  Here’s my version.
tacobox2Not quite as cute as The Kitchn’s version but it’s still fun.  I found the cute crate at Michaels for $6 (using coupon).  I filled it with chicken carnita, corn tortillas, my favorite pico de gallo, my fav black beans, cheese, an avocado, chips and root beer.  I also included a Dairy Queen giftcard because what goes better with tacos than ice cream?  All of it can be used immediately or wait a day or two.  And speaking of tacos, I saw this shirt at Target this week and it made my 10 yr old crack up laughing.
tacocatHere’s some more cute things I have found on Pinterest and some I have used in the past:

Movie Night at Home
movie night
You can buy these popcorn tubs at the dollar store.  You can also purchase RedBox credits online at RedBox.com.  Here’s my cute free printable for a RedBox giftcard
redboxgiftcard
Sunshine Box from Fantabulosity
box of sunshine

Here’s a fabulous summertime thank you:  Strawberry Shortcake Basket from Eighteen25:
strawberryshortcake
Ice cream Basket from Love The Day:
ice cream
Fun girlfriend thank you from Tidbits & Twine:
fun basket
And if you are super crafty, I loved this idea from All Things with Purpose.  It’s meant for a realtor (great idea!) but think of the possibilities!
cutting board

Stay tuned….once school gets started I have a TON of ideas for teacher “happies”.  Like I said, I love to say thank you!

kim4

Putting Yourself Out There

This weekend I had the thing happen to me that causes me the most anxiety after moving.  You see I always worry about what we would do if something were to happen to one of us.  Who would take my kids?  It’s one thing to meet someone and become acquaintances, but it’s another to ask this “new friend” to watch not 1 but 3 kids for an extended amount of time.  Back to this weekend – my husband had a really bad fever which led to a visit at urgent care on Saturday.  That urgent care visit turned into an overnight hospital stay for some heavy duty IV antibiotics for an infection.  He’s ok now and doing much better but talk about being terrified!  But thank heavens I have become close enough friends with two families that I immediately was able to call.  I had total sense of peace about my kids because I knew they were being well taken care of while I tended to my husband.

I share this story not to cause you the same anxiety but to encourage you that after a move it is so very important to put yourself out there and make friends.  Not only for emergency situations like I had, but just for your own sake.  A girl needs girlfriends.  Angeline is one of the best friends I’ve ever had, but she’s also on the opposite side of the country.  So as much as I love talking to her daily, one needs friends right there in her own neighborhood so to speak.  A girlfriend can give you tons of great advice about the new area you have moved to.  A girlfriend can lend a hand when you need some mom help like picking up a kid from school or activities.  A girlfriend can shop with you when you need girl time (ok maybe that’s just me being the only female in a testosterone filled house).  The point is – finding good girlfriends is a MUST!

Angeline and I have been in that awkward scenario far too many times.  You know….the one where you go to an event and you hope to meet people.  Only you find yourself sitting alone.  Or better yet, you find a little group to small talk with and all you end up doing is sitting with a smile on your face because they have their own conversations between themselves and none involve you.  I consider myself somewhat of an extrovert (forced by all my moves!) but it doesn’t matter in these situations – all you feel is alone.  Angeline and I have had many phone conversations lamenting about how lonely we are but the one thing we always do for each other is ENCOURAGE and CHEER each other on.

A lot of women think “oh so-and-so already has a million friends, why bother?  She won’t become a good friend”.  OR ladies agonize over the “will they like me” junior high scenario at the thought of going to a ladies function at church, school, etc.  We assume most ladies already have their “group” and won’t open up their circle for you so we clam up.  I’m here to tell you get out there and break into that “circle”.  There are a lot of women out there who really don’t have that close connection to people like we think.  Speak up, introduce yourself, start small talk, eavesdrop and butt in the conversation, become an extrovert.  I know it’s hard but you will never get anywhere if you don’t.  Besides, what do you have to lose????
girlfriendYou are probably asking yourself “how do I make friends in a new place?”.  Surprisingly, I’m not gonna tell you church.  However, that is a great place to start.  My closest friends the past few moves have come from other places.  So, although I say start there, don’t make that your only target.  When the kids were little, it was a lot easier to meet moms and make friends.  But now my boys are getting out of the playdate at the park stage and it is definitely getting harder.
strangers Here are some ways I have met friends.

1)  School.  I volunteer at my kids’ school.  There I have met wonderful moms who became close friends.  In Vegas that is where my closest friends were.  I knew I could count on those ladies anytime I had something that I needed.
2)  Kid’s Activities.  Don’t just sit there on your phone while your kid is at practice or any other activity you have put them into.  Scope out the place and target find some ladies to speak to. Go up and introduce yourself.  My closest friend in Louisiana came from this very same scenario.  We were at soccer practice and she had a younger one that looked about same age as my younger one.  I started with a simple question “oh, how old is he?'”.  That sparked conversation which led to her knowing I was new to the area. She was a native to Louisiana.  Instantly numbers/emails were exchanged and a friendship was created.  One I still hold dear today even though we don’t talk nearly enough
3)  Join a gym.  Not only is it good for your health but you may meet some great friends there.  Take a class – if a girl likes you when you can be you with no makeup and sweat, you know you’ve made a good friend.  HA!
4)  Get out in your neighborhood.  Don’t just sit around your house.  Take walks around your neighborhood, say hello to anyone who is out.  If they have kids, think of a way to spark up conversation.  I know it’s hard but it is so worth it.  And if they are your neighbor, even better.
5) Be observant and extroverted in any public place you go.  There may be a struggling mom in the grocery store you can help out and meet.  There might be a friendly salesperson in a clothing store that sparks conversation and leads to friendship (no kidding – it’s happened to me).  Visit parks near your new house.  It’s a great way to meet moms who may live around your neighborhood.
5)  I’ve been known a time or two to go meet up with a complete stranger or even go to their house for our kids to have a play date.  I’m not saying just go seek out strangers.  And no, I’m not psycho or looking for a death wish. These “strangers” were friends of a friend.  Friends who used to live in my new area.  Or even a random acquaintance who mentioned a friend who had kids the same age as mine and hooked us up.  I feel like I’m talking about a blind date.  But you know, sometimes making girlfriends is a lot like dating.  Oh and just FYI – a blind date is how I met my husband.
5)  Ok, I said I wouldn’t say church.  But I am now.  CHURCH.  Go to a bible fellowship class, a ladies bible study or a mom’s group.  It’s an easy way to meet people.  However it’s also probably the most uncomfortable of all that I have mentioned so far.  Reason I say this is because ladies in church form little friend groups and it is very, very hard to bust into that group.  I hate to say it but I’m just being honest.  Going into a bible study and sitting by yourself and hoping someone will come up and talk to you is very, very intimidating. I recently read this blog post from Sara Horn and it was dead on how most of us who have moved feel.   If you haven’t moved and are not planning to move, remember this and reach out to any visitors you see come to your church.  Open your circle.friendshipcircleOnce you meet ladies, exchange numbers/emails.  Invite a few to coffee or lunch or over for your kids to have a playdate.  Make it a priority.  Invest time into making friends.  I just moved to Minnesota and these people are hard to crack!  LOL!  I mean that in a non-offensive way.  Everyone is super nice but they are also very reserved.  I have felt like I have to “make the first move” (remember that dating analogy?) and once I do, they are happy to receive the invitation.
extrovertThese friends that helped me out so much this weekend?  Well, one is my next door neighbor who is wonderful.  But not because she’s my neighbor but because I have invested time getting to know her and her family.  The other – goes to my church but that’s not how I met her.  I met her through a mutual friend and our sons are friends AND they happen to live in our neighborhood AND she has invested her time getting to know me.  So, don’t just sit around having a pity party about not having friends.  PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE!  Even if it means you have to feel out of your comfort zone for a bit.
kim4