Monthly Archives: October 2013

It’s here …


(reposted from a Facebook Note):

Let me preface this by saying I understand that, in the grand scheme of life and death, these things are small. My children are alive, healthy, and I still have 3 1/2 years until my youngest disembarks the home hearth for “her” life. I got it. There could be so much more tragedy and pain, I know … I know.


That being said … this has been the summer of great joy … and great sadness for me. There has been a graduation or two … a wedding … an nephew’s engagement … my final two entering high school  … and the two oldest leaving home.


My daughter is happily adjusted in Oklahoma. She is working, going to school, and learning to live near the boy she believes will become her husband someday soon. I love them both desperately, and am excited to see how this years molds them, builds them, and grows them. We text pretty much daily. We skype ever week or so. I even get to see her in a couple of weeks, when two friends and I hit the road in my cute little VW diesel bug for a “mom’s only” road trip.


My son and his wife have been on an odyssey of sorts. They had planned months ago to move to China to teach English. They made preparations, they filled out their paperwork. They purged through their stuff time and time again. And they were prepared to leave August 21.


But the Visa didn’t come.


So, they reassessed. They adjusted jobs. They made phone call after phone call to their Chinese employers. To the airline. To the Visa place. To the employers … literally hours and hours of phone calls. Trepidation over whether they should even go. Finally, the plans set in place. They were leaving September 10.


And the Visa didn’t come.


So they delved deeper into frustration and questions and all those things that surface when plans are not quite what we thought. They weathered this time with grace and beauty and patience and love. They were simply incredible through this experience. They were gracious with their families. They were encouraging. They were persistent. They were here for things they hadn’t planned to be … to see my daughter move out first … they went to their first Tiger’s game together … they spent precious, deep time with us and me a gift I could never, ever repay. All with great love.


And then last week … the Visa came. And today, we drive them to an airport, and put them on a plane for a 25 hour epic adventure that will find them waking up two days from now in Wuhan, China. A half a world away from me. For almost 10 months. They are filled with great joy … and great apprehension.


And I am 3/5th empty as another part of my heart flies far away.


So, just a moment of grief. Just a moment of reflection. I have so much to do … son #2 is preparing for graduation … searching colleges … finishing high school. Daughter #2 is well into her freshman year … making friends … surviving chemistry … stretching and learning.


And all around me life goes on. People live, people die …hopes and dreams are built and achieved and adjusted and let go. So much swirling, changing, and yet oddly standing still while I watch my little boy board a plane with the love of his life to fly far, far away physically, and paradoxically drill his way deeper into my heart.


So, today is the day. Finally, the day they’ve waited for … and yet another day I’ve dreaded. Chin up, though. It’s good. It’s good, and healthy and the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime for them. I know all of this. You don’t have to remind me.


It’ll just take a little time.



Not so far away


Last night (this morning?) I had the opportunity to Skyp with my kids who are currently teaching in China. They are well … adjusting. It’s a lot to be in your early twenties, and thrown into a new culture to teach their next generation of scholars and leaders. But they are adjusting well, and are actually enjoying their transition.

Early in the week, I helped my daughter who lives in Oklahoma on a class-end project via Skyp. We talked, laughed, and I got to reassure her that yes, she is as brilliant as I tell her, and to see her sweet, sweet face as we worked though grammar and structure. I was reassured … she’s a long, long way from home and I miss being able to just be with her. 

My other two kids are still in high school. One leaves next year, the little One is sure her path will take her to Europe, England, Ireland … who knows? All I know is my breath quickens when we talk, and I beg her to give me a little space and time. We do, after all, have three years to figure it all out … 

When I was growing up and moving out, my parents were lucky to get a weekly phone call from me. I hate talking on the phone … I would write an occasional letter, most of which I found after my mom died in her dresser … sorely few of them. 

I am thankful … oh, so very thankful … that I live in a time when my kids who are 19 and thirty hours from me are only a quick click away … that we can share the mundaneness of life. Just before the kids left for China, all my chicks here called the girl and her boy in Oklahoma, and told each other stupid jokes, laughing and making faces just like they do when they are all sitting around my living room, watching chick flix or eating my husband’s homemade caramel corn. 

So, in the midst of this traumatic transition of life for me, I have come to realize that thankfully, these beautiful children of mine really aren’t that far away. I can still see them, talk to them, look into their eyes and remind them of how precious they are to me. Sure, I can’t hug them … but I will again, before long. Thanks to Estonian developers Ahti HeinlaPriit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, Danish Janus Friis, and Swedish Niklas Zennström, who had also originally developed Kazaa … the forerunner to what we know as Skyp. 

Today, I’m just a little more content. 


One thing church people like to do is eat — and I mean, eat well.

The church we’re at now is full of GREAT cooks! I always tell DH, “We should have more potlucks, you know, for building community … yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket … potluck to build community.” He’s not fooled by my ruse. He knows I like to eat.

I am, after all, a foodie.

So I’m going to post one of my favorite comfort food recipes from one of my favorite cooks here. OK, they’re all my favorite cooks, so no one get upset. But this is definitely my favorite homemade macaroni and cheese recipe ever. Yep … homemade, restaurant prepared … better than Panera, better than my favorite homemade sandwich stop down the road .. the best.

And today, without permission, I am sharing it with you. Please don’t tell Marie … she might want royalties or something, and since I’m not making any money on the blog … that would just get awkward.


Aunt Marie’s Mac and Cheese:

½ C. Butter

1 T. dried onion

4-5 T. flour

1 T. minced garlic

3 C. milk

2 lb. cooked macaroni

1 8 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese – sliced

1 8 oz. block Colby-jack cheese – sliced

2 8 oz. bags of shredded cheese (you choose flavors)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9” pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper to butter, and stir well. Then, add flour slowly to make a paste.

Add milk 1 cup at a time, and cook until thicken. Set aside.

Pour half of cooked macaroni into the prepared 13×9” pan. Place one layer of sliced cheese alternating different types, then one layer of shredded cheese. Add the rest of the macaroni and repeat cheese layering.

Pour butter/flour mix over macaroni. Bake in pre-heated oven for approximately 40-45 minutes, until toasty.

Yesterday I paired it with some great cheese bread (reoccurring theme, anyone?) and some amazing “green bean bacon bundles” I found on Pinterest (go be my friend, if you want the recipe). Topped off with my mom’s banana cream pudding (which my dad said was better than my mom made, which of course, made me cry), it was definitely a meal to not only write home about, but stay home and enjoy.

In my part of the country, it’ll be getting cold soon. This probably ranks as a “top twenty cold-day, comfort food” kind of menu. I’ll be making it again, and if you’re lucky, you might just get an invite!

Marie’s Mac and Cheese