The Love of a Husband

When I had my first child, my mother and grandmother stayed at the house to help me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. My husband couldn’t get off from work, and I would have been on my own. Here we are, twenty-six years later, and I’ve taken up the mantle and am at my daughter’s house helping take care of her newborn.

When Rebecca told me that her husband had two weeks of paternity leave and would be there to help as well, I honestly didn’t think too much of it. Sure, he’d be there, but what good would he be? If Rebecca needed guidance and help from someone who had “been there,” she would have me. Anthony certainly wouldn’t have anything to add to the equation. I pictured him coming home from the hospital, tired and hungry, eating whatever I made before going to bed and returning to the hospital the next day to bring Rebecca and the baby home. From there, I assumed he’d make an appearance during the day, but his primary role would come into play at night with diaper changing and then handing off Evelyn for feedings.

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

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Ready to be a Grandmother. Or am I?

Any day now, possibly by the time this goes to print, I will be a grandmother. For the past nine months, I have marveled at how I could be a grandmother already. It seems too soon. I’m excited, but I don’t feel ready. I don’t have enough life experience yet. I’m still busy screwing up my children’s lives! I still make parenting mistakes all the time. How can I help my daughter navigate her own life as a new mother?

I was lying in bed last night, unable to put my mind to rest, when I thought, I don’t know how to do this yet. My mother and grandmother were so good at it, so perfect, and I’m so much younger than they were when they took on this role.

Then reality hit as I did the math…

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Perfect Poultry Pot Pie

It’s that time of year when I start thinking about good, old-fashioned comfort food. The air is beginning to feel a bit chillier, the days are getting noticeably shorter, and my youngest has already been away at school for an entire month. When I’m planning my weekly menu this time of year, my shopping lists fills with ingredients for hearty soups, delicious pastas, and foods that fill the house with long hours of scintillating aromas. And chicken pot pie is always the family favorite.

Last week, our middle daughter, Katie Ann, said, “Mom, I think it’s time for chicken pot pie.”

Now, this is not an unusual request from Katie who could eat homemade pot pie 365 days of the year, but I knew what she meant. It’s not a meal I make in the summer when my handmade, flaky crusts are reserved for blueberry, peach, or strawberry rhubarb pies. It’s one of those meals that is just right for a cold, blustery, snowy, or rainy day. A day like this past Sunday.

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When a Patio is More Than a Project

It has been a quiet summer here at the homestead. Other than Rebecca’s baby shower, we haven’t had many people over, which is not normal for a Schisler summer! Last spring, our backyard movie screen came down in a windstorm, and we haven’t figured out how to put it back up since it took the trees with it. We’re working on some ideas to have it back up before next summer! I had a lot of personal appearances for my latest book, and we spent a fair amount of time helping Rebecca and Anthony get ready for the baby (any day now)! But our summer was pretty consumed by one big project.

About a year ago, we attended the beautiful wedding of the young man I consider a son. Rebecca’s best friend for many years, Nick has been as much a part of our family as Rebecca’s husband is. The wedding was held at the bride’s family home where the shower took place a few months prior. The moment I walked into the backyard at Corrine’s shower, I fell in love with the setup. I went home and told Ken that we needed a patio and outdoor entertaining space similar to that one. At the wedding, Ken agreed. I’m pretty sure he agreed because he saw how much I loved the space, but he agreed all the same.

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Lessons From the Sea

Our family has always had a fascination with sea glass. Though we spend more time in the mountains, and I’ve never been a beach person, we love walking along the shoreline, searching for brightly colored pieces of time. It’s a peaceful, calming act in a world of noise and chaos. That was how we spent the last day of our vacation, and it was the perfect ending to an adventurous week!

My sister-in-law makes amazing jewelry, pictures, and other items from sea glass, so we’re always on the hunt for unique pieces and colors. Not to mention, the girls and I love sea glass earrings and necklaces!

Besides the beauty of the glass and serenity of the hunt for them, I think there are some lessons to be learned from these small fragments of glass that would serve us all well.

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Sweet Blessings and Blueberry Pie

Have you ever experienced a time when something unexpected happened that threw off all your plans but ended up being a blessing in disguise? Of course you have. We’ve all had those moments when we realized that whatever was causing a disruption to our plans was actually a good thing, in some cases, a bounty of blessings.

Earlier this summer, Ken and I were planning our drive across the country from our home in Maryland to our cabin in Colorado. One of the things we love about this drive is that there is so much to do between here and there. Each trip is a grand adventure, and we always look forward to the stops we will make and the people we will be blessed to see. We had the entire trip planned out–a stop at the Air Force Museum, dinner with friends in Ohio, a tour of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, a trip to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, a quick visit to the Cathedral on the Plains, and a drive up Pike’s Peak. Everything was perfect until about three days before we were to leave.

The Cathedral of the Plains
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Her Children Call her blessed

We just ended an awesome vacation. My husband, two of our daughters, and I spent eight nights in Puerto Rico, and we fit so much into that time, including a lot of much-needed downtime. We ate amazing food, drank $5 mojitos and margaritas, zip lined and waterfall rappelled in the rain forest, kayaked in the world’s largest bioluminescent bay, explored caves and beaches, all read numerous books, and were blessed to have time to just be. It was absolutely perfect, except for one small detail.

Our family at Cueva de Indio

I rarely had the opportunity to stop and call my mom.

Yes, you read that right. I only spoke to my mother twice during the entire trip. And while many of you may find that normal or think that even speaking twice was excessive, you have to understand my relationship with my mother.

I am blessed to say that my mother is my best friend.

Hands down, no competition, no exaggeration.

You see…

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What is Your Treasure?

“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God”(Luke 12:21).

We heard these words in Sunday’s Gospel just before leaving on our summer vacation. Vacations are sacred to us, treasures to be kept in our hearts and cherished. They aren’t tangible, and they can’t be stored physically, but they are precious gifts that we always look forward to and look back upon.

Many years ago, Ken and I made the decision to never skip a family vacation. He has always worked high pressure jobs and rarely has the ability to just take a day off or check out early. Before he had his present job, he traveled so much, he was hardly home for the equivalent of an entire week per month. For his own mental health, we knew that we had to make vacations one of the top priorities in our marriage.

When we lead marriage prep classes for our diocese, we do an exercise in which the couples have to list their individual priorities for their marriage and then share and discuss with their fiancés what their couple priorities for the marriage are. Many of these couples include travel as a priority. We always encourage them to keep that as a priority, especially when they have families, because those times are a treasure indeed.

I’ve written before about how important vacations are in a marriage and family even if it’s just a trip to some place in your home town. But they are more than just jaunts away from home or time off from work.

They are treasures to be grasped and held onto.

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Choosing the Better Part

This past Sunday, the Gospel reading was the well-known story of Jesus’s dinner at the home of sisters, Martha and Mary, and the Lord’s advice to Martha about choosing the better part. On the way out of Mass, as I led my entourage of family and friends from the church, someone remarked to me that it looked like I could relate to the reading and the homily that weekend! I had been thinking the same thing as I sat in the pew with my husband, three daughters, my son-in-law, Katie’s boyfriend, two of Rebecca’s friends, Rebecca’s mother-in-law, and my bestie, Anne, from Illinois. These were just the last bit of people staying with us for Rebecca’s baby shower weekend.

Many know the story of Martha–cooking, cleaning, serving–and Mary, who quietly sits and listens to Jesus. Poor Martha, doing all the hard work and planning and then being admonished by the Lord for it! If only she could be more like her sister, Mary (how many siblings have heard that before?).

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

This story holds so many lessons for us, but the true meaning, the better part of the lesson, is lost on so many. It’s a lesson I often have to remind myself, including this past weekend…

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Fourteen Lessons from Climbing 14ers

While Ken and I were in Colorado over the past few weeks, we had the opportunity to climb three of Colorado’s famous 14ers, the mountains that are over 14,000 feet high. This is something we always try to do, but it took me a long time to get to a physical and mental place of being able to summit. On our descent from Red Cloud and Sunshine Peaks last Thursday, I had a lot of time to think about all the lessons I’ve learned from climbing 14ers. I’ve come to understand that climbing a mountain is a beautiful metaphor for the climb we experience in life.

What I found so perfect about this metaphor and these lessons is that there are fourteen very distinct and important things I’ve learned from these treks up and back down the 14ers. They are vitally important in climbing geographical mountains and in climbing the ultimate mountain of life.

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