First time turkey

At my age, this probably should have already happened. Most women my age have dealt with this — and even a few men. It’s not that I have been avoiding it. It’s just that circumstances made it so it simply wasn’t a part of my life.

Now it’s here. And it’s happening next Thursday.

That’s right folks, I’m hosting my first Thanksgiving.

Somehow it seems like a rite of passage into womanhood. And like I said, by now perhaps I should have stepped up to the plate. I have certainly cooked many, many other meals. And contributed pieces to this one. But living near family it seems the women one generation above me have always preferred to own the task. I guess it’s hard to pass the baton.

Now the baton — a cooking spoon really — is passed and it’s up to me to make this holiday happen. The menu. The meal. The table setting. The whole enchilada. Well, turkey, actually.

I’m excited.

I may be jinxing myself by saying this, but I don’t think its going to be that big of a deal. Time will tell. Having heard several Thanksgiving meal horror stories from readers, colleagues, family and friends over the years, I cannot presume that I will be immune. Good, bad or ugly, I’ll keep you posted here.

And if you have a Thanksgiving horror story that is now funny to you, I’d love to hear it! We can even work some of the tales into the post-Thanksgiving post.

Until then, I’ve got a turkey to buy.

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Get your 'Gilmore Girls' on

Mostly Motherhood is, as the name suggests, mostly about motherhood… and then some. After all, we as women have so many layers to our personalities and so many versions of our best selves. I’m a mother, for sure. But I am also a woman, a wife, a friend, and a writer.

I’m also a big fan of “Gilmore Girls.”

This project came to me as a suggestion by my husband. He knows I’ve always been a fan of “Gilmore Girls” with all their fast-talking, pop-culture-referencing family-dynamics. So when the chance to contribute to Kristi Carlson’s second “Gilmore Girls” recipe book, I couldn’t say no.

After Kristi Carlson saw much success with “Eat Like A Gilmore” featuring recipes for food seen in episodes of “Gilmore Girls,” she knew there was room for a second helping. I mean, Lorelei and Rory are never to full for another delicious treat. Why should we be?

“Eat Like A Gilmore: Daily Cravings” is the result. Even more recipes that you can make yourself. While reading backstory snippets about where the food fit into each episode.

There were so many great recipes about which I could have written. And while marzipan (p. 175) is not a treat I’ve ever tried, the storyline in this episode and the scene in which marzipan plays a role, is so funny. Classic Richard, Emily and Lorelei banter.

So if you have a “Gilmore Girls” fan in your life, consider this creative, delightful read as a great gift.

It’s available at several locations. Check it out here.

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Just outside is a magical place

Recently, I discovered that not too far from my house is a magical place. It was within walking/biking distance — a place I’ve been past several times. But I never knew.

That is, until my kids showed me.

This little revelation came as an answer to a problem we as parents may not even know we have. The problem: Sometimes I think we make things too complicated. 

This is not true with everything of course, but in some cases we may be to blame for our own frantic pace. We try to figure things out for our kids to do; ways to entertain them and keep them busy. We want them to have the opportunity for education, social growth, team building and cooperation.

So we construct it for them.

Surely they need our guidance — hello, that’s why we are here! But sometimes there’s a better way than planning an elaborate activity or throwing an extravagant play date.

Sometimes, they just need to go outside.

After hearing about this magical place my children visited with their neighborhood preschool, I told them they could show it to me on our next stay-home day. We set out — my 2-year-old in the bike trailer and my 5-year-old pedaling in the lead. When we arrived I looked around and thought perhaps he was mistaken. There wasn’t anything to see. It was just a little clearing just off the bike path near our home. Several trees grew wildly; various bushes and other brush were tangled together. I could see several sticks scattered about on the dirt. But other than that, there wasn’t much to it. At least in my eyes.

But for my two youngest children, it was magical.

Before I knew it, I was swept up in their world. In this place, the most remarkable things could happen. A single stick in the hands of my son and daughter effortlessly transformed from a writing utensil to a spoon to stir pretend food; from the beginnings of an imaginary campfire to a nail polish brush to “paint” Mommy’s nails. Later it became a screwdriver to build a “cabin” in the bushes and then the key to unlock the cabin door.

It was remarkable.

We stayed for a couple of hours, their enthusiasm never waning because when they lost interest in one activity, they simply created something else for themselves while I stood back and watched in awe.

            This is not to say that every child’s imagination will flourish immediately when thrust into this kind of environment. For some, they have to be introduced to this opportunity for free, creative play gradually. But so often I have heard other parents say — and I have said myself — some version of “my kids are just bouncing off the walls today!” Usually I think that means I need to put together some sort of structured outing, or convolute some activity to distract them until the day ends. When I think about how frustrating those kinds of days can be, I love the quote from Erin Kenny, an internationally recognized leader in the Forest Kindergarten movement. She said, “Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.”

Sometimes, that’s all it takes to see their creativity flourish. And for you to get a little parental peace of mind.

Mostly Motherhood is a regular column discussing the ins and outs of parenthood and more. Read more, or share your thoughts with Lisa by contacting her here.

No matter where you live there is some sort of magical place, just outside. 

No matter where you live there is some sort of magical place, just outside. 

January gym-goers don't deserve a bad name

I went to the gym the other day. Maybe I saw you there. Maybe you were one of the many who decided this would be the year for you to take control of your health, to exercise more, eat better. 

Or maybe you didn't go to the gym that day because you were afraid of being labeled as one of those people. You know, the ones who decided on Jan. 1 that this is the time to get serious about their health. You know, the "Januarians." 

Don't laugh. It's a thing. And unfortunately the name isn't typically meant to be complimentary. 

New Year's resolutions are known for being short-lived — particularly the most popular ones like quitting smoking, eating better and, yep, exercise. Because of this, there are some people who turn their noses up at the idea of resolving to improve their lives in January. There are even some who look down on those who do. 

But to the many people who sluggishly pulled on their gym shoes this morning and wiped sleep out of weary yet hopeful eyes, I say to you: do not listen to the critics. Pay no attention to the knowing glances given by gym regulars — whose names are all but emblazoned on the spin bikes they have sat atop for more hours than you can even comprehend. You see, on Jan. 2 — or any day in January — there are really two kinds of gym goers. The ones who have been there for months, maybe years, sticking it out through the hot, slow summer and turning up the morning after Turkey day. And then there are the newcomers; the ones whose athletic shoes are fresh from the box, whose eyes are a little wide as they take in the flurry of fitness and, in some cases, flamboyant posturing, going on before them. 

You don't have to listen to the gym regulars as they besmirch your January resolve. You can avoid their skeptical glances as you fumble with the controls on an overly complicated treadmill. Because who is to say those fitness gurus weren't once in your Januarian shoes? 

When I decided it was time to make my sojourn (once again) back into the fitness world, I was well aware of the stigma surrounding a New Year re-entrance. I feared the pithy comments and assumptions that my resolve wouldn't make it past Valentine's Day, would get into my head. So in 2016 I decided rather than wait for January, I needed to start near the end of November. Just so I could say I'd been coming to the gym since before the January crowd. 

Pathetic, I now realize. 

Because whether you kick yourself into gear when the weather trades cold temperatures for warm, or if you break into your workout with the post-Christmas crew, just how long you stick with it is entirely up to you. 

So when you hesitantly step into the gym this January, people will see you. But not everyone is looking with cynical eyes. Sure, some Januarians will lose their resolve — but that doesn't have to be you.  

Lisa Larson is a freelance writer covering a wide range of topics. Her regular column, "Mostly Motherhood" can be found on her web site at www.lisaglarson.com

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Watching the climb

My son turned 5 recently.

Five.

It’s a milestone that did not come as any surprise. After all, he’s been reminding anyone who will listen for months that his birthday was coming up. Since the big day he has not interacted with a single person without first informing them that he is, indeed, 5.

Even still, and despite the fact that I’ve been down this road once before with my oldest daughter, there’s something about 5 that seems much more grown up than 4.

All of these thoughts tumbled around in my head as I bobbed in the water at a local community pool, watching my newly minted 5-year-old climb the stairs to the hydro tube slide over and over again. In so many ways his ascent seemed like a metaphor for his life.

You see, when we first arrived at the pool he and his dad went on the slide together several times. Connor seemed to appreciate the company and even needed the reassurance only a parent can provide when you’re approaching something as daunting as the first time down a new, steep slide.

Later, I went with him a couple of times. But soon he was totally happy to leave me bobbing in the water at the slide’s end and make his way to the stair tower on his own. He looked back at me several times as he climbed, making sure I was still there watching and waiting. He looked back less and less with each trip up the steps until finally he was gleefully scampering to the top with little regard for me at all.

Each time his descent down the slide had him grinning widely, and then with big, strong, 5-year-old strokes he paddled his way to the side of the pool where he exited, and did it all again.

It was as if I could see him growing older with every climb.

That’s the way of childhood, and really, it is how it is supposed to be. Parents are there to love, teach, protect and encourage their children but at some point it is imperative that we let them go. The steps that lead upward to the slide of life are steep and slippery and it is almost certain they will trip at some point, and probably fall. But if we’ve done our jobs right they will know they can look back to their parents for an encouraging smile, a thumbs up and receive the strength to refocus their eyes on their climb. They know what they need to do — and that it will be even more worthwhile knowing they did it on their own.

As parents, we never really leave. I was vigilant in keeping to my post near the slide, watching from a distance to offer support as needed. But the more he repeated the process, the less I intervened. My role became an onlooker to see the joy that could come from his independent strides.
I don’t relish the idea of moving away from center of this adorable boy’s world — and surely (fingers crossed) I’m at least a few years from the time I will become the onlooker that I describe. But I am trying to prepare myself — and him — to tackle life in our eventual roles. Teaching him to be independent. And teaching me to savor the sweetness of our current relationship, regardless of the stage.

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