Thursday, September 15, 2016

4 Lessons Learned from Green Beans

Green beans, such a simple vegetable, used to be the bane of my existence.  Every summer, right near my birthday, our family would be blessed with the gift of green beans.  I say gift because my hardworking family gave them freely.  Hours of their labor all summed up into these palm-sized nightmares.  Nightmares?  Yes, because as a youngster and teenager, I wanted to go out, be with friends, do something besides snip, cut, sort, wash, can, and freeze green beans.  But as my momma always said, "They come when they do, so be prepared to work when they're ready.  You just have to do it."

Now, as I sat my own little girl on the back porch, ready to process yet another batch of Aunt Karen's green beans, I realized there were so many lessons I was taught by such a simple item.  My daughter may not acknowledge these lessons now, but hopefully, after many summers of doing the same process, she will realize them as well and choose to carry on the tradition.

Snipping Green Beans with Mom
Notice the princess skirt and Darth Vader band-aid.  I love everything about this picture.

4 Lessons Learned from Green Beans:

1.  Good things take time and nurturing.  Those beans didn't grow themselves.  The fields had to be readied, the beans planted, harvested, and then prepared for eating.  This doesn't happen overnight. 
2.  Sometimes you need to turn down the noise.  Life these days is so busy and full, full, full.  Instead of plopping my beans down in front of a Netflix marathon, I chose to sit my daughter out on the back porch, the same as my mom did with me and my siblings, and sit in the quiet.  Together, we snipped and sorted, talking about everything from very hungry caterpillars to the man on the moon.  I will be regretfully honest, I don't normally take the time to listen to my child speak for hours on end, as it always seems like there is something else that needs to be done.  This was a rare opportunity that I hope she enjoyed as much as I did.  
3.  Hard work pays off.  This winter, when we are hungry and in need of some healthy food, those beans will come out of the Mason jar or the freezer, bringing back the memories of us talking and snipping away.  We will once again silently thank the hands that provided them, grateful that they were kind enough to share yet again.  
4.  Sometimes you turn into your mother.  What?  It is true.  Sometimes I open my mouth and hear my mom's voice or tone come out.  Making my daughter take care of green beans even when I swore I wouldn't ever do that to MY children, especially on their birthday.  Yep, MY child is going to do it too, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Maybe someday, she will open her mouth and hear my voice come out.  Oh the fun!

Life doesn't always turn out as you expect, especially when you are looking through the lens of an adolescent.  I am so blessed to be sharing these moments with my own daughter.  Hopefully, she will learn the same lessons I did and pass them on.   

Do you have any traditions that you thought you'd leave behind but couldn't?  I'd love to hear about them!  Leave a comment or share some love!  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Beginnings

Just last week, Tim and I had the pleasure of taking our daughter to the Potter County Fair, an annual tradition for us.  Of course we had taken Rhiannon there, as a baby and toddler, but this year was different, even more special somehow.  As I thought on it and pondered my way around the fairgrounds, it dawned on me:  the fair is a place of new beginnings and old lives, a place where the young and old come together to celebrate the benefits of hard work, the achievements of family and friends, and the importance of taking time out to enjoy life a little.  This year’s fair was even more meaningful to me as it signaled a return home for us, a fresh start in an old, familiar place.  

New Beginnings
3 Generations on the Way to the Fair
For my daughter, there was a bounce in her step as she flew from animal pen to animal pen, gasping in wonder at all of the smells, sights, and sounds.  As we had just returned fromliving abroad, she didn’t remember seeing any of these types of animals in person before. She was used to stray cats, the occasional dogs, and camels upon camels.  Cows, goats, pigs, and horses were totally new and totally amazing.  She thoroughly enjoyed every second of her time at the fair.

Tweet: "After you have been gone for a while and return, you find that the things you missed most were the things taken for granted..."

Just like our daughter, Tim and I are seeing “Home” through new eyes.  After you have been gone for a while and return, you find that the things you missed most were the things taken for granted:  the smell of freshly mowed grass, the fluffiness of clouds in a blue sky, neighbors greeting you from their front porch, and the sound of crickets lulling you to sleep.  Things romanticized when you are homesick are even better in person, and we have found that absence truly did make our hearts grow fonder. 

Ransom Riggs Quotes
Here and now is where the hard work comes in, the truly difficult part.  We need to remember to stop taking these things for granted.  The “new” sights, smells, and experiences of Home are going to grow old and become normal, everyday occurrences, especially surrounded with the chores and tasks of everyday living.  From now on, we need to take time out to cherish the simple things that are easy to forget but are so missed when gone.  After all, each and every day is a new beginning in an old life.  We are going to work on making the best of ours.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Challenges of Moving home

Moving back to the States has had its challenges.  Besides normal issues like money, transportation, lodging, etc., my husband and I had to worry about the stress that our young daughter was under.  She may be small, but she certainly senses when things aren’t normal and when her parents aren’t always carefree.  This has certainly been the case with moving back “home”, much like our move to Dubai a year ago.
The kiddo and her daddy getting ready to mow the lawn.
 First came the nightmares and the subsequent lack of sleep for Mom and Dad, too.  Midnight snuggles in our bed are soft and comfortable until our three-year-old becomes a starfish of elbows and knees.  Your pillow?  Gone.  Your blankets?  Under her.   Your side of the bed?  Like you had one in the first place.  Comfortable night’s sleep?  Not a chance.

Then came the questions from her:  When are we going home?  Where are my friends?  Where is my bed?  Where are my toys?  Then came the questions from everyone else:  Why are you home?  What happened?  Where are you working?  Do you miss it?  Was it horrible?  How were you treated?

Next came the challenges of moving back into our home.  We had to wait for our tenant to vacate, for the utilities to be changed back into our names, for our things to be moved in.  Seven suitcases and 3 boxes may not be much, but they contained the entirety of what we had left from our lives abroad, and we couldn’t wait to put things back into a semblance of order.

Finally, after several days, we were ready to move in and the challenges eased.  Friends and family helped us find furniture, dishes, towels; things you don’t think about needing until you don’t have them.  Things that annoy you to spend money on, when it is already tight and you have sold all of yours twice in one year.  In addition, my mom watched our daughter while a friend helped Tim and me clean the place up and organize everything. 

After all of the chaos of our lives lately, I didn’t want to bring our little girl into a confused mess and call it “home”.  I wanted her room to be awesome, her toys perfectly arranged, and the bathroom ready for bubble baths and mermaids.  I wanted to ease some of her stress.

The result?  Perfection.  She ran from room to room, exclaiming about “her” fridge, “her” big-girl bed, “her” table, and “her” tub.  She was excited for the tree we had so lovingly painted in her nursery-now-bedroom, forgotten by a year’s absence.  Even a few days later, she is still thrilled by it all. 

As for Tim and me?  We are thrilled to be “home” in our home, too.  The furniture isn’t the same, but the feeling of joy and comfort is.  Although we will always miss Dubai, and we are very thankful for the lessons we learned there, it is nice to be back in the comfort of our own place surrounded by our things, our family, and our friends. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Where Did You Go?

“Meg, where did you go?  Have you stopped writing?” 

Nope, I am still here, but I took a much-needed hiatus from writing because my family decided to move back to good, old Potter County, Pennsylvania. 

God's Country
Photo Courtesy of Studio V. Photography
“But, Meg, I though you loved it in Dubai.  In fact, we have your past articles to prove it.” 

Yes, yes, yes, we did love it in Dubai, but being expats in a foreign country can cause a whole ton of unprecedented stress, especially when you and your spouse find yourselves unemployed within days of each other.  If that isn’t a sign of divine intervention and a message to change paths, I don’t know what is.  So, as a family, we made the difficult decision to return home where we are blessed enough to have a house, a support network, and green landscapes.

Of course, such a decision doesn’t come easily.  We were heartbroken to leave behind our friends, our church, and other career opportunities.  The nice part is we have built wonderful connections and ties in a beautiful vacation destination.  Returning to visit is high on our priority list.

In the meantime, please forgive my break from writing as the logistics of selling everything that doesn’t fit into seven suitcases (again), filing paperwork with government entities, and finishing out work obligations took up all of our free time.

Until next time, 


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Goals With Soul...

Danielle LaPorte's personal development book, The Desire Map:  A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul, is the first book that has truly spoken to me in a long time.  After all, many personal development books focus on setting goals; most just choose to set them based on time periods:  one month, three months, one year, etc.  The problem with setting goals according to this logic is that my life, as I'm currently enjoying living it, would be considered the utmost in failure.

Core Desired Feelings, Walck This Way
I'm not a principal in a high school.  I'm not on my way to earning my Letter of Eligibility to become a superintendent.  I have one child not two.  I am not debt free, and my beautiful home in the States isn't totally renovated.  The roof?  That's not done either.

Instead, if you look at life the way Ms. LaPorte does, my life is working towards the goals of how I want to feel.  I have more adventure and travel.  I have more freedom at work.  My clean, organized, little apartment is (mostly) clutter-free and gives me sense of happiness.

Do I still have a long way to go  Do I still want to be debt free?  Absolutely, but the road to get there won't be paved with absolutes, but rather choosing to focus and and everyday on what I'm doing in all areas of my life to promote my Core Desired Feelings (CDF's)abundance, affluence, freedom, and joy.  

Have YOU read Danielle LaPorte's book?  Have you thought you weren't a success because your goals for life had changed?  Drop me a comment and tell me about it below.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mother's Day Around the World

Mother's Day

During my brief time here in the United Arab Emirates, I have had the honor of celebrating Mother's Day four times.  Imagine my surprise on the first occasion when I was greeted on March 6th, the fourth Sunday of Lent, by my United Kingdom friends with the familiar phrase of "Happy Mother's Day!"  Seeing the puzzled expression on my face, they went on to explain just where in the world it was Mother's Day.
Judy Bauer Wedding Day
One of my favorite pictures of me and my momma.
Photo by Ricci Jeannerette.

The next time I was celebrated as a mom was on Arabic Mother's Day.  I was certainly in agreement with Mother's Day being on March 21st, especially as my daughter was born on this day.  After surviving pregnancy and the subsequent birth, I feel like we should celebrate our moms on our birthdays, not us.  After all, our mothers did all of the hard work, but I digress.

The third time I was greeted with "Happy Mother's Day" was on the first Sunday of May, Hungarian (and some of Europe's) Mother's Day.  I tried to talk my husband into extra gifts, dinner, and celebrating, especially as some of our close friends were.  But no, as an American mom, I had to wait one week.

The most recent celebration came on my traditional Mother's Day, the second Sunday of May.  It really confused my colleagues when flowers and cupcakes were delivered to the office on a day that seemed inconsequential and normal to others.  Some of them even worried they had missed my birthday, but in the tradition of my foreign friends before me, I simply wished the other mothers a "Happy American Mother's Day!"

What I have learned is this:  mothers are celebrated the world over, as we should be.  We may come from different cultures and celebrate on different days, but we all recognize that without our mothers, we wouldn't be here nor would we be the people we are without the love and guidance of our mothers.  So, to all of you moms out there, "Happy Mother's Day!" to you.  In case any of you are wondering or needing even more reasons to relax, buy yourself something nice, or get some flowers, here is a complete list of Mother's Day dates from around the world:
Mother's Day 2016 Walck Family
Our 2016 Mother's Day photo courtesy of Mosaic Church Dubai.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Rub a Dub Dub...

Sigh...the bathtub.  It used to be a place of relaxation, solitude, and ease.  A place where I could "get out of my head" and escape the realities of the day.  Now, as a mom?  Not so much.

Now, my bathtub is a place of submarines, Barbies, mermaids, and blocks.  It's a place for my toddler to explore and imagine she's part of "A Whole New World" (not to go too Disney on you, but it's all I get to listen to these days).

With that said, I wouldn't change my life for anything, but sometimes I just want to relax at the end of a long day.  Instead, I'm constantly cleaning up the water my kiddo has dumped all over the floor, even though I've asked her not to about 600 million times.  I'm reminding her not to add water to my body wash because even though it makes the bottle full, it doesn't create more bubbles in the long run. 

The very worst part of bath time though was fighting with my daughter over washing her hair.  She hated having her hair washed--soap in her eyes, having to tip her head back, the pulling, the rinsing, and especially the combing afterwards.  Then, along came Johnson's special toddler line:  Shiny Drops.  It's pink and white, like mom's, and the stuff of princesses and all things frilly.  It smells good, and no matter how much soap gets in her eyes during rinsing, the kiddo doesn't cry at all. 

Shiny Drops

The true test was being able to comb her hair.  It's curly and knots easily, like mine, but with the combo of conditioner and styling spray, combing came easily.  Even though my kiddo went to bed with wet hair (gasp!), it was still easy to comb through in the morning. 

Review of Shiny Drops

Bath time might not provide mommy a quiet respite anymore, but at least it's not full of tears and, I just need to work on the body wash bit.

I was asked to review Johnson's Shiny Drops line, but I promise my thoughts are sincere and honest.  We've been using the products for almost a month now, and I can't see us switching to anything else anytime soon.