Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

My college freshman daughter came home for Thanksgiving and it. was. glorious. Some friends who still have all of their chicks under one roof commented that Thanksgiving break came up pretty quickly considering it was only three months since I said good-bye. Only. I just again read my piece about sending her off in August—contemplating whether or not my “sweet spot of motherhood” was behind me—and it feels like it has been three lifetimes.

My “sweet spot” did indeed expand as I had hoped to encompass long distance parenting from Maryland to Miami. My daughter has communicated with us with a regularity beyond my wildest hopes via texting, Face Timing, calling, and Snapchatting. She is generous about sharing her new life, and has continued to seek my advice. I haven’t been kicked to the proverbial curb. For my part, I have become the master of high quality care packages.

Halloween Care Package | Use a cheap seasonal blanket from Walmart to line the box. | College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

She is still in my life, it’s just in a different way. In a way that is the epitome of life moving forward. In fact, life continued to march forward for all of us. As soon as we dropped her off, field hockey was in full swing for my sophomore daughter. And then I shoveled out her room. And then we got a dog. There really was no time for weeping or hand-wringing . . . or at least I didn’t leave myself time for that.

In general, I’ve handled marching forward pretty well. That’s why I was taken aback by the wave of emotion that hit me during the week she was home for Thanksgiving.

I missed her most while she was here!

I mean I have missed her since the moment she left, but I had gotten use to her not being around. And by “used to” I mean I just didn’t think about it that much. I really just couldn’t. Besides, she is happily hitting her stride, and we had a lovely visit over Family Weekend. How could I complain about a natural order that was going this well?

But, I have felt a bit off-centered and blah. Not exactly mopey, just unsettled. Beating her room into order and adopting myself some unconditional canine love helped, but I hadn’t really worked through it all. There’s not a lot of space to discuss ambiguous feelings. People can maybe handle hearing that you are sad, but they really just want you to say “I’m fine.” My kid was busy being everything I hoped she would be, so what right did I have to be sad anyway? And really, when people ask you how things are going with college, they want to hear about your kid and then get back to picking through the pumpkins at the farm stand.

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

While I had adjusted to her being gone like a swell little soldier—my life is pretty good after all—her being here for a week illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. It took the return of her vim and vigor for me to realize the full impact of its absence.

I felt unmoored because I missed the dynamic of her just being in our space: her wit, her clutter, her willingness to pitch in, as well as her exasperating insistence that we embark on a ten minute hunt for another tube of toothpaste because brushing her teeth in the shower “saved” time and her sister was currently using the only other tube. While I love her snip-its of news and Snapchats, I missed what her presence brings to our family unit under this roof: completeness. Her whole senior year through college move-in day was such a seismic shift, but when the earthquake was over, I just plowed ahead instead of assessing the aftermath.

When spellcheck bleated just now that “unmoored” was not a word, I looked it up to find descriptive perfection: to bring to the state of riding with a single anchor after being moored by two or more. Eureka! This is it! After spending sixteen years with the tug and grounding of two kids with their schedules, activities and needs, I was suddenly lighter with only one at home. But instead of feeling free, I only had the uncomfortable sensation of buffeting in the breeze. In related news I may be prone to mini-panics that my youngest will be going to college in three short years.

More than once during the week I had to snap myself back into the moment instead of anticipating the empty space yawning wide again once she left. It really wasn’t hard because we had such a great time, but you know what? It hasn’t been that bad she she went back. I feel better now that my brain realizes the void my heart was flapping around. I still miss her, but I feel more grounded knowing that our family “completeness” isn’t gone; it’s just something I have to look forward to now when she returns. And boy, do I have a detailed answer for the next person who asks me how I am doing.

-Ellen 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

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The Holidays are Coming! (And We’re Freaking Out!)

The holidays are coming and while we love them, they come with a fair amount of stress. If you need your holiday sweetness tempered with reality, peppered with cleverness, and wrapped up in a burrito of hilarity, this post is your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Do you feel like the holidays are one raging whitewater current sweeping you up in October and dumping you onto the barren shore just south of New Year’s Eve? Or is it north of? Either way . . .

US TOO!

Picture us yelling that at you with a Charlie Brown style force sufficient to send you somersaulting backwards. Which reminds us, we need to dig out our copies of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Pronto. Oh wait, that’s what Netflix is for. Look at us, we just wiped one thing off of our to-do lists.

Anyway, what we really want to convey is that while we loooooovvve the holidays, they can be a bit overwhelming. And we’re thinking we aren’t alone. Doesn’t everyone’s festivities land somewhere between any Hallmark movie ever and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?

So we’re here to commiserate with you and cheer you on. And (don’t kill us) add one more thing to your to-do list: Read Jen Mann’s witty book “Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Yuletide Yahoos, Ho-Ho-Humblebraggers, and Other Seasonal Scourges.” If you need your holiday sweetness tempered with reality, peppered with cleverness, and wrapped up in a burrito of hilarity, this book is your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The holidays are coming and while we love them, they come with a fair amount of stress. If you need your holiday sweetness tempered with reality, peppered with cleverness, and wrapped up in a burrito of hilarity, this post is your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

We tell you all about it in this podcast (player is at the bottom of the post). In fact this book served as a launching pad for recounting our own holiday stories of hijinx.

We’ll tell you about

  • The year Thanksgiving dinner came out of a blender.
  • Why “BOOM GOES THE TURKEY LEG” is Erin’s personal battle cry.
  • The Pilgrimages to Poland for mechanical Santas. (You can SEE what we are talking about here.)
  • The year Ellen buzzed through Christmas on her Jazzy.
  • And finally, the miracle that will whittle down your outside decorating efforts to locating one extension cord: Star Shower Laser Lights. Ellen gives you the highlights in the podcast, but since we know you will want one, you can get your own here on Amazon. See how it shows up even on Ellen’s brick house? Amazing. You can use the green setting during Halloween and the red and green setting for Christmas.

Need to simplify your holiday decorations? Star Shower is the answer for Halloween through Christmas. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

If you have a hankering for our full buffet of holiday fare, behold.

Halloween

The holidays are coming and while we love them, they come with a fair amount of stress. If you need your holiday sweetness tempered with reality, peppered with cleverness, and wrapped up in a burrito of hilarity, this post is your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Crazy Milkmaid

Thanksgiving

The holidays are coming and while we love them, they come with a fair amount of stress. If you need your holiday sweetness tempered with reality, peppered with cleverness, and wrapped up in a burrito of hilarity, this post is your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Christmas

The holidays are coming and while we love them, they come with a fair amount of stress. If you need your holiday sweetness tempered with reality, peppered with cleverness, and wrapped up in a burrito of hilarity, this post is your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

So Proud

And finally we bid you happy listening with this final bit of holiday advice:

Just try not to wig out on your family.

-Ellen and Erin

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5 Books We are Thankful For

We acknowledge that we are two very lucky girls. While we may occasionally want for smoother skin, deeper pockets, and a great blowout once in awhile, we know we are both carrying around golden tickets every single day. One thing we are especially grateful for is our book club. Think of them as the First Generation Sisterhood, though we have never felt motivated to upgrade or move on to newer, shinier models. We did decide to take this online, but that’s another story altogether.

We are also thankful for books and, for the most part, we’re not that picky. We like ’em all—the good, the cheesy, and especially the guilty pleasures. But some are just stinkers. Ellen was just cleaning out her bookcase and the poor celebrated Swamplandia which our group almost unanimously despised was shown no mercy.  For the most part though, books have shown themselves time and time again to be the lovely grace note on top of an already pretty sweet life. We are ever so grateful for all they, and of course the lovely ladies who like to talk about them with us, have brought to our life.

Here’s a list of 5 we are grateful for right now.

5 books

orphan

1. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

In a nutshell, this is a tale of two girls who have both been left alone in the world by fate.  Their stories are the backbone of the book: one taking place in the here and now, the other in flashback. While this book more solidly belongs to Vivian and her experience on the orphan train, Molly’s modern day tale of abandonment anchors this historical novel and lets us not forget that we still struggle with how to handle the children left behind.

Why we like it: Spunky characters, gripping plotlines, and the real-life history lesson woven throughout make this book a compelling, easy read.

sisterland2. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

Right off the bat, Erin has to disclose that she is a huge Sittenfeld fan. Prep, American Wife, Man of my Dreams—liked ’em all, but this is an author that you love or hate, so read this recommendation with that in mind. In this novel, Kate (AKA Daisy) and her twin sister Violet have the gift of sight, ESP. It’s a gift that Violet celebrates and Daisy (now known as Kate) hides under a bushel basket. The story centers around Violet’s premonition that an earthquake is coming that is going to devastate the region and the fallout of her announcement for both the media and their relationship.

Why we like it: Sittenfeld peppers all of her novels with pop culture references, and this book is no exception. It makes reading a little like finding gems in the sand: a delightful surprise in an already pleasurable experience. Also, CS nails the complexities of the family bond. Her characterization has always been a strong suit, and she reveals in the Violet/Daisy bond why family can not only be great but also grating as well.

peregrine3. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

We really like adolescent lit, especially when it’s this smart, well-written, and, well, peculiar. If Tim Burton was a Grimm brother, this might be his baby.  After his grandfather’s death, Jacob is left only with grief and some old photos. As he takes off on a trip to his grandfather’s birthplace, he has no idea what he has stumbled upon or where it might take him. The rest is heart-thumping, jaw-dropping fun.

Why we like it: Yep, this one is dark, imaginative, and strange which would win our love all by itself. But it also has some hairpin turns and plot twists that will leave you breathless.

paris4. Paris Trout by Pete Dexter

Based on a real murder trial out of Georgia, this book could have easily turned into a schmaltzy whodunit or TV trial special. But Paris Trout the man was such a powerful force of bigotry, his crime so heinous, and his inability to admit his guilt so complete, this story is lucky to have found such a powerful literary hand to guide it.

Why we like it: Pete Dexter uses his powerful gifts with language to place us in that time and place. In the end, we might not ever understand the man Paris Trout, but we know him in a real way and we are forced to deal with him and the destruction he has wrought. Dexter never lets us forget that this really happened and what that means for all of us.

false

5. The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

Following up a great read like Bee Season, Goldberg could be expected to falter and, to be fair, not everyone liked this book. But here’s why you should read it: it’s an engrossing read, Goldberg is a beautiful writer, and this is a novel that doesn’t take the easy way out. As the story goes, years ago, a terrible thing happened in the woods: one girl didn’t make it out.  The different versions of what did or didn’t happen drive the plot and you are left to wrestle with the fallout.  The failings of memory, the casual cruelty of children, and the inevitability of time figure as prominently as the girls at the center of the story.

Why we like it: Goldberg’s talent for language and characterization will move you. You’ll want to spend time in some of her metaphors. Everything in this novel might not be tied up with a pretty bow, but it is ultimately a gift to any reader.

Happy Reading and Thanksgiving!

-Erin and Ellen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Tribute to Teens. Seriously.

Yeah, I said it. And I’m saying it with true sincerity. I am thankful for being the mother of teen daughters. Well, technically I have one teen and one tween, but my baby is about to turn thirteen and that is way close enough. Excuse me while I sob into her baby blanket.

Thanksgiving Tribute to Teens. Seriously.

But I don’t have the luxury of sobbing for too long. See, I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in about a decade. My memory is a little foggy but I’m pretty sure the first step to preparing for dinner is to completely switch the furniture between your living room and dining room and give then deep cleanings like they haven’t seen in five years.

No? THAT explains why I’m going insane, but just so you don’t lose faith in me, I did stop myself from going to Home Depot to get a gallon of paint. Okay, I had to turn the car around, but I’m NOT painting and that is the important thing.

But I firmly maintain it’s not delusion spurring me to sing praises to that often maligned teen demographic. I still feel like some of you are skeptical, but you’ll be true believers by the end of this post.

Tens Reasons I’m Thankful to Have Adolescents

1. They completely cleaned the basement rec room and ALL of the bathrooms . . . even under the toilet seats. I know.

2. They schlepped in all of the groceries for our feast, although they were mysteriously unavailable for the actual shopping. Apparently, I’m not raising dummies.

3. They have scrubbed and peeled a mountain of potatoes with protests so faint I could barely hear them through my earbuds.

4. Coco (15) is making the pumpkin pies. And not the fake “she ‘s baking” nonsense you do with wee tikes that takes twice as long and is twice as messy. She even cleans up. I KNOW.

5. They are doing laundry even as I hide in the closet writing this post.

And lest you think I just like having teens for the free labor . . .

6. They provide my cover story for

  • my One Direction infatuation
  • my intense interest in all things Hunger Games
  • my awkward love of Just Dance
  • our getting VIP tickets to see the Cake Boss
  • my viewing of TLC bridal shows like there’s going to be a test

7. I have tons of extra accessories and shoes to choose from now.

But most importantly . . .

8. They make me laugh. I appreciate their wit, their charm, and their comedic timing.

9. We can have for real discussions about books, movies, travel, music . . . and One Direction. Did I mention that before?

10. They are my very favorite people in the world and not just because I made them. They are beautiful inside and out. They make every experience more enjoyable because they are interesting people. I mean c’mon, look at Jellybean’s Medusa Turkey.

So goes my tribute to adolescents. Be sure to throw it in my face when I have my next teen induced breakdown. You’ll probably have to wait a whole 15 minutes before that happens.

 

What are you thankful for?

 

 

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Move Over, Pumpkin! Apple Is The New Star Around Here

 

'Tis the season for apple and pumpkin and we have the best recipes for you including the most delicious apple cake you have ever tasted! Apple is the new star around here! Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

We are not indifferent to the allure of the fabulous pumpkin. In fact, we fall under its spell every autumn, mostly because it means we get to whip up these favorites for our family again.

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Mini Pumpkin Sage Balls

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Chili

These are great recipes one and all. They are so great in fact that they caused us to get a tad emotional about the canned pumpkin that makes all of these recipes not just delicious but ridiculously easy. But last week there was a little parking lot drama that has left us feeling a bit sour on our good buddy pumpkin . . .

. . . Which means it’s apple’s turn to take center stage! We have the perfect recipe to highlight just how wonderful, moist, and delicious the humble ole apple can be too!

Erin’s mom Peggy has used this recipe longer than she has been parenting Erin, so it has a little over forty years of rave reviews to back up ours. In case you needed another reason to just click the link,  this recipe is also so easy that the last time we made it, the six year old assembled it. Yep. That’s the kind of easy we’re talking ’bout. It would be perfect gracing that dessert table at your Thanksgiving table too. Just sayin’.

Check out Peggy’s Most Delicious Apple Cake!

 And because we told you all about this one, if you were inclined to save us a piece, well, that’s just what good Sisters do.

Happy Baking!

Erin and Ellen

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Thanksgiving Tribute to Teens

Yeah, I said it. And I’m saying it with true sincerity. I am thankful for being the mother of teen daughters. Well, technically I have one teen and one tween, but my baby is about to turn twelve and that is way close enough. Excuse me while I sob into her baby blanket.

I still feel like some of you are skeptical, but you’ll be true believers by the end of this post.

Tens Reasons I’m Thankful to Have Adolescents

1. They completely cleaned the guest room and bathroom for the arrival of my mother.

2. Coco (14) is making the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner.

3. They schlepped all of my mother’s stuff in upon her arrival.

4. They cleaned up after the 3 course lunch we had with my mother.

5. They are doing laundry even as I hide in the closet writing this post.

And lest you think I just like having teens for the free labor . . .

6. They provide my cover story for

  • my One Direction infatuation
  • my intense interest in all things Hunger Games
  • my awkward love of Just Dance
  • our getting VIP tickets to see the Cake Boss
  • my viewing of TLC bridal shows like there’s going to be a test

7. I have tons of extra accessories and shoes to choose from now.

But most importantly . . .

8. They make me laugh. I appreciate their wit, their charm, and their comedic timing.

9. We can have for real discussions about books, movies, travel, music . . . and One Direction. Did I mention that before?

10. They are my very favorite people in the world and not just because I made them. They are beautiful inside and out. They make every experience more enjoyable because they are interesting people. I mean c’mon, look at Jellybean’s Medusa Turkey.

So goes my tribute to adolescents. Be sure to throw it in my face when I have my next teen induced breakdown. You’ll probably have to wait a whole 15 minutes before that happens.

 

What are you thankful for?


 

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