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The Solution to Summer Fun: Sometimes It’s Just One Simple Thing

As we are approaching the end of July, I’m realizing summer has edged past its’ full swing hitch. If we are to believe the well stocked aisles of school supplies already on display at the Walmarts and Targets around America, we are sidling up to the last hurrahs of summer vacation. Over the last few weeks I’ve read plenty of articles and blog posts on how to have great frugal fun with your kids this summer. I even listed some fun stuff to do to celebrate summer back as we all headed into summer on Memorial Day Weekend. This weekend , however, my five year old taught me an extremely valuable lesson.

Knowing that my husband would be away for the weekend working in another town I asked my son if he wanted to do anything in particular this weekend as a special treat. He beamed and said “Mom, I want to stay home and PLAY!” I scratched my head a minute and tried again thinking he didn’t really understand what I as offering.”Do you want to go to the zoo? Maybe a bike ride? The Farmer’s Market again would be good…” (since I really did want to go back). And he said, “No, Mom. All I want is to stay home and play. With you.”. Well ok then, I thought. We can certainly do that. I was a little befuddled by this. Staying home and being together is kind of our regular thing. But I’d asked and had given him free reign on this choice so I was in the soup for whatever it was he asked for (within reason, of course, and this clearly was).

So stay home we did. Over the course of our weekend, we did a little minor grocery shopping (Had to have milk, of course. And he wanted ice cream for our stay home weekend) but we mostly stayed in. Now, when I say stayed in, we really did. Between the July desert heat and then, later, the rain since we are now entering monsoon season here, we literally stayed in. We played Chutes and Ladders so many times I lost count (I only won once. And we play fair!). We wiggled and danced and stomped for hours playing Hullabaloo and laughed as my 18 month old would stand ever so proudly on the wrong color or shape (of course he’s too young to know colors and shapes yet-but he knows ‘nose’ and ‘feet’ and ‘head’ and ‘car’ and…ok, you get the picture). We baked cookies. We made popcorn and turned out all the lights and laid on the living room floor with pillows to watch Dumbo one evening. The next evening we’d decided we had so much fun the first movie night that we watched Ratatouille. We played airport and we played chase. We played Ranch with my son pulling out the Little People Farm along with his playhouse and pairing them to create a Ranch. I listened to the intricate story he was building around his creation. We built train tracks and chugged for miles. We opened the windows when the rain rolled through and marveled at the fierce sound of thunder and the incredible smell of rain in the desert. They helped me make dinners (and strangely they actually asked for broccoli-I’m a really lucky mom). Tonight while making dinner my son was playing in his play kitchen near my real one and was busily creating a restaurant. He was wearing his chef hat and apron and reading his “cookbooks” (which were really  my dictionary and a few of my antique schoolbooks). He asked how to spell “spaghetti” and I realized he was making a menu. We talked about how much he should charge. $1 for the spaghetti. $2 extra for the “really good meatballs” (smart kid). He asked for an extra long bathtime to play and see just how prune-y they could get. Afterwards, we all cleaned up the toys together and settled things down. We were in pajamas and enjoying our homemade ice cream sundaes together around the table (he had even scooped the ice cream himself-mostly) and I asked him, “So, sweetie, what was your favorite thing about our weekend?” He looked at me and smiled an ice cream-sticky smile and said “You Mom.” I was stunned. I asked “Not making peanut butter cookies? Playing Ranch?” He said, “No. My favorite thing was being with YOU.” Like that was the easiest and clearest thing in the world. Because to him it was. There was no need of zoos, or trips anywhere, no need for high impact, quick moving, big dollar fun. No need to break the budget. He just wanted Me. Even when he has me all the time and everyday. I was stunned. I am humbled.

We all tend to go looking to fill summer with zoom-pow-bang fun and activity. We look for advice on how to entertain our kids and families on a budget. But here’s the secret my five year old taught me because my five year old has it more right than I could have ever guessed: All they really need is us. With them. In their world. Front and center and present. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that. So next time you’re wondering what to do with the rest of summer, put down the list and take your kids’ hand. They will lead you where they need to go. All you have to do is follow.

Masterpiece Sundae on Sunday night-with two cherries-just how my five year old wanted it.

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Inspiration Thursdays: Give It Away (a Quote Roundup to Help Inspire Simple, Frugal Giving)

Because Thursday’s child has far to go…

I want to ask a question today: Do you know what you have to give?

I ask this because I know life is busy and we don’t often think about what we have to give. But we should. We’ve all faced difficult times in our lives. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. It is a part of the reality of living. There are peaks and valleys. That is just how life is. This week I have encountered at least five people who are struggling with personal tragedies and hardships. It made me wonder just how many people we cross paths with in a day who are quietly enduring some kind of difficulty or pain. It has inspired me to ask you to consider, for just a minute, what you have to give away. Forget, for today, financial giving. Get back to basics and more creative that that.

I love quotes and rounded some up for you today to inspire you to give simply.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” -Plato, ancient Greek philosopher

Be gentle and understanding. You don’t know what the woman behind the checkout counter is going through today. Or the customer service person taking your call. Or the man who sits quietly next to you in church every Sunday. Realize people may be facing mountains today and they still have to get through their lives just like the rest of us.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” -Leo Buscaglia, American author, motivational speaker and professor

Each of us has more power to give joy and hope to others than we realize.

“Wherever there is a human being, there is opportunity for kindness.” -Seneca, Roman philosopher

Don’t let the opportunity to give gentleness and kindness pass you by. You might be the only one today that offers it to that person. It might change their life.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet

Remember that when you pour out kindness, it is the kind of giving away that fills you up. Don’t hold it back. Don’t worry about the right words. Worry about the right intentions. Kind intentions go a long, long way.

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”  -Scott Adams, American Cartoonist

You don’t have to solve the economic troubles of our country, win a Nobel Peace Prize, or give a million dollars. Small acts of kindness are contagious and powerful.

“Don’t look down on anyone unless you are helping them up.” -Jesse Jackson, American civil rights activist and Baptist Minister

Don’t judge someone. Kindness isn’t judgemental.

“I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet” Author Unknown.

My grandfather used to recite this quote when I was a child and it stuck with me. It helps me remember that no matter what my challenge is, someone else is struggling harder than I am.

“Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give him yours.” -Zig Zigler, American Author, salesman, and motivational speaker

(This one was sent my way by a reader and I so appreicated it. Thanks Melanie!)

It’s not always the big things that change people’s worlds. Hold the door for someone. Let someone else who has only a small handful of items in their cart go before you in line at the grocery store (or that frazzled mom who’s child is having a meltdown). Tell someone you like their hair or that they’re wearing a nice shirt. Notice something special in someone and tell them. Appreciate them out loud. Be kind to people you encounter today. Purposefully and genuinely kind. Giving doesn’t have to be about money. Give what you’ve got: Give away kindness. Give your time or your talent. Give away your smile.  It’s the most frugal way to give because it won’t cost you a dime. Be inspired to simply give. You’ll be glad you did.

8 Things I Learned Because of a Trip to My Local Farmer’s Market

Once lost and now found-in the big wide world of technology! (Thank you Erica at WordPress! I’m sending you a hug today. You are a rockstar!) Without further ado:

Our local Farmer’s Market in the park may be small compared to those available in big cities or metro areas but after taking my kids there this past weekend I learned and experienced wonderful, simple things that enriched my life. I am most decidedly a Farmer’s Market convert and will be making plenty of space in our budget and our schedule to make this part of our lives as long as the season allows. I consider myself a joyful lifelong learner and I learned some fun things this weekend that I want to share with you today:

1.) You can eat beat greens.

They are really good! I knew I’d read this somewhere before but while buying my lettuce and asking the seller about his beets, another woman was buying from the seller’s wife and explaining that she actually buys the beets more for the greens than the sweet dark red root. My interest was piqued. Anytime I can get more value out of an item without paying any more for it-I’m all for it! How much more budget friendly and frugal is it to use all of the vegetable that you’d previously only used part of? And unless you live under a rock, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how very healthy greens are for your diet, including beet greens. We came home and roasted the beets. We cleaned and chopped the greens for dinner. Guess what? My kids ate them both happily and asked for more! How much more proof do you need than that?

Here are two great simple easy recipes for using fresh beets:

How to roast fresh beets

Beet Greens

(You can also just use the a little bacon and salt and pepper to taste. That’s even more simple and really good too!)

2.) Hens don’t lay eggs in really hot weather. 

Apparently hens don’t like extreme heat or cold. We generally don’t have to worry about extreme cold here (though last winter was a record year freeze!). Where we live heat is a way of life. I had no idea the hens weren’t big fans of it either! (I’m very pale and redheaded so I am perpetually slathered in sunscreen and wearing a hat. People often say to me “You aren’t from here are you?”)

3.) Too much rain leads to fatter, more swollen zucchini.

But it should still make pretty wonderful zucchini bread. I was hoping to make a loaf of it today to show you but my kiddo was zonked and off to dreamland early. I don’t have the heart to cut into the zucchini he’s been carting around the house like a prize from the fair for the last two days without him. I’ll have to update you on how the zucchini bread comes out. In the meantime I’ll share my zucchini recipe of choice:

Zucchini Bread (I’ve been known to add in toasted walnuts on occasion!)

4.) How pleasant our community can truly be. 

We don’t have many shopping options here other than the big Walmart. I’ve found most people are in a terrible mood in the long line they have to stand in after battling through the store in the first place for all they need. It is a pleasant change of pace to not have to stand in long lines while your child asks for the chips and candy neatly lined up at his eye level while you make your way to the conveyor belt that rolls your items up to checkout. I’ve been known to chat up just about anyone and have made a friend or two in my local Walmart. But it is nowhere near the gratifying experience of talking to someone about the work and care they’ve put into their product or their art. There is a warmth and twinkle in their eye that can’t be found on the shelf at a store. It was real community. The  way it’s meant to be. It makes me want to go back. It makes me want to make a better effort to know my neighbors just a little more than the pleasant perfunctory wave as we come and go. Maybe on my next visit to the Farmer’s Market I’ll buy more zucchini and bake loaves of bread for my neighbors. Nothing liked homemade baked goods to open the door to neighborly friendships!

5.) Just how enthusiastic children will get when they are so involved with the experience of their food.

My oldest son came home talking a mile a minute and wanted to make everything right away. He was inspired and excited. It was so fun to see him so amped up over vegetables! My children are good eaters. I rarely have to “make” them eat their vegetables or fruits. They understand the importance of healthy foods. Our trip took my sons understanding to a whole new level. He helped me roast the beets and cut up the beet greens and has declared a new love for both. He carried the giant zucchini around so much that I finally had to explain that we needed to put it in the refrigerator till we were ready to make the bread. He inspected the sunflowers we bought and decided he needed to know how many types of sunflowers exist (we bought one bloom each of the four different varieties offered). He inspected the leaves, the bud that had not opened and the petals. He was fascinated by the pollen that he found on the table beneath the large blooms. He wanted to know more about how bees use pollen because he already know that bees like pollen. So we Youtube’d bees and watched them busily go about their task at a big sunflower (a happy coincidence, by the way) and this turned into a discussion about how the honey is then made. Which produced a lovely drawing that he has plans to color tomorrow. He gave me permission to share his work in progress with you. There is a photo of it at the bottom of this post.

6.) That you can keep lettuce fresh in a mason jar. 

Now. To be honest, I didn’t learn this at the Farmer’s Market but my trip inspired the search that led me to this little gem. There were such amazing greens available at my Farmer’s Market that I came straight home and searched the internet to find ways of preserving any future bounty of greens and lettuces I might bring home. I stumbled across an irresistible website about making salad in a jar. What an unusual concept! I was so fascinated I had to share her blog with you! She also happens to have great instructions for making Greek style yogurt at home. I haven’t tried it yet but it’s on my short list!  Check out this excellent blog Salad in a Jar. Even if you don’t go to a Farmer’s Market anytime soon-she’s got some great food stuff going on and I really enjoy her writing too!

7.) I learned just how processed even our fresh foods are from the grocery store. 

While it took a little more work to get the dirt off of what we brought home there was no denying how fresh and local it was. It was worth the extra elbow grease.

8.) That while it wasn’t a big budget saver, it didn’t break the bank either. 

We had a great experience and brought home some great produce. I learned a lot. My kids learned a lot. And most of all, it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. We’ll be heading back again this weekend, I assure you.

Art from my 5 year old. Inspired by our trip to the Farmer's Market and the pollen from our sunflowers.

Inspiration Thursdays: Give Credence to Your Ideas (and 10 Inspiring Quotes)

Because Thursday’s child has far to go…

Today I watched my boys playing in the dirt. What they were doing, exactly, I do not know. They were covered in orange desert sandy clay and joyful. They clearly had an idea and a willingness to explore it. This is one of the amazing things about childhood. Even when their idea might seem nonsensical to the adult mind, a child is open to explore any fleeting notion. It is their inclination to explore simple notions, without self judgement, without delay that leads them to learn something good, bad or otherwise. When we learn something new we cannot be the same as before we’d gained that knowledge. We grow. It opens us to movement. It gives us momentum. It propels us forward and sometimes in an entirely different direction than we had expected to go. Ideas matter. It is important to give credence to your own ideas, even the fleeting ones. Don’t let them pass you by.

My back to basics, rice and beans life began with an idea. I wanted something better. I didn’t know how to get there, but I knew it was where I wanted to go. And that’s where I have been headed for a while now. It all started with a simple idea.

Because I love quotes and the ideas of others, I wanted to share some inspiring favorites with you today:

1. “A half-baked idea is okay as long as it’s in the oven.” –Author Unknown

2. “I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.”  – Albert Einstein

3. “It is a lesson which all history teaches wise men, to put trust in ideas, and not in circumstances.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. “Believe in something larger than yourself. . . . Get involved in the big ideas of your time.”– Barbara Bush

5. “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”– John Steinbeck

6. “Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.” – Thomas Edison

7. “No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered.”– Winston Churchill

8 “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” –Robin Williams 

9. “Just once in a while let us exalt the importance of ideas and information.” –Edward R. Murrow 

10. “They fall from the sky, they run round your head,they litter your sleep as they beckon, they’d teach you to fly without wires or thread, they promise if only you’d let them.” -Mary Chapin Carpenter, from the song “Ideas are Like Stars”

I’d love it if you post a comment to tell me what you think:

Which quote inspired you today or do you have another favorite idea-based quote? Do you give credence to your ideas or do you let them pass on by?

Inspiration Thursdays: How Available is Your Curiosity?

Because Thursday’s child has far to go…

I love the endless, lopsided, untamed curiosity of children. We were grocery shopping this past week when we walked by the coconuts in the produce department. My son pointed at the hairy brown orb and said “Hey Mom, that’s a REAL coconut right? Where do they grow? How do they  taste? How come it’s not white? How come it has poky hair on it? It kinda looks like a bowling ball right? These three spots right here….” This was all said in the form of a run-on sentence indicating his runaway curiosity and there was not a single breath separating his thoughts so that I might answer. So I waited. My answers seemed not to be what he was looking for in his expository exclamations on the mighty coconut. In that moment it was the endless chain of explosion of thought, inspiration and curiosity that mattered. I waited for the eruption of words to end, as it usually did, with the final sentence: Can we get one? Plleeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeeee? I laughed. I usually do (unless we are in a hurry, or the store is crowded or they are missing half of what I need). How could I flatten the curiosity of my little boy? He wasn’t asking me for a new electronic, plastic, brightly colored overly marketed toy. He was asking me to help him fill his endless thirst for knowledge. Because fostering curiosity, knowledge and observation skills are high on our list of priorities in our home there was no way I was going to say no to this one (I do, on occasion, when time or budget constraints determine that we must). I helped him to choose just the right one, picking each up and shaking, listening for what we guessed was just the right sound of sloshing of coconut water inside to indicate a healthy pick. We put it in the shopping cart, amidst the container of milk and bag of sugar, making sure not to squash the bread or eggs. I marveled at how inspired a child could be in the mundane of a grocery store produce department (particularly in the grocery store we were in. Back where I come from produce departments can be dazzling in their color and selection but we are in the desert. Dazzling does not occur in our produce department here.). For a child, discovery and inspiration seem to be everywhere, whether looking up to high cottony clouds or squatting low to inspect a chain of marching ants in the dirt. Their curiosity is available. Unshakeable. Almost unfathomable sometimes. There amongst the lettuces and potatoes, I let my child lead me down the wonder road of inspired curiosity. I made myself available to the joy he could not help but share in his need to understand the humble tropical coconut. We continued on with our produce shopping with me lost in thought, considering that I had no idea how to crack open a coconut and thankful that the internet and Youtube exist. I was still trying to figure out our coconut adventures as we wandered by the selection of nopal cactus and heard again…”Hey Mom………”

Comment Worthy:

Can you find your simple childlike curiosity today to inspire you to something new or different?

The inspired coconut

Fishing Lessons: Remembering to Budget Time Wisely

Yesterday my husband had one of the few glorious days off he will have all summer (he has only four more real days off with us until Labor Day, in case anyone is wondering). My oldest son, who is five years old, had recently begun talking about going fishing since he’d never gone before (we don’t buy cable and my husband has an affinity for the old Andy Griffith Show which we watch on a DVD collection we have. Little Opie Taylor goes fishing some and my son thinks this is cool. If this doesn’t tell you just how suggestible children are I don’t know what will.). We’d considered doing something entirely different with this rare day off. I needed a haircut and we could use a trip to town for a few things (“town,” by the way, is 75 miles away). But listening to my little boy I knew how important it was to be quiet and be still and hear his heart. You see, time is not like money. You can never earn more of it. We are born and have a finite amount of it available to us. When we look at the length of our lives we should consider that, out of an entire lifetime average of 70 to 80 years, childhood is fleetingly brief. My son will be five for only a year. In the arc of his life, and mine as his mother, this is but a nanosecond of time. I looked at my husband over our children at dinner and whispered “Let’s go fishing tomorrow. Let’s have a better memory.” He whispered back, “but you need a haircut.” I smiled and shook my head and whispered back again “no. I’d like a haircut. We need something better tomorrow. With all of us as a family.” We got into our pajamas that night, after dinner, spread a blanket on our back lawn and laid on the grass to watch the stars come out while we listened to the desert wind blow in the trees. We hadn’t told the boys yet, but we were going fishing tomorrow.

The next morning my husband came to me and said “maybe we should just practice casting on the lawn today since he’s never been fishing and then go ‘for real’ on another day. That’s what I did as a kid. Practiced first.” I considered this a moment. Then I said no. I reminded him that we have few precious days together this summer and I told him that we aren’t going fishing to catch fish. The fish were incidental. We were going fishing to catch this time in our lives because we cannot get it back. We were not seeking the perfect casting experience. This would be the day we introduce fishing to our kids. There would be mud and wet, tangled line, lots of instruction and plenty of goofy things likely to happen. He said “but we don’t have the right clothes and the right gear.” I smiled. I said, “A fishing pole, some bait, snacks and water are all we need. We’re going.” After a stop at our local store for fishing licenses for my husband and me, and an inexpensive fishing rod for our son, we were on our way.

After a good half hour drive, we wound our way back from the main highway to a small lake tucked back in the mountains. It was hard not to be stunned by the beauty of this area we hadn’t seen before and marvel that it was only minutes from the highway we’d driven many times. It was quiet. There were people hiking around the shore nearby and the quiet sound of their chatter. Mostly there were people sitting quietly with fishing lines in the water. There was the occasional sound of summer thunder in the distance, birds tittering and chirping, an occasional bark from the few dogs running free with their owners nearby and the effervescent excitement of our own children. We spent three glorious hours fishing. There were muddy fingers holding dangling worms. There was, indeed tangled fishing line. There was plenty of instruction in how to navigate the rocky, sandy shore without falling down and the discovery of how to perch on a good solid rock while bait fishing and how to watch the bobber for the sign of a fish nibbling. There was an introduction on how to reel in ‘just so’ when spin casting. There was the re-injury of a previously scratched up knee and the gentle cleaning and re-bandaging of the boo-boo while drying a few tears. There was our first and only catch of a large crawdad eating the worm intended for the trout I didn’t catch, which made us laugh. We saw fish jump from the corner of our eyes and would turn and point too late to see anything more substantial than the ring of water left by the phantom swimmer that had disappeared beneath the water. We witnessed tiny fish swimming near the muddy shore. There were, as it happened, no trout reeled in to bring home. But what we brought home was so much more than that. When the sun started sinking lower in the sky and it was getting on toward dinnertime, we packed up and climbed the rocky hill back to the car for the drive back home. My son sat in the back with the warm glow of satisfaction on his face and said “Mom. Dad. I love fishing. Maybe we’ll get a fish next time. When are we coming again?” It was a simple day with nothing more than the desire to capture our time, a brief moment.

It is so easy to get lost in the busy of our days. It is easy to overcomplicate our lives and those of our children. It’s easy to give into a life so loud with the insistence of our daily to-do list that we miss the simple opportunities to use our time wisely.  I love gadgetry and gizmos and technology as much as the next person but sometimes it can make us lose touch with what is simple and real. It can overfill our lives with multitasking, making us lose more time than we realize. It’s easy to forget that time is a limited commodity that cannot be regained. Sometimes all we need is to remember that life is simple. That our time is finite. In the end, really, we have all we needed to make life wonderful all along. Budget and use your time wisely. You’ll be glad you did.

Fishing lessons

Using time wisely

On Father’s Day: Simple is Good-Even with Love

I don’t usually write on Sundays. For me it’s a day with my family and a day for spiritual reflection. But today I am far away from my dad and I miss him. We live too far apart, he and I. Because my husband and I spent many years in the military life and, after the fact, found a job closer to, yet still two states away from our family, we’ve been far away “home” for almost ten years now. So today, being Father’s Day, I am, understandably thinking about my Dad.

You see, I’m particularly lucky. My Dad chose me to be his daughter and my twin brothers to be his sons when I was not quite six and they were only four. He was nearly thirty years old at the time and traded in bachelorhood for an insta-family that came with one headstrong little girl. I cannot say I made it easy on him. But he loved me anyway. He still does. And my memories of him are simple and meaningful ones. I remember watching him color in giant coloring books with my brothers on a coffee table in the house we lived in with my mother before they were married. And I remember him teaching me how to shoot a .22 rifle at a target-being amazed that a right handed girl was a left handed shot and pretty darn good at it. He called me Annie Oakley. I remember him working long hard hours on a ranch and being a volunteer firefighter. And how he knew everyone in town, it seemed. It was a rare thing to meet someone who didn’t know my dad or who didn’t like him. When I describe my dad to people who have never met him I often say…well…he’s kind of like the Andy Taylor (from the Andy Griffith Show) of our small town. But there are two memories that stand out for me in vivid brilliant technicolor in my mind. They are brief and telling about my Dad and his love for me.

The first is when I was in junior high school. I was a pudgy kid and only started to grow out of it somewhere around the seventh or eighth grade. I never felt particularly pretty. I was most certainly one of the nerds or dorks-you know-good grades, very shy, not very coordinated and definitely not popular. But I was a nice kid. A good kid. I had a good heart. One day, and I cannot recall at all the reason why, my Dad picked me up from school when I usually walked home. It was uncharacteristic of me to confide in my Dad about such things but I mentioned to him how I wished I could wear makeup like some of the other girls. It was the 80’s and blue eyeliner was very popular at the time. And pink lipstick. My Dad looked at me thoughtfully for a moment. I remember him turning his eyes back to the road as he pulled away from the curb. I half expected him to tell me I was silly or remind me I wasn’t old enough yet in our house to wear make up. But he did neither. He said, “You know. The thing is-it’s girls who like all that color, which is fine. But boys don’t like that clown makeup. Boys like girls who look natural and like themselves.” And he just kept driving. That was all he said. But it was powerful stuff to an adolescent girl who was starting to like boys and starting to try and figure out her place in the world. It stuck with me and became a powerful part of who I am and what I still see in the mirror.

Many years later I was married. I did not marry young. I was past thirty when I had my first child. My parents had taken time off to come and be with me near my due date for my first child because my husband was deployed to Iraq for a full year. My son was born very near to Christmas-time and while I am a strong, strong woman, I was standing in my kitchen holding a days-old infant when a song came on the radio that suddenly became the final emotional straw for me. I broke. I stood there at the kitchen sink quietly crying as I missed my husband and grieved that he was not with us for our first child’s birth or for this baby’s first Christmas. I did not want anyone to feel sorry for me so I cried quietly. My Dad had come into the small kitchen and he saw me there crying. He said nothing to me. He stood a moment and then, saying nothing at all, my mostly undemonstrative Dad put his arms around me and my baby and hugged us to him in a way that said all that needed saying. When I stopped crying my dad kissed the top of my head and walked away. We never talked about it. It was just something that simply…was.

And that is my Dad. His love is simple and genuine. Sometimes he does things that can drive me bananas. As I’m sure I do for him. But I have no doubt that my Dad loves me. He may not say it often, but he shows it in simple, emotionally economical ways that leave no question. So while there are Dads out there that are fancier and more eloquent than my Dad, I learned what simple and honest love is from him. I’m lucky. My Dad chose me when I was nearly six. And it made all the difference in my world.

Thank you Dad. I love you.

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