“So what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver

I came across this quote last week. Since I tend to think of memories in terms of pictures, this is what came to mind.  The image is a couple of years old now, but I think it will always be a favorite.  My boys piled together, trying to get a picture for our Christmas card.  Wild and precious.  Looking at it I can still hear them giggling.  I think even when they are all grown up, with families of their own I will think of this picture and my heart will swell, more than a little, with the love I have for them.

Not everyone knows this, but outside of photography I am also a hospice nurse on weekends.  If you are unfamiliar with hospice, it is the care provided to those that are terminally ill.  They may be in their homes, nursing home or hospital.  My job is to make sure their last days are comfortable and to guide those caring for them.  It isn’t always easy, but surprisingly, the good outweighs the bad.  Each time I go to work I am reminded of life’s beauty and imperfection.  That the power of love and faith will carry you to endure great things.

Life isn’t perfect, or as a friend of mine says,  at the very least “highly overrated”.  I know that this is easy to say, but remembering it is a whole other matter.  The pressures to create perfection in your body, children and home are everywhere.  It’s so easy to get caught up in.  I myself am guilty, that I won’t deny. Then my weekend to work rolls around and I am hit with a healthy dose of perspective.  I am reminded that no matter how rough you think things might be in your world, someone else has it worse.  After 12 years of oncology (cancer) nursing and almost 4 years of hospice I have seen a lot.  I have watched husbands, married for 50+ years, care tenderly for their wives, doing things for them that they never imagined doing, loving them every step of the way.  I’ve seen parents say good-bye to children all too soon, the agony on their faces almost too much to bare.  I’ve watched children, feeling inadequate caring for their parents, yet doing it anyway out of incredible love and respect.  I know this all sounds awful, but I truly feel it is a privilege to witness these moments.  To hear stories, to get a peek into lives before illness, to watch whole families pour over picture albums and laugh at memories as tears run down their cheeks. Whether they know it or not they are showing me what it means to live.  To laugh amidst the tears and pain, to let perfection be gone and let your heart hang out.

By the end of a weekend of work I am exhausted, physically and emotionally.  The intensity of what I do teaches lessons and takes its’ toll.  I’ve learned the importance of hugging my boys and Bret a bit tighter, to give them extra kisses and take the time to be present, in the moment, everyday.  The downside?  I’ve probably seen more death than any 37 yr old should, and the subject of it crosses my mind more than I’d like.  However, I tend to be more of a glass half full person so I try to focus on the positive in the lesson instead….that life is in fact wild and precious.  Make the most of it, imperfections and all.

So my advice to you… hug your babies, love on your spouse and make sure your friends know they matter.  Leave the dirty dishes in the sink…they’ll wait.  Read that extra story at bedtime, I promise you won’t regret it.  And for yourself, do the things that fill your heart with joy and share it with others.  You never know how you might touch a life.  You only get one go around, make it count.

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

Alison

Kind of a funny combination for a blog post, isn’t it?  Not to worry, there’s a point.

Lately, we’ve been drinking a lot of hot chocolate with the very cold temperatures and snowy days.  I am a big fan of homemade hot cocoa versus the store bought.  Not only does it taste sooo much better, but I know exactly what is going into it.  More and more these days I think that is really important.

The ingredients for this recipe are staple items you most likely have in your pantry.  Any leftovers can be put in the fridge to pull out for another day and a quick reheat on the stove.

An added bonus is that your kids will think it is so cool that you made it, not just pulled it from a box on the shelf.

hot cocoa

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Henry is on a bit of a Buzz Lightyear kick.  Even more than that he is on a ‘make everyday a pajama day’ kick.  It started over Christmas where we had a few days that we didn’t go anywhere and he asked if he could keep his jammies on.  I said fine, it was Christmas break after all and we were moving at a slow pace.  Shortly after they started back to school we had two snow days, followed by a nasty virus that ran (we are still recovering) through our house…thus more pajama days.

No problem, right?

Not so much.  Now he wants to wear them all the time.  Oh, he’ll get dressed for school, to go run an errand with no problem, but the MINUTE we are back home he is back in those pjs faster than you can blink.  I don’t really mind.  I actually think it’s kind of funny.  I know someday we’ll talk about the days when he was five and wanted to wear his pajamas all the time.  Somedays it sounds like a good idea to me too.

In the midst of his pj wearing stretch he had a birthday.  He got these Buzz Lightyear pjs as a gift.  Thank goodness, because we seriously needed a few more in the rotation.  They are his new favorites.  He runs around being Buzz, sound effects and all. Yesterday, before his nap, I snapped a few frames.  I want to remember this time, his funny 5 year old ways.  They are passing by all too quickly.

Stay warm…it’s so cold outside today!

Alison

I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by good cooks in my life.  My mom, both of my grandmothers, friends and a sister in law.  You will never want for a good meal with these women around.  I know the MEN in my life would most certainly agree!

I love to cook.  Almost as much as I love taking pictures, it’s definitely a close second.  There is something very relaxing about it for me, most days anyway.  I love the warmth and aroma of a simmering pot, the color and textures of the food on a plate, the satisfaction that comes from feeding my family something homemade.

A few years ago I inherited my grandma’s recipe box.  I was so excited to go through and find the recipes for those family favorites she had made as I was growing up.  There were handwritten recipes of her own and those given to her by friends. Clippings from the food sections of magazines and newspapers.  I even found a few in my own handwriting, recipes she had me recopy when the originals had become too worn.  Such treasures.

Several of her recipes have now become staples in my own home, this recipe for Minestone soup being one of them.

Soups have been on heavy rotation for us this winter and this one gets lots of requests.  We even had it for our Christmas Eve dinner.  It is the wonderful soup and works perfectly as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Minestrone Soup

6 sticks of Italian sausage, sliced  (this is optional, I’ve had it with and without sausage and it’s excellent both ways)

1 yellow onion sliced thin

2 carrots

1/2c celery

2 potatoes, diced

4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 28oz can tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup spaghetti broken into 1 inch pieces

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

3 T chopped, fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese

If using, brown the sausage in dutch oven.  Add chopped celery, carrots, onion, potato and garlic.  Cook til onions are translucent.  Add tomatoes, stock, basil and parsley.  Simmer til vegetables are tender, then add pasta.  Serve with parmesan cheese and homemade croutons.

Enjoy!

Alison

I have been trying to capture more of our everydays around here lately.  Trying to perfect my exposures so that there is little to nothing that needs to be done in the way of editing.  So, when we were having one of our recent lazy afternoons (between snow days and sick days we’ve been having quite a few) I went into Samuel’s room to see what he was up to.

Samuel’s room is probably one of my favorite rooms in our house.  I love the colors (olive green, orange and tan), I love how the pictures on the walls were of his choosing, how the desk is always just a little messy with evidence of work on his latest invention.  Samuel is creative.  He loves to do things with this hands.

I think I can honestly say there probably isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t cooking up something.  And it isn’t just building with his legos or erector sets.  He scours our house looking for things to use…or save for later ideas.  You never know when you might need 10 toilet paper rolls, as I recently discovered in his closet.  “Mom, those are going to be used for the robot I’ll build!”

I love his imagination.

So, on this lazy afternoon here is what he was up to…

Snow glasses.

So when you are sledding you won’t get snow in your eyes.  Practical right?

Before that idea we were cutting out superhero glasses, because…well…you never know when you might need them.

Alison

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