Tag Archives: family

Second Sunday Suppers

12 Feb

By Jackie Sorensen

In February our thoughts naturally turn to “LOVE”, often of the romantic nature, but I wanted to share some thoughts about creating loving family relationships, especially for those of us with blended families. First, a brief family history: I have a 28 year old daughter, and the man I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with (Mike) has 3 children, 30, 32 and 34 years of age respectively. His oldest daughter and her husband have a 6 year old son. Mike and I have been together 10 years. Two of our daughters got married in 2013 within 4 months of each other (Aug. and Dec.) so when it came time for gift-giving this past Christmas, both time and money was in short supply. So, in a rare moment of early morning silence only days before Christmas, I sat down to consider a meaningful and possibly creative gift for my family that didn’t involve the combat zone of the mall or maxing out the credit card.  I also wanted to in some way honor my ongoing commitment to trying to knit together our blended families so that our parents (ages 82 and 95), siblings, children, grandson, and hopefully, future grandchildren will know the blessing of a loving and well-connected extended family.

And so was born Second Sunday Suppers.  My gift to my family was to cook dinner for them all every second Sunday of the month for the year 2014.  An essential component of this gift was that there was absolutely no obligation on their part: no need to RSVP, no need to bring a dish or chip in money, no need to help clean up, and no guilt for just not showing up at all. Some of our family live out of town, but were invited in case they were ever in the area on that day. Transportation would be provided for our more elderly family members, but all others did have to get to our house by their own means.  This would be a simple meal with the sole purpose of enjoying each other’s company.  If no one came, we would have plenty of leftovers!

And now, a Second Sunday Supper progress report: In January, I served spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread and strawberry shortcake for a party of 7. Since it was our first meal I did send out a group email with a reminder and those who were coming were gracious enough to let me know.  My heart was gladdened when Mike’s daughter responded with, “Are you kidding? We already have all of the dates marked on our calendar!” Last night we had our second Second Sunday Supper with a different configuration of 8 family members. My daughter and her husband were attending an out-of-town wedding this weekend and texted, “Oh man, we’re going to miss Second Sunday Supper!”  I decided to use February’s meal (and future ones) as an opportunity to try at least 1 new recipe and so made a pot of roasted butternut squash soup, together with rotisserie chicken from Costco, potatoes and carrots, and make-your-own ice cream sundaes (big hit).  My family typically shows up right at 5:00 pm and stays until 7-7:30. Time has been spent around the dinner table catching up with each other, talking about how school and new jobs are progressing, reminiscing about the past, and….Papa and his grandson learning and performing magic tricks together!

At the end of the evening I choose to believe everyone leaves with a full stomach, ribs and jaws which ache from so much laughter, and a joy-filled heart and spirit.  I know that I do.  Little did I know that this would be not only a labor of love, but a precious gift of love for me as well.

This is Not Your Mother’s Retirement

23 Oct

In 2001, the first of the Baby Boomer generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. Between 8,000-10,000 baby boomers will be turning 65 every day for the next eighteen years. Rumor has it over half the Baby Boomers in America are going to celebrate their 100th birthday and beyond.  The social and economic impact of this data makes me seriously question whether 65 will really be the magic retirement number for Boomers.

 Case in point — my husband.  Jim is turning 65 next May.  He has headed up our market research firm for the past 35 years, conducting survey research for political campaigns, environmental initiatives, and corporate clients.  This business provided well for our family up until the 2008 recession hit.    Our previously steady clientele virtually became non-existent over the past few years.  It was a shock to our wallets and our spirits to witness how rapidly our business dwindled.

 But, we are Boomers after all, and Boomers have resilience built into our very DNA.  Jim decided to completely change careers.  Within a few months, he has gone from being a Ph.D. expert in the field of communication and survey research, to being the owner of a property management franchise.  He is now managing a staff of five and learning an entirely new industry.  He has no illusions about retiring next May nor does he want to.  The past four years have been a struggle, as has been the case for many families.  Jim has reinvented himself at 64.  He loves being productive and the mental stimulation of learning a new field.Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser suggested in a recent New York Times article that, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.”  This description applies to a lot of people in our generation.  But all does not have to be bleak and scary.  If we are going to live to be a hopefully healthy 100, let’s try something new. Entrepreneurship is exploding in areas like West Palm Beach, which have historically been retirement communities.  So come on, this is your chance to try out that business concept you’ve thought about for years…. This is not your mother (or father’s) version of retirement.  It’s all yours to define.

Jim Kitchens

New Year’s Resolution- Vacation Creatively

16 Jan

 This is post four of Be Brave. Lose the Beige’s 10 days of New Years Resolutions. I am newly returned from spending the most amazing Thanksgiving week in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico with my husband and our adult children. My kids think this may have been one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. We skied, hiked, dined, and browsed our way through galleries filled with turquoise and terracotta pottery. At least half of our week was spent beholding the beauty of the sage brushed landscape and mountains from our floor to ceiling windows stretched across the back of our vacation home. This three bedroom adobe style home perched on the edge of a reservation was available to us at no cost.

The Holiday, the romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet who exchange their Los Angeles and rural England homes over the Christmas holiday inspired us to join an online site called Home Exchange.com. We were able to trade our beach place for the mountain house in Taos at no expense to either party. While some of the listings are second homes, the majority are primary residences. We have successfully exchanged homes on five occasions. Rather than cramming five people into two hotel rooms where we are forced to eat out every meal, we have a kitchen, living room, and multiple bath and bedrooms at our disposal.  

Financing a vacation may sound like a luxury during times of economic distress like we are currently undergoing. Carving out time from stress and schedules may not be a luxury but rather a necessity for our psychic well being and that of our family. It may sound glib to suggest there are alternative forms of vacationing that don’t require taking out a second mortgage to fund it or piling in on top of relatives in other locales. A home exchange worked for us and might for you. Check it out at http://www.homexchange.com


#11 of Santa’s Tips for Celebrating the Holidays- Enjoy Your Family

27 Dec

#11 of Santa’s tips for celebrating the holidays is – Enjoy Your Family–  Pause amid the Christmas chaos and spend precious time with those you love.  (My Dad died this year.  I’m thankful I spent Christmas Eve with him last year and many years before).

Clay Santa and Mrs. Clause

Enjoy Your Family

“Our House Is a Very Very Fine House”

19 Nov

My husband and I have been running like crazy people the past two weeks.  Aside from work and family activities, we have been moving our office into our home.  I underestimated what a transition this would be.  My husband confessed to some anxiety about this transition, since for the past 40 years he has arisen each morning, dressed and headed to an office.  Now, considering Jim is 63, its apparent “going to the office” has been the thing he has done more of in his life than literally anything else.

While my husband and I are under going this transition in our lives, a thought popped into my head-  So is my house!  I have lived in my house for 30 years this fall.  I say this with a tad bit of chagrin as I fear being regarded as “old lady” on my street, much as I viewed a few of my neighbors the day I moved on to Choctaw Trail.  I was pregnant with my son, who is now in his final year of a Ph.D. program and engaged to be married.

Perhaps I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, even sentimental as I ponder my home and all it has housed in the last 30 years.  It has…

-Welcomed home a new baby

-Cared for my dying mother

-Welcomed my husband and his son, absorbing their belongings and all the emotions accompanying the blending of families

-Endured the joys and tribulations of teenagers transitioning into adults

-Transformed into a kind of commune last year during a sabbatical taken my grad student son, his fiancé, and Labradoodle

And now it is absorbing the relics of yet another transition (desks, awards, office supplies…) as we move toward working “virtually” in our new home offices.  As I approach this Thanksgiving, I’m realizing one of the things I feel grateful for is my home.  My home, its roof and walls, has provided shelter and sanctuary to my family and me.  People often tell me my house looks like a folk art museum with all the color and funky art adorning its walls.  But a quality I think I value the most is my home’s elasticity, as it has expanded and contracted welcoming and saying farewell to the various stages of our lives.

Birthday Love

15 Jul

As I approach my 58th birthday this week, I’ve been reflecting on all the love in my life. My family has already begun celebrating this seemingly non-significant birthday number. My daughter took me shopping for yoga clothes a couple of weeks ago when she visited. Additional presents were stashed away to be presented on the “actual day”. My son and his girlfriend surprised me with a magical day last Saturday. Knowing I love to “play” (designating time for playfulness is a mantra of Be Brave. Lose the Beige), David took me golfing for a couple of hours. While we were slicing and shanking off the tee, (me not him) my Katie, his girlfriend, spent the entire day creating a family party for me, complete with a glittery banner, super hero capes for our two labradoodles with the numbers 5 and 8 on each, and whimsically wrapped presents. She baked cupcakes from scratch, decorated with pink frosting, infused sugars, and candy toppings. What else could a woman want? Well, my husband saw to it the love continued. He gave me an IPad with “I love you” inscribed on the back.

Friends are planning dinner parties and lunches this week. I’m in awe of this kindness. My heart is filled to the brim with gratitude. We spend so much time avoiding and denying the onset of age. The advantages, however, may outweigh the disadvantages in this march of time. Along the way we acquire more people to love- spouses, children, friends, in-laws, grandchildren. We start with few and end up with many. That is if we allow it. Pause as you draw near your next birthday. Look beyond the wrinkles and joint pain. Reflect on all the love in your life, it makes those worry lines on your face well worth it.

Meet Yourself at the Friends Meeting House

13 Jul

My son and I arose early this Sunday morning to attend a Quaker service. I’d not ever been to a Friends Meeting before. There were no pews, no alter, no crucifix, not even a minister per se. Congregants entered the meeting house quietly, taking their seats in straight backed chairs. Taking our cue from those surrounding us, we closed our eyes. Silence enveloped us like soft cushions from a comfy couch. Our bodies, seldom accustomed to stillness, began to fidget. Our spirits, however, empowered by the quiet, urged our bodies to be hushed. Thoughts percolated up from somewhere within, “thoughts” I might prefer to call inspirations. “What should the next chapter of my Lady Boomer’s “Coloring Book” be called?”

The Quaker house is located in a downtown area near where my mother was raised. I was suffused with memories of her- I guess because of the proximity of this place to where she grew up. She died at 50, twenty-seven years ago, when I was 30. My son apparently had been thinking of her as well. He was nine months old and never knew her. Leaving the church, we drove to the house she once lived in with her domineering grandmother. Nuggets of family lore got shared, some of which were memories I’d pushed down for years. I loved the fact he was eager to know more about this side of our family who were of such humble origins. He was moved by the humility of the Quaker service; its stark simplicity. He appreciated the opportunity to listen to himself. He’s just completed five years of graduate school during which time there had been little if any time to commune and contemplate.

We plan to return to this meeting place. I like the idea of meeting myself there. It is somewhat paradoxical that the silence we encounter informs us of our own goodness while the humility prevents us from shouting our greatness aloud.

The Cat Isn’t the Only Winner in this Game of Tic Tac Toe

10 May

My previous post mentioned spending the weekend at a b’nai mitzvah for twins of my poker pal.  The weekend festivities also included a Sunday brunch in honor of the 60th birthday of Paul, the father of the twins.  I was reminded of a story I heard at his 50th birthday party.  Paul and his sister have shared a single birthday card dating back to 1974.   For almost 40 years the two have mailed this greeting card with its game of tic tac toe, back and forth between Orlando and Nashville.  Needless to say the blank spaces have diminished and been replaced with mini post-it-notes containing strategically placed Xs and Os, along with news of successes and sadness, children and changes.  The current condition of the card is amazingly good.  It has been lost and found a few times throughout its history.  While the envelope changes from year to year, it is evident the sentiment has not.  While this is no ordinary family document, it nevertheless has been a semi annual record of the lives of a family, which makes it…yes, let’s say it together …priceless!

Pause Amid the Christmas Chaos

18 Dec

This is day ten of “Santa’s 12 Tips for Celebrating an Ideal Christmas.” These are a series of clay sculptures I created which have been made into Christmas cards. To see them, go to http://tinyurl.com/ydjde88.

 Today’s tip is “Enjoy Your Family”. This piece features Santa and Mrs. Claus arm in arm, exchanging holiday presents. Santa’s tip- pause amid the Christmas chaos and spend precious time with those you love.