Tag Archives: family

Lows & Highs: A Family Visit

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

No Lows for Me!

I cannot think of a low from the past week, so I am diving straight into my highs.

Family Highs

Brian and I took a road trip to visit my side of the family over the weekend.

Brian and I took a road trip to visit my side of the family over the weekend.

Grandpa is out of the hospital & the pneumonia is gone!

Grandpa is out of the hospital & the pneumonia is gone!

We celebrated my grandma's 93rd birthday on her actual birthday.

We celebrated my grandma’s 93rd birthday on her actual birthday.

My aunt & uncle brought their adorable grandson, Nathan, to the birthday party. He is my first cousin once removed, but that makes it sound so very complicated.

My aunt & uncle brought their adorable grandson, Nathan, to the birthday party. (He is technically my first cousin once removed, but that makes it sound so very complicated.)

I tried to get Nathan to pose for a photo with me, but it was too windy & sunny for this tired guy to smile at the camera!

I tried to get Nathan to pose for a photo with me, but it was too windy & sunny for this tired guy to smile at the camera!

We spent the rest of the weekend having a sort of “make-up visit” with my parents, postponed from Christmas break due to illness. It was fun and relaxing and just what I needed. I had really been missing them!

How has your week been?

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A Blu-ish Christmas & Happy New Year

Blu-ish Christmas

Ever since our last day of school on December 19, I have been on an unplanned hiatus from blogging and most social media. I caught a cold before school ended for the break but thought I was getting better. The first two nights of our Christmas trip to visit Brian’s side of the family in Tulsa, I spiked a moderate fever. On Monday, I went to an urgent care center and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. Even with three prescriptions, it took me nearly a week to feel remotely normal again. I still have a cough but have much more energy and no longer sound like a frog when I talk.

Christmas Eve Bows

Off My Game

Once on antibiotics, I was not contagious so I still joined in on game night, dinners, and other gatherings with friends and family. Much of the week was fun but I felt mentally and physically fuzzy. I slept in, took naps, and sat around watching Doctor Who. If I saw you in the few days before Christmas and seemed sad or cranky, I just did not feel well and struggled to think straight. I was so out of sorts, I didn’t even drink coffee for two or three days because the taste was completely unappetizing.

Christmas

On Christmas Eve morning, we found out my mom had the flu. Since she and Dad did not want to get anyone sick, especially my elderly grandparents or two-year-old nephew, they decided to stay home for Christmas. On Christmas Day, Brian and I had breakfast and stockings with his parents his sister, Shanna, and then drove to my aunt & uncle’s house three hours away. In Ottawa, we celebrated with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, five siblings (counting the ones who married in), and a nephew.

Christmas Day Prep
Christmas Day Eli

Since it was on our way, Brian and I picked up Dad and Mom’s gifts for everyone else and dropped off the gifts to them on our way back to Tulsa at the end of the day. We also Facetimed with them so they could see and chat with everyone during gift-opening time. We intended to stay with my parents from Christmas Day until Monday but they suggested we visit another time, when they are less contagious. Brian and I (and Cola) came home on the 26th and have spent several relaxing days at home, resting and recuperating. It has been very nice!

Cola sleeps with her new toy

Happy New Year!

By New Year’s Eve, Brian and I were feeling much better. We rang in 2015 by playing board games with a few college students who were in town. We taught them how to play our version of Golf-the-card-game, played a Battle of the Sexes card game, and then split into groups to play either Settlers of Catan or Life.

How were your Christmas and New Year holidays?

 

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What I’m Into: November 2014

What I'm Into Logo

Techie

The #FireworkPeople community has brought an uplifting, supportive tone to my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I have enjoyed meeting the other ladies as we participate in Twitter parties where we share how we would answer various discussion questions. Not one to miss out on an opportunity to encourage others, my mom has joined the group, too. I think this is more activity than her Twitter account has ever seen!

I know I have mentioned DesignLoveFest’s free wallpapers before, but these are new ones and I am into them this month! Naturally, my favorite is “But First, Coffee.” Which ones do you like?

Food

If you have not noticed, I am very much a hot drinks kind of girl! In November, I have been sipping almond milk hot chocolate with homemade chocolate syrup and sometimes candy cane syrup, too. I still make powdered hot chocolate for everyone else, so this dairy-free version is just for me.

Random Fun

Idina Menzel and Michael Buble’s duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” made much less creepy by changing the lyrics and having two adorable child actors lip sync them.

Entertainment

On Netflix: I got hooked on Bletchley Circle and then found out the show ended after only seven episodes! It is a smart mystery drama about four women who worked in code-breaking during WWII and, in post-war Britain, they stumble into solving mysteries that stump law enforcement.

Speaking of Idina, her Christmas album Holiday Wishes has been a fun treat, but I have only been listening for the past few days!

Reading

I finished the predictable but sweet Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. Now I am reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and Along Came a Wolf (The Yellow Hoods, #1) by Adam Dreece.

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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Lows & Highs: The Best Day Possible

Grandpa

Grandpa enjoyed dinner, even though Grandma couldn’t come.

Low: Unmet Expectations

This week, my low was not getting the celebration I had hoped and planned. My family had been planning for at least a month to have our traditional “Early Thanksgiving & Fall Birthdays” gathering last Saturday. While we did get to celebrate over dinner, my grandma was admitted to the hospital the day before and could not come to my aunt & uncle’s house with us. Most, if not all of us visited Grandma at the hospital and the day was good but not what I had hoped.

On the way home, I had a Twitter conversation with a new friend and was reminded of what my mom says about her patients (she’s a nurse): I can’t fix them but I can make today the best day possible. In the same way, as much as I would like to just fix everything to be perfect for everyone I love, it is never going to happen. I can make today the best day possible, though.

Highs: Sweet Memories

My highs are small snippets of memories from Saturday. Brian and I found out it is possible to adjust the driver’s seat of “his” car so it is comfortable for me to drive on road trips, too.

Brian & I

My sister and dad worked together to make the oyster casserole that Grandpa has always made at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I have never developed a taste for the casserole, but it is an important holiday food for several family members.

Sister&Family

Sara, Josh, & Eli (& his new Olaf, of course!)

Eli knows my name! …or at least to call my phone “Abby phone” but I’ll take what I can get. I let him play with the camera and take photos of his forehead, the ceiling, the fan, and his fingers. (Side note: Guided Access on iPhone is a marvelous tool to lock a user into a single app and they can’t get out without a passcode.)

After lunch, I offered to let him play with my phone again. He looked at me, “Game.”

“Do you want to play with the camera?”

He looked at it and back at me expectantly, “Game.”

“Um, try this one. Touch here to shoot the tower and then it falls down.”

“Fall down?”

Away he went, playing the game and figuring out how to switch levels. Occasionally, he would say to himself or others, “Abby phone. Fall down.”

Eli&AbbyPhone
Aunt&Uncle

We gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house.

GrampsGram&Eli

Eli “crashed” Gramps & Gram’s (a.k.a. my parents’) photo, but I don’t think they cared.

Brother&Sister-in-law

Luke & Christine

Ben&Abby

My youngest brother, Ben

What are your lows and highs this week?

 

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An Essential Ingredient to Relationships

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

Here is the second installment of Question Collection. Every Monday, I post and answer a selection from my collection of good questions.

 

This week’s question is “What’s one essential ingredient found in all healthy relationships?”

Question Collection | StairStories.com

My Answer

I think healthy relationships have several ingredients in common. One of the most essential is forgiveness. As humans, we are inherently flawed and occasionally step on each other’s toes (literally and figuratively, in my slightly clumsy case).

 

My relationship with my sister is one of the longest friendships I have had. She has [as far as I know] forgiven me for trying to force my tidy habits on her when we shared a room, for shoving her off our play set, for being bossy, for being excessively noisy in early mornings, for snoring, and so on. I have forgiven her for things too. Forgiveness lets us keep on loving each other and being close without the burden of grudges.

She said something hilarious that wouldn't be funny to others, but had us in stitches!

She said something hilarious that wouldn’t be funny to others, but had us in stitches!

 

What is your answer to this week’s question? It is never too late to answer!

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Question Collection: Energy

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

Series Introduction

Two years after my 31 Days of Random Questions series, it is still my most popular series and my list of good questions keeps growing. In an effort to blog more consistently, I decided to start another question series. Come back every Monday for the latest installment of Question Collection!

In my mind, good conversational questions don’t have yes or no answers, make people think, start conversations, and invite stories.

This week’s question is…

 Question Collection: What people & activities energize you?

My Answer

I regain energy from spending time with one to three people who know me completely and love me deeply. The ones who first come to mind are my husband, my parents, and my siblings. Being around them all at once is not always energizing but can be tons of fun because we are a lively family!

Of course sipping coffee and eating a snack energize me because of caffeine and glucose levels. Beyond those, I gain energy from a brisk walk – especially outdoors – when I listen to nothing but the ambient noises. I am also energized by reading home decor magazines or websites. Seriously, my creative and physical energy builds and churns out ideas and suddenly it is three a.m. and I am still rearranging my living room! I warned Brian about that particular tendency before we were married and now he hides my magazines if I start to read them late at night.

 

Now It’s Your Turn

Take the questions and ask your friends or family. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions for me to include, let me know.

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Science Mom’s Hot Chocolate Mix

If you have been reading Stories on the Stairs for long, you know I grew up with a Science Mom who loves to experiment and try new things. When she decided to make her own hot chocolate mix, she researched by reading various recipes. Next, she set up a double-blind taste test where the rest of the family tasted, evaluated, and rated samples of different recipes. Imagine kids describing flavors:

“I like this one because it’s more chocolaty.”

“This one is creamy and vanilla-y.”

I still use the recipe that won our family taste test. Last Sunday, some of “our” college students came for lunch and had hot chocolate for dessert… but then we ran out of hot chocolate mix! Conveniently, I had enough ingredients to make more mix. The girls watched, asked questions, and even helped add ingredients. They were so impressed that they asked me to share the recipe on my blog.

Hot Chocolate

Science Mom’s Hot Chocolate Mix

(This recipe too big for my largest mixing bowl, so I make half at a time)

Enough powdered milk to make 8 qt.
30 oz Nestlé’s Quik
16 oz. powdered sugar
18 oz. extra rich powdered coffee creamer
8 oz. French vanilla powdered creamer
3/4 cup cocoa

Mix the all ingredients and store in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Use 1/3 cup mix in a cup of hot water. Use more for a larger cup. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows. Enjoy!

If you have requests for anything (not just recipes) you would like me to share, let me know and I will consider them.

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Lows & [Lots of] Highs

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

 

2014-08-19 21.19.24

 

One Low
Our sweet, adorable puppy killed a bird and then tried to eat it. Brian noticed and went out to dispose of the dead body, but Cola decided she wanted to chew on it and play “keep away from the human” instead. After a few minutes, I went out to help, which made us two disgusted people and one playful puppy. Eventually, she dropped her prize for a moment and I picked her up. That gave Brian an opening to make the bird disappear. Since then, Brian keeps promising Cola she will never be allowed to lick his face ever again.

 

Three Highs
2014-08-11 13.06.11-1

 

1. Brian and I put up new gutters on the back of our house.

 

2014-08-19 21.34.36
2. I made French Toast Roll-ups with blueberries and cream cheese. They were delicious and we want to have them again.

 

 

3. A barista was astonished to overhear me talking with a friend about making my own coffee syrups and asked for details, so I gave her my blog address. I have never directed a total stranger to this site before, but it was the easiest way to give her the information!


How has your week been?

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Lows & Highs: A Case of the Mondays

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: Monday morning was rough at Howe House. I went to take Cola out at six a.m. and let her walk out the door on her own sleepy legs instead of carrying her. I usually walk around the yard with her, so I reached back in to close the door behind us when I heard a yelp. Cola had darted back into the warm laundry room and the closing door bonked her on the side! Startled, but not hurt, she ran to one of the rugs and started to pee on it. I scooped her up and ran to the grass, where she finished her “business.”

Later that morning, Cola was outside while Brian did yard work. She was still running in the middle of the yard when he headed inside. I heard the door open and then yelping – lots of yelping – and Brian saying, “Oh no, oh no, OH NO!”

“What is it?” I called on my way from the living room.

“I think I broke her paw!”

Cola had apparently sprinted across the yard, hurdled onto the deck, and gotten caught in the door as he closed it. When I got to the deck, Brian stood aghast by the door and Cola hobbled on three legs in the grass beside the deck.

I tried to comfort Brian saying, “If her paw is really broken, it’ll be okay. It’s Monday.” (I meant that the veterinarian clinic would be open. He thought I meant that bad things happen on Mondays.)

I picked Cola up gently and took her inside, where she started walking on all four paws before curling up on my lap. I looked at my very concerned husband, “I think she’s fine. It probably scared her and hurt a lot at first, but I don’t think she’s broken.”

2014-08-04 16.58.48

A couple days later, Cola still runs and jumps but is a little more cautious of closing doors.

High: On Friday, we had a game night with college students and played games like 5 Second Rule, Wits & Wagers, and Golf-the-card-game!

2014-08-01 20.39.132014-08-01 20.39.20

What are your lows and highs this week?

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Lows & Highs: Road Trip

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: About thirty minutes into our four-hour road trip, I broke the bow clean off my sunglasses and had to make do as best I could, alternating between squinting and holding up the broken shades for the rest of the drive.

2014-07-27 15.31.28

High #1: Brian and I took Cola on her first long road trip and she did wonderfully! We timed the road trip to start after an energetic play session with lots of running, and during her normal two-hour afternoon nap. Cola obligingly laid in her kennel and slept most of the way except when we stopped for walking breaks. By the time we arrived at my parents’ house, she was ecstatic to get out and meet her new friends, Shadow and Cobra!

High #2: We have had a terrific visit with my parents helping around the house, playing with Cola, playing games, and telling stories. Brian’s parents were also able to come and join us for dinner one night, so that made the visit even more special!

2014-07-30 09.22.34

What are your lows and highs this week?

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