Tag Archives: siblings

What I’m Into: February 2015

What I'm Into Logo

I know most people linking up with Leigh Kramer for “What I’m Into” posted a week ago, so I’m a few days late. I have not joined this link-up since November because the end of December found me traveling, visiting, and fighting a miserable sinus infection while trying to show people I really was having a good time with them while feeling icky. The end of January found me leaving a job and starting a teaching job and playing catch up since I started the new job three weeks after the semester started.
 

 

Techie

Google Hangouts provided a little family togetherness this month when my sister and I wanted to video chat and include our parents. Downside: Eli seems to think all of his relatives live in the same place, the computer.

I started using Trello to organize my lists of things I’m trying to remember for home projects and lesson planning and anything else I can think of. It is a bit like having multiple bulletin boards with sticky notes arranged in different lists on each board. I adjusted to it very quickly because it is remarkably similar to a more awkward physical system I used when I worked in accounting. Disclaimer: If you use this link to sign up, Trello gives me a free month of Trello Gold. I don’t know exactly what that is, but it sounds fancy.

An acquaintance suggested the AeroPress Timer app to me and it has opened up many fun experiments for me to try with coffee making! I especially like the 1st Place and Japan recipes from the free Championship Pack. (If you use this app, I get nothing but the joy of sharing which is still pretty great.)

Food

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs, served with brown rice and veggies are a Sunday Lunch favorite at Howe House.

Around the House

Brian and I removed our old back door and then I left for a spa birthday party and Clay came over to help Brian install the new one.

What are you into this month? 
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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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Lows & Highs: Exploring with Eli

Low: I had a terrible headache on Monday… ALL DAY. My normal over-the-counter pain reliever did not help and neither did any of my usual “home remedies.” Eventually, I went to bed at a decent hour and had a refreshing night’s sleep that did dissipate the headache.

High: We met up with my parents and my siblings’ families at the rehabilitation center where my grandparents are currently living and we celebrated winter birthdays. We had lots of silly, laid-back fun over pizza and chocolate cupcakes and cheesecake. Of course, Eli was highly entertaining, mostly because he is an animated, curious toddler who likes attention. I am still working on being the fun aunt, so I happily let Eli play with my keychain flashlight and smart phone. Apparently he likes take selfies and examine things with the light.

FamilyBirthdaysMar14 EliExplores

What were your lows and highs this week?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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October Highlights

Where Does the Time Go?
Somehow October flew by and I have not been very inspired or prolific when it comes to writing of all sorts.

CCF Cookout
At the beginning of October, we had a CCF cookout complete with hot dog roasting and s’mores!
CCF Fall 2013 Cookout
Eli’s Birthday
Our nephew, Eli, turned one and we were able to visit the weekend before. He is curious and strong-willed, and very expressive. He went through a phase (and maybe is still in it) where he stared blankly at anyone trying to take his picture with a camera or phone. On this visit, though, I flipped the camera view on my phone so he could see our image while I took the photos and he had fun making these faces!
Eli Makes Faces

After five minutes, Eli figured out exactly where the camera lens was. Smart kid!

After five minutes, Eli figured out where the camera lens is. Smart kid!

Taking selfies with a cute nephew – Embarrassing or excusable? Vote in the comments!

Fall Break, Parents’ Visit, Snow
My parents came out to visit while Brian and I were on fall break. We wanted it to be a relaxing weekend for all of us but Dad and Brian finished their one project (replacing the furnace filters) and also tackled replacing bathroom outlets, removing and adjusting door hinges, and repairing a kitchen drawer support. Mom and I cooked, tidied, and did manicures.Mom & Abby Manis

We did squeeze in a fun dinner-and-games night with our friends Pennie and Clay, a movie night, and a yummy Chinese buffet lunch, too.
October snow!I had hoped to take our guests on some walking adventures through our local zoo and the nature preserve, but the first snow of the season arrived on October 18 and canceled our outdoor plans.

Pumpkin Patch
For one of our weekly dates, Brian took me to a pumpkin patch and corn maze. We wound our way through the maze and found all the markers, then took photos with some of the biggest pumpkins I have ever seen! Brian’s thumbs-up in the collage is because he ordered sweet tea at lunch and the waitress left him a glass and a pitcher full of tea. He was a happy guy!
Pumpkin Patch
Halloween
The CCF group helped serve snow cones at the college’s Halloween party. Brian was Mayhem from the Allstate commercials and I was Flo from Progressive. Rounding out our group of leaders, Clay was Jake from State Farm, Pennie was the Orbitz “clean it up!” girl.
Halloween 2013
Mayhem & FloFunny story: I sketched the lettering for my Flo apron on paper and then transferred the outline onto the apron and painted it in acrylic. When I was about halfway through painting (starting at the E and working backwards), Brian came over for a look and frowned.
“What’s wrong?”
“Um… you forgot the I.”
“What?!” I had a tiny bit of space between the S and V so I squeezed in the missing letter and moved on.

It so happened that my sister was on speaker phone when he told me and she thought it was hilarious because I am usually good at conventional spelling and she was a more phonetic speller as a kid.

Share your funny (mis)spelling story or tell about your Halloween costume.

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Wedding Collages

We do not have our official wedding photos back yet but here are some of our favorite informal ones!

Wedding Party Collage
Clockwise from the top left:
1. Groomsmen looking sharp: Mark, Chris, Clay (the best man), and Ben.
2. Cool, secret-agent-like ushers: Luke, Brian, Conner, and Cliff.
3. Lovely bridesmaid (and new sister-in-law!) Shanna.
4. Beautiful bridesmaid Laura.
5. Officiant Jon, looking relaxed.
6. Us with our attendants and ushers, looking a bit formal.
7. Personal attendant Rene, a rock star at organizing and assisting (note the way she easily holds three phones, a water cup, and a bouquet!)
8. Glowing matron of honor Sara (my favorite biological sister)

Wedding FunLeft to right from top left:
1 & 2. Getting dressed: Mom safety-pinned my dress straps because she did not trust the snaps. She told me to have someone check them if I felt anything tear or give way. Sara added that I should get help if I felt stabbing or bleeding and we cracked up.

3. Mom kisses Ben, my brother, after helping with his boutonniere.

4. Clay is a good sport about getting drafted to hold a bouquet.

5. My side of the family.
6. Brian’s side of the family. Interestingly, both grandmas pictured are on our dad’s sides, are named Ruth, and were born January 17 (one year apart)! Crazy, huh?

7. One of Brian’s favorite wedding day photos of me. I was laughing at the groom and groomsmen antics while they were posing for photos.

8. Josh, my brother-in-law, with Eli, my nephew. Eli’s ensemble is a white onesie with attached gray vest and purple tie because my sister is creative and handy with sewing! She added a purple band to his favorite hat (because he doesn’t like sun in his eyes or sunglasses).

9. Wedding party picture. I think our instructions were something like, “Okay, now act silly… or really excited… or something.”

10. Brian with his grandma Ruth.

11. The five of us girls grew close during our years in senior high girls’ Bible study with Andrea, our youth pastor’s wife. When the first one of us got married in 2007, we decided this photo would have to be our special tradition. Five years later, this was the fifth wedding.

12. Jon prays with the bridesmaids and me right before the ceremony begins. He told me, “This has been the most relaxed, special, fun wedding.”

13. A kiss from Dad as we wait around the corner from the sanctuary.

14. A high five from my brother, Luke, right before he and Conner open the doors for our entrance.

15. “You may kiss your bride.” At the reception, a dear, long-time family friend quizzed me, “I have to ask, was that a first kiss? Like, the first kiss?”

I smiled, “Um, no. It wasn’t.”

“Dang, I lost a dollar!”

16. My parents kissing after we drove away in a shower of bubbles.

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Lows & Highs: 4/17-4/23/13

Low: By the end of the day on Saturday, I felt as stuffed as if I had spent the whole day gorging on delicious food (which is true!). That is not much of a low but it is what I have!

Highs:
1) With the help of our mom, my sister planned and hosted the best wedding shower I have ever attended. (And I am not just saying that because it was mine!) She took all my “It would be fun if…” suggestions and blended them with her creativity to make a fun, laid-back shower. We invited ladies of all ages and let the youngest girls volunteer to be models for the toilet paper wedding dress game. I am not sure whether they had more fun letting us older ladies dress them up or tearing off the toilet paper at the end! We had delicious brunch food and a coffee/tea bar with my favorite homemade gingerbread syrup, too.
Shower1Collage
2) On Saturday afternoon, our group of five girls met up for coffee since the three out-of-towners were here for the shower. (We have been close since we were in senior high girls Bible study together). We caught up on new details and enthusiastically chatted about weddings, babies, pregnancy, husbands, and whether it is easier to parent boys or girls. (So far there are three sons in our group with another expected in May, so none of us really know.)

5 Girls April 2013

What were your lows and highs from the past week?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Field Notes on Boys #1-5

I am absolutely not an expert on boys. My information is based completely on my experience and observations from years of living with brothers and having friends who are boys. Many of these can apply to men as well as boys. This set of Field Notes is mainly addressed to girls.

1. Boys do not think the way girls do. (In general, I find people do not all think the same regardless of gender, so it is best to not assume anyone thinks like I do.)

2. Communicating through hints and subtlety usually does not work, so be clear about what you think, feel, or want.
A. Side Note: To improve the clarity of your communication, think about what message you want the other person to get. Summarize that message in one or two sentences. Tell the other person the summary.
B. Side Note: Just because you are clear does not mean they will do what you want.

2. Boys look for reactions. If you like something a boy does or says, respond positively and promptly. Do not try to play it cool or ignore them. They want a positive reaction. If they do not get it, they may try for a negative one.
A. Side Note: Sometimes they try for a negative reaction simply because it is fun to see girls get annoyed, embarrassed, or freaked out.

3. Boys generally love to watch girls get embarrassed, especially if they turn bright red! (See previous Note about reactions.)

4. Boys really can and do think nothing sometimes. This is very relaxing for them, so please do not stress them out by insisting they must have been thinking about something.

5. When young boys do not know what to do, they initiate a random, usually playful, physical altercation. (See earlier Note about reactions.) When one of my brothers was about ten, he saw me reading on the sofa and proceeded to fling himself onto, sprawling the entire length of said sofa and squishing my book. While freeing my book, I asked him nicely twice to get off, to which he just grinned and acted like he could not move. I marked my place in the book, hooked an arm under one of his legs and grabbed his ear with my other hand. Before he could react, I stood up and he hollered loudly as I carried him into another room where our mom was reading. “Mom,” I said depositing him next to her, “You need to deal with your son.” He still indignantly bemoans how “mean” I was in that instance, but he does so with a mischievous grin.

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Engagement Party

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Brian’s aunt and uncle hosted a lovely, fun engagement party for us. We were able to introduce several of our family and relatives for the first time and everyone seemed to have a terrific time!

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Lows & Highs: 12/19/12-1/1/13

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the stairs!

Brian & I celebrated Christmas four times and drove quite a bit between each one. We also tried to spend lots of quality time together and with our families, so I skipped Lows & Highs last week and this post covers the past two weeks.

Low: My grandparents on my dad’s side both had a virus during the week before Christmas. To give them more time to recover & to keep Eli from catching the bug, we postponed our Christmas celebration with them.

High: 1) We celebrated Christmas with Brian’s relatives (most of whom I met before) and I was warmly included with the rest of the grandchildren, complete with my own Christmas stockings. 2) We enjoyed Christmas with my family too, twice! It was fun to see how our Christmas dinner photos changed since last year; we have added three new people (fiancé, Brian; nephew, Eli; cousin-in-law, Catherine). 3) Brian was surprised and pleased by the rag quilt I made him for Christmas.

What were your lows and highs from the holidays?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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