Momma, Can I Have a Carry Out?

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

 In exchange for my adult kids coming over to help me with heavy projects, I will “repay” them by making supper.  Actually, truth be told, I will never pass up a chance to cook for anyone who will sit at my dining room table.   A few weeks ago my son and his family and my daughter and her fiance came over and the men moved my old dryer to the berm, and picked up a “new” used one from a friend and hooked it up for me.  I made Mexican stuffed shells and my moms mac and cheese as a thank you to them.  The other night my daughter and finance came over again and took down our pool for the season and I made a pot of chili, and some BBQ and brownies.  I always tell them that Maddie and I won’t eat the left overs and they are to help themselves to anything they want to take home for lunch the next day.  Now I will admit that Maddie didn’t want to give up much chili, and Rick finished off the mac and cheese, so sometimes it is slim pickens for carry outs from mommas kitchen.  Often times they will call and want to come to dinner on a certain day of the week, and I will ask if there is anything special they want me to cook, which they usually have no problem giving me a menu.

I remember when I was newly married and going through nurses training and not working,  money was scarce .  We often times left my parents house on Sundays with left overs and packages of frozen meat, desserts and canned goods. My goodness, meals would have been pretty sparse had it not been for the good will of my folks.  When my 2 oldest kids were little ( about 4 and 6), they would each have a plastic grocery bag with their own little bag of sliced ham, cheese, fruit, a Little Debbie Oatmeal cookie and a few pieces of candy.  They sat in the back seat guarding those bags as if their lives depended on it. And believe me, they knew if someone got into their bag that Memaw gave them.  They didn’t need to worry because I had my own doggie bag too…duh 🙂

It’s probably funny to people when I try to explain the feeling I get when I am able to send a little bit of this and a little bit of that home with my adult children.  Perhaps I am trying to spoil them a little, even though they are gone from home?  I do know that I want them to have the same wonderful memories of me that I have of my mom.  I even find myself making 2 seperate main dishes to be sure eveyone has something they want to eat, just like she did.  They only complaint I have, mirrors the same one she had….bring back my Tupperware! ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Dum Dum Salad

1 number 2 can pineapple chunks- drained

1 can cherry pie filling

1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Mix and serve.  Refrigerate until chilled, then serve.

Nice quick dessert!

May Day….days gone by…

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

photocredit:tlc.howstuffworks

Growing up, May Day used to be one of my favorite days of the year, that is, after Christmas and my birthday.  In the seventies we still celebrated May Day in our small town of 1,100 people.  Mom would send us uptown with 2 dollars, and our job was to pick out 100 pieces of penny candy, plus some special candy.  Back in the “dark ages,” as my kids refer to my youth, there was a very nice assortment of penny candy available for stuffing the baskets.  There were those chewy cherry (or strawberry?) circular candies that had the appearance of a coin, Tootsie Rolls in a decent length, Pixie Sticks, Milk Duds, Nik-L-Nips, Candy Buttons on a strip of paper, Bit-O-Honey, Candy cigarettes, about 20 different suckers, Chicklets, candy bracelets, wax lips, Sweet Tarts, Dubble Bubble, Licorice, Lemon Drops, Black Jack Gum, Teaberry Gum, Necco wafers, Sugar Babies, Rasinets, Charms, Razzles, Chocolate coins, Pirates gold gum that came in a little sack, and it you had a little extra money you could get some Brachs candy too.  Now, not all of these candies sold for a penny, but they weren’t more than a dime each.  I can clearly remember going up to the Sweet Shop, money in hand, and beginning the task given to me.  As my sisters got older, they would come up too, and we were like the proverbial “kids in a candy shop.”  We would grab candy and set them in little piles, according to price, on top of the ice cream freezer (self-serve kind with 2 doors that slid both ways)  “Doc,” the owner would stand of the other side of the freezer and divide the piles into smaller piles, to make adding up our total easier.  It seemed like such a huge pile of candy….and we were in heaven.  We gladly gave over our money, while often times having to return some candy because our count was off, and left the store with our bags of happiness.  After the 2 block walk home we would begin making the baskets.  Mom would pop some popcorn on the stove, without butter, to be added to the baskets as a filler.  All we needed now was construction paper, scissors, some crayons for decorating the baskets, and a stapler. Sometimes she would have some paper doilies to make special baskets for family.  We always made them in to a cone shape, and cut an extra strip of paper for the handle.  It was imperative that you have a sturdy handle, because the baskets were to be hung on the door knobs of their front doors.  If it was a boy that you thought was cute, you could ring the door bell, then run…and if they chased after you, then  that meant they liked you.  unfortunately the only thing that chased after me were the family pets…….Sometimes we would go out in the yard and pick some of those little purple wild violets that grew close to the ground (actually, I think they were weeds) and add them to our mix of candy and popcorn.  It was truly one of the best days of the year.  Spring was making its appearance, the tulips were open, and the leaves were turning the trees green.  The long snowy cold winter was behind us.  If it was nice we would load the baskets on our bikes and make our deliveries, and if it was raining Mom would take us around.  Then you would anxiously return home to see how many baskets were left on the porch for us.  Truly magical 🙂

photo credit:peoplesumcnews.blogspot

I tried to continue the tradition when my oldest were in grade school a decade later, but many kids their age just didn’t know about giving out May Day baskets. They had a chosen few that got “special” baskets, including our neighbor Emma, their piano teacher Anne, and any other adults who touched their lives in a personal way.  One year we made them out of construction paper, and another year we used Dixie cups with pipe cleaners for handles.  They were always hand-made and decorated with the love and dedication that only a child can create.   I am a lover of traditions, and this was one that I hated to see die, but eventually we stopped making them as well……so to all of my friends and readers, I am sending you a virtual beautiful May Basket filled with any candy that you can fondly remember, popcorn that was popped on the stove, with a sprinkling little purple violets ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Red Cake

4 (1/2 oz) bottles red food coloring

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp. vinegar

3 Tbls. Nestle milk cocoa

1/2 cup Crisco

2 1/4 cup flour

1 tsp Vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg

Mix food coloring and cocoa together and set aside.

Combine flour and salt, sifting 3 times.

Cream sugar, crisco and egg.

Mix food coloring/ cocoa mixture to above.

Add buttermilk, flour, salt and vanilla.

Add baking soda to vinegar and stir well in to mixture.

Grease and flour pans (I use 2 heart-shaped pans) and bake for 30 -35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Frosting:

2 stick oleo

7-8 Tbls Crisco

3 Tbls flour

2./3 cup milk (room temperature)

1 cup granulated sugar

Vanilla to taste

Cream the oleo, Crisco, sugar and flour (add flour one Tbls at a time)

Add milk and vanilla.

Mix with an electric mixer until creamy.

My Conversation with Jesus

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

photo credit: thebigquestions.comThis morning while waiting for my daughter to get ready for school, I heard a song by Thomas Rhett entitled “Beer With Jesus,” and it really got me thinking.  I know the day will come when I will meet Him face to face, and wondered just what I would say to Him?  We all have had blessings, tragedies, trials and temptations in our lives, some more than others. I was raised in the faith, as a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church member.  Anyone not familiar with this, lets just say they are a close step down from the Catholic religion, but are Lutherans.  I grew up going to church every Sunday, going to Sunday School every week until I graduated from high school, and became a confirmed member when I was in eight grade.  Our family had a bad experience with our minister when my mom died, and one by one we left the church, finding another to take its place.  It was like leaving a good friend, but that friend had disappointed us to the core, so it was time to sever the ties that I had known for my entire life.  I am now considered an Evangelical Lutheran, which is not as strict as our Missouri Synod counterparts. We also raised our children in the faith.  I just think that having a relationship with God make you more accountable for your actions.  As I said before, my moms advise to me before my first date was to not be caught in a “position” with my date that would cause me shame it Jesus appeared at that moment.  I realize what she meant now, but it was really strange advise when you are 16 years old.

So this morning I allowed my mind to reflect on what I would say if I had a conversation with Jesus.  I imagine He and I sitting around my dining room table, deep in discussion about the things that have happened in my life.  I would first apologize for the sins that I have committed, some involving the top 10.  I am not proud of that fact, as I have committed some whoppers in my life, but not without regret and embarrassment.  I want Him to know that  I knew I was veering off the right path, and always held myself responsible for my slip ups.  I won’t blame anyone else for my mistakes.  It was me, and me alone who messed up. Then I would thank  Him for the wonderful blessings He gave to me during my years on this earth.  I have 4 of the most wonderful children that a mother could ask for.  I suffered 3 miscarriages and had a son die seconds after birth, so these 4 children are truly blessings. Perhaps He would explain that these babies were specially chosen to take the “fast track” to heaven, for heaven also needed sweet tiny faces among the rest of the angels?

I would then ask him why my parents were taken away from me before all of their grandchildren were allowed to know and love them as we did?  Why do some people live into their 80’s, and some are taken away at an earlier age?  I will want to ask him how he decides who is the next person to enter heaven?  I want him to know that at times it didn’t seem fair that often times the “good” people seemed to be taken away too soon.  I am pretty sure that at this point he would look at me, shake his head and remind me that it was not my place to judge who was “bad” and who was “good,” and he would be right.

I would then respectfully inquire why I have been  fortunate enough to fall in love several times in my life, but still find myself alone at this point in my life?  Every little girl grow up thinking that she will find that special person, fall in love, have kids, and live happily ever after.  Why does that happen for some, and not for others?  Why put a person in my life, let me fall deeply in love, and then take them away for one reason or another?  Maybe He will then take my hand and tell me that perhaps the best is yet to come, and the heart breaks I suffered will make me appreciate when “the best” enters my life?

After the questions end, and the conversation comes to a close, He will remind me that He was never far from my side during the times of deep and hopeless grief.  He will remind me that during those dark days He placed the appropriated people in my life to help me over the bumps in the road.  For never in my life have I truly been alone, as I have been surrounded by angels for protection and comfort.  He will remind  me to sit quietly and listen to the voices in my head while in deep reflection…for those voices are His, and He is guiding me will surety and truth.  He may also remind me that there are no promises in my life here on earth, as it is a temporary home, and I need to make the best of it, while recognizing that each experience, good or bad, is shaping my soul and strengthening my faith.  I need to remember kindness and compassion for my fellow-man, even when they disappoint me or are cruel.  And above all I hope He will  assure me that even though my life has been fraught with sins, and times of questioning of the faith, He has forgiven my weaknesses.  He will smile and tell me that it doesn’t matter how many times my faith was challenged, but more importantly it was better that I worked it out, and  found myself on the right track again. Then He will leave me with the most wonderful sense of peace and love. With tears in my eyes, and unconditional love in my heart,  I will then thank Him for sitting at my table,  assuring  Him that I await the day I can sit at His forever ♥

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

CREME WAFER COOKIES

 1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
( I always double the recipe)
Beat butter, add whipping cream and mix in flour.  Cover well and refrigerate about 1 hour.
Roll out 1/8 th inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
Cut out in circular shapes (I use the top from one of my McCormick short squatty spice bottles)
Coat each circle with sugar that has been placed on a plate or waxed paper.
Transfer to parchment lined cookie sheet, and pierce each one 4 times with a fork.
Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes, will be slightly puffed and feel “set” when touched.
(They are better if not allowed to get brown in color)
Cool and put 2 together with your favorite Crisco frosting.
(very pretty if you divide the frosting and tint each with yellow, green and pink)

There are lovingly referred to as the PIA cookies…yes the Pain in the A** cookies, because they involve more steps than I want to do, but they are worth the effort!

Fourth of July Fun

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

me in my homemade floatGrowing up in a town of 1,000 people was just the right fit for me.  We lived almost in the center of town…2 blocks from uptown, 3 blocks from the school and 2 blocks from the park.  As most small towns do, we always had a full day celebration on the 4th of July.  It would begin with a festive parade, complete with fire engines, police cars, floats, tractors and horses.  The kids would stand at the edge of the road, bag in hand, ready to get a months supply of free candy that was thrown out to the crowd from the passing entries.  The parade started at the grade/ high school, went down main street, turned at the hotel and went straight down to the park.  It was always exciting because we only had to walk 1/2 a block to reach the parade route.  We would cross the street with our blankets and lawn chairs sit in my Aunt Doris and Uncles Shellys yard.  This was the meeting spot for the extended family to assemble.  For many years we would have a fish fry and potluck in that same back yard.  They would un-thaw the fish that the men and ladies had caught that previous summer when we all went on vacation together in Wisconsin.  After the parade, while the adults were cooking the food, the kids would go to the park for the awards ceremony so see who’s float was the winner, and then to play some kids games.

moms creationToday I began going through some photos that we kept in a trunk after my parents passed away.  It was too painful to look at them for the past 5 years, and I will admit I have shed a few tears in the last few hours.  I found these photos of floats my mom created when I was a baby, and  that continued throughout our grade school years.  I just look at these and I shake my head in total awe of my mothers creativity and spirit.  These were made with a wagon,  chicken wire and countless tissues.  This one is probably the best one that I could find.  The date on the photo is 1960, which means I was 2 years old as a passenger in the float.

Scan_Pic0034In this one, my sister Tammy was a baby, and my other sister Kelly was the one appointed to push her the short 4 block through the kiddie parade starting line, to the park.  I would have been about 12 at this time, so I am sure that I was following close behind in some sort of get up.  One year the town replaced the old water tower with a new one, and Kelly and I went as the old and the new water towers.  She was in the “old” one, which was brick and straight up and down in shape.  Mine was silver in color, and had the familiar shape of most water towers now..looking like a golf tee with a golf ball sitting on the top.  I am hoping to find that picture somewhere.  I know we were older, and I can even remember trying to walk inside my water tower, trying not to fall over.

mom and I 1959...her carousel creationl This is the one that shows this wonderful, amazing woman who I called “mom”….As I said before, I am in awe of the things she did as we were growing up.  Most things went unnoticed by her children, until after she was gone.  She made every holiday special, but the July 4th and Christmas were always the best.  Now I am in a new town, double the size…but the parade goes right by my house.  My kids sat for years, as we did, with their bags, ready to catch the bounty of candy.  I wasn’t as creative as mom, and we didn’t enter many kiddie parades, so perhaps I cheated my kids in a way.  I have no excuse, other than the shoes I had to fill were much too large ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

PATIO POTATO SALAD

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  •    1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 7 medium red potatoes, cubed and cooked
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • Lettuce leaves and paprika, optional

Directions

  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, mustard, salt and celery seed. Stir in the milk, vinegar and egg until smooth. Add butter. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Cool. Stir in onion and mayonnaise. In a large bowl, combine potatoes and hard-cooked eggs. Add dressing and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If desired, serve in a lettuce-lined bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Yield: 8-10 servings.

 

She’s Touching Me!!!!!

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

photo credit:ericpetersauto.comAs I was easing onto the interstate Friday night, I fell into line with other cars and mini-vans traveling to parts unknown.  Some vehicles had one person, some had families.  I noticed that in some of the vans, there were small tv screens dropped down from the ceiling showing a movie or cartoon. I shook my head and thought of what a blessing those small screens were to the 2 occupants in the front seats. When our kids were little we didn’t have anything like that to keep the kids entertained.  I would pack a tote with coloring books, colors, small hand-held games, sticker books, and anything else that would distract them for a few hours.  After my mom died, my dad went on vacation with my sisters and I, and our families.  Since I only had the girls and I, he rode with me, and stayed in our cabin. It was going to be the first vacation after my divorce.  I can remember sitting in the driver’s seat of that tightly packed Durango with my dad as my “wingman”…praying my first solo trip would be uneventful.  My dad had bought a small hand-held DVD player for Maddie to use during the trip.  She tended to talk a lot, so I realized that the $80.00 he spent was going to be worth it’s weight in gold.

Then my memory went back to when Kelly, Tammy and I were kids in the back seat of that white Pontiac on our way from central Illinois to Northern Wisconsin every July.  This would have been in the 60’s, when the cars were huge, there were only AM radio stations, air conditioning in the car was a treat, and there were only 2 lane roads, so the trip was 8 hours.  My mom would pack a huge bag of treats consisting of sandwiches, chips, grapes, homemade cookies, other assorted snacks, a gallon of juice, and 2 thermos of coffee.  One coffee was with cream for dad and one was with cream and sugar for her.  We left at 2 in the morning and would fall into line in the caravan with our other family members that stayed at St Johns Resort in Minoqua Wisconsin.  We were allowed to take our pillows for the trip, but you learned early not to take too much because that back seat got pretty cramped if we had much more than our bodies in there.  First off, there were 3 of us, and only 2 windows….fight number one.  Then someone had to sit behind my 6’2″ father who had the front seat set back as far as he could in order to be comfortable.  The driver was the top dog back then, and everyone did their best to be sure he was happy.  My sisters and I inherited our long legs from dad, to sitting behind him for 8 hours was torture. Somehow I got the seat behind him, Tammy in the middle (she was the baby) and Kelly behind my mom.  We would then trade places after we stopped for breakfast at the Oasis truck stop in Janesville Wi.  We had drawn imaginary lines down the back seat, dividing it into 3 areas that we claimed as ours. You could put all of your crap in your area, but stay out of your neighbors area.  It seemed to simple in the minds of youth.   Of course once Kelly got into position behind dad, she would begin shoving Tammy into my area in order to make room for her legs.  I would shove her back, Kelly would then shove her again my way……and so it began.  It would continue until my mom would get involved, to avoid my dad getting distracted.  “SHES TOUCHING ME!”…..over and over and over….. Then came the threats “Don’t make me pull this car over!”….Pretty soon my moms arm would fly over the front seat trying to make contact with someone…anyone…

About mid-morning she would break out the goodies that were stashed in the bags at her feet.  Looking back, we thought we were cramped, but it we could have seen into the front seat we could have seen mom squeezed into her seat with all of the food, coffee, juice, plates, napkins….WOWZA.  I don’t know how she got turned around enough to swat at us…probably why she never connected with flesh.  We would have our snack, and then settle in for a nap, since we had been up since 1 in the morning.  The air was heating up outside, so the air conditioning came one.  It had been on “vent” up until now because “the air conditioner used up gas!”  So now the windows were rolled up tight, and my parents would decide to have a smoke, without the windows cracked.  Pure torture…plus  they always seemed to smoke at the same time….and that air conditioner that was our savior…was now blowing the smoke right back to the back of the car.  AWFUL!!!!  One time I thought I would just crack the window just  a smidge to get some fresh air…bad idea!  So finally the cigarettes were done, and we could settle into our respective third of the back seat for a little siesta.  The car became quiet, and the radio would then be turned on.  But again, there were on only AM stations, which meant there were seldom stations with music, just talk.  Plus, we were traveling up into the woods, which made reception ever worse.  Somehow mom would find a station with some music and we would settle in…until I would notice the station was not quite tuned in….just a small turn of the tuner knob would get that tiny bit of white noise out of the music…but she never seemed to notice…and it made me crazy…..

So here we are, traveling in this car packed to the gills with food, clothes, cookware, towels, people, Tammy now practically in my lap as Kelly stretches out to be comfortable, mom humming softly, the radio playing quietly, just a little out of tune, air conditioner blowing full blast and cruising at 55 mph towards 2 weeks of fun in the sun with some of the best family in the world.  We didn’t need a DVD player that dropped out of the ceiling…we had each other…and what I would give to go back for one more vacation with mom and dad in that front seat  ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

DUMP CAKE

1 large can crushed pineapple with juice

2 cans cherry pie filling

2 sticks of butter

1 box cake (yellow or white)

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Grease 9 x 13 -inch pan

Dump in crushed pineapple with juice. Spread to fill corners.

Dump in cherry pie filling and spread to fill corners.

Dump in cake mix (dry) and spread to fill corners.

Spread nuts on top.

Cut butter into pats and place on top of dry cake mix.

Do not stir or mix ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until browned.

Can serve with a dollop of whipped topping.

Mr. Poison Control

FOOD FOR THE SOUL


My son, as he progressed from being a toddler to being in preschool, decided that he would drive his father crazy.  He was greatly influenced by his sister, who was almost 2 years older, and would pretty much do what she said.  One day when I was at work and their dad was “babysitting” (why is it when the mom has them she is raising them, but when the dad has them he is “babysitting”), the two of them were supposed to be in their rooms playing.  He went to check on them, and found them in the bathroom.  They had pushed a stool up the sink and proceeded to climb up and peruse through the medicine cabinet.  They knew just what they were looking for, because somehow they had spied the baby aspirin, and somehow had gotten the lid off.  Of course Stephanie ratted Ricky out immediately when their dad entered the room, and after noticing the open bottle he realized some of the pills were missing.  Steph repeatedly denied taking any pills, and when Rick was questioned he responded “Well daddy, I had a feber!”  Yes, it was a feber, with a “b”, not a fever with a “v”…..this then led to the frantic call to poison control and the decision that he probably didn’t get enough to be fatal, but a quick trip to the doctor was recommended.

    Probably 6 months later he came to talk to his dad, who was again “babysitting’ and his breath smelled like perfume.  After much denying that he had done anything wrong, it was discovered that he had in fact gone to the bedroom, somehow gotten up to reach on the dresser, and had taken a good swig out  of a bottle of my  Bird of Paradise perfume.  First off…for those who can remember the smell of Bird of Paradise, it was truly  appalling.  I had it because it was a gift, and was in a cute decorative bottle. We were young parents without extra money for chotchkies, which according to the urban dictionary means “a small piece of worthless crap”, so this perfume bottle was a beautiful accent piece to our dresser.  How in the world this child got that uncorked bottle to his nose, and then actually drank any is besides me.  I guess it’s true when they say there is no accounting for taste 🙂  At this point there was a pattern beginning to start and action needed to be taken.  Once again another call to poison control, which led to another hurried doctors appointment, and it was decided that maybe stiffer consequences needed to be taken to avoid this happening again.  We had lucked out twice, but the next time it could be fatal, since clearly he would eat or drink anything, regardless of the smell.  He was then given some Ipecac, which is given to make someone throw up after they have ingested something they shouldn’t have.  Now, this 4-year-old had no idea what was going to happen, and he happily drank the syrupy liquid in the doctor’s office.  Within a few minutes the hurling began, he spewed on the floor of the exam room, the waiting room, the floor and seat of the car, the pharmacy floor, and then for good measure he hit my back steps and kitchen throw rug.  I will have to say, he never ate or drank anything again unless he knew it was safe.  My Mr. Poison Control had finally learned his lesson ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

4 large eggs

1 2/3 cup sugar

1 cup oil

15 oz pumpkin puree

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour

Mix eggs, sugar and oil together.

Add in pumpkin puree.

Mix in dry ingredients.

Pour into sheet cake pan that has been sprayed with Pam (or brand you like)

Bake 350 degrees for 24 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool

Frosting:

3/4 cup butter softened

6 oz cream cheese softened

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar.

Combine and beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cake.

Wanted: A Good Man

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

 In 2005 my ex-husband and I separated.  As anyone who has gone through a divorce knows, there are emotions involved that you don’t even realize you knew you could have.  I had taken a break from nursing and I was running our family business, Pop’s, in our small town.  Stepping into Pops was like a step back in time.  One one side when you walk in is a wall of candy, some that I remember as a kid, one side has a soda fountain and ice cream, there is seating in the back with booths, and one area was used to serve lunch during the week.   We sold the business after my dad died in 2007, but I have many fond memories of my adventure as a business owner. Maddie was in first grade, so it was wonderful to be able to pick her up after school and bring her to the store until I was finished for the day.  Pops became her second home, and my fellow co-workers became her extended family.  Every customer that came through the door knew Maddie, she is just that type of kid who doesn’t know a stranger.  My daughter Katelyn had left that fall for college, so it was Maddie and I against the world.  I soon found that I needed to return to my nursing job on a part-time basis to secure health insurance, so I was kept very busy running the store, working a few days a week as a nurse, and adjusting to life on my own.

My ex-husband began dating about 6 months after our separation, and Maddie and the new girlfriend seemed to get along well.  While he and I had a rocky relationship for a while, I supported him in his effort to move on, and Maddie knew he had my blessing.  I think it made it easier on her, because she had already had enough changes in her life at that point.  She was always worried about me being alone.  I would tell her over and over that mom was busy enough without worrying about dating, and that I had her and that was enough.  She continued to worry about my being alone, no matter how much I tried to reassure her.  It was so  hard to explain to a 6-year-old that meeting a man was the last thing on my list at that point.  One day at the store, during the rushed lunch hour, I noticed people reading something attached to the cooler as they picked up their food.  They would read this note and giggle, often times turning around to smile at me, some giving me a thumbs up sign.  I had no idea what was going on.  We were busy, so I forgot all about it until I was sweeping up after lunch and found this paper she had taped to the cooler at some point that night before.

That little stinker had become a match maker.  I laughed so hard as I peeled it off of the cooler.  You can see that it is all crumpled from being folded up in my wallet for 6 years.  I appreciate the slim body she gave me, and it was nice that she pointed out that only “boys” need apply.  I still smile when I think of the love this little girl had in her heart for me as she was trying to make me happy.  I don’t even know why I have kept this note all of these years, but I do know that Maddie was way cooler that any dating website that has been created.  You go girlfriend, I love you and your ingenuity. You are truly a gift from God ♥