Doing it! Plus, GRAND Social No. 348 link party for grandparents

Doing it! Plus, GRAND Social No. 348 link party for grandparents

Doing it!

Jim and I are doing it. Finally. We have finally accepted the fact the home we love and have lived in for nearly 12 years is too big for us, has too many stairs, too large of a yard, too much space for two. Especially two with trouble walking about.

Which means we are doing it: We are moving to a smaller place… somewhere (TBD) in the same city. Yes, we are downsizing. Though I prefer to think of it as my most recent Silver Sneakers newsletter called it, rightsizing. Our current home is 3,600 square feet. The homes we’re considering…

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Christmas and how the empty nest gets harder after college

I used to be one of those moms whose child — or children, plural — recently left for college. You know... the moms walking around with a dazed, how-the-heck-did-this-happen-so-fast look in their eyes, virtually visible cracks in their hearts as they miss the once little ones who have flown their nest. They're the moms who live for holiday breaks, spring breaks, summer breaks, for that's when their loved ones return home, back to the safety of the nest where mom can hold each one in her arms and savor the sweet scents and sounds of her babies all around.

family christmas stockings

I was one of those moms. That first year my daughters were scattered afar for schooling and such was rough. It got easier, though, as it does for all moms (and dads) whose kiddos have gone off for enrichment and enlightenment on the road to becoming full-fledged adults. I found new...

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Empty nest perks, plus GRAND Social No. 134 link party

Empty nest perks

One of the great things about the empty nest during the holidays is witnessing the enthusiasm with which my daughters feather their own nests for Christmas.

Ever since Thanksgiving, I've received various photo texts and Facebook updates from Brianna, Megan and Andrea showing me the progress of their decorating. Here, just one from each of my crafty, creative, Christmas-loving daughters:

holiday decorating

It warms my heart to see my daughters...

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Looking back: 9 things we did right as parents

carpenter family portrait

I didn't support my youngest when she wanted to change majors — and universities — midway through her college career.

I didn't call parents to tattle on their mean girls (and boys) who made a living hell of several academic years for my middle daughter.

I didn't demand my oldest...

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Changing seasons: Thoughts on giving my adult daughters their baby books

baby books

"It would be good for me to know those things," my middle daughter sighed into the phone the other day. And she's right.

We were on the phone, discussing challenges she faces with her middle child, my second grandson. There is hope, I pointed out, a...

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Life Reimagined? Call mine Life Reenhanced


I'm firmly entrenched in life's second act — or is this the third? — and all about me are folks in the same phase of life making the most of the opportunity to rework their lives in order to make it all they imagine it can be.

It's impossible to miss the wave of boomers...

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Saturday movie review: 'Le Week-End'

I had the opportunity this week to screen LE WEEK-END from Roger Michell, the director of NOTTING HILL. 

Le Week-EndLE WEEK-END stars Jim Broadbent as Nick and Lindsay Duncan as Meg, a long-married couple visiting Paris to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

Celebrate isn't exactly the right word, though. Nick and Meg continually...

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Why heads butt in an empty nest

Much of the time that I worked at the local newspaper was spent in a small department. I was the special sections editor for several years and had, during the best of times, three staff writers who worked at desks nearby. (Plus a photographer and a couple shared designers, but their desks were elsewhere.)

raised hands

The great thing about our small department was that when one of us had a question regarding grammar or punctuation or AP Style, rather than look it up in...

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The more things change: 10 ways my Christmas has long remained the same

Now that the nest has emptied, home, family, Christmas and more are far different than they were in the past. The more things change, the more it matters that some things remain the same, things such as the following.

10 ways my Christmas has long remained the same

Christmas treeThe Christmas tree — Regardless of all the ornaments my daughters accumulated through the years then took with them when they moved into their own places, our tree always — somehow — continues to look the same every single year. (And our cats...

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Back when pie was P.I.E.

One of my favorite times of the year is here: It's pie season!

pie buffet

The weeks surrounding Thanksgiving are when pies take center stage. Christmas time is for cookies; Thanksgiving time is for pies. The planning for them. The baking of them. The eating of them. This is when the traditional Thanksgiving favorites top dessert menus.

I'm talking pumpkin pies, of course, but apple pies, pecan pies, sweet potato pies and mincemeat pies, too. Though I admit I've never tried the last three on the list, as traditional Thanksgiving pies at my place are pumpkin, cherry and chocolate cream. (Pecans, sweet potatoes and mincemeat aren't something I have a hankering for any time of the year, in pies or otherwise.)

Then there are the fancy-pants kinds of Thanksgiving pies seen on magazine covers and Pinterest boards, the pies I hope to one day bake, hope to one day taste. Caramel apple pie. Pumpkin ice cream pie. Peanut butter pie. Strawberry-raspberry pie and cranberry pies of all sorts, too.

I love pie.

But Thanksgiving time is the only time I make pie, the only time I eat pie.

That wasn't always the case.

For a brief period of time when my daughters still lived at home, I proposed pie as our all-time — meaning All. The. Time — dessert of choice. Not for dessert though, but for breakfast. On Saturdays. Saturdays far removed from Thanksgiving.

For several months, I offered my then-teenage girls (and my husband, too) pie on Saturday mornings. A time or two I baked a pie, but more often than not it was a perfect pastry picked up from the nearest Village Inn or Perkins, those 24/7 restaurants featuring display cases filled with full-sized pies of the most luscious sorts. Our favorite was the silky smooth French Silk topped with rich, thick, real whipped cream and chunky chocolate shavings. Runner up? A cookies and cream concoction that was to die for, at least for those who'd die for more than their share of Oreo cookies.

On very ordinary Saturdays, I'd set out on the kitchen counter the perfect pie for the family to serve themselves a piece as they woke on Saturday mornings. Alongside the delectable pie and the dessert plates on which pieces were to be placed, I set a note card on which I'd written the following:

May you always have P.I.E.
Peace, Inspiration and Enthusiasm

Those three things — peace, inspiration and enthusiasm — were what I considered essential ingredients for a fullfilled life. I wanted fulfilling lives for my girls. I wanted them to always have peace, always find inspiration, always be enthusiastic about their world and their place in it.

I wanted them to always have P.I.E.

I thought pie was the perfect way to serve up regular reminders to pursue exactly those things.

My pie-serving quest took place during my oldest daughter's senior year of high school. When the opportunity arose for parents to purchase ad space in the yearbook, space in which they could publish a farewell to their graduating children, I bought space, noted a few niceties for Brianna from Mom and Dad, and ended it with "And remember to always have P.I.E."

I wanted Brianna, as well as Megan and Andrea, to place firmly in their hearts and minds my efforts at impressing upon them the importance of P.I.E.... and pie. I wanted those pie-serving Saturdays to be added to their lists of Cool Things Mom Used to Do and become cool things they would one day do with their own children. I wanted them to always remember to have P.I.E. and to always remember Mom's serving up of such slices of wisdom.

That didn't happen.

I asked one of my daughters not long ago if she remembered all the pie we used to eat. My question sparked not even the slightest glimmer of remembrance. More recently, when the proliferation of pie pins on Pinterest reminded me of our P.I.E. eating days and I considered writing a post such as this, I asked Jim if he remembered those pies I hoped had meant so much to my family. He didn't.

pumpkin pie

Sometimes our attempts at making an impression on our children, on our families, fail. My earnest efforts at making P.I.E. an important part of our Saturdays and each and every day to come were one such failure. It was good at the time. No, it was delicious at the time. But, as is the case with all things related to growing babies into adults, that time didn't last. Our prime pie season, for reasons of which I'm not quite sure, lasted a shorter period than most other seasons of childrearing.

No matter, though. The return of pie season brings with it my hope that peace, inspiration and enthusiasm abound in the hearts and lives of my daughters — even without me foisting upon them oversized servings of French Silk Pie.

And despite being unable to share oversized servings of French Silk Pie with you, my friends, I hope that during this Thanksgiving season and beyond, you, too, will remember to always have pie. Not only the pie that satisfies your stomach, but the P.I.E. that satisfies your soul, too.

Photos: Top photo from and altered by me. Pumpkin pie photo mine (click the pie for recipe).

Today's question:

What are your favorite kinds of pie?

5 things I do different in an empty nest

My nest was full for a good 20-plus years. Then one by one, my three girlie birds flew away.

It took a while to get used to the empty spaces and absent faces, but I'd say I'm now past the mourning phase and well into appreciating that my husband and I have the place all to ourselves.

Things are different in an empty nest. It's not only the fewer family members kicking about the place, but the activities that happen at home now that make for a wee bit different way of life. To wit, the following.


I grocery shop only when absolutely necessary. When my nest was full, I had a regular shopping day. Every single week for a bazillion years, I'd make a list, gather my coupons, then head out the door for the chore I hate most: stocking the fridge, the pantry, the bathrooms and more. I'd walk the grocery store aisles and fill my cart on shopping day whether the cupboards were empty and we really needed food or not. Now that the nest is empty, I shop when the fridge features little more than a few shriveled grapes, a jar of pickle relish, and two bottles of salad dressing that likely should have been thrown away months ago.

We eat dinner in front of the television... a lot. When my oldest daughter was about five years old, we moved our big television (ya know, the one in a massive wood console cabinet and weighing 10 tons and having a UHF and VHF channel changer thingee yet no remote) out of the living room on the main floor where it was visible from the dining room, and into the family room in the basement. Watching television during family dinners did not fit my idea of what family dinners should be. So the TV went down the stairs and conversation between family members became the goal. Every once in a while, we'd have a night featuring pizza and movies, a night when it was okay to sit in front of the TV in the family room while eating. Now that the nest is empty, Jim and I have many nights when it's okay to sit in front of the TV while eating. (The TV is still downstairs, though, as I still consider having it visible from the dining room verboten. Interestingly enough, our dining room features far less actual dining than it did in the past.)

body formI run around the house naked. Okay, I don't really run around the entire house naked, but I do a nude dash from the bathroom to the bedroom to get my clothes after I shower. When my girls were at home, I brought my clothes into the bathroom (not the master bath, which is Jim's... and we don't share a bath... which is one reason we've managed more than 30 years of marriage... but that's another story for another day) before showering, so I could get dried and dressed before even opening the door. I could still do that but I don't. Partially because racing from my bathroom to the bedroom — which involves climbing a flight of stairs — is sometimes the only exercise I get for the day. Plus, as I get a package delivered nearly every single day, I enjoy the challenge of hauling <cuss> before a delivery man appears at the door. (Thankfully for said delivery men, I have never, ever not won the challenge.)

I make my husband breakfast on weekdays. When our children were at home, said children were my primary focus morning, noon and night. Poor Jim never got breakfast on school days unless he was willing to have a bowl of cold cereal — which he hates and I've never seen him eat in all the decades of our marriage — or a bowl of hot cereal, which he hates, too. Those were the main menu options on school days, along with Johnny Cake now and then (carbs were our friend back in the day). Now that the nest is empty — and I'm a work-from-home freelancer — I feel pretty guilty lounging around in my jammies as Jim heads out the door to toil away on bringing in our only stable income. The guilt is compounded if he has nothing in his tummy. So I make him coffee to take with him. And I make him breakfast to take with him, too. Mostly something featuring carbs because though they're no longer our friend, Jim loves carbs. At least he no longer goes hungry on weekday mornings.

And, of course, we eat funnel cake for breakfast, if we want. I admitted this yesterday. Carbs. Grease. No justifications. Enough said.

funnel cake

Today's question:

What do you do different in your empty nest (or hope to do once it empties)?