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2 In heart stuff/ recipes/ tips/ women

Providing Meals for a Family in Crisis

I was recently invited to provide a meal for a local family following the daughter’s serious car accident. The mother would be spending significant time away from home, so, friends, neighbors, and even strangers volunteered to provide meals for the remaining family members. It’s a privilege to help in this way and it reminded me of the times my family has been the recipient of this incredible kindness.

Meals can be organized by the website: http://www.takethemameal.com.

Tips for Providing Meals for a Family in Crisis:

Designate one person (a close friend, aquaintance or available family member) as the key contact person. This person can answer questions that people providing meals may have. Families facing a medical crisis may not have the time, energy, or availability to speak with everyone.

What should this contact person do?

  • Set up a schedule for food donations on http://www.takethemamealcom. Base the schedule on the family’s needs. For example, the family may only want meals delivered on weekdays.
  • Advise volunteers of food preferences and/or allergies.
  • Indicate the best time for delivery.
  • Advise volunteers where food should be left if no one is home at the time of the delivery.
  • Indicate if the family has room for any freezer items.
  • Give directions to people who need them.
  • Provide the family with a contact list of who will be coming by.
  • Cancel food donations when the family no longer needs help.  Consider, as circumstanses permit, phasing out the schedule rather than going from 7 days a week delivery to no deliveries.

If using www.takethemameal.com, several of the above listed details are automatically handled by the website, which makes it a great time saver. Additionally, volunteers can see what foods are being provided. This allows for greater variety.

Tips for those volunteering to provide food:

  • Deliver food in disposable containers: plasticware, ziplock bags, covered aluminum trays or pans. While your dishes may be beautiful, it places an added burden on the family to return them and keep them from being broken.  Also, young children may be the ones cleaning up after the meal. This enables them to help but you may not want a small child washing your favorite casserole dish.
  • Leave minimal preparation for the family. Salad?  Send a pre-washed bag of lettuce. Remember all the fixings.  Include extras such as cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and a box of croutons.  Don’t forget bottled salad dressing(s).
  • Include written warming directions, if necessary.  Don’t plan on giving verbal directions at the door – the person who answers the door may have never stepped foot in a kitchen. Also, there may not be anyone home at the time of your arrival and you may need to leave your food at a pre-designated place.
  • Consider weather and the age/demographics of the family when planning your meal. For example – cold salads might be appreciated on hot summer days. A family with lots of kids? They might prefer chicken nuggets to your favorite Aunt Lucy’s brussel sprout souflé.
  • Delivery of ice cream or frozen foods should only be made if you know someone will be home to accept them and if the family has room in their freezer.
  • Do not overfill containers.  Place containers that could spill while being transported on a damp towel in a larger pan or tray. This will avoid any unwanted spills in your vehicle.
  • Include snack foods like cookies, fresh fruit. Consider items that could be eaten at breakfast, too.
  • Do not overstay your welcome when delivering. Send card(s) or use online methods to let the family know you are thinking of them.

Do not feel you have to be a gourmet cook to contribute – your contribution is a wonderful gift from the heart. The family facing a medical crisis will appreciate your generosity beyond measure.

0 In musings/ women

Black Friday

It’s 3A.M. Do you know where you children are? Because I’m at Kohl’s launching the start of Black Friday shopping.

Every time I turned on the TV this past week I was reminded that Kohl’s shoppers could begin their holiday shopping at 3A.M. It intrigued me. Would the place be a mad house or deserted except for a few new-hires who could not opt out from working the night shift. I didn’t even need anything. I lack for nothing and I know what I’m getting for Mike. If I ever purchased a gift for him from a mostly clothing store, it’d be a bad gift as far as he was concerned. Plus, both my kids are living California style, cramped living quarters, not a lot of possessions, happy and content. The past few Christmases my kids have given Mike and I gift cards for favorite restaurants. Last year they treated us to Wicked. We loved it.

I mentioned my plan to shop early at the Thanksgiving table and two young women were almost willing to join me. Almost. The rest of the people thought I was crazy. So I did it alone.

Here’s what I learned: traffic is light at 2:45 A.M.. No, it’s nonexistent. I saw my first car only after I crossed into the next town. Three passenger cars and one patrol car, all headed north while I headed south. I wondered if they knew of a better sale. Was I possibly missing out?

When I pulled into the Kohl’s parking lot, I was amazed at how full the parking lot was. My watch said 3:02 A.M. As soon as I walked into the store a pleasant young lady handed me a Kohl’s shopping bag and loudly welcomed me to the store. I asked her if she was here because she wanted to be here or. . . She interrupted me and through a toothy smile she said, “Why, I’m here because it’s my job and I love my job.” With that her eyes began to pierce mine as she tipped her head to the side, if ever so slightly. It was a signal. Code for “that’s my boss standing right over there.” It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode when Kramer decided to earn some money by volunteering to participate in a police line up. Kramer’s nod pointed out the real bad guy! I gratefully, loudly accepted the mesh bag even though I really didn’t want to buy anything. With that my eyes I coded back, “Ohhh, thanks. I get it!”

You could hear laughter all over the store as customers milled around the employees who were anxious to serve. I decided to check out an advertised special for $8.99 scarves. All the scarves were on some sort of sale, so, with my Old Lady Neck getting worse by the year, I decided you can never have enough scarves. I found three for $12 each, retail price: $30. As I headed toward the cashier I paused at the jewelry counter. Within seconds an employee stated, “If you’re shopping for jewelry you’ll need a number.” And with that she placed a printed number “7” in my hand. “Well, I don’t really think I’m going to buy any jewelry. But does this mean there are six people in front of me?” I wondered where they were. “Oh, no,” she continued there’s no wait really, we just need to do it for. . .” her voice trailed off as she smiled and her eyes spoke in code telling me Corporate needed her to report all the waits that took place at the jewelry counter. Actually the only one waiting was the clerk behind the counter who was anxious to show me a selection. I decided now would be a good time to get a larger set of gold hoops. I just hate to disappoint.

I continued to talk to the employee with the numbers since at the moment; there were no takers for “8.” I found out I missed the line outside the door. There had been a mad rush of sorts, afterall. Employees had been given the option to volunteer for the early hours, but in the end, most were assigned a shift that would run from 3 A.M. for as long as 12 hours.

The number lady pointed out two young women behind me who carried flyers with purchases circled in marker and pages selected with sticky notes. They clearly had a strategy with every movement predetermined. “You think this is a lot, you should see our 3-ring binder we have in the car!” the taller one commented. The women, it turned out, had just come from Targets. “Now that was crazy. People camping out on the sidewalk.”

As the number lady and I continued to chat, I mentioned a Cardi’s Furniture commercial this past week. “Oh, you mean the one with the Cardi brother, toting a teddy bear and flannel pajamas while he slept in a Barcalounger? Do you believe it, they were making a big deal of Cardi’s opening early on Black Friday, at 9A.M.! Oh, puleeze,” she rolled her eyes. “I’ll be eating pizza for lunch, courtesy Kohl’s at 9 A.M.”

My new jewelry clerk friend then rang up my purchase of a new pair of earrings and 3 scarves; unknowingly this helped me avoid the ever-lengthening line that snacked its way around the cashiers at the front of the store. She handed me $10 in Kohl’s cash and I immediately wondered if I missed out by not increasing my purchase another mere $25 to earn $10 more of Kohl’s cash.

It was 3:23 A.M. when I saved $152.59. Mike suggested I could have saved all $227.57 if I had stayed in bed but I wouldn’t have missed this sale for anything. It was fun and I was tucked back in my bed at 3:57. Next year? I might have to try that camping thing. If only I liked to shop.

Do you have any shopping tips or horror stories?

0 In musings/ women

Post-Mother’s Day post

Last week I shared that Mother’s Day was all about me. Well, I lied. And I have Shaunti Feldhahn to blame. . . no, to thank.

On Saturday I went to a half-day conference where Shaunti spoke about the differences between men and women and why that’s so special. She’s written books For Women Only and For Men Only which is based on 8 years of research on this topic.

Whenever I find myself in the audience instead of on the platform, I try to make a commitment to myself before I arrive, that I will take away at least one key point to incorporate in my life. Otherwise it’s easy to attend conferences, not experience any growth as a result and then wonder why I even bothered committing the time and expense.

When I got home, my well-trained husband asked me, “What are we doing tomorrow? You know it’s your day!” That’s when I made a decision. My initial thought had been: curl up, read a book, take a nap, but instead I decided we would do something that absolutely shocked him. We went for a hike in the woods and did some geocaching (treasure hunting for gps geeks). Two things my husband loves to do! You see, I listened to Shaunti. I realized life is not all about me and when I celebrate the people I love most in this world, I make it easy for them to celebrate me!

We actually had a blast. I picked a trail I knew would be easy and beautiful. We took the dogs. Found two caches. At 5:00 pm we headed home when I was ready to call it quits. My husband was smart enough to remember it was my day. All the way home he said, “I can’t believe you picked hiking for Mother’s Day.

Once home, he cooked salmon on the grill. We avoided the crowds at the restuarants and I helped him clean up. It was a good day. . . a very good day.

I just ordered copies of Shaunti’s books for both my son and his NEW wife and my now-engaged daughter and my HOT soon-to-be son-in-law plus a copy for me.

As women, we are ingrained with the desire to do and to be everything for our families, but that often takes a huge toll. How can we celebrate the people we love, without ending up frustrated and resentful?