a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When "I Do" is actually "We Do"

Frequently wedding bells do not unite only a husband and wife. This may be the second or third walk down the aisle for at least one of them and children are often part of the dowry.

Couples in this situation usually spend a lot of time in their efforts to ensure the transition will be as smooth as possible in combining the two families. Friendships need to be made, emotional securities must be reassured, households must be rearranged, and chores, ways of doing things, and even traditions must be considered and reworked.

So much effort and attention is needed to smooth these immediate-family needs that extended families, especially if they live a distance away, are overlooked.Newly acquired grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are also a part of the package.

If the about-to-be-united families do not live close together, and/or if the children of this new marriage are not well acquainted with one another, a step can be taken to gain familiarity before the actual times of meeting. Even when this is a totally joyful occasion for everyone involved, there usually is some uncertainty and uneasiness about the first get-together.

Let a simple photo album/scrap book be the first introduction. The cost needn't be much and the contents can easily be tailored to fit the age of the receiver.

Photographs, with identification, can begin the getting-to-know-you process free of insecurities, fears or time pressures. If you write little descriptions about the pictures or about your family members, it will add even more. These books can be looked at over and over again.

The faces and homes in the pictures become familiar and familiarity raises comfort levels so when the individuals finally do meet, they will not feel like total strangers.

Along with introducing the extended family, you could include early pictures of their soon-to-be new stepparent, where they grew up, and their pets, etc. Maybe you could add pictures they drew when they were young, cards they made or examples of their hobbies----maybe a report card from when they were about the same grade as the recipient.

If you did not want to part with the originals, photocopies work well. If the children are young, the items could be enclosed in plastic sheet protectors to make the album very durable and up to much handling.

Want to do even more? Not sure what?
Simply put yourself in the recipient's shoes and think of what you would like to know if you were in their position.

What about a simple but favorite homemade treat or even just the recipe.  The following recipe was my mother's "trademark." She has been gone nearly 19 years but I will occasionally make them for our kids---who tell their kids about them.

My Mom's Favorite Cookies
(also known as Grandma's coffee can* cookies)

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups white sugar (or one cup each white and brown sugar)
2 sticks margarine or butter
5 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Sift flour with baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In separate bowl beat sugar, margarine and vanilla until creamy. Beat in the eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and nuts, mixing well. Divide into three portions and shape each portion into a long slender roll.

Refrigerate until well chilled, or freeze. To use, cut slices 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake approximately 12 minutes at 350 degrees or until lightly browned. Let cool slightly on baking sheet before removing.

* Grandma always stored the cookies in a large coffee can in her pantry---thus the name.

'til we eat again,
          Simply, Gail

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