The Pickle Party

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being invited to a ‘pickle party’ as my daughter would say. For many years now, a number of family friends gather at my godmother’s cabin once a summer to can pickles. These aren’t just any pickles, these are Marian’s pickles. I’m telling you, Marian (my godmother) has the most amazing pickle recipe. Word gets out about these pickles, and I find myself hiding them in my laundry room cabinet! The newly canned jars are carefully rationed once the pickling process is complete. Everyone has their favorite, mine are the baby dills. I could honestly sit down and finish a jar all on my own!

Not only is this both an art and a science, (it is really a complicated process!) it is a great time to catch up with old friends. My ‘station’ is by the sink and stove, with one of my most respected friends, ‘Sus’. She is really like family. Because life is busy, we don’t get to see each other or even talk all that frequently.  But when we do, I so appreciate her. Her example. Her heart. One of the many reasons I look forward to this weekend.

In recapping my Pickle Party, I realized there are some important lessons learned. Not only for pickling, but for life in general:

  • Pay attention to detail. To process. To your team members. (Those jars won’t seal and your pickles will ‘sour’ if each step isn’t followed correctly! Isn’t that also true with certain real life situations?)
  • Collaborate. It is a team effort, and each person has a valued role.
  • Listen. To not only direction, but to each other!
  • Teach. Take time to teach each other a craft, trade or simply life lesson learned. Pass on something to the next generation!
  • Laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously!
  • A little sweat labor yields a priceless product.
  • Enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  • Take time to start and keep a meaningful tradition.
  • Make reconnecting with your family / friends a priority.

and lastly…..


Pretty good life advise, don’t you think?  …….thanks for the great pickle party Marian!

Holiday Road

Holiday Road oh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh oh… Holiday Road oh oh oh, oh oh oh.

Last week, our family piled into our car, and headed west. 10 hours west to be exact. We toured South Dakota for the next 5 days before we turned around and headed back the same 10 hour stretch as our trip began.

One of the traditions my husband started when we backed out of our driveway was to play the song, “Holiday Road” every time we got in the car. (You know, the theme song from National Lampoon’s Vacation?)  The reaction from Gracie was joyful. She began singing along the minute it started. “Turn it up” she would scream with delight. Owen on the other hand, got a little grumpy. Like he was ‘too cool’ to participate in our silly family fun. I would sneak a look in his direction, and see him trying desperately hard NOT to smile. Before long we would all be laughing and singing along… “Holiday Road, oh oh oh, oh oh oh, Holiday Road oh oh oh, oh oh oh!”

We had the most amazing time exploring, sight seeing, appreciating the God given beauty of the Bad Lands and Black Hills. I knew it was going to be pretty. Just didn’t realize how pretty. Breath taking, really. There were several times during this trip when I sat back, consumed with gratitude. Gratitude for my family, for this opportunity to spend time with them. And to share appreciation for each other and the beauty around us.

As you can imagine, a road trip like this can also lend itself to some irritability as we were in each others’ hair, literally 24/7. At times I felt like we were playing a part in a National Lampoon movie. (Please don’t speculate which character I was playing!) Tempers flared, patience grew thin. But somehow we would rally. These moments were usually short lived, and we would soon be back to singing, “Holiday Road….”

So here’s to all of you taking Griswold family vacations this summer! And for those of you considering… just do it! You won’t regret the memories you will make with your family. All of them. The good, the bad and the ugly!

Please share with us your summer vacation memories, and silly traditions!

Do You Believe in Santa?

Monday night, my family set out to see Santa. I piled Owen and Gracie into our car, and met my husband at the local mall around 5 PM.

I should first tell you about the ride to the mall. My 6 year old, Owen, began to ask questions. “Is Santa real?” Apparently Anna, also a first grader, has told all her friends at school that Santa isn’t real. (Thanks Anna.) Owen then said: there is no such thing as reindeer that can fly, and how could there possibly be a santa at every mall? I could just see his little mind going. He then asked a very sweet question- “Do I have to believe in santa?” Not really knowing how to answer, I threw it back at him and said, “Why do you say that?” He answered, “I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” He then concluded all on his own, that the santa we were going to see was probably a santa helper who communicates back to the real santa everyone’s wish lists. Gracie just sat and listened to this conversation, not really phased by any of it.

When we got to the mall, much to our surprise, there was a very short line! We live in MN, so once inside, my kids threw off their coats and I found myself quickly holding 3 down coats, a purse and camera bag. A mom thing I guess- we can double as a coat tree. As we got closer, we noticed that Santa wasn’t perched in his chair… Yup. He was having dinner. “Be back at 6:00” sign sat on his chair, instead of his friendly face. Some quick decision making, and we decided to wait it out. The “Be back at 6:00” turned into “Be back at 6:20” – I guess he was having dessert. Doug met us in line, and helped out with the coats and helped keep an eye on the kids as they ran in circles.

About half way through the waiting, Gracie began to start whining. I can’t blame her, waiting in line for over an hour is a lot to expect of a 4 year old, even if it is to see Santa. She was begging me to hold her, and when she put her face next to mine, much to my surprise, her face was burning up. Another mom talent- knowing your child has a fever without the use of a thermometer. “My throat hurts, my tummy hurts, my head hurts…” Seriously? Just like that, she started to fade, and fade quickly. We couldn’t exactly leave at that point. Owen was waiting anxiously, and a bit more patiently than the rest of us. I think he wanted to answer some of his “Is Santa real?” questions. We also saw the long line that had formed behind us, and we suddenly felt a greater sense of urgency for Santa to down his dessert and get on with the show. We had visions of Gracie tossing her cookies all over Santa and the line of parents and children behind us raging at the mishap.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. We made it through the remainder of our wait, and both Owen and Gracie were able to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. We made sure Gracie didn’t get too close (she didn’t actually sit on his lap), and we paid our $17 for 2 hokey pictures to capture the moment. After all, it was the real Santa at the Burnsville mall on Monday night!

Yet another Mickschl memory. I sometimes wonder, does every family have these moments? I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Wishing you and yours a very fun, unexpected, joy-filled Christmas.

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