Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

A special thanks to Therese Nagle for another heartfelt guest-post.  And a Christmas theme, too! Enjoy...

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

 Ah, Christmas. In the midst of all the holiday preparations and busyness, a constant theme for many is trying to find meaning and significance. We all want to create fond memories for our children. We want to find that “perfect gift” that is remembered for years. We want to acknowledge the important people in our lives. Sometimes, we get lucky. A small act or gift can spark many things – memories, kindness, laughter, love. Good stuff that spreads all kinds of good feelings for years. I am so very lucky to have shared a holiday tradition with a wonderful person for the last 29 years – my Mom – Mary Modesta Nagle.

It started innocently enough. In 1983, I sent out Christmas cards for the first time. I had graduated from college the previous spring, and some might remember a big recession and slim job prospects for a newly minted grad with a liberal arts degree. I was living in Iowa City, working at a day care center, without benefits and not much salary – a very hand-to-mouth existence. I needed a “real job” to make enough to meet my student loan obligations. On the card I sent to my parents, I wrote, “a new year too, maybe I'll even find a job.” In the next year, I did find a “real job” and moved to Minneapolis. In 1984, my Mom sent the same card back with “you did!”

Well, that very same card has been traveling between Iowa and Minnesota ever since. The card morphed into two, had paper taped to the back and now travels with a note pad for the current year's sentiments. I have no words to describe how much this card means to me. Twenty nine years represent a lot of life. We each tear up when we read over what we have written to each other over the years. We have had great joy, great sorrow, challenging times, joyful times. We both have admitted to each other that the card is stored in our respective safes during the year we keep it. The card is incredibly important to both of us.

As some of you may remember from my earlier stints as a stand-in on Sara's blog, I am one of the 10 Nagle children that grew up in Sara and Matt's house. Yep, my parents raised 10. My Mom has done amazing things in her life. Something truly remarkable is that she manages to have a unique relationship with each of us. About 15 years ago, I was telling some friends about the traveling Christmas card. A friend asked me if my Mom has traveling cards with any of my siblings. The question prompted me to ask my Mom. “No” she told me, “only you.”

Something so simple and inexpensive has grown exponentially. An offhand comment about finding a job sparked a decades-long tradition that brings laughter, tears and closeness between my Mom and I in ways that would be next to impossible to duplicate any other way. Some things in life are genuinely amazing. This card is one of them. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Therese and her mom

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

30 Years Together

This post isn't about Christmas, but it definitely deserves attention!  On this date (December 4) in 1982, my parents got married.  Thirty years later, they are still in love and going strong.  Now if that isn't "the good", then what is??

Here is a link to my recent post on the Quad City Moms Blog, dedicated to my parents:
                                                       Everyone Has A Story

And here is a picture of my parents, enjoying lunch with their three grandchildren, on their 30th anniversary.  It was quite the fancy lunch, considering my son picked the place (Hungry Hobo!).  Thank goodness they settled on his second choice...the first choice was Taco Bell, haha.

Monday, December 3, 2012

To Me, You Are Perfect.

As I said, I am a sucker for anything Christmas. I'm also a sucker for romantic comedies; the sappier the better.  So, you mix the two together, and what do you have?

Love Actually.  One of my all-time favorite movies, without a doubt.  Here's one of my favorite scenes:

click here to watch it:  To Me You Are Perfect
Now, if that doesn't melt your heart when the wind and snow are blowing outside your window...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

O Holy Night

The Christmas music on the radio begins earlier and earlier each year….this bothers some people. I am NOT one of those people. I swear it was still October this year when I was walking with my boys through WalMart and I spotted the Christmas decorations and lights at the far end of the store. I’m not sure who yelled “yay!”louder…them or me. And the music started even before Thanksgiving this year; much to my husband’s dismay. I have been blaring it in my mini-van ever since.

By far, my FAVORITE Christmas song is “O Holy Night”. It is a beautiful, beautiful reminder of what Christmas truly is: about that night, so long ago, when a little baby was born in a faraway land and the world changed forever. I have always loved this song, but after becoming a mother, I am even more appreciative of this amazing story of this little tiny, yet world-changing, baby.
No matter what your favorite Christmas song is, do me a favor this year: take the time to sit down and actually listen to the words of the song. Sometimes the lyrics are so familiar that we just sing along with them without a thought…this is great, but it might lend to us forgetting what we are even singing. I know I do that! So, when you are sitting at home (not driving your car!), try to take a minute (or three) and relax, close your eyes, and let the words sink in. No matter if it’s the beautiful lyrics of “O Holy Night” or the silly lyrics of “Frosty the Snowman”,just let it sink in. Enjoy the moment.

**My two favorite versions of this song are by Josh Groban (of course!) and *NSync (they do an amazing acapella version)

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine

Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord, let ever ever praise Thee
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh night, Oh night divine
Noël, Noël
Oh, oh night, oh night divine

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 days of Christmas.

I'll admit it...I love Christmas.  I love EVERYTHING about it.  As a Christian, I relish in the story of the baby Jesus and I love singing all of the Christmas hymns in church. But I also love all of the commercialized aspects of Christmas as well...I can't help it! Many people spend "Black Friday" out shopping like crazy people...I spend it at home with my children, drinking hot chocolate, turning on the Christmas music, and decorating our house from top to bottom with Nativity scenes, Santa Clause, snowmen, and twinkling lights.

In the spirit of this blog, looking for the good, let's spend the next 25 days enjoying the Christmas season.  Whether you are spending the holidays in a pew at church singing hymns, or going to the mall for your kids to visit Santa, let's just enjoy this month, these 25 days of excitement, peace, and family.

Come to "The Good" from December 1 to December 25 for your little dose of Christmas...songs, recipes,  videos, stories, traditions, etc.

Happy, happy holidays to all of you who faithfully read my blog. You are MUCH appreciated!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Legacy of Love

 Today I have a love story to share with you.  Today also happens to be my husband Matt and I's 12 year anniversary, but this love story is not about us; it is about the Nagles, who built our house and raised their family here for nearly 50 years.  One of their daughters, Therese, has written for "The Good" before ("Home Again"), and is a faithful reader of this blog.  She has written a beautiful tribute to her parents and their love story.  When she sent it to me, I couldn't wait to share it with all of you, because it includes some of my very favorite things:  Iowa City, a sappy love story, and a house full of kids (which happens to now be my house!)  And so, without further ado, I give to you...

Destie and Jack:  A Wonderful Love Story

I love to read. Love it, love it love it. Mostly fiction, but I am a fanatic about the morning paper. I don't read romance novels. That is not my genre. I sometimes fantasize about writing a great novel, or just writing in general. But, nothing I write would do justice to what I was privileged to experience first hand. My parents – Destie Monnig and Jack Nagle.

They met decades ago in Iowa City. My Mom was an undergrad, and my Dad was in law school. There is some confusion about how it all came about. Newman Center picnic, my Grandma telling my Mom... Jack Nagle wants to go to the picnic, why don't you pick him up? My Mom, driving the family car, picking my Dad up, her younger 12 year old brother needing a ride to boy scouts and asking my Dad (in the passenger seat) for the $.05 dues. All these years later, I like the idea that my Mom was driving and embarrassed by her pesky younger brother.

Nagle wedding
The picnic is legendary! We all talk about the Newman Center picnic. The picnic started it all! At some point, they started dating. And, my Dad moved back to Davenport (his home town) and started being a lawyer. He proposed. My Mom said yes! They had a great wedding and honeymooned in New Orleans.

They settled in an apartment in Davenport. They were a family. And, they starting expanding that family. They had kids, moved a few times, had more kids, bought a bigger house, the family grew, they had more kids, and settled on building a house (which my Dad helped design) as the ultimate home.

Ok, my parents were great parents. But, but, but, they loved each other and they were the best life long partners. That was the best thing they did. They loved each other. They supported each other. My Mom did so much and my Dad supported her career pursuits. He was so proud!

Dancing to their song
My parents loved each other. They were each other's rock. There was romance. There was passion. There was - as my favorite uncle pointed out before my wedding –friendship. Friendship is what its all about.

One of my favorite stories....years ago, my parents were spending the winter in Florida. I flew down for a couple of days to spend time with them. We were out at dinner with an old client of my Dad's – a woman I had just met that evening. A song came on and my parents looked at each other and immediately stood and said “This is our song, we have to dance.” I had not known that before that night. They had a song. But, I always will have a soft spot for Tony Bennent singing about leaving his heart in San Francisco.

My parents set the foundation. There IS such a thing as life-long love stories. They were married 65 years. My Dad died last January. November 23rd would have been their 66th wedding anniversary. I like to think that my Dad is listening to Tony Bennent. And dancing.
A special thank you to Therese Nagle-Kiser for sharing the wonderful love story that was the foundation of the home in which my growing family now lives. I don't know if we will ever be as big in number (they had TEN kids!), but I pray that we will be as big in love as they were.  Today as we celebrate our twelve years together, Matt and I will be thinking of the example that Destie and Jack set.  Happy Anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Nagle. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Favorite Mommy-to-bee!!!

If you aren't aware that my best friend (Chef Laura) is pregnant, then you probably haven't been reading this blog much! :)  In a few short weeks, Laura will be welcoming her first baby--a girl!  A best friend for my little Nora, and finally a niece in the same town as me! I am SO excited!

My family and I recently threw a baby shower for miss Laura and "baby bee". (Laura's maiden name was Berneking, and in high school I always called her "Laura Bee"; the nickname has stuck!)  I have been waiting for this baby shower for so long; an opportunity to celebrate my best friend and the fact that she will soon be a mommy!

Five years worth of bee gifts :)
I have been warning Laura for a while about the abundance of gifts that I have for her baby.  When I was pregnant with my first son (FIVE years ago!), whenever we went to garage sales I would pick up things for my baby, and also things for Laura's future babies.  Any time there was anything with bees on it, I would pick it up and stash it away for her baby! 

Since that time, we have moved three times.  The box of "Laura's baby stuff" has gotten bigger and bigger, and I have successfully hauled it through all three moves.  When she told me she was pregnant, the first thing I did was have Matt get up in the attic and get the box down!  I've been planning the baby shower ever since.

bees, bees everywhere!
So, on Saturday night, I began the process of taking down Halloween decorations in my house and replacing them with everything black and yellow, bees, and baby. (Just so happens we are all Hawkeye fans, the black and yellow was a nice theme!)  When it was all ready, my aunts and my mom and I just walked around and looked at all the cuteness. So exciting for Laura!

We all dressed in black and yellow and white in honor of Laura Bee and her little bee.  It was a wonderful baby shower...not too big, not too small.  Just a nice, friendly showering of my best friend with gifts for her little bundle.

Can't WAIT to hold that little girl in December! Little Nora Jean is ready to meet her best friend! :)

Bumblebee diaper cake!