“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Bruxton.
    I am busy body – if you take that definition literally. I am usually busy, moving around doing something or working on a new project. It makes me uncomfortable when people ask me how I find time for the things I do. Sometimes I feel the undercurrent of resentment, as if somehow they think I have more time in the day than they do. Sometimes I detect an edge of jealousy; they wish they could get more things done. There are also the times where there is a genuine tone of wonder in their voice, as if I know a secret to life that they don’t.  These feelings are what draw me to the quote above. One of my answers to this has been that my mom left Stacy and me with all of her leftover energy so we could best use it up. While I like to envision this leftover energy kept in sparkly bottles that I can go sneak a sip of, it is more likely that I just make time for the things that make me happy. This is precisely why you would be more inclined to find me knee-deep in a creative project instead of scrubbing the shower.
    This past week, Stacy and I made some time for a very special group of ladies and hosted a Valentine dinner at my house. Our invite list included those that help us fill a bit of ‘the mom gap’ in our lives. They do this by listening to our problems; by offering praise and encouragement for the mundane things that generally only a mom knows best how to do and when exactly you need to hear it; by offering their tender grandma love to more children; and by really just being themselves: the women that we adore and appreciate.
    The wonderful women seated around my table came from all walks of life, yet they all fill in pieces of ours. They make us think. They help us learn. They offer guidance and wisdom. They listen to our deepest concerns and encourage us to move forward when we are stuck in the quicksand of our own doubts. They are immeasurably important to us, each in a different way. Some of them have known us for years and years; others for only a short time, but they have connected in a way that makes it seem like much longer.
    Over cups of Hot-Buttered Cranberry Punch, steaming bowls of Tomato Soup with Two Fennels, plates full of Stuffed Mushrooms, Marsala and Rice, Frozen Fruit Salad, and Harvest Coleslaw…we laughed. Hearty, belly-busting, red-faced, morale-boosting laughter rose up from our eloquent table settings. We had intelligent conversations, talked about books, life, how each of them came to know Stacy and I. However, it was the laughter and the appreciative grins and hugs that sent me to bed with a smile on my face and a happy heart that night. Even when our meal was wrapped up over gold-edged plates of Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake topped with fresh whipping cream, the camaraderie didn’t stop. As two of them toiled away at the dishes, the laughter and hen cackles (as my husband lovingly calls them) continued as we all kept multiple conversations flowing.
    We discussed this business of ‘making time’ over our meal. We are all too aware that the world appears to be moving at a faster pace, the advent of so much technology has done nothing to slow it down. Yet, if one searches hard enough for the pause button on life only to find it may be stuck from underuse, just press a little harder. It’s worth it. It can be something as quick as a five-minute phone call, a monthly breakfast date with a friend to catch up and compare tales of children’s antics, or a fancy dinner prepared with love and served on fine china.
From personal experience, I can tell you that when you put forth the effort to make time for important things or important people – be they your family or friends – it helps rejuvenate and revitalize you. Occasionally enough to go do the mundane jobs that don’t bring you joy…like scrubbing the shower.
    I leave you with the recipe for Hot-Buttered Cranberry Punch. This is so easy and delightful to share with others. Enjoy!

Hot-Buttered Cranberry Punch
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves    
2 cans jellied cranberry sauce
3 cup water                    
1 qt. canned pineapple juice
butter, for serving
    In saucepan, combine sugar, 1 cup water, salt, and spices and bring to a boil. In large kettle, crush cranberry sauce with fork and add 3 cups water. Beat with hand mixer to smooth. Add juice and hot syrup mixture. Simmer 5 minutes. Heat punch for party time over low heat. Ladle into mugs and add dots of butter. Serve with cinnamon sticks for stirrers. Makes 2.5 quarts of punch.
    Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wis. Her children, Ira (12), Dane (10), Henry (5) and Cora (toddler), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.