Friday, October 26, 2012

Sifting Through Life: Tomato Pumpkin Soup and a Family Trip

Living in Utah, we became accustomed to having a Fall/Autumn break.  It was nice and maybe it was a way that as Utahan's we learned to cope with the winters better.  The winters seemed to never end especially when you are living at 6300 feet.  It was not unusual to have a freak storm hit some time in September and another one ending the snowy season in June.  Yep, 9-10 months some years of snow in some amount.  It could be inches or feet in one day.

The break was a way to enjoy being outside, seeing the beautiful colors and hanging Christmas lights on your home.  I think our last year, we just left them up.  LOL

When you live someplace you get into a rhythm of how your life works and runs.  We have moved often and so we have grown used to changing with the state, the season's and the people.

While in Maryland we have experienced a wide range of weather.  In fact, as I am writing this, there is a storm a brewing.  From what they say, it is going to be a doozy , one to write in the history books.  We shall see.  Today I went shopping and stocked up on food, water and fuel.  We have a generator, a basement and plenty of games. I guess we are as prepared as we can be.

This is what we returned home to on Tuesday, a"frankenstorm"in the making.

We returned from a short camping trip.  Now this is the weird part for me. We are camping in October (Utah just had a snow fall).  I made the arrangements a few months ago to get away for a few days to see the Fall trees with the orange, yellow and reds of the season.  I had no idea of what to expect.

Would we arrive to bare trees with no leaves or would they still be green?  Our summer was super hot and this is the primary reason we don't camp or site see in the summer.  I suppose if you come here on vacation you do what you have to do but we live here and so we try to do all of our outdoor activities in the Fall months.  Believe me it is miserable in 95 degree weather with 60% humidity to find your happy place in crowded museums and camp grounds.

On Sunday we arrived to an empty camp ground filled with the most beautiful orange and yellow trees.  According to the lady who checked us in we had come on the perfect weekend.  YAY for me.

Now, I will tell you it is not an easy task to get two teenagers and a workaholic husband excited about taking a few days off, especially when it's not a true weekend.  Our weekend was Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  This is what I heard:

"But I will have homework"
"I have meetings scheduled"
"My girlfriend does not want me to go"…FYI: that was from the son, LOL
"I can't miss even one day, I am swamped"

I am going to fill you in on how this fell on my deaf ears, like I didn't even hear them.  WHY?

It's the same song and dance I hear every time I plan a short trip away.  Every time we come home I hear this:

"I really needed that"
"Wow, that was fun"
"You are amazing parents" (actual quote from this last trip)
"Thank you"

I have learned to follow my intuition as a mother and as a wife.  I can sense when my family is at their breaking points and they are needing a break and a bit of family time.

I used to disregard those small impressions that I would feel along the way.  I would discount my abilities to know when my children are hurting or are sad until a few years ago.  I had a significant experience that taught me I needed to LISTEN and pay attention with my oldest daughter and now I am on high alert.

I had these same feelings this past year and I did just that: listened.  It involved my son this time and I won't go into great detail other than to say I knew he was in pain and having a tough time.  I could sense it.

After a few days I confronted him about it and he remained tight lipped about what was going on.  I talked anyway.  I reassured him that we loved him and would always support him.  We wanted the best for him and he could depend on us to try to understand what was going on.  That whole day I felt a desperation about his situation.  I kept a close eye on him for a few days and he seemed to have found a peaceful resolution out of the deep somber state he had been in.

I soon forgot about that moment because he did appear to be happy again.  I had one other prompting before he started school a few weeks after the above mentioned experience and it was about marching band.  He is one to not disappoint us and yet every time he talked to us about this subject I could tell something was not right.  I told my husband that I thought we should tell him that if he wanted to quit, that we were okay with this but that it needed to be his decision and to think long and hard about this.

He made the decision to not continue with marching band but just band.

Again, this happened and I did not think twice about the two events because they seemed to have worked themselves out.  I can tell you though, that both times I felt compelled to approach my son.

Getting back to this past weekend, we settled into a routine of chatting around the camp fire each night.

Usually we started with the five of us and the girls would get tired and head into the cottage to sleep.  Cory and I were left with Drake to visit and chat about all types of stuff.  On one of these nights he opened up to us about what was happening and how he was feeling just a few short months ago.  I was shocked at what he said.

I will not break his confidence but suffice it to say they were words that as a parent you would hope to never hear uttered from your child.  He was depressed and in a very low state.  He doesn't know why he felt that way.

At that moment my body was filled with goosebumps.  I knew something had been seriously wrong.

We talked, we did not get upset, we expressed our love and a plan of how to handle those feelings if they come again.  We listened.

The weight that was lifted from our son was huge.  His bounce returned. He smiled.  He played soccer and joked with his sisters all weekend long.

Our time together as a family was very much needed to reestablish the trust, love and support that sometimes our busy lives have a subtle way of placing a wedge between us.

The trip was worth the work to prepare the meals and the time necessary to pack.  We went to bed each night rediscovering what our favorite foods, colors and movies were.  We told jokes.  We simply were together in one large room as a family away from the world for a few short days.  Enough time to forge the friendships, solidify the love and trust and balance our souls again.

If my kids heard me say one more time " I could totally live in a one room house" again I think they may leave me at home next time.  You have to remember we are the family that lived in a 30 ft motor home for one year.  I like tiny spaces.  Our cottage was awesome.  I felt like I was living a pioneer life of sleeping, eating and cooking in one big room.  Our beds were a queen, a full and two bunks.   We had a wood burning stove and one table that sat 5.  A trunk and a side table.  That's it.

I loved every minute of it.

I prepared all of the food before we left.  I did not want to be making huge meals the whole time I was supposed to be on vacation too.

So what did I make?  I made tomato pumpkin soup (recipe below), Enchilada soup, Nutella peanut butter cookies, ranch dip for veggies, hummus dip and tuna fish.  We brought yogurt and homemade pumpkin spice granola for breakfast and sandwich fixings for lunch.  We never eat all of the food I bring.  Even when I cut back we come home with stuff.  We did do smore's on one night too.

It felt like old times when we were traveling and it was just us.  I really do miss our time on the road and I anxiously but patiently am waiting for the time we can do that again.  Until then I will be content with our little outings away, as a family, every once in a while.

I am so grateful for those small whisperings that as mothers and fathers we have access too.  With each new experience it teaches me to listen more as I guide and raise my kids.

Here is the recipe for the Tomato Pumpkin Soup that I made for our first night.  I served the soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  It hit the spot on the chilly night spent in the "oh, so cute" one room cottage in the middle of the great outdoors surrounded by the most beautiful orange and yellow trees.

Recipe:  Tomato Pumpkin Soup
Makes 4-6 servings.

1 large can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon of dried Oregano
1 teaspoon of dried Basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1 1/2 cups of cream (heavy or light)

In a medium pot, combine all of the above ingredients except the cream.  Bring soup to a simmer.

Let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cream.

Top with cheese or serve with a grilled cheese sandwich.

More Pictures Below:


  1. What a lovely glimpse into your family. Keep trusting your motherly instincts of when it's time to get away and bond. Beautiful colors! One of the things I do love about living in New York is that there are 4 distinct seasons. Sometimes they come sooner or later, sometimes they are more extreme than other times, but they're there and I get to enjoy all of them in their own right.

    1. Thank you Anita for your comments. I love living here and enjoying the Fall colors and I agree having the four seasons is a plus too. In Utah we had winter and warm...LOL

  2. Loved reading this. It's funny cuz just very recent my fiance , 3kids,& I were living in an extremely small(literally 1 person could walk in the room at a time) motel. After a few days I began 2kinda like the tightness. Also just so thankful to have a roof & warmth. My 2boys 7 & 9 didn't mind at all. My 12year old daughter of course, well that's a different story. I told my boys 2pretend we were on a journey 2 newhere they'd want to go. Sometimes we'd pretend we were camping. They loved it. It's amazing the food you can make w/just a microwave! I've always wanted to take my children on a "vacation," wouldn't matter where. Even to go camping is hard, financial wise. But I thank you so much 4sharing your story.


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