Adult Book Report: The Book of Joy

In 2020, I (Nikki) have a goal of reading 10 books. Being a mother of two young children, I read many books – but they just so happen to be kids books. So this year, I’m trying to accomplish reading the stack of books I have built up.

Book #1

The Book of Joy – by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams

This book was a gift given to me by my friend and work colleague Amanda Miller. 🙂

I enjoy ear marking pages. It take me some time to get through books I always like to go back to those pages and feel the inspiration again.  Below are a few of the snippets that I earmarked. Really the whole book is full of amazing quotes and snippets.

These two people – two of the most joyful on the planet – have been through so much that could cause them to be the opposite. I loved reading their respectful conversations and playful banter. Humor is always a space that I have felt comfortable with.

I admit that there are many things I am naĂŻve about. There is a large amount of politics and history that I would put into the category. I enjoyed learning a little bit more about the history of Tibet and South Africa. I appreciated hearing their individual stories and the stories of others share in the book.

Earmarked pages:

Page 61-62

“How do we create more friends?” “Trust. How do you develop trust? It’s simple, you show your general sense of concern for their well-being. Then trust will come. But if behind an artificial smile, or a big banquet, is a self-centered attitude deep inside of you, then there will never be trust.” “Without trust, there is no friendship.” – Dalai Lama

Page 258

“…evolutionary science has come to see cooperation, and its core emotions of empathy, compassion, and generosity, as fundamental to our species’ survival.” Compassion is contagious

Page 261

They both “revealed throughout the week one of the core paradoxes of happiness: We are most joyful when we focus on others, not on ourselves.

Page 264

“And there is a very physical example. The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives fresh water, but it has no outlet, so it doesn’t pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that’s why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. And we are made much that way, too. I mean, we receive and we must give. In the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful.” – Archbishop Tutu

Page 288

Tibetan Endless Knots – symbols for impermanence and interdependence of all life and the union of wisdom and compassion.

Thoughts

Right now podcasts are all the rage. Often I see friends post and ask for others favorite podcasts. But there is a podcast for EVERYTHING. You like shoes, there is a podcast about it. You like crime stories, there are a million podcasts for that. I have found that I like to hear people’s stories. I like to learn from others and I feel like I grow as a person by hearing others stories.

This book teaches about the obstacles of Joy and the 8 pillars of joy. They admit that life is not perfect and will not be without pain, but provide a roadmap of reflection that any individual no matter what they have been through can work towards. There may not be an end result, but it is about the path and the journey and the presence.

Do any of your 2020 Goals involve reading more books? Please share!

Cheers, Nikki

Kobe

I have lived in a sort of suspended belief since yesterday afternoon. Moments are often profound and I will never forget being in the kids food aisle at the grocery store shopping for food for my son when the news about Kobe hit. The loss of everyone yesterday will leave a void that will be impossible to fill.

Vic Lombardi today…”Kobe didn’t die as a player. Kobe died as a parent, taking his daughter and her teammates to a basketball game.” Wow. That hits. Hard. Kobe transcended sport and he elevated his stature as a father, husband, mentor, coach, ambassador once his first career was over.

By my count, I saw Kobe play at the Pepsi Center 19 times. I step back and am astounded at that number and I realize how unbelievably lucky I am to say that. I didn’t particularly like Kobe at the time. A sentiment I shared with most Nuggets fans and Coloradans. I(we) struggled through the Anthony Carter inbounds Pass, the other Anthony Carter inbounds pass and dagger after dagger after dagger. Kobe won a Western Conference championship on our court. December 5, 2007 – Iverson had scored 49 points in the first three quarters and the game was tied going into the 4th. Kobe held AI to 2 points in the 4th, scored 12 and the Lakers won. 2008, 3rd game of the year – Lakers beat the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center, Iverson’s last game as Nugget. This game is especially memorable because of the run the Nuggets went on after they traded AI for Billups. A run that ended at the hands of Kobe and the Lakers later that season in the Western Conference Finals. December 22, 2015 – Kobe’s 2nd to last game at the Pepsi Center (this was essentially his last game at PC…he played 10 minutes in his actual final game) and the last game I saw him play. Of course he dropped 31 that night and led a bad Lakers team to a Win. The games in Denver brought out the best in him and damn were they fun.

December 22, 2015

Don’t Cheat the Game. Kobe was MUST SEE TV. Nobody in any sport brought it every night like Kobe did. Arguments can be made for “best player ever” all the time but this trait can only be shared with MJ. I chose to skip LeBron games but I would have never missed a Kobe game.

The profound impact of this loss multiplies when you see the kind of person Kobe became after his career was over. His kids were everything to him. He was at peace with his legacy and used the same intensity to create what should have been the next, and most fulfilling, chapter of his life.

The last two days have been about perspective. Do I have the “Mamba Mentality” with everything I do in life? Am I the best Dad to Nora and Bodhi and Husband to Nikki? Have I prepared enough to make an impact at work and in my community?

I believe Kobe would tell us to compete in everything but also be complete in everything. If there is a hole somewhere, do your best to fix it. Achieve but be ready when the time is right to slow down, step back and take what the defense gives you.

Cheers

Ben

The blanket that took 10 years to make

In college a few friends and I (Nikki) learned how to knit. I loved simple projects and knitted at least 10 scarves right away. Then I saw a beautiful knitted blanket that a friends’ mom had made her and thought I was ready to take on a blanket. Little did I know you needed special equipment and although I used simple techniques, it it very easy to lose and gain extra stitch when you have 100 that you’re working with.

I got through 2 spools of yarn and then was put on hold for whatever reason. Every couple of years and through a couple of moves I’d find the blanket and try to pick up the project again. I knitted backwards a couple of times, lost stitches, gained stitches. I bought two spools of yarn knowing that eventually they would discontinue the color before I would finish the blanket and it sat in our guest bedroom waiting. I tried to finish during a lunch coworking knitting group but couldn’t consistently make the scheduled time.

Fast forward to 2019, married and have two kids, and I am all about decluttering and crossing things off the to-do list. And on June 27, 2019 I FINISHED THE GD BLANKET!

What. A. GLORIOUS. Feeling!

After a victory dance I had to take pictures and send them to my family. And when I laid it out on the floor it was a bunch of lessons and metaphors.

  1. Sometimes you are really proud of finishing something even if it’s not perfect and it’s a little rough around the edges.
  2. When a project spans 10+ years of your life you can look at it and remember all the different stages and emotions experienced.
  3. My 4-year-old daughter was the one who encouraged me to finish the blanket. Sometimes someone will give you the motivation you need when you least expect it. She loves it and it is special to her.
  4. Sometimes you have to re-learn how to do things. Take the time to research or look at the instructions. It’s not always the wise thing to jump right in.
  5. Cute, happy babies make great models of mediocre craft projects!

What did we just watch? The brilliance of “The Night Of”

It is not my intention to have any sort of spoilers in this particular blog. Perhaps Ben and I will follow up with another detailed blog about the show. It definitely was one that made us think, feel, judge, change our minds, and solidify some opinions and enlighten us on others.

You’ll expect this show to be black and white. You’ll expect the characters to be black and white. In most crime movies and tv shows you’ll get that. Not so with HBO’s The Night Of. So many potential suspects. So many stereotypes. Lots of things wrong with systems (prison system, legal system, and I’ll throw in the overall HUMANITY system). 

Most tv shows have good guys and bad guys. It’s very clear who is who and why they fall into that category. This show tears that apart with the main character Nas. At the beginning of the season you see there to be NO way for him to have committed this murder. But as each episode reveals a little more information you realize that he is not infallible. He has done bad things. But does that make him a BAD guy? Aren’t most humans a little bit of both throughout their life? And most importantly, DID HE DO IT?!?!

The prison scenes were hard for me to watch (Nikki) because you know those things happen at some point in certain prisons. And how is it even fathomable to think that a “good” person charged with a horrible crime can survive prison and not become a little rougher? We had recently watched The Stanford Prison Experiment and had many more thoughts on the subject because of it. If you haven’t seen the movie, at least read up on the experiment.  

We like how it ended because it gives you the answers that you want. But it also shows that it’s not all hunky dory moving forward. All of our choices have cause and effect, whether for us or for others. 

We only had one set of friends who watched the show that we know of. Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts!

Cheers, Make Good Choices, 

Nikki 

Dad and Daughter Time

Leading up to Nikki getting pregnant I always wanted a boy. Someone to carry on the family name. Something happened after Nikki gave me the news that she was pregnant. A light went off, really. From there on out all I wanted was a healthy baby. My second thought was…”definitely a girl”.

Nikki is out of town this week for work leaving me as Mr. Mom. Nora and I have gone on a run, played with every toy in the house, crawled all over and I watch her pull herself up on everything and try to walk (scary). Every night around 7:30 we wind down with a story or two and some food before I put her to bed (successfully, knock on wood).

Backtracking a little…Nora and I were able to spend 45 minutes immediately after she was born alone in the hospital room. 45 minutes felt like an entire day and I will remember every minute. I am a terrible singer, really not such a good voice. Give me a few adult pops and a couple of my closest friends and WE WILL take down a Karaoke bar, but I’m pretty bad. During my 45 minutes with Nora I felt the urge to sing to her (Hey Jude, in fact). It probably calmed me down more than it did her but it was comforting nonetheless.

Back to realtime. I tend to put Nora down by cradling her and singing to her after she eats. This is one of the best parts of any day. I don’t like when Nikki leaves but being able to look down and see my 8 month old daughter look back to me and need me is a father’s dream come true.

Love you Nora…come home soon Nikki!

Cheers,

Ben

REPOST: 100 LITTLE THINGS ABOUT PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND BEING A FIRST-TIME MOM

HAD to link to this list, because it is all true! I did not have a c-section so those (luckily) don’t apply to me. But everything else is spot on or really, really, really close. Some of these were very timely to read.

Favorite quote to summarize her list:

Dear moms and expecting moms and future moms — please hear this last little tidbit and chew it up and let it sink right into your bones: my mothering mantra is not, “I am a perfect mom.” That would be ridiculous and unattainable and depressing. But my mothering mantra is, â€śI am the perfect mom for my kids.” And guess what? You are too. You’re the perfect mom for your kids and don’t ever let yourself think otherwise — not even for a moment. You’ve got this mom gig.

Find the list here:  http://adrielbooker.com/pregnancy-birth-first-time-mom
Enjoy!

Cheers, Nikki

BBQ Mac and Cheese

No matter where we live, I will always get Southern Living magazine. I love southern houses (especially ones with wrap around porches), southern food, southern charm – all of it! Equally, I love macaroni and cheese. It’s a love affair that has developed from the boxed kind to the “fancy” mac and cheese you see everywhere in restaurants.

The September issue of Southern Living (yes, I’m behind!) gave a few recipes for upgrades to your traditional mac and cheese. We did not follow this recipe verbatim but took inspiration and made it our own. Pics from the magazine version of the recipe are at bottom of this post. For some reason I couldn’t find online…must want you to buy the magazine! 🙂

And here is our take on it based on what we had available in our fridge and pantry. So easy, delicious and different!

BBQ Mac and Cheese

BBQ Mac n Cheese

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (we used 85/15)
  • 1 box of Rotini Noodles (we used Healthy Harvest Whole Grain)
  • 1 package of cheddar cheese (we used Sargento Mild Cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • BBQ style seasoning (we used Savory Spice shop‘s Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning)
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • BBQ Sauce (we used Stubbs)
  1. Start out by browning the ground beef in a large skillet. Sprinkle the seasoning across the top of the beef. Drain and return beef to skillet. (5-8 minutes)
  2. Follow the directions on the package of pasta to boil the pasta past the al dente stage (or to your preference). We made the whole box of pasta. (10 minutes)
  3. Microwave 1/2 cup milk for 20-30 seconds. Pour into skillet with beef and mix together over medium low heat.
  4. Sprinkle cheese liberally across the beef. Mix together.
  5. Add pasta to skillet and mix together. Add another layer of cheese.
  6. Move all ingredients to 9×13 glass casserole dish. Sprinkle Panko bread crumbs across top to your liking. Add a few more pinches of the seasoning to the top.
  7. Broil for 2-5 minutes or until the panko bread crumbs have cooked.
  8. Serve warm with BBQ sauce drizzled on top and enjoy!

Cheers,

Nikki and Ben

Magazine Clip from Southern Living, September 2015

SouthernLiving Mac and Cheese IMG_8814

Nora’s baptism 

What a special day in the Lucas household! Our sweet Nora is baptized into God’s family. 
She was baptized in my home church, by the pastor that married us, and she wore the baptismal gown that both Ben and his sister Jenny wore when they were baptized that was made by their Aunt Kristen.
 

Proud parents and happy baby

  

The whole family!

 
Nora did great without fussing and paid attention to the sermon too!

The theme of the service was around hope. The choir sang a beautiful song that came from writings on a wall from a nazi concentration camp. I wanted to look up the lyrics because it was beautiful and a great reminder to have hope in all things and all times.

“Inscriptions of Hope”

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining

And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there

And I believe in God, even when He is silent

I believe through any trial, there is always a way
But sometimes in this suffering and hopeless despair

My heart cries for shelter, to know someones there

But a voice rises within me, saying ‘hold on my child’

I’ll give you strength I’ll give you hope, just stay a little while
I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining

And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there

And I believe in God, even when he is silent

I believe through any trial, there is always a way
May there someday be sunshine

May there someday be happiness

May there someday be love

May there someday be peace

We are thankful for all of our blessings and are hopeful for each day of sunshine and those filled with happiness, love and peace.

 

Everyone celebrates with mexican food, right?

 
Cheers! (And Go Broncos!)

Nikki

DIY: Nursing friendly tank top

Our dear Nora Lea is here! She has taken all of our spare thoughts and time. Many apologies for delay in posting. 

She is 7 weeks today and we are finding we have a bit more time to breath and complete tasks on our to-do list! This project came out of necessity as I noticed very quickly that most of the shirts I owned were not breastfeeding friendly. 
Through some pinterest searching I found a few options and tutorials. Here is what I ended up making 
DIY: Nursing Friendly Tank Top

  1. Buy two tank tops of the same size and style. I found a sale at Target and bought my tank tops from there.
  2. Turn one of the tank tops inside out and place on you. Make marks about 2 inches below your bust line. Cut at this mark all the way around the tank.    
  3. Place the other tank top on you and mark two X’s where you would like the opening to be. Make sure this lines up with your nipple to make it easier to access when you need to breast feed. Make sure they line up generally on both sides (mine don’t in picture but I fixed). Cut a straight line carefully. Hem the edges of the opening. Make this a very thin hem, approximately a centimeter.  
  4. Cut three strips approximately one inch wide using the remaining fabric of the tank that you cropped. Using a binder clip or other method to keep the strips still, place the strips on top of eachother. Braid the three strips taking care to make sure the “outside” of the shirt is what is showing versus the inside if it’s a different color.           
  5. Pin the braided peice to the cropped tank top on the bottom edge. Sew using a single stitch all the way around.     
  6. Attach the cropped tank on top of the full tank. Sew on the under arm circles and the neck circle with the stitch of your choice. On one side I chose a single stitch and on the other I did a more thorough stitch. Both have stayed fine.   
  7. Make sure the tank top fits! I have to make a few alterations around the under arms and back side.   
  8. Here is the final product. I’m proud of this and hope you can make one of your own! 

Cheers!
Nikki

What a year already

Nikki last posted in February highlighting her crafty side. As always, she did a great job. Looking back on those last 5-6 months got me thinking how much has changed for us for the better. Everyone says to not load up on major life events all at the same time but we clearly don’t listen to that nonsense.

In January we moved back home to Colorado (life event #1), I guess we need to update the site every now and then. I continued working for Learfield Sports but was able to return to our Alma Mater at Colorado State (life event #2). Shortly after we moved back home we bought a house (life event #3) in a great part of town that was exactly what we wanted. Fast forward to June 8th and we had Nora (life event #4).

It has been hard to articulate properly how all of these changes have affected our lives. We constantly tell people that we love being home and that having and raising our baby girl is great and special and wonderful but that still doesn’t really capture what we feel toward all these new life changes.

For me – I am home, I am happy and I am whole.

Cheers

Ben