By Woman's Day Staff
Volunteer, daily prayer and time spent with her children and grandchildren-this is what Ann Romney treasures above all else. "Family is the most important thing in life," she says. And when she's not devoting her time to multiple sclerosis awareness (she was diagnosed with MS in 1998) or faith-based youth charities, she's enjoying another of her passions: horses. "Horses live in the moment-my stress just melts away when I'm around them." Photo credit: Ann Romney
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"Mrs. Romney was warm, genuine and down-to-earth. She spoke passionately about her love of riding and how she's passing it onto her grandchildren. Her story about how husband Mitt gives her lilacs every day Mother's Day was lovely-it's clear they have a supportive and loving bond."-Susan Spencer, Woman's Day Editor-in-Chief
Susan Spencer: What's your favorite quote and why?
Ann Romney: "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." Family is the most important thing in life.
SS: Does your family have a favorite offbeat, fun tradition?
AR: Mitt always gives me lilacs on Mother's Day. I just love them. Mother's Day in Boston is when the lilacs are usually in full bloom. Sometimes he would literally fill the house with lilacs. More often it wasn't just a bouquet but the whole room was filled. Sometimes we wouldn't have enough on our lilac bushes so he would go and pick someone else's lilacs out.
SS: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
AR: A teacher. I loved my 5th grade teacher. Now, I have enjoyed teaching my children and my grandchildren as I watch them grow up.
SS: What kinds of things are you teaching your kids and what sorts of lessons are you passing onto them?
AR: I think all teaching moments come in an unexpected way and I think that's what the wonder of being a mother is all about. It's those moments you have that are least expected that most impact the children. For example, I see my kids being so charitable and doing good work and I know they must have seen me doing the same thing when I was raising them. I would take meals to people who were sick or mothers who had just given birth to a baby and have them with me to deliver the meal. You want them to really learn those lessons. For me, I was very aware of that when I was raising my boys because, I got to tell you, most times I thought to myself they were little hellions and I didn't know how they were ever going to turn out.
Related: Learn how to raise a confident woman.
SS: And I understand you're also teaching your grandchildren to ride, which is a passion of yours. Can you tell me about that?
AR: All of the grandchildren have a riding lesson with me at one point or another. Some of the boys aren't as interested, but my granddaughters are actually quite interested. The summertime is the time I have with my granddaughters, when they're with me and my horses. I just love the fact that as soon as the horses get a child on their backs, they turn into these little pussycats.
SS: What's the one thing you wish you could change about yourself?
AR: That I could see without glasses.
SS: What's the most important thing about your husband that you think people don't know, or appreciate?
AR: How funny he is. His approach to life is always fun. He's more lighthearted than people would imagine.
Related: Discover 10 things your husband's friends won't tell you.
SS: What's the most important thing you've learned as a parent?
AR: That being a grandparent is easier and more fun! I think again, it's small things. I think that's why these teaching moments are often not moments that you plan or that you orchestrate or even that you think about. I just know my parents gave me so much confidence because I could sense that in everything that I did, they just got a big kick out of. They would say little things that would just go right to my heart and reinforce their love for me.
SS: That's wonderful. And you feel that they helped shape your values by putting that belief in you? Because I think you pass it to your kids.
AR: They were very ethical people and very good people. And again, it's all those small things that you see. It's even how you treat someone that maybe is washing your car or someone that is filling your gas. I just saw my parents being kind and good in every single way. Those little things I think are the things that we pattern after-again, you don't think you're teaching but you really are.
SS: Tell us about your best friend. What do you value most about her friendship?
AR: My best friend and I sort of raised our children together and shared the same experiences at the same time. We ran a little tiny cooking school together. We've both moved away, so now we text each other everyday. We stay in touch. We may not see each other for three or four months, but it doesn't matter and I think those are the kinds of friendships that mean so much. We pick up right where we left off.
SS: If you could swap lives with any woman from history for one day, who would it be and why?
AR: Abigail Adams. She was an intelligent woman and devoted to her relationship and marriage. She was a real companion, adviser, and help to her husband-and you can see this in the letters she wrote. She sacrificed a lot, especially with her husband being gone so much. She was left at home managing a farm, and it's unbelievable what she did.
Welsh Skillet Cakes
Ann's family is Welsh and her grandmother taught her this recipe. Every time the family gets together, Ann and her grandchildren whip up a batch.
- · 1 egg
- · 1 ¼ cup currants
- · ½ cup milk
- · 3 ½ cup flour
- · 1 cup sugar
- · 2 teaspoons nutmeg
- · ½ teaspoon baking powder
- · ½ teaspoon baking soda
- · ¼ teaspoon salt
- · 1 cup butter
1. Beat egg with milk. Add currants.
2. Sift add dry ingredients together. Work butter into flour and mix until mealy.
3. Pour milk and currants over flour and butter mixture all at once and mix well. Wrap in wax paper and chill at least one hour. Roll it a to about 3/8 of an inch thick.
4. Cut with cookie cutter. Cook on a pancake griddle greased with oil (325 degrees) on both sides. Flip the cookies when you see they are all shiny. Cook it for less amount of time on the second side.
5. Roll in granulated sugar. Let cool.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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