The Two Most Powerful Warriors are Patience and Time –Leo Tolstoy

This week I took my bike in to get a tuneup. I knew the tires were treadbare (is that a term? It should be) and I thought maybe the gears would need to be tightened or…or I don’t really know what I thought. When I got my bike back it was pretty much brand new – tires, rear wheel, brakes, gears, chain, chain ring, bar tape…

I took her out on Thursday all clean and shiny and I thought…I don’t really know what I thought. The ride was smooth. The gears changed so well. I had brakes, and control. But I still was chasing the ladies in my group that I’m always chasing because I’m still me. I’m still the one who powers my bike. My strengths and my weaknesses still determine how all those new parts work together. I didn’t exactly kill it on one particular hill that in the past has really gotten me but Thursday the hill didn’t kill me either. In fact, Tuesday even before before the overhaul it didn’t kill me.

Tuesday I was late. Sort of. I was actually very on time- in time enough that I over estimated how relaxed I could be about dropping off the monkeys and how long I could sit and talk. When I eventually did make it back outside to my bike, only the dirt bike girls were left. They pointed me in the general direction and the challenge was on. It was so fun racing down the first hill and then powering through the park at my own speed just catching a glimpse of my group often enough to reassure and motivate me. One particular spot on the trail brought me back to the fall and how similar that ride was to this one but how different it all was too. Still late, still left behind, this time no one was crying.
Not long ago a friend of my Mums asked me how I was doing. I told her that truthfully I was better than I’d been in 2 years. She responded that “you and those babies will eventually figure it out”. I know that she didn’t mean it this way, but for the next bit when the Hubs spoke in church leaving me to handle a brood I was so very clearly to everyone in the congregation unable to handle on my own; when library books were missing and Buster and the Lady were late for School and both babies thought they couldn’t not be held without screaming; when I took all 4 swimming and realized the spectacle we were to everyone as we dropped shoes and fruit snacks and tripped on the sidewalk and wrestled and wiggled and didn’t want to hold hands in the parking lot and 5 sets of towels and suits and bags and crackers and diapers…I thought “if I was only more capable, more clever, more organized MORE- I would have this figured out by now and I would be able to handle it.”

But some things can’t be figured out. Of course, some things can- it took me much longer to figure out that if I am in a hurry to get the boys dressed, I need to close the bedroom door so they can’t escape without socks and only one arm in their sleeves. But sometimes, Time just has to pass. Enough time has passed for the monkeys to know that when I drop them off in nursery they can have fun without me and that I will come back. The boys are bigger enough that they can trail behind me without leaving a trail of all they’ve ransacked. The weather is better and I can send all four kids into the yard together while I organize my thoughts and my home. And sleep. There are finally naps and occasionally extended night hours of uninterrupted sleep.


Last summer while Buster and the Lady were training I thought that I too would swim. I was slow and it was hard. It took weeks before I felt like I could “train”. And training was hard and none of it was fun. But the last time I swam it felt so great. Still not particularly fast and not quite “training”, it felt like a base had been set and I was ready to train, could train if only I was able to organize time and my children to allow me more alone space in the pool. And I was surprised- Surprised because in my years of setting and achieving or failing to meet SMART goals I’ve just now recently realized this : On paper the goal can seem Specific Measurable Attainable and Realistic but if the Time isn’t right, none of the other factors are possible. Getting more sleep, eating less sugar, taking Buster and the Lady skating, teaching aquafit and carrying around  munchkins all help me to be a better swimmer and cyclist. I’m not going to win any races soon, but I can be back to a place where it’s fun again instead of just hard. Not because I’ve been specific in my goals but because my body has had time to heal.

Sometimes like my bike, the stress of day to day, changing gears often, peddling trough hard experiences turn the need for a tuneup into the need for an overhaul. But sometimes with all the work and thought and prayer we can put into healing a broken heart or forgiving a wrong or getting over a sore foot or taking kids for more park time or learning to play the piano or even reading all the books you (I) want to read- what we really need is time.

In a world of SMART goals and the need to be always working on something and towards something, it can be difficult to be patient and allow time for growth, for healing, for improvement, for all the other factors and pieces that need to fit together to finally fit together.

Sometimes instead of wishing we were More, we just need to allow ourselves more time. So that when we find ourselves behind, trying to catch up, we can also enjoy the feeling of our own power as we move through life, catching a glimpse just often enough of where we may someday be to reassure and motivate us. Then when the time is right, we’re ready.

 

It won’t always be like this

 




When the hubs and I first got married and nearly every night was date night we spent a ridiculously large portion of our expendable income on enjoying good food, mostly it was prepared by other people and  mostly enjoyed in restaurants. But we also spent a lot of time cooking together and experimenting with food. Once in a while we would make something so good we would add it our imaginary menu for when we opened our imaginary restaurant. These cheesecake brownies were the first to go on our dessert menu. They aren’t too sweet and the cheesecake is light and airy.

The last time we made them, we were busy with Sunday dinner prep so the Lady and Buster made them with only a little help from the Hubs.

After we had shared them with the Lady’s Sunday school teacher, she sent me a quick thank you and called them “restaurant quality”. Our imaginary restaurant investors rejoiced at the positive review from the imaginary food critic.

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies 

  • 2 packages low fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (I use tapioca starch because it’s what I have)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

For the cheese cake part mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and then add the starch, vanilla and yogurt.

In another bowl

  • 2/3 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour (I use an all purpose gluten free mix)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Brownies: Melt the butter then add the sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix until smooth. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the flour, cocoa and salt.

  1. In a greased 9×13 pan, pour in just enough of the cheesecake batter to cover the bottom.
  2. Drop in a several spoonfuls of brownie batter,nap acing them out  then pour in the rest of the cheesecake batter
  3. Add the rest of the brownie batter in spoonfuls into the spaces and then with a knife, gently swirl to mix the two desserts just a little.
  4. Bake @350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate. Serve topped with raspberry coulis or jam.

“Keep Showing Up with Love and Grace and Joy”—Sarah Bessey

As a little girl my gymnastics class was learning back hip pullovers to get onto the uneven bars. It’s that move where you pull yourself up onto the bar and then swing your hips and  kick your legs up and over the bar. When it was my turn I did it successfully but was met by laughter from my instructors.
One said sarcastically to the other, “Very graceful.”

Grace.

It’s my focus word for 2016. Have you heard of this?    Instead of resolutions at the new year, choose a word, a principle, a guide to help you grow towards who you want to become.

When 2014 began, I’d just finished a year of tests and uncertainty and drugs and infertility. My word was “healing” and then before I’d hardly begun I was pregnant with twins and my word became more of something like “hang-on“. Last year, “survive” didn’t seem very motivating but I was really too tired to choose something better. A good friend chose the phrase “back to basics“. We were skiing when she shared it with me and I remember wondering what “back to basics” even meant? I couldn’t imagine even the basics ever feeling basic again. It wasn’t one word, but “keep going” seemed fitting because what choice did I, do any of us have? But these were words that described where I was, not words to motivate me to be better, to grow. I’ve spent my whole life needing more grace, wanting to be more graceful.

Grace.

3 weeks ago this happened. I’m still recovering.
I was in a circuit class doing a cardio set. My right foot should have planted itself safely on the floor but instead caught the edge of the step, flipping it and sending us crashing loudly to the floor. With arms swinging wildly in the split seconds between loosing my balance and landing sideways on my ankle, it wasn’t my life I saw flash before my eyes but the word Grace– A sarcastic “very graceful”.

It was the word that came to mind Thursday when I decided to make cookies and stuffed a spoonful of dough into my mouth for almost every cookie that made it into the oven. I imagine a woman of Grace doesn’t eat cookie dough with such wild abandon.

I thought of it Friday night when I was home with the babies while the others went to watch a movie with my cousin. Mid-bath Squdge pulled the plug letting out all the water. I refilled the tub but couldn’t turn off the hot water, a problem with our faucet that becomes more infuriating every time it happens.  I whisked the monkeys out of the increasingly hot water and leapt over the baby gate, landing hard on my foot (yeouch!) and ran down the stairs (argh! ooch! owie!) to turn off the water. Because a woman of Grace puts away ALL her groceries, I also grabbed the 10lb bag of sugar from earlier in the day. But mid leap it caught on the gate, ripping a hole in the bottom. Sugar fell over everything.

To the sound of naked and crying monkeys who do not like being on the far side of a fence, I returned upstairs to see just how much sugar had fallen to the floor. It was a lot. It shouldn’t have but from the other side of the gate, it surprised me how much sugar there was and how much of it was on the babies. Like little Ginger Snaps, my newly bathed Boys were candied, covered head to toe in sticky and abrasive sugar. Having just turned off the all water, I was left without a good way to clean them up. I just had to put their jammie’s on, calling it for the mess it was.

Grace-Gratitude-Grit

My life is not often graceful but I’ve resolved to try a little harder to handle my life with Grace. Instead of matching the monkeys wails or railing at the ceiling my frustrations at my house, my life, I hobbled on my sore foot to the kitchen, got the boys some milk and gathered them for cuddles.

“The most Fearless thing we can do is keep showing up with love and Grace and Joy in our real right-now lives” Sarah Bessey

I’m not always successful. But this is my year to better learn what it means to move with more grace, receive God’s Grace, to offer Grace to others when they don’t meet my (often silly) expectations and extend that Grace to myself on my many hard days and in my many bungling moments- without sarcasm.

What is Your WORD for 2016? How are you applying it in your life?




 

Squdge has been recently added to the list of people living in our home who feel less cranky when they avoid wheat and dairy. He’s also the more sensitive and the less adventurous of the boys when it comes to food. I worry about how many bananas he eats and while we all love a good banana muffin at our house, I need to come up with some good snacks that don’t involve the same fruit he eats every single day for breakfast and often for afternoon snack. These muffins fit the bill. They are sweet and fluffy like a blueberry muffin should be and the coconut adds to but doesn’t overpower the flavor. You could convert the recipe and use regular flour and regular milk,but I think you’d really miss out on the depth that the coconut provides.

GF/Dairy Free Blueberry Coconut Muffins

photo 1(3)
Have you seen these at Ikea? $3 for 30 silicone muffin cups. I highly recommend picking some up for yourself the next time you’re there.
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used coconut)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 cup GF flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp flour

photo 2(2)

Preheat the oven to 350°

In a large bowl, beat the oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs until well blended.

Add the vanilla and milk and stir.

To the same bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine.

In a second bowl, add a little flour to the blueberries, stir to cover them and then very gently fold them into the batter.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake in the over for 25-27 minutes until golden brown.

 

 

The Most Wasted of All Days is One Without Laughter—E.E. Cummings

I remember being a little girl and tickling my dad’s feet, well, trying to. Not only did he not laugh, but he got so cranky. I have very few memories growing up of my dad being truly cranky with me but this is definitely one of them.   It was clear that this was not a game he wanted to play, certainly not that day, probably never. Later my Mum explained that while it seemed he wasn’t ticklish, it was really that he was so supremely ticklish that it wasn’t any fun for him- the complexity of something being too great to be anything at all was something my little girl self had never thought to consider.

Years later, I watched in horror as one of his grandchildren pulled off his socks to tickle him. He didn’t laugh but smiled and told them gently that he is simply not ticklish. Wha?!…But I thought?!..How?!…

It was then that he told me the secret. If someone is tickling you and you don’t want to be tickled, all you have to do is think about Rocks. Repeating the word and concentrating on the image takes the focus away from the external stimulation and gives the control to you.

A few nights ago I was cuddling the Lady before she fell asleep. As we lay in her bed talking about the day, to her delight I started to gently tickle her. Since the Monkeys joined our family, I have significantly less free hands, less free time for tickling. She wanted more. And then she wanted to tickle me. But I know the secret. Rocks. I am not ticklish. 
I tried to teach her  but she couldn’t do it. Her giggles were too exuberant. Her love for tickles too great. Her joy at the experience too full.
The metaphor of rocks in a proverbial backpack making it difficult to enjoy life isn’t a new one. Neither is the image of a stone held close to your face blocking your vision. That same stone held at arms length becomes less over bearing, less dominate- Perspective.

 

IMG_3505
“Why won’t you let me eat the Rocks??”
Could it be that we hold to rocks in our lives too? Chanting silently to ourselves “rocks rocks rocks negativity rocks-cynicism – rocks rocks-I would be happy if only- rocks– unwillingness to forgive rocks rocks rocks– criticism –rocks rocks. ..” all in an effort to feel control, to shield ourselves from what we fear will hurt us or let us down? Maybe these rocks are actually stopping us from enjoying the connection, robbing us of the joy and experiences all around us everyday.
Christmas is coming. As Children make lists of the toys they want and the fun they expect, it’s easy to also be busy making lists- lists of presents to buy, baking to finish, projects to sew. While the goal of all this hustle is to make our holiday more meaningful for the people we love, how easy it is for the activities and the gifts to become rocks- burdens to carry so everyone else can have a good time all the while making us too tired, too tense and if you are like me, too over sensitive to enjoy the time we have with each other.  “Not enough money to buy expensive gifts- rocks rocks rocks; my house isn’t nice or big enough- rocks; expectations of how other people should act during the holidays- rocks rocks; finding offense in the words or actions of a well meaning relative-rocks; wishing for more of what you used to have or didn’t have in Christmases past- rocks rocks rocks…

So put down the rocks. Enjoy what life and this season are offering now. Enjoy the people around you. The relationships. The food. The music. The Christmas spirit. Let yourself enjoy the over stimulation that can come with this time of year and enjoy the connection, the love and the happiness that comes from feeling all the tickles that life has to offer.

Merry Merry Christmas from Squdge, The Lady, Squidge and Buster

___________________________________________________________________

This jelly is A.Mae.Zing. One of the Greatest compliments I’ve had about any treat I’ve made was last year. My sister took a bite and then called me over to tell me in a tone only she gets (and me when I’ve spent enough time with her) “You’ve got to try this!! It’s so delicious!….oh wait, did you bring it?”  Last night my mum ate it with banana and peanut butter  which really just says that it’s good enough to be good with anything.

It makes a great hostess or neighbour gift and should definitely be part of your Christmas get togethers this year.

Ginny’s Hot Pepper Jelly

  • 4  red bell peppers
  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 2 jalapeño peppers (or 3 if you like it a little hotter)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 (1.75 ounce) packages powdered pectin
  • 5 cups white sugar
  1. Sterilize 7 (8 ounce) canning jars and lids according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Chop the peppers into large pieces and remove the seeds. If you don’t have gloves when working with the jalapeños, in a pinch you can put plastic bags on your hands. The awkwardness is definitely worth saving yourself from pepper burn. .
  3. A few Cups at a time, Place the coursly chopped red bell, green bell, and jalapeño peppers in a food processor and pulse until they are minced.
  4. Put minced peppers in a large saucepan over high heat. Mix in vinegar and fruit pectin. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a full  boil. Quickly stir in sugar.
  5. Over medium high heat, Return to full rolling boil, stirring often. Check frequently until when cooled it has your desired consistency. For me this is about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, and skim off foam if there is any.
  7. Ladle the jelly into sterile jars, Cover with flat lids, and screw on bands tightly.

Serve with crackers and cream cheese.

Two Things Stand like Stone: courage-kindness—Princess Diana 

“Life is mostly froth and bubble. Two things stand like stone. Kindness in another’s trouble. Courage in your own. “—Princess Diana

 
To be honest, I’m not that crazy about Halloween. Even so, every year we decorate our windows and put styrofoam gravestones on the lawn. I’ve made spooky lunches complete with noodles for guts and little hotdogs wrapped in gluten free biscuit dough to resemble mummies. I’ve thrown Halloween parties for preschoolers with games like pin the heart on the skeleton and “bat bat who has the bat?”. And though it makes my skin itch, I scrape out the flesh of pumpkins so that my family can carve them into jack O’ lanterns. I do very few of these activities because I enjoy them. It’s because in August, even before the first day of school, Buster and the Lady start talking about Halloween with excitement. They start planning their costumes. It’s all about the costumes.

Buster has always been a dress up kid. It started when he was not quite 3 and even though he had been a spider for the church halloween party, he wanted, needed a second costume. The mall was having a Halloween petting zoo and he couldn’t visit farm animals dressed as anything but a cowboy. Since then, our collection of costumes has grown and grown. Buster still likes to have a costume for every occasion. 

 

Western Day at School
  
St. Patrick’s Day
  
Watching “The Princess Bride”
 
At halloween, using the bits and pieces we already have, he does a pretty fine job of creating his own costumes. 

   
 Never one to be left behind, the Lady loves to dress up too. We don’t have as many costume bits for her because of how many roles can be played with just 1 princess dress. But this year, she wanted to be a fortune-teller. For weeks she talked about it and as a tender mercy I found some great pieces on a single value village trip. We already had the boots, scarf and jewellery and some last minute inspiration to use an outdoor Christmas decoration as a crystal ball gave The Lady the winning costume in the best costume contest for grades 1-3. For her, a giant success. 

  

   
This year halloween prep happened with sick babies. Worse than a baby with Hand Foot and Mouth disease is 2 babies with it-not eating, not sleeping, only crying All. Day. Long. With so little reserve I too was crying All. Day. Long. In one of those sleepless nights, only a few days before halloween, the babies recovering but still not eating or sleeping enough to allow me my sanity I saw this: 

http://youtu.be/COnvQxIvkD4

There, in the middle of the night, alone except for the baby that would wake if I put him down, my emotions spilled over.  I think the video was meant to show how great Mama elephants are but I didn’t identify with the mama elephant, or even her friend. I saw myself in the baby elephant, being washed downstream, struggling to keep her little trunk above water, fighting to stay close to the people who loved her, unable to keep up. 

On the edge of a breakdown, I’d known for a while that I needed more help, more support. But asking for help is a complex issue and though my friends had offered, I felt like I should be better at handling my life by myself. I was afraid because I knew I needed so much more than is fair to ask of any one person- especially after all the help I’d already received, a whole year of generosity.

I was drowning. But this isn’t how I want to see myself. On -oh so many levels-, A drowning elephant isn’t who I want to be. 

But like the mama elephant, I had a dear friend step in, chasing after me with frozen yogurt and some concrete problem solving. It’s true that I need more help than she can give but she was able to trumpet out for assistance. It’s amazing what a few afternoon naps with the babies away and some house cleaning visits can do- shared between 10 or 12 women, it isn’t too much to ask of any one person. My life, shared with other women doesn’t feel as daunting. I don’t have to be the Elephant in the  room. 

Halloween is over. Buster’s mad scientist white hair has washed out and the Lady no longer wears blue eyeshadow and bangles. Costumes are fun but they are only temporary. As maniacal a laugh as Buster pulls off, The costumes aren’t who my children really are. And though at this time in my life I sometimes identify with the fear and discouragement I project onto an elephant being taken by the current, it isn’t who I am. Not really.  This is temporary.  The Fortune-Teller foresees great happiness ahead. 

  

Squidge found all the halloween hubbub a little disconcerting. 
I love soup. In junior high, there were many winter nights when I would walk home in the dark after volleyball or basketball practice. Often on those nights, I would open the door to my house and be welcomed home to warmth and light and comfort and soup. Luckily the Hubs turned out to be a man who enjoys a good soup. I told the kids this week that their dad is a Souper guy. He didn’t find it quite as clever as they did. 

We call this orange soup. The lentils add satisfying and filling protein, the apples make it sweet and the ginger warms you to the middle. As a bonus, it freezes very well. 

Orange  (Sweet Potatoe Lentil and Ginger) Soup

  • 1 Tbsp butter.          
  •  1 large sweet potatoe, peeled and chopped 
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup red lentils 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 8 cups vegetable broth 

Directions
Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Place the chopped sweet potatoe, carrots, apples, and onion in the pot. Stir and cook the apples and vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple minutes more.  

Stir the lentils, pepper, salt, and vegetable broth into the pot with the apple and vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, Puree in a blender or use a hand blender and puree the soup right in the pot. 

 Bring back to a simmer and add water as needed to thin the soup to your preferred consistency.  

  

Life is but a series of little details—Swami Sivananda

Soon after I came home from the hospital with Squidge and Squdge, one of the first pieces of advice given from someone who had also had twins was this: “Don’t expect to get anything done in the first year”. This seemed reasonable and I took it in, agreeing that with two babies I’d probably be too busy for big projects. But I did not imagine that this many months later grocery shopping would still be so difficult or that I would have to organize my day and budget my time if I want to do something in the basement because getting two little guys downstairs is tricky but leaving two babies upstairs alone together is asking for trouble. I didn’t fathom how much of my time would be spent being climbed on, crawled over and tugged on.  I did not,could not, have realized the emotional toll of being this tired for this long, to see such little progress and so few tangible markers of positive growth. Undoubtedly this has been a year so much harder than I  imagined.

And then the Monkeys turned 1.


It’s been a whole year and I keep hearing “You made it!” as though I’m at the end of something but instead it feels as though I’m in the middle of a mountain, the path too steep to slide down, and I too tired to climb higher. So I sit, feeling stuck right where I was a year ago. Yes the babies sleep better than they did but Squdge is far from sleeping through the night and the Hubs still occasionally finds himself being woken up by a tired, angry and tantrumming wife. My body has changed but still I’ve been presumed pregnant twice in the last 3 weeks, my tummy round enough that it doesn’t prompt a quiet wonder but instead fills people to ask with confidence, not if but when I am due. And my house, and laundry and cooking supper…my days so often feel little more than the sum of wrestling babies to sleep or searching for sleep myself in between feeding and diapers and feeding and diapers and feeding and diapers and often not sleeping when I should be because it’s nice to have some time when my arms are my own.


Yesterday after Cycling Mamas, carrying a quiet and content Squidge in front and a tired snugly  Squdge in the carrier on my back, someone said to me “You make it all look so easy”. And in that moment on that day, it did look easy. But she hadn’t seen the middle of the night before when Squdge had spent more than an hour yelling at me for all the injustice his 1-year-old mind could imagine. She missed the path of destruction the boys left that morning in my house so I could madly get ready to leave, only to arrive late, the sound of my two screaming babies following me up the stairs as I dropped them in childcare and grabbed my bike. This woman didn’t see me standing over my bike, shoulders hanging in defeat, feeling left behind as I waited alone at the only traffic light on our ride. She didn’t hear me crying tears of frustration and discouragement, feeling like nothing I do makes any difference at all.


But it does make a difference.

“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.” —Swami Sivananda

Each time I clean banana off my floor only to find more later; each time I go for a walk even though I can remember what it felt like to be a runner; each time I wrestle Squidge to get his diaper changed and then wrastle Squdge to do the same and then realize that Squidge is stinky again, it is a drop in my ocean. Each time I take the Brood to Costco and laugh as Buster tap-dances his way through the isles and I listen to The Lady turning every poem she can find into a song, or smile as they all play and giggle, the twins becoming more and more fun all the time, it is adding earth onto what will someday become a mountain. It’s progress though slow.


A mother of 12 year old twins recently reassured me that I would get back to running, but added that it wouldn’t be next year (not next year?!?!). Another mother of twins let me know that the hardest time will be 18-24 months (you mean I I’m not done the hardest yet?!?!). And I’ve been told that twins pay off after 3 years (3 years?!?!). So yes, I’ve made it. 1 year. 365 days of tiny drops in an ocean of motherhood, pieces of sand in my mountain of being a woman, a wife, ME. There is room for more. And time for more. And little by little by sometimes very very little, I’m getting there.



One of the first times I made this dessert was for a family baby blessing and potluck. It was close to Thanksgiving and there were a lot of desserts but this was the only gluten-free. It was so delicious that I felt bad for everyone who ate Costco apple pie while we got such a treat. Buster calls this Apple Scrumptious, and it really IS scrumptious. Easier than apple pie and more decadent than apple crisp, it lends itself well to gluten-free but doesn’t have to be.
 Apple Scrumptious –

Crustless Caramel Apple Pie

Ingredients

9-10 apples, peeled and sliced thin (about 8 cups)

1 Tbsp cinnamon

3 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp flour (I used an all purpose gluten free mix)

  

TOPPING

3/4 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour mix (Gluten free works well)

1 cup crushed pecans

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

 

CARAMEL SAUCE

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cream (the last time I made this the Hubs had used up the last of our cream but I had some evaporated milk in the cupboard. It wasn’t as good but still worked really well.)

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Cut a round of parchment paper with a 2″ diameter larger than your spring-form pan and place inside folding the edges up. ***

Mix the apples, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a large bowl and pour into the Springform pan, keeping as much as you can inside the parchement. Pack down loosely.

In a bowl, mix melted butter, sugar, flour and crushed pecans. Blend in the egg and salt. Mix well and spread it over the apples with a spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes until the apples are soft.

While it’s baking, make your caramel sauce. Mix the brown sugar, cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker. Add in the vanilla, stirring gently.  Turn off the heat and let cool slightly.

When the pie is done, Remove from oven and with a sharp knife or fork poke a few holes in the top. Pour the caramel sauce over top and then Let it rest before opening up the pan to ensure that it holds its shape.

***You could also make this in two deep dish pie pans, just double the topping and divide over the two pies.

 

Enjoy Every Single Moment—Megan Matt

Thursday marked my first Fall ride with Cycling Mamas. Twice a week I get to drop off the monkeys and ride my bike through the river valley with an amazing group of women.  As my hands froze and the sun shone in my eyes, I took in the beginnings of fall and was reminded of last spring and my first ever ride with these ladies.

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I’m a real Newbie when it comes to group riding. One of the things that makes this group so lovely is so many women in so many different times of life all coming together to support, encourage and socialize with one another while being active. But, used to being a lone rider (or runner or swimmer) there are many mornings after very little sleep that this introvert does not feel much like socializing or being supportive. My first Cycling Mamas ride was one of these and it’s how I found myself riding alone- the fastest riders a distance ahead and the fast-but-not-the-fastest riders a distance behind. It was lovely and I felt good and comfortable, riding at my own pace with my own thoughts, until there was a bend in the path. I lost sight of the leaders. It would have been fine except that on the other side of the bend was a fork- and being new to the group I wasn’t sure if I should take the left or the right. I chose right and by the time I realized it was wrong and cut to where I knew they were headed I was far enough behind that I’d lost the slower group too. My first group ride had turned solo.

It was an area I often ride and after reassuring myself in my head and then out loud that it wasn’t stupidity just inexperience, not flakiness, just unfamiliarity, not something to classify as a predictable socially awkward outcome for me, I continued on and had a great ride. And I was glad to be alone because I had a cold. A really bad cold. A cold that just went on and on and on.

I’d already stopped several times to blow my nose but it wasn’t long before I ran out of Kleenex and patience and so like the well seasoned cyclist I like to think I am, I plugged one nostril, looked over my shoulder and blew. But I had a cold. A head cold. A whole head full of mucous and goo and when I blew, that boogly goo didn’t fly into the the trees liked I’d planned. Instead it went on and on and on then hung in the air for a second before plastering itself all over my cheek, neck, shoulder and arm. I tried to wipe it off best I could but I’d already used all my Kleenex. Tired and coughing I made my way back to the church where we meet.

It was there, riding in alone that I saw David Dorward, our MLA at the time. It was just before the election and he was there in his suit. We chatted for a bit and then he politely asked what was on my shoulder. I looked down, then up and red faced, sheepishly replied that it was, in fact, snot.

His eyes widened and he said kindly “isn’t life with babies fun?” I chuckled in agreement. Yes, the babies, definitely the babies…

For all the things in my life that I blame on my own inadequacies- not staying on top of the mountains of laundry, being late so often, increasingly lack of conversational skills, low grade aphasia, poop on my shirt- things that are actually caused by two many babies wanting my attention- it’s nice, once in a while, although it has nothing to do with babies, to let them take the blame.

“Enjoy every single moment. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the inspiring, the not-so-glamourous moments. And thank God through it all” —Meghan Matt




Bananas. We have a fruit fly problem at our house and still I’m a sucker for sweet, over ripe 50% off over ripe bananas. These pancakes make great use of them, have the added nutrition of chia seeds and don’t need any added sugar. The babies will eat the left over for days.

Ginny’s Banana Pancakes

  • 1 Cup Flour (all purpose gluten free works)
  • 1Tbsp Chia seeds
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup milk or non dairy alternative
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 ripe bananas. mashed
  1. Combine flour, chia, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, butter and bananas.
  2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; don’t worry if there are a few banana lumps.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop about a 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle, Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot. I like to simply add caramel yogurt to these.

banana pancakes

“The Imperfect is Our Paradise” — Wallace Stevens

When Buster and the Lady were too little for school, I was lucky enough to teach aquafit at a pool with childcare. Twice a week I would drop them off for a little over an hour in the FunFactory with a tiny backpack of diapers and snacks while I yelled at motivated a very chatty group of women to a ramped up “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini”.


One day after class, one of the staff remarked to me as she opened the door for Buster and handed over the Lady that I always packed such good food for my kids. And I really did try to pack good food, believing that GOOD mothers ALWAYS have muffins for their children. I’m not sure how these trinket success markers get placed so deeply within me. This one must stem from my own fantastic mother, my memory of how often we had muffins and my belief in a 6th love language-food.

Flash forward 5 years. Sometimes there are muffins but more often these days I am a granola bar and cheese string type mom. I was thinking of this recently when I took my small army swimming at that same pool. I packed my swim stuff and made sure the Lady and Buster packed theirs. I packed a snack for after- yogurts and apples and the muffins I’d made that morning. This is how I found myself, in my swimsuit, 2 kids ready to play, congratulating myself on being a good Mum because we were at the pool and there were muffins, only to realize I’d forgotten all the baby things at home.

After I’d begged two free but two very much too big swim diapers off of the sweet women at the front desk, we had a great time. It was the day the Lady perfected her cannonball. It was a day that Buster made huge progress on his Butterfly. This was the day Squidge decided he could lean off the edge of the pool and fall in on his own volition-a major victory for this, my first baby to not like the water. And Squdge was just happy to be there in the waves, in and out of his much too much too big diaper.


But the thing about forgetting the Baby bag is that I also forgot all the diapers. With a shrug I had to remind myself that Good mothers do bake muffins but sometimes they don’t. Good moms sometimes- almost always- pack diapers and sometimes they use their creative problem solving to pick through the trash and put old wet diapers back onto their babies until they get home. But Good Mamas do take their kids swimming, or for walks or to the park and they read stories and do crafts and smile when they are too tired to see straight.  Good Mothers are not made by the muffins baked but the memories made–as imperfect as those memories are… Delicious muffins do help though.

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It’s Zucchini season! I love zucchini season. I love having all the zucchini I want just outside my door. Zucchini noodles, zucchini grated and added to just about every sauce, hamburger and egg dish, grated and frozen for later, zucchini brownies and this sweet and moist muffin recipe.


ChocolateZinni Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour***
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium garden size)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup regular or mini chocolate chips

*** I prefer the gluten free version made with these changes:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • Bake for an extra 3-5 minutes.

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl add coconut oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs mix until smooth and well combined. Stir in zucchini, applesauce, and milk

Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

This batter will be thick and If you’re a person who likes to taste the batter, it won’t be very sweet. Don’t be concerned. When the zucchini cooks in and the chocolate chips melt they will be moist and sweet.

Evenly divide batter into prepared tins. Bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. After 5 minutes, remove muffins and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes ~24 large muffins