“Do small things with great love”– Mother Theresa

Gone are the days of hopping out of bed at 8:20 and having my kids to school on time. Even if they are already dressed and have had breakfast and all I’m required to do is pack a snack and remind them to brush hair, I just can’t do it. The Me, Myself and I of last year has become Squidge, Squdge and Ginny and we are a lot slower.

Friday morning Buster had running club and was already at school when my alarm went off at 8:15. I could hear Lady eating breakfast and Squdge singing his morning siren song. I eased out of bed, shuffled out to give the Lady a quick good morning. The next 15 minutes sounded like this: “Did you brush your hair? What? You didn’t do your home reading? Get me a diaper please so I can change this guy while you read. Hurry! No, we don’t have time for you to help. Just get the diaper. Okay, I’m starting the reading timer. You don’t need to watch me do this, just read. That word is ‘said’. Okay, socks. No! Why are you touching the baby? I asked you to get socks on. Hurry. I know he’s cute, but you’re going to be late. Please brush your hair. Don’t play with the baby until you’re all ready. Coat lady. COAT! Focus! I’ll just change Squidges diaper while you put on your coat. Zip it up. Brush your hair now! Why are you in here without boots on yet? Your bell already rang! Hurry…”

I hustled the four of us out the door and then struggled to push the stroller through the soft alley snow as fast as I could force encourage everyone. Then a short 1/2 block from our house–only a half block– the Lady slipped on the ice and exploded into tears. Not the “the ground is hard” kind of crying that her fall deserved but rather they were the “everything in my life is hard” kind of sobs I’m becoming more and more familiar with. Looking at her and the school and my watch and how far we had still to go, I grumbled in my own –everything is hard–voice “maybe you shouldn’t even go to school today!”
The way my beautiful little 5 year old then looked at me with eyes wide with relief and surprise and gratitude broke my heart.  What she really needed was to not hurry. She needed kindness. She needed understanding. She needed me to just be there with her in that moment. So I took a breath and said again in a softer kinder voice, almost the first kind voice of the morning, “Maybe you and I need a morning at home together”.
“Uh huh”‘she whispered.

So we headed home. Instead of rushing down the ally we took the longer sidewalk route. We stopped to break through ice puddles with our boots and look at the sunrise and contemplate which of the ice formations were made by Jack Frost and which ones Elsa might have made. And all along we held hands.

The morning at home wasn’t spectacular. We cleaned up her craft corner. We made cupcakes. She told me about the boy she thinks is in love with her. She watched Barbie Dream house and I bounced babies. But we called it a relationship day and everything we did, we did with more time and more awareness and more love. Something we can all use more of.

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Cranberry Granola Bars
We don’t really handle a lot of nuts or oats very well at our house so I’ve made these to replace the bulk of oats in traditional granola bars with coconut and Rice Krispies. They are soft and chewy but the rice adds just the right amount of crunch. The tart craisins balance the richness of the nut butters. I made mine this time with half peanut butter and half cashew butter. They are also excellent made with a mix of sunflower and soy butters to be nut allergy safe.

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup agave Nectar (or light corn syrup or the equivalent of honey thinned with water)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup nut butter

Toast the oats and coconut in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl combine the toasted oats, coconut, cranberries and Rice Krispies.

Melt over medium heat, stirring often to avoid scorching, the agave, sugar and butters. When it is nice and runny pour over the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Scoop the mixture Into a 9×13 Pan and press hard to pack together. If you have a small rolling-pin that works well or place another 9×13 Pan over top and push down hard. If you happen have a small person helping you they can stomp around on it to pack it down.

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Cool in the fridge and then cut into desired size. Store them in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.

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“I just need to put my head down and shuffle forward”— Chalene Johnson

Common knowledge suggests that it takes 21 days to form a habit, right? I’ve just recently learned that that isn’t necessarily true. The truth is, how long it takes to establish a new habit depends on how difficult of a change it is. The average habit actually takes 66 days. The 21 day rule was born out of how long it took plastic surgery patients in the 50’s to get used to a new nose!    Read more here: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5104807
The fact that some habits take longer to solidify is great news when it comes to New Years resolutions right?  If a habit hasn’t sunk in yet, no need to throw in the towel, it just may take more time.
This past New Years, the chance to set goals, make changes and start fresh got me down in a way I haven’t quite been able to shake. The enormity of what it means to have doubled our number of children hit and buried me like a ton of diapers bricks and I’ve spent the last 21 habit-forming days struggling to climb out and find hope.

Last week as I was cleaning my kitchen (New years resolution #1- develop a weekly routine of daily chores to hit every zone of my house and reduce clutter), I was listening to the Chalene Show, a podcast that touches on just about everything success related. As I mopped, this quote from an episode on motivation grabbed me

“I don’t need to run, I don’t need to sprint. I just need to put my head down and shuffle forward. If I continue to shuffle forward, as long as I keep moving I am making progress.”

I was still thinking it about it as I set out Thursday to cross-country ski.

photo 2If you live near me, chances are you’re familiar with CyclingMamas. The group meets 2x/week in the spring and fall to cycle together in the river valley. With the exception of duty days, you drop off your kids for an hour and have that time to get out and be active with a very supportive bunch of women. In the winter, CyclingMamas become “Grace Gliders” and even though it feels a bit over ambitious, I’ve signed up for it because —imagine me trying to claw my way out from under a pile of bricks here—I need it.  I need to remember what it feels like to be me unattached to Squidge or Squdge. I need to be outside without fighting with a double stroller through the snow. I need some introvert time.

Thursday the conditions were perfect-foggy and frosty but not too cold. It’s been warm enough that the beautifully groomed tracks were just the right amount of fast. I did 2 loops around the lake and felt it in my back, arms, chest lungs, legs, hips, abs… Even though I longed for fast powerful strides, my post-twins body really couldn’t do more than shuffle along at a hard 8km/hour- the same speed coincidentally (and I’m trying not to over think this) that hippos swim.
But just because it wasn’t as strong as I’d like yet, didn’t mean it was fruitless.  The effort is what mattered (and rendered me disabled incapacitated a bit sore for the next few days). I so enjoyed being outside, feeling and hearing the rhythmic swish swish swish of my skis gliding in the tracks.

So, 2015 is my year to shuffle forward, reminding myself along the way that its okay to shuffle. Accomplishing my goals is going to take longer. Its going to be harder, my goals smaller. It’s going to take some figuring out how to balance the pursuit of my personal goals with the needs of everyone living in my house, my level of fatigue and with what my 2 adorable little dictators will allow. Despite what I feel on my most tired and discouraged days, It doesn’t mean that having goals for myself is impossible.

Like skiing, it will probably really bring out my soft spots. On Thursday that felt like every part of me. Some days it feels like every area of my life. But Isn’t that why we set goals and make resolutions in the first place? To improve. We pick the areas we aren’t good at. Anytime we focus on our weaknesses, there are bound to be discouraging times. But there are also bound to be times when conditions are perfect and I can enjoy the smooth rhythm of growth.

It’s okay if it takes more than 21days. As long as I’m shuffling forward, I’m making progress.

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Soup! This soup is perfect for a light lunch after skiing (or sledding, or napping or reading a book or just about anything). The way the gentle heat from the ginger and the sweet carrots combine to warm you from your mouth to your heart to your tummy is just about as comforting as it gets.  It tastes like what I imagine the colour Golden to taste like. It is So SO good.

Golden Soup (Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup)

  •  2.5  lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks. For me, this was about 8 carrots, half of my 5lb bag.
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

I roasted the carrots early in the morning while we were busy doing early morning activities so that I wouldn’t have to think about it (or wait for the carrots to roast) later. New Years Resolution #2, think early in the morning about whats for supper and get it prepped.

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Melt 1 Tbsp of the coconut oil in a microwave safe dish then add the carrots and toss to coat them in oil. In a medium baking dish or on a cookie sheet, spread them evenly and put in oven- stirring once halfway through roasting until they’re soft, slightly brown and caramel looking. This takes about 45 minutes.

photo 1Melt the rest of the coconut oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for just a couple of minutes until it’s translucent. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until the onions start to brown, 4 to 5 min. Add the roasted carrots, chicken broth, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Cook at a good simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 30 min.  Then purée. If you have an immersion blender, use it right in the pot, but if not then purée it in a blender in batches. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I garnished mine with cinnamon carrot chips that I made, but they seemed like too much work for how good they were. If you make this, let me know how you garnished it.

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“Embrace the Mess that You Are” — Elizabeth Gilbert

Usually when people ask me how I am doing I say something like “oh, holding it together”, or “”well thank-you” or I smile and shrug because with 3 month old twins, it seems to sum it up. More specific than just the ol’ how are you? Occasionally people will ask ‘how is life with twins?”. Lately I half joke “we just kinda rotate throughout the day which one of us is crying” and then I kind of wimper chuckle like its only a little true.
Wednesday was definitely one of those days. With the Hubs gone to a meeting and Buster at cubs, I thought Lady and I would try out a quick recipe I found on Pinterest. I’m the worst at meal planing (hey ho resolution #317 for 2015), so of course didn’t have all the ingredients and even now looking back on it, I think I only just looked at the picture and didn’t even read the recipe until after the fact.

It came together pretty easy. The Rice Krispie square recipe was no problem, except I didn’t really measure the butter and probably should have. No marshmallow fluff in the pantry? I can make that stuff right? And I never have 6 chocolate bars just sitting around because, well, 6 turns into five into 4…I’m sure you can see where this is going. So I made up some icing-like deliciousness out of cocoa, peanut butter (who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate???) milk and icing sugar.
I spread the layers together and oh Dina! There was marshmallow stickyMess Ever. Y. Where. Licking my fingers I rolled it up and put it into the fridge while the Lady got ready for bed.
After 15 minutes we took it out and sliced into it. This treat was so tasty. So gooey. So soft and sweet. But so SO messy and ugly and hard to eat . And then I heard that recurring voice in my head. You know the one from finding Nemo? not the “Just keep swimming Just keep swimming” one that should be my mantra these days. This one:

And then while everyone else went to bed, it was my turn to cry. Because after a day of shrinking a good sweater in the dryer and losing patience with my kids again and another day of not fitting in a workout, and feeling like I spent my day failing over and over, it was not at all the success I needed.
But then something happened during the night. The roll set up. When I cut into it for breakfast- yup, a nice thick slice of Rice Krispie and marshmallow at 8am is how we sometimes roll around here- it wasn’t so sticky anymore and it was round! Like the picture!

And it made me think. Being a mom to two little babies at once while trying to give my other kids and my husband what they need and still maintain a sense of self and have a shower is a messy and sticky process. And it’s often ugly and doesn’t look like I want it to because it’s impossible to totally follow someone else’s recipe road map for their life. I have to work with what I have in my proverbial pantry. And sometimes I don’t choose the best ingredients the first time. And sometimes I should have measured better. And sometimes I should actually follow instructions instead of forging ahead with little more than a glance. And even though my life has these pockets that are soft and sweet, I get hung up on how it looks and how hard it is but given enough time, it gets better and those things that make it less fun will work themselves out eventually. I just need to give it (me) time.

And I’m learning. So here’s take 2. This recipe really is so good. Not too sweet but that squishy marshmallow swirl in the middle and the crunchy Rice Krispies play together for such a fun texture balance. The Peanut butter is not super dominant, it just adds a bit of depth. This is a simple recipe that is so fun to eat, is perfect for little hands to help with and somehow slicing into a roll feels so much fancier than cutting into a pan of squares.
I think it would also be good with caramel instead of chocolate, or a Nutella layer….

Rice Krispie Swirl

5 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
6 cups rice krispies
—melt together the marshmallows and the butter in the microwave for 2 minutes stirring after the first minute
add the cereal and stir.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and with wet hands, pat down and spread the mixture to cover the area. Place in fridge to cool (or if you’re me and its January and you live in Edmonton, place it on your back step!)

Chocolate Layer
1/3 cup Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Icing sugar
2 Tbsp Cocoa
2 Tbsp milk
1/3 cup chocolate chips (the wax in these helps firm it up)
—Melt these together in the microwave stirring after each 30 seconds and spread over the Krispie layer. cool.

Marshmallow Fluff
—Combine and place in microwave for 1 minute
3 cups marshmallows
1 1/2 Tbsp corn syrup
Spread this over the chocolate layer. Don’t worry about getting right to the sides because it will spread as you roll.

Then pulling the parchment out as you go, roll it up like a cinnamon bun. Cover in plastic wrap and cool in your fridge for a bit before slicing.

Rice Krispie Roll ups

To view the recipe that started this all visit http://www.pinterest.com/pin/81487074482599541/