“Happiness is a Matter of Rhythm.”— Thomas Merton

Walking home from school, the Lady and I were stomping and crushing the ice with our rubber boots. She laughed as she said “it sounds like this -teeka teeka tee tee teeka tee”. The Lady, the girl who just finished skipping down the street in time to “Mary had a little Lamb” enjoys finding the rhythm in everything. 

Saturday with the sun on our backs, I loaded the Monkeys into the Chariot, pumped up the tires on the Lady’s bike and we set out. It was her first bike ride of the year. There was still ice and snow on the ground. Her legs, so strong by the end last summer had forgotten what to do exactly. Hills were hard. Falling was frustrating. Knowing how fast to pedal and when to slow down felt impossible.  She had lost her rhythm, and it would take time for her to remember. 

 

Before the snow hit again and out for a walk the other day I saw a man in the middle of a field practicing fly fishing; perfecting his rhythm. 

I’m a swimmer. I love the cool water. With my head under beneath the surface I love the quiet, the security the weight of the water provides. I love the relationship between powerfully moving through the water and the relaxed suspension of buoyancy. I feel out of balance when it’s been too long between swims. The last time I swam, my mind was buzzing as I began – I had problems to solve- how to get Squdge and Squidge to nap for more than 20 minutes at a time, grocery lists to formulate, the best way to help Buster with school and sports and being 8, my swimming form to perfect after so many months swimming on top of a very pregnant belly and then months of not swimming at all… It only took me a few hundred meters before I realized I was missing it. I was in the pool but still missing the swim. So I stopped thinking and settled into the pattern of my breathing.

Stroke stroke stroke breathe stroke stroke breathe stroke stroke stroke breatheRhythm. 

When I was coaching a team of young swimmers, I had one little boy on my team who was never very interested in taking my advise. I remember one race in particular. It was 50m free. In his longer races he liked to breathe every other stroke but because this was a race that would last less than a minute, he had a very fast turnover  and it’s faster not to breathe as often, I instructed him to try breathing every 4 or six.  Predictably though He didn’t do what I asked. He instead tried to breathe every 12 strokes. His first 25m was fast but by the 35m mark, with not enough oxygen to his muscles, he tanked. 

The thing is, I too usually think in terms of momentum. An object in motion stays in motion, so get moving. Want to get into shape? Momentum. Overhaul your diet? Momentum. Getting my life together? Momentum. 

But there is more to progress than momentum. There needs to be times of motion, yes, but also times of rest, to breathe, to take in air, feel the water and the music, to enjoy where we are right at that moment without the pressure to be somewhere else, to do something else, to be someone else all. the. time. 

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony”— Thomas Merton. 

The seasons change in rhythms of growth, produce and rest. There is day light and night time; High tide and low tides. Our own bodies work  in a state of constant rhythm. Movement is necessary but if not followed by times of adequate rest, time away from both physical and mental stress, it can lead to adrenal fatigue, burn out, a general sense of crankiness and a host of other problems. 

What works for someone else may not work for you because we all have our own rhythm. The amount of sleep you need, how introverted/extroverted you are, overall health and energy levels, emotional resilience, how many little and big people you have in your life that need you…they all affect and are a part of your –my– rhythm. And that’s okay. 

So set goals. Begin moving. But remember that your rhythm is your own. Remind yourself that you don’t need to do everything everyone else is doing and not at their speed.  Rest, the amount of time between movement, is just as important to motion as movement is.

Seek for harmony because balance comes not in successfully juggling everything at once but instead knowing when to act and when rest; knowing when to let go, to breathe ,’to not just hear but stop and enjoy the “teeka teeka tee tee teeka tee” in everything. 



 

 

 

 

Do you know about these Lemon Chips? I’ve had my eye on these little drops of lemony sunshine from BulkBarn for a while. They are so SO good- sweet with just a touch of tart right at the end. 

Someday I’ll make one of of these Baskets of Sunshine to give to someone I love. This popcorn would go so great in one.

It would also be fantastic at a shower, or as a teacher gift, or for your neighbors or pretty much anytime. Buster said it’s the best popcorn he’s ever had, but lately his favorite food seems to be the food he’s eating at that moment. He is so fun to cook for.

But this popcorn is super good. Sweet, subtle, simple. You’ve got to try it.

Lemon Sunshine Popcorn. 

  •  1/3 cup popcorn Kernels popped
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup lemon chips
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt to taste
  • Splash of lemon juice -optional

Pop the popcorn and pour into a large bowl.

Combine the chips in a microwave safe dish, and melt, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent the chocolate from scorching.

When it is nice and creamy, pour over the popcorn, add the zest and stir well to combine.

Spread the mixture out evenly onto a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Let it cool about 10 minutes then break the pieces apart.

If you are eating it right away and don’t mind a few soft pieces, sprinkle just a bit of lemon juice on it to add a little kick.

Store in an airtight container.

I also highly recommend these Lemon Crinkle cookies from Cooking Classy with 1 cup of the lemon chips added.

http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/06/lemon-crinkle-cookies/

They were Heav.En.Ly! When I open my imaginary bakery, I will be selling these there for pretend sure.  They had a texture I’ve never had in a cookie, almost like a pastry, but everything you want in a cookie. So So So good!

“Enjoy things for what they are instead of what you thought they should be”—Mandy Hale

This week I gave a ride to the Sister Missionaries from our church. As we were pulling out of the garage, one of them asked sweetly “Is your life everything you thought it would be?” I think I responded a little too quickly with “Hah! No!” because the face of this sweet bright-eyed young woman fell almost as quick. Clearly I hadn’t given her the answer she was anticipating. Maybe “all I hoped for and more” was what she wanted to hear; Or “It’s different but Oh so much better. ” When I saw her disappointment I tried to recover with “well, you know, I envisioned myself living in a house with an automatic garage door…”

As we drove we talked a little more about it- about the boy I dated in high school and the life I saw for myself then and how different my life would have turned out had that relationship not ended the way most first loves do. And how it’s so easy when you’re young to create a timeline for yourself but that life rarely follows the plans made by teenagers or 20 year old girls. Of course life changes you and I’m different in so many ways than the girl I was when I made those plans…

I keep coming back to that conversation. What did I imagine my life would be? I can’t actually think of what”everything I imagined” is but most days, in the trenches I’m sure this isn’t it.

Recently Buster did a small presentation in German about his family.

Das ist mein mama. Sie bleibt zu hause. Sie mag Schlaf.

This is my mom. She stays home. She likes sleep.

Except it isn’t. Not Really.

I’m sure my vision included beautiful kids, happy husband, a lovely home, being active in my community, volunteering at the school, having a beautiful yard… I would be loving and patient and my children’s greatest cheerleader, inspiring them to greatness. Of course I would have time for developing my own talents and interests and nights out with friends. And muffins. Good Moms always have home-made muffins.

Maybe you imagined sticky floors and bad hair days and to-do lists undone. I’m sure I must have. But I didn’t imagine how it would feel to have those things every single day. When I imagined craft time with the Lady, I didn’t imagine my already less than steady glitter glue hand being bumped over and over as I try to juggle 2 babies at the same time. I thought of myself doing my little girl’s hair in the morning, but didn’t envision her tender head or her yelling at me like I am trying to murder kindly assist her whenever I attempt a braid. And I didn’t think of the afternoons spent rocking and jostling and fighting crying babies to sleep only to wake them up to take Buster to the pool. I never thought I’d feel so housebound or what it  is to evaluate how tired I am not by how much I’d like a nap ,but in terms of my ability to form complete sentences versus the level of tired that causes double vision.

I know I imagined 4 children. But I didn’t (and how could I?) have known they would come after and between years of infertility. It’s because I know just how blessed I am to have them all, when I am frustrated or angry or at the end of my fuse rope, I feel so much guilt; guilt because with all I have, shouldn’t I be walking around in a state of constant blissful gratitude All. The. Time?

And I know I can’t be the only one. There are so many online posts of things they never tell you about pregnancy or childbirth or staying at home with kids or your first ten years of marriage. Because it really isn’t what anyone imagined. And when people ask how things are going, they really only want half the story so we share the best half and feel like everyone else’s whole lives are made up of all the best halves and why not ours? But then I have these glimpses.

  • At lunch when I am actually on time to pick up the Lady from kindergarten and I have a baby snuggled happily on my front and one sleeping on my back. We walk home holding hands in the sun until Buster runs to catch up behind us and we can all walk together.
  • Saturday afternoon when Squidge and Squdge were both napping at the same time, the Lady was at a tea party and when I suggested to Buster he IMG_5266do something creative, he chose painting, and we had time to practice our water colours together.
  • And how The lady cannot walk by Squdge in the exersauser without hitting it’s music button and dancing a crazy little jig, every single time.
  • Or whenever we develop a system for doing something right- like all 6 of us going swimming together and getting everyone showered and changed without it ending in a mess of forgotten goggles, broken jars of baby lotion and tears. 

It’s important to have vision. To hope. To see things, good things that can come. To remind ourselves that it won’t always be this way. Sometimes that’s all we have to get us through. But there are times, seasons, whole years maybe, when thinking about what you wanted for your life gets in the way of wanting your life.

“When you release expectations you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you thought they should be”   —Mandy Hale

I have so much to enjoy.

But I still wish I lived in a house with an automatic garage door. IMG_5257



I love cookies. I would rather eat a cookie than cake or pie any day. I love how satisfying it is to bite into the perfectly chewy and sweet with just a little crunch of a cookie. I like them hot out of the oven, frozen, with milk, with peanut butter spread on like icing…I had someone ask me once if I even ate carbs because my lunch was all meat and veggies and fruit. I replied that I do, I just prefer to get my carbs from cookies. Its a bit of a problem.

To add variety and speed up our mornings a little bit, I decided to try my hand at breakfast cookies. Of course “healthy” is relative. These aren’t as healthy as a lot of breakfast choices, but since my kids love to eat pancakes and eggs drowning in maple flavored corn syrup, or french toast with icing sugar and chocolate sauce, when put on the scale of fun breakfasts, they are pretty healthy.

These breakfast cookies are no joke. They have the joy of a cookie while still giving you a bit of that “stick to your ribs” feeling that a bowl of oatmeal would leave you with. They are kind of like a really dense muffin, or a soft, not so sticky granola bar. They aren’t too sweet but the dates add that little bit of chewiness and well, the chocolate chips…

Incidentally, on Friday I made this recipe: http://www.amittenfullofsavings.com/easy-breakfast-recipe-omelet-breakfast-bites/

Buster took one bite and shouted “First breakfast cookies and now breakfast cupcakes?! I love my life!”

Ginny’s Breakfast Cookies

  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 3 Tbsp Chia seeds
  • 1 large ripe banana mashed
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup nut butter **I used natural peanut butter. If you chose peanut butter with added sugar, you might want to decrease the sugar in the recipe
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • **1/2 tsp salt if using unsalted nut butter
  • 1 cup pitted dates chopped fine **For a little more tartness try 1/2 cup dates and 1/2 cup craisins.
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk and chia. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes so the chia can soften and gel.

Stir in the mashed banana, apple sauce, egg, peanut butter and sugar. Mix until smooth.

Add the oatmeal, coconut, chopped dates and chocolate chips. Stir to combine. The consistency will be like a thick batter.

Drop about 2 tbsp each onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or greased. With a spoon flatten and shape into cookie rounds. Bake for 20 minutes.

—Makes about 18 cookies

IMG_5262-0

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