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.

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“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

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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.

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.

image

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

“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

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