“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.

 

Don’t Accept Someone Else’s Interpretation of How You Should Be- Chieko Okazaki 

The monkeys are Eight months old. 2/3 of a year.

When they were six weeks old, I remember feeling so tired and foggy but like I needed to justify feeling so tired and foggy because isn’t six weeks the marker when new moms should return to the land of the living- grocery shopping, cleaning house, getting kids to school on time, showering and exercising with ease?!?! But I couldn’t, certainly not with ease. I told myself, out loud, to give it more credibility, that with two babies I should be allowed twice the time to get my life back together. Allowed, as if permission to go days and days without a shower or to shower twice in one day came not from me and what I could handle but from the expectations of others. 

 And then it was Christmas and New Year’s and 6 weeks had turned into 12, then 14 weeks and suddenly the babies were 4 months and I still couldn’t seem to keep my laundry put away or make it 48 hours without crying and what would people think?!? Even now, at 8 months, I can’t seem to figure out the best routine for each baby let alone one that works for both of them and some days it feels like I haven’t made any progress. 

 Spring break I took my kids to Ikea. I wanted to buy high chairs, but really we went so Buster and The Lady could play in the ball pit and we could eat cheap meatballs for lunch. Before we left I put on mascara; Not because I cared how lush my lashes looked but because if the babies started to cry and I was in the middle of the office section of ikea, tandom wearing two screaming infants, I thought maybe, just maybe if I looked better, people might judge me with a softer view. Instead of seeing me as a frazzled, failing and crazy woman covered in babies, they might  just see a tired mum doing the best she can while covered in babies.

As it turned out the monkeys were amazing and slept and were happy and when they did cry -in line for meatballs- a stranger was quick to offer help. So many people stopped us to talk, to tell me I was doing a great job,  that while holding so many hands and feet I was holding up so well. Where I had anticipated judgment, I was given encouragement. It wasn’t just the mascara. At least not only the mascara. 

 Easter I took everyone to Raymond to visit my family and give the Hubs a weekend of uninteruppted sleep. On our way home, we stopped at a highway diner for milkshakes and curly fries (how had my children never had curly fries?!?), to nurse the babies and to use the bathroom. We pulled up with the wind cold and blowing.  Squidge didn’t have shoes or socks on and of course no coat because we’d been in the car. I got him out of his seat, tried to wrap him in a blanket while the wind whipped around us and hurried him in. But once inside, realizing all my other kids were still in the van, I was stuck with what to do. So I rushed  back out, the wind snapping the blanket off his cold head and feet, hurrying to get everyone else inside where I handed Squidge to Buster and ran back out for Squdge.

I felt like a disaster. We drove up in a van with a munched in back and broken tail light from that time we were rear-ended. One of my tires was on its way to becoming flat from something I drove over on the Deerfoot. I was sick and feverish and sweaty. The babies were missing socks and shoes and their shirts were dirty and covered in sweet potatoe from feeding them lunch earlier by the side of the road. The Lady hadn’t brushed her hair.  We had to use the bathroom in shifts which meant first leaving twins alone in the booth with my 8 year old and then later relying on a 5 year old to show him how to get to the bathroom. I could feel the eyes of everyone on us and my cheeks burned imagining what they must think of me. 

So when a woman approached us on her way out, I expected her to say the usual “you sure have your hands full” which always feels a bit like  “I see you are clearly in over your head”. But she didn’t. She looked right at Squdge, smiled and told him “Your mother has a beautiful Family”.  Instead of critisimsm I was given kindess. 

 The internet is full of articles about how we judge each other too often.

There’s articles like this http://www.allparenting.com/my-family/articles/968537/women-judging-women 

 And this

http://blog.parentlifenetwork.com/5-types-of-mommy-bullies-youve-probably-met/ 

 And most recently for me the example of the woman who shared her great laundry room makeover and then recieved a lot of flack, for nothing to do with her laundry room, but about her parenting choices.

http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/040915-how-mom-of-6-invited-criticism-building-400-dream-laundry-room/ 

 And so I know judging others and being judged can be a problem and there is always ALWAYS room for more kindness. But I have also started to feel more and more how much kindess and forgiveness and allowance does exist, that we do give each other daily and that maybe we aren’t being judged as harshly by others as we so often assume. 

Several months ago a friend of mine posted some mommy frustration in the middle of the night. Not many people saw it because by morning she’d removed it fearing how others might perceive her. This particular friend is one of the most patient, giving and sweet women I know. No one who knows her could imagine her actually leaving her baby to cry alone for hours in the night. No one could have judged her for feeling tired and cranky in the night time with a baby who wouldn’t sleep, knowing she has 3 other children who would need her in the day time.  And yet the perception of being judged is just as damaging as if we are actually being judged by others. Imagining the negative things others are saying about us is the same as saying it to ourselves. It hurts just the same. So we need to stop. Just. Stop.

 I’m learning to view judgement, real or percieved as a form of advice. I heard once that people with experiences other than our own often feel a responsibility to help, to share what they’ve learned and it comes in the form of advise.  Our responsibility is not to be offended but to then take that information and evaluate it in the context of our own experience and decide if it applies or not.

I love this quote by Chieko Okazaki.

“Only you know your circumstances, your energy level, the needs of your children, and the emotional demands of your other obligations. Be wise during intensive seasons of your life. Cherish your agency, and don’t give it away casually. Don’t compare yourself to others — nearly always this will make you despondent. Don’t accept somebody else’s interpretation of how you should be spending your time. Make the best decision you can and then evaluate it to see how it works.”

How would life be different if we trusted each other more? If instead of assuming others are judging us harshly and looking for ways to put us down, we instead saw cheerleaders; members on the same team; friends who are there to offer support? And how better to teach our children that the world is a kind and safe place than  to look for and find the kindness in others? Because the irony is that the assumption others are judging us critically is a critical judgement in and of itself. We are all in this together but  the belief, allowing ourselves to think that everyone is finding ways they are better than us, makes it impossible to share the experience with the very people who are experiencing or who have experienced the same things. 

Soon the babies will be crawling. Soon the time limit on “it took 9 months to gain that weight, it will take 9 months to take it off” will be up. I can’t promise I’ll feel like I’ve actually recovered. And perhaps there are some who will judge me for that but there are so many more who won’t. Because they know, they’ve been there. I will need kindness. We all need kindness no matter what stage we are in. So allow it. Be kind to yourself, look for it and take it when it is offered because kindness really can be found all around us.




When I was in high school my Grandmother sustained a stroke and came to stay with us. My mom spent hours with her helping to improve her balance, walking, and reading. One of the activities they did to help with her language and sequencing skills was baking- reading and following a recipe.  These ginger cookies remind me of her every time. One of my favorite memories is coming home from school at lunch to find her at the sink washing all the little balls of dough because she had rolled them all in salt instead of sugar. It makes me smile because it’s just the sort of thing I would do!

 The last time I made them Squidge was sick and decided he wanted to nurse For.Ever. So when the timer went off, with him still latched on and refusing to let go I walked in the kitchen to open the oven with my foot.  The Lady,  with oven mitts 6 sizes too big, then carefully took them out of the oven and placed the pan on the cooling rack.  Without any help from me she rolled out the next 12, rolled them in sugar and placed them on the pan. Luckily Buster came home from school then and could help put them in while I stood with a baby still attached to me. Sometimes we are a great team. Sometimes I get desperate. 

 It’s spring and ginger cookies are often associated with cold weather. But try these paired with lemon sorbet. I promise You will not be sorry. The sorbet is perfect for warmer weather and has a fun chemical reaction with the ginger in the cookies to make your tongue tingle and dance; Such a fun dessert. 

 
Grandma Ruth’s Ginger Cookies 

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar + more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Beat together the butter, sugar and egg. Mix in the molasses. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Roll into 1″ balls, roll in sugar and place on an Ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. You’ll want to take them out when they seem a bit under-done because like all cookies they will continue to bake on the pan for a bit after they come out of the oven. 

 Ours were a bit crunchy this time because it took me too long to get to the oven for obvious reasons. When I told the Lady that we cooked them too long, she was quick to correct me. “Actually we bake cookies not cook them but I know what mean.” She’s very forgiving.