“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.

 

 

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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.

“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

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.

“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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“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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