Sunday, 31 May 2015

Story Telling


We have this fantastic oral story that we invented.  Its similar to Robert Munsch classics in that it is repetitive and silly.  Scarlett loves it, and I do too.  A couple months ago, it saved us from an epic meltdown in the middle of the Service Canada offices - its that good.

I'll let you fill in the blanks, but it goes something like this:  

There is a family that lives in a castle that includes Queen Mommy, Prince Nevin, Prince Malcolm and Princess Scarlett.  One day a surly dragon moves into The Kingdom and the worried, hostile Queen demands that it is slayed.  Each child goes out, tells the dragon they are going to slay him, runs around and around and around the dragon and kicks him in the shin.  Of course, there is always an argument involving a lot of Munsch-esque Noooooo's and Yeeeeeees's and each time the number of circles gets more ridiculous.  Shocker: the dragon is not slayed.  Princess Scarlett, being the final protagonist, runs around him so many times that she gets dizzy.  She falls on her bum, and a marshmallow that she had forgotten in her pocket falls out.  The dragon inquires, she educates, an idea forms, yada, yada, yada, the dragon is named the Official Marshmallow Roaster of The Kingdom and everyone lives happily ever after.

Scarlett tried her hand at story telling - the kind with a beginning, middle, and end - for the first time yesterday.  It went like this:

"Once upon a time there was a beeeeeautiful princess.  There was a bad guy, too.  He stole the princess and he tied up her hands,
and he locked her up,
and he tore her dress,
and he made her hair messy,
and he took away her toys,
and he took away her bandaids,
and she had to sleep on the floor with no pillow,
.... (continue for a couple minutes, during which time I lost track of the atrocities)
And then princess found the key in the lock and escaped!  And she fixed her hair and her dress and gave her mom a big hug.  Is that a good ending, Mom?"
(I say yes.)
Pause.  "And then she had a baby."

So now I know what the most important things are to her in the world, and bandaids are in the top ten.  The baby got a mention, too, so I guess he is safe for now.  As for me, now you know how I feel about roasted marshmallows.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Rhubarb Poppyseed Muffins


Yesterday, Scarlett and I went to the park for a play and a picnic.  Summer has arrived and its time to get outside - its the second time we've done it this week.

A neighbour showed up, looking for someone just as we were sitting down to eat.  She couldn't find her friend, but decided to pick up lunch at the bakery around the corner and join us for lunch.  This neighbour is not someone we know well -- we've had a wave-and-"hello" kind of relationship for years -- but I suppose this is how community builds.  I was impressed by her willingness to pause and make a human connection with us, the people she drives by everyday.  She even brought back muffins from the bakery for Scarlett and I.  Of course, as is always the way in a small town, we learned that she went to school with some of my aunts and uncles, and a couple of our relatives are married.  When we parted ways, she referred to my extended family and said something that struck me: "Now I know who you are."

I moved back to my hometown for these moments.  At times, I do not want to be defined by my family names, but for the most part it is really comforting to have deep roots.  It helps me be the best I can be when I know that my actions not only reflect back on my family and community, but also build it.

In case you decide to share the love too, here is the best muffin recipe I've made in a long time.

Rhubarb Poppyseed Muffins
(Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook)

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup plain thick yogurt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 cm pieces

1. Preheat oven to 375*.  Butter or line 12 muffin cups.
2. Whisk the egg and sugars together in a large bowl.  Stir in the butter and yogurt.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (except the rhubarb).  Then stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just combined and lumpy.  It will be a thick batter - that is good.  Fold in the rhubarb.
4. Divide the batter into the muffin cups.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden.  Cool the muffins in the pan for two minutes and then remove them from the tin to cool completely.

(The author, Deb Perelman, had some great advice for making healthy muffins.  Load up on the fruit: the more you can shove into the batter, the less you miss the refined sugar (she used plums, and I have a feeling this recipe will sing with almost any fruit flavour).  Butter is better than oil, for flavour.  You can reduce the sugar even further and keep deliciousness by sprinkling a little icing sugar on the cooled muffins.  She says using sour cream instead will change your life, but I'm a fan of homemade yogurt.)

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


This reflection is about more than just my legs.

While at a leggings party, I looked in the mirror and said, "this is an awesome mirror - it makes my legs look great!"  My friend looked at me and said, "You kind of just have great legs all the time."  I was genuinely surprised:  I had thought it was a a trick of the glass.

But then I realized I don't have a single full length mirror in my home.  I can't see past my waist (or, on a particularly adventurous day when I go on my tiptoes, two inches below my waist).  When I look in the mirror I see my tired face, my chest that is not my own thanks to breastfeeding,  and I can't miss the mid section that is healing so, so slowly with physiotherapy.  I see what is close and messy.

And I thought: isn't this a metaphor for my life?  I look around my house and see the mess of Lego, the dirty dishes and laundry, the crooked doormat and I think I'm falling apart.  If only I would stop, scan out a little and look at the big picture, I might realize that things are actually going pretty well.  We have jobs, the kids are healthy, and we get to see our extended family regularly.  I am so mindful of these good things, but if I succeed in framing it long and wide 100 times a day, than I fail 101 times.

So what do I do?  I'll just keep wearing leggings and invest in a full length mirror.  And hope that my I legs look so good that I don't notice the smudged little finger prints.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mother's Day 2015

My mother's day presents were better than yours.  Well, probably not to you, but to me, they were wicked awesome amazeballs.

First, Shawn said "I think we should do a family photoshoot."  Let's be honest here and admit that since the kids had camped out in the yard the night before, they were not feeling cooperative.  And the skies were promising drizzle.  And we have a baby who likes to mix his schedule up, just to keep us on our toes.

But we had an unscheduled afternoon and we had the library.  We did not get a lot of pictures, but we got a few, and that really pleases me.  Score one for the family.

For supper, because I'm more of a dessert kind of person than a brunch lady, we had pie.  Of course, I made it, but I like making pie.  I love baking with the kids, but baking by myself is borderline therapeutic for me.  So when Shawn asked if I wanted him take care of the kids while I do "that" gesturing to supper (which I realize on paper sounds like a jerk thing to say but in the kitchen, on that day, while the three uncooperative kids did what uncooperative kids do, it was said with such sincerity that it was really quite sweet), I was glad.  Mother's Day present #2: success.

Then finally after dinner, Nevin had a carefully crafted treasure hunt for me with number clues.  He forgot to draw pictures to hint at the next clue's location, so he would run ahead and then with pointed fingers and broad, swooping arm gestures say, "its sooooomewhere around heeeeeere."  My treasure was a sign that said, "HAPPY MOTHRDAY, complete with a backwards "r" and "d".

It was a great day.


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