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Monday, April 28, 2014

anti-recipe #70 the best hot chocolate in the world

This is the view in front of me now as I type. Three chocolately faces, dripping, slurping, sucking, in silence. 

Sounds kinda creepy, huh? Like a vampire novel or something. Ha. Maybe my next book. 

(Joking. NEVER.)

In any case. We are on day three of rain here in the frozen north. It's not frozen, per se, but it's cold rain, that makes my knees ache like an old woman. 

Instead of bemoaning the weather this morning, we embrace it. We are reading one of my favorite all time books "The Secret Garden" and the story of the grey world on the moors, waiting for spring and blossoms, is rather perfect for us. 

And then, I surprise myself with these words.

Fine, then, let's go outside.

Really?? You too?? 

Yes, fine, me too.

And so we go out, covered in wool and all the rain proof gear I can find. 

And 45 minutes later we come back in. Drenched, chilled to the bone, and ready for some hot chocolate. 

And so I make some.

And here is how you can too. And after you try this you will never again buy the powdered kind in the the little packets (in fact it kind of grosses me out now)

First, farm fresh milk. Cream still heavy on the top. However you can get your hands on this creamy goodness, you should. I mix it up in a saucepan on the stovetop. Don't let it get too hot! Turn on the burner to a medium heat. 

Next, i use approximately one tablespoon of real cocoa per mug of milk. Stir it in to the pot as the milk is warming. Add a dash of salt (i know, weird, but it makes the difference) and a tiny bit of vanilla (maybe half a teaspoon per three mugs of milk) if you want add a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg etc. We don't do it this way as my children are purists, but you can. 
This next part is key. Add a wooden spoon full of good local - raw if you can get it - honey. Why? It's good for you. My super convincing explanation. Ha. And I recently read something about imported honey from china etc being full of toxic pollution and plastic. Which grossed me out. So we do local honey. Plus my mom gave me a giant gallon of raw honey from her friend. So, there's that.

Now, heat until steamy but not bubbling. Stir until cocoa is mixed.

Now, you have crunchy mama homemade cocoa! Now plop in the largest store bought corn-syrupy marshmallows you can find. Voila, the perfect cup of cocoa.

Also, most excellent mixed with Bailey's. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Happy rainy Monday mamas!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

golden hour, and this happened

There is nothing like that golden hour, when you rise, of your own free will, to face the day. Not, mind you, because of "MOOOOM I'm HUNGRY." or "MOOOOM I wet the BED!!" No, you enter the golden hour, in silence, as the glowing disc pushes up from behind the trees across the way, its dazzling light, pouring into your living room, cup of strong coffee, made by husband just the way you like it, in hand.

Ready. To. Face. The. Damn. Day.

And you are invincible.

And the strange dreams still carry over from the night before (you are, after all, chronically exhausted) and the words, as you write, pour onto the page.

And you are fierce.

You can manage any task this day. Anything! The wildest thought is possible!

And then reality. 

A two and a half hour conference call. 

Crabby children who refuse to do school. Who, er, soil their pants. Cold weather driving you inside even though the sun is brightly beckoning. I don't feel like being out in the cold, they say, neither do I , you respond. 

And you reel it in, the expectations, the wildest thoughts tamed into the mere possible.

I will make a good dinner that everyone will love!

I will make a healthy dinner, that I will force them to eat.

I will make dinner.

And here we are.

The golden hour is past.

We are out of wine.

Also it's only 3pm. Crap, really, four, five hours till bedtime?? Six if we are being realistic here.

And it's Tuesday. And here we are.

And so I write. Because it's good to remember the moments, in the golden hour, and it's good to remember the reality too, not just for what it isn't, in comparison with the golden, but for what it is. It is three children playing duplos while mama writes and dada emerging from his office, to put away laundry because he needed a break and little man writing a page of his book report and writing in cursive so perfectly that you marvel and get a little teary eyed. 

Reality. Golden-hued reality. 

You know?

The other evening, as the dinner hour disintegrated into pre-bedtime chaos, I sat down, fully, mindfully, ignoring said chaos, even dirty dishes, which I never do, and I pulled out a canvas, and began painting. I fully ignored kids arguing, pajama battles, all of it. Dada, man that he is, says, no, it's good, paint! And so, I did. And the birds were outside, dunking their heads in the fresh April snow trying to find the seeds we had thrown out and so I painted a happy green tree for them, with yes, the trite red roses.

So here it is. 

Seize the day mamas!! Or at least, make it to bedtime!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

resisting the sirens' call

So I have this thingy, two days before a holiday, I make the mistake of looking on Pinterest, I start making list in my head. Not two weeks, mind you, like rational people, no, two DAYS. it's a sickness. HOW MUCH CAN I GET DONE??

Pausing this post for a minute. I'm using the iPad to write post these days. And I've realized there's a little button with a microphone. This button is changing my life. I push the button, I talk and the words appear. Magic. 

We can pretend we're having a conversation. Or I can talk to you anyhow. 

The kids think it's cool too. 

Here's little miss. 

I love you. She says. 

No, you have to say something other than that. 

Suddenly, stage fright from Miss talkative. 

Hello little man.



"Mommy found this microphone button that was on the iPad and it's a really cool all you have to do is talk into it and then all you have to do is push it again and then the words appear like this."

And what do you want to say baby? 

I love you poopy. (Cackles of laughter from siblings.)

No, don't say poopy, you have to say something nice. 

I love you hello. 

My children folks. 


Back to the post. 

So, this thing two days before a holiday...and I suddenly start thinking about what I could make, how much I could get done. 

First off, a disclaimer. So, in case you follow me on Pinterest my lists for "to do in the month of April" well, I don't actually do them...they are there in case my crafting stars align and, 1) I have free time and 2) the kids are willing and 3) my creative energy is at the appropriate level. This happens precisely twice a month. 

But in any case. 

This two days before a holiday thing is like a disease. Suddenly I start thinking about those cute little felt rabbits and hey, I have felt, maybe I could make some, then I see homemade peanut butter chocolate eggs, and I think, ooooh, I could totally do that...and then the horrifying happens. I open up my Pinterest to do list for the month of April, and there, staring at me, are my inadequacies. Oh, yea, I was going to do a spring unit study about birds and oh, what about this cute felted bunny, and oh yea, (this is when the full on Pinterest crazy comes out) I was going to MAKE THE GIRLS MATCHING EASTER DRESSES!! 

Do you know that my mother made matching hands smocked dresses for us girls when we were little EVERY EASTER?? Well, she did. I don't understand how. How, mom?? How???

I'm going to be lucky to get to Kohls this Saturday (uh, tomorrow) to get said matching dresses. Hopefully they will still have them in stock for slacker moms like me...

So. Do I dare open the April Pinterest list? Or do I just make the bunnies and chocolate treats and call it a day? Or do I ignore my two days before a holiday urge and read easter stories to the kids and have a lazy Friday? Did I mention we haven't even dyed eggs yet?? What is UP with me this year???

Hmmmm... I'm trying to resist but Pinterest is calling a sirens' song. Deadly. Calling me. Judging me. But sooooo soooo pretty!!

Ooooooh, naturally dyed Easter eggs, using beets and carrots and spinach and blueberries! I was going to use food dye, what was I thinking??

Ooooooh, bunny necklaces out of clay!! The girls would love that!

Ooooooh, felt chicks!! An Easter wreath of flowers and eggs for the front door! A hand carved willow whistle!! A stuffed bunny!! A DRESS FOR MYSELF!!

Clearly I've lost my marbles! Help Pinterest is sucking me in!! I can't not judge! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

(Will our heroine survive?? Will she resist the sirens' call?? Tune in to for our next installment, "mama needs a retreat!!! DO YOU???")

Monday, April 14, 2014

because I want what I want (my messy beautiful)

"What's wrong?" I say to the pouting face in front of me "Why are you so sad today?"

"Because I just want what a want," she says. "That's why."

She wants what she wants. Of course.

I want to tell her to stop whining. I want to tell her how great she has it. But. I stop to think. Yea, I want what I want too. I get that, don't you?

When we were newly marrieds, in our early 20s, me finishing undergrad that first year of marriage, I often said a similar thing to dada.

He reminded me of this, so kindly as he is want to do, when I was complaining about our whiney five year old daughter.

"Yea, well, do you remember what you used to say?"

"Me????? Whiney?????????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.........What did I say?? I have no memory of this event."

"You used to say to me all the time, something like "Because I don't want to, or, what was it?""

"Oh yes," I say. "I do what I want to do, when I want to do it."

"You also used to lie on the floor, whining, when you were writing grad school papers, and say "I HATE EVERYTHIIIIIIING!!!!!!!!""

"Lovely," I say, "thanks so much for remembering that."


This was truly my mantra in those early 20s years as I struggled through college, early marriage years, then grad school.

I do what I want to do, when I want to do it.

You profs might boss me around, my boss might boss me around, but dammit if I want to stay out until 3am with hubby when I have a class at 8am, I AM GOING TO DO IT.

If I want to eat two entire pizza bagels at 11pm, I AM GOING TO DO IT.

Its like my little five year old is channeling my 25 year old self.


I was charming in my 20s, truly. HA.

But, you know, we all face this at some time in our lives I think, multiple times really, this claiming of self, this "Who am I and where do I fit in the cosmos" question. We all wrestle with it. And it comes and goes.

All children face this too. In fits and spurts. Nailing down their "place" only to have it ripped up with a new revelation about life.

"Mom," little man says to me one day last week, "I have some news for you."

"What is it?" I say, expecting some Lego creation presentation.

"Um, the sun is going to collapse into a black hole and we are all going to die."

"Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh......What have you been reading?"

He holds out a National Geographic. On the cover an ominous picture of a black hole, surrounded by stars. I flip through it quickly.

"Buddy, it says right here in the article that that isn't going to happen for how long? Read this."

"Five thousand years?"

"Five BILLION years hon. That's a LONG time. Maybe humans wont even live on this planet anymore. Maybe we'll already have found another better planet [to suck up ITS resources. HA.]"

"But what if we don't? What if all those people on earth then all get sucked in?"

"Weeeeeeeeeeelllllll," I say, thinking quickly and creatively, "Maybe they will get sucked into another dimension, like Narnia! Or, maybe like heaven!"

"Oh. Well, maybe."

But he wasn't convinced. And for several days we wrestled with questions of the what if of this scenario (oh the joys of masterful little readers!)

His sense of place, of being, was rocked.

And as I watch little miss wrestle with this question now, in the daily scenario of simple things, her temper quickly flaring and fading away (talk about a black hole...OY) I find myself relating with these questions of my kids.

Human questions.

I want what I want too.

I want a garden, planted, growing greenly. I want warmth (its 28 DEGREES RIGHT NOW) I want an agent, a finished manuscript. I want to have all logistical questions about Hawaii answered. I want dada to be earning money in his new biz, hand over fist. I want to take a frigging vacation to Disney World over spring break and hire someone to clean. HA.

[Honestly though, mostly, more than anything, right now?? I want the garage sorted, toys arranged and clothes put away from the Great Bedroom Rearranging of 2014. (You know that point after rearranging bedrooms where the furniture is moved but the resulting MESS is still left. This is where we are right now. And me? NO MORE ENERGY. Please, put yourself away! Where is Molly Weasley when you need her!)]

So, as my daughter sulks about the picture of the princess she tried to draw, blue eyes filled with tears of frustration, pouty lips trembling, what do I do? (Back from the philosophical into the parenting realities, right?) I smooth the crumpled offending princess out, pointing out the bright colors she used, and offer to draw in new eyes (the offending part that got scratched out.)

She smiles.

And I smile.

This, at least, for now, I can soothe.

And, mostly thought, as is with everything in parenting it seems, I can show her. To model it, right? This is what we do. Model calm. Model patient. Model gentle hands, gentle touch. And with too. Because, I too want what I want when I want it. We all wrestle with that, we all struggle with it. And what do we do? How do we model this one? We work. We work towards what we want, slow and steady. Five hundred words a day on my manuscript. An hour here and there, sorting clothes, a sunny afternoon in the garden, hoeing at the soil, cold temperatures be damned.

Another attempt at the princess drawing, and you will get it.

And more than that, the day in and out of life, we will become who we are meant to be, we will, we are, continuing to unfold. "From down below, up up I grow, and spread my leaves, so wide," we say, "and at the top, a little room, from which a lovely flower blooms, and opens to the wide blue sky."

This is parenting. Life too. Guiding these plants as they bloom. Not as gardener, but as a nearby flower, stretching, searching, this leaf uncurling, then that, just a few more summers ahead in the garden that is life.

notice the forced smiles. by the end of this picture taking attempt I was
yelling my face off "JUST ALL SMILE AND HOLD STILL,
GOOD GRIEF!!!!!!" ha.

Hey, so, if you don't know Momastery, the amazing Love Wins blog, well, you should. Glennon writes about the messy beautiful life we live on this brutiful planet. So, I am sharing this post on her website as part of her "messy beautiful warriors" project! a blog roll of sorts to share the love with other sister warriors as Glennon celebrates the release of her paperback "Carry on, Warrior," (which I'm excited to read soon!) Click here to find out more about her book. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

spring break, June-style

You know how it is now, as a mom.

Gone are the days where spring break was about beaches in Mexico and shots of tequila. In fact, the thought never crosses our mind.


Spring break is now about work. All of the necessary things to prepare your house for the change of seasons. There is toy rotation, pulling out summer clothes, finding out who needs new shoes (seriously NONE of little man's shoes fit, except his snow boots), putting away boots and snow pants, washing loads of mittens, hats and scarves, finding the screens, washing down windows, random cleaning like sorting out the linen closet, sweeping out the garage.

I'm trying to take it slow, but the list is mounting.

And of course, adding garden and outside things to the list "farm type" things, makes the list even longer. Chicken coop needs mucked. Cold frames need to be fixed, early greens need planted, inside plantings need started, compost heap needs turned over, etc. etc. etc.

But we are slowly tackling the list, while dada goes to spend his time in the home office on contract work. Kind of amazing, to knock on the door to ask where he put the spare tinfoil, instead of sending the texts. Oh, the thousands of texts over the years!

And, of course, the kiddos are "out" of school, so that makes life easier for me, and we are being quite generous with things like lollipops and videos and iPad time.

And the weather. AH the weather. This is the great thing about homeschooling. We waited to have our "spring break" until the weather truly turned. We've been outside for hours upon hours the past two days. Enjoying the balmy 50 degrees. Windows cracked, snow dripping from the eaves.

I have no idea what this post is about.

Kind of life too lately.

I finished my client project and realized at the halfway point I am not really into consulting/client work anymore. Kind of good to realize. Sure a paycheck is nice again (strangely liberating really, hey would you look at that, I CAN earn a dime still!) but...the stress of wondering what other people think of my work was really hard on me this week. I know that sounds kind of wimpy of me. But, in any case...

In any case, its done now. So instead, I push past bad consulting vibes and when the sun hits just right on my table in the afternoon I sit down and write my fun book and have glorious dreams of sending off to a publisher someday.

And I do crafts with the kids (we planted our Resurrection Garden in anticipation of Easter this week!)

And, of course, I organize the shit out of everything.


Nothing is safe.

I paired ALL THE SOCKS IN THE SOCK BASKET LAST NIGHT. This is an amazing accomplishment, fairly close to a miracle really.

I FOLDED ALL THE TOWELS IN THE LINEN CLOSET. Usually we just shove them in there until the closet is near to exploding. Doesn't look as clean as my mom's linen closet but, its as good as its gonna get in this house.

Also, I made the most lovely smelling laundry detergent. (see this post for how I do it) I have been making detergent for years but I've been pretty lazy about it. This batch I actually used a ton of essential oils - lemon, geranium and tea tree oil - and my whole laundry room smells deliciously.

I may even tackle the most embarrassing spot in my house, the full to overflowing tuperware/odds/and/ends cabinet.


And, AND we are doing a grand rearranging of bedrooms in our house. We are giving the girls THEIR OWN ROOM, and little man HIS OWN ROOM. And mama and dada are following through on dreams of claiming the downstairs family room (with wood stove and lovely light) as A MASTER BEDROOM. AHHHHHHH.......its going to be great.

I hope. And of course this means getting baby out of our bed at night. Which may prove challenging, despite the lure of a "princess bedroom" (shudder, but its what they want so...fine.)

Baby, who is 2 1/2 years old, and, as of this morning, pretty much officially potty trained!!! AND THE ANGELS REJOICED! I declare a child potty trained once the poop on the pot happens, and this morning, she says "I need to pee on the pot" and...the deed was done! And for days now...DRY PANTS. I'm amazed.

Wait, so, let me just acknowledge this.



Letting that sink in.


Okay. I'm done.

Of course we still have night time dipes but....that doesn't count in my book.

So, there you have it, spring break week.

Tomorrow we might take the kids for a hike nearby but really I think that is going to be it.

Spring break. Tired mama style.

Alright, that's all I got for a post.

I'm lame lately huh? HA.

Maybe next year we need to do spring break in Disney World. I'm thinking yes. Right? Definitely. HA.

Happy spring!!! May the cleaning/sorting/organizing gods smile on you in benevolence and goodwill! (Me too, m'kay?)

First picnic of the year! 

Reclaiming our cold frame box from the mice who moved in for the winter...eek!

This side yard is begging for fruit trees and a play area and a gazebo...

Poor garden...

Photos of the rearranged house to come. When it's not a total disaster!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

getting by

I wish I could say my lack of writing here lately was because of some inspiring reason...Cleaning my house top to bottom! Homeschooling prowess that would make Mary Pride envious! (You homeschoolers know who I mean, right?) Writing day in an out like a true novelist in the making!

But no.

Instead I am in this mode...  GETTING BY.

You Northerners will know what I am talking about with this post.

There comes a point in early spring where the snow predictions (up to a foot by Friday!) and the in between days of dripping eaves, mud trekked into the house, lost mittens, wet boots, etc become a daily grind, slowly wearing you down until...You reach this point. NOT CARING.

And right now. I am in that mode. I am getting by. Doing bare minimum. You hungry kid? Get a banana. (She did just have lunch an hour ago.) Floors need washed? Eh. Writing however blossoms in this mode for me. ESCAPISM. Writing fiction is escapism in its finest. Those characters  (for the most part, HA) DO AS THEY ARE TOLD. They obey. HA. Perhaps being a writer is all about some cosmic need of control?


Okay, I am laughing at myself. Do you see this weird mood???


In any case. I have all kinds of big thoughts lately, swirling and whirling. On the sisterhood of mothering. On our need for place in it all. And when its all settled down I will write more inspiration type things here. Also, I need to write about the fiveyear old girl child. A most perplexing creature who lately has been spouting off things like "BECAUSE I WANT WHAT I WANT" when I ask what is wrong with her. Ah yes. Wanting what we want. I know that crabby-ness too.

For now, this is what you get. HA.

How about this for entertainment to make up for the lame post?

(The beginning sweetness of this video -which led to irritating big kid antics- was followed by multiple attempts to capture the wit and adorableness that is my children but swiftly devolved into me stamping my foot and yelling at boy for sticking his face in the camera with his tongue out and at little miss for screaming lyrics at her sister. I will refrain from sharing them. But do be assured, they happened. And life rolls on, right?? HA. I wasn't even going to show this one - mainly due to said irritating big kid antics - but then I figured...REAL...I am about REAL in this space. You guys appreciate that, right? ) (ps baby is screaming at me at the end because I was holding her slipper which she MUST wear to dance. ONE slipper. Of course. Because, why? Because, two years old. That's why. You know?)


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