Sunday, January 29, 2012

less is more on a windy day

Over the last almost eight years that I have been a parent, one thing has become more clear to me each day:  less is more. We can search high and low for the perfect toy to play with, or the perfect class to take, or even the perfect experience to offer them, but none of this seems to make my kids any happier. In fact, I do believe it makes them less happy. Much much less. Why is this? Well, I think it teaches them to want and most importantly expect more instead of appreciating what they already have. Also, I think that when things are always presented to you (ie: a toy or a method of doing something) it leaves that ever important element out of the equation......creating. I think that when we have to make our own toy or figure out how to do something on our own there is a spark that gets lit within us that makes us feel whole and happy. For example, we had a really windy day last week and the kids came running in the house looking for plastic bags. They tied a string to the bags and up they went soaring in the sky. All we could hear from them were squeals of joy as they flew their bag kites up and down the street laughing and screaming with pure happiness. Sure, we have a kite that I could have taken out to use, but why? I have never seen them have more fun. And all they had was a bag and a string. Even our mail carrier had to actually come and tell me that she had been sitting there for a long time watching my kids play with their "kites" in the wind. She told me that she had never seen such happy children and that it had made her day. She even wanted to nominated me for Mother of the year! You mean all I had to do was put my kids outside in the wind with a bag and some string? I can do that. It seems easy, but doing less can feel much harder because everything around us tells us to get and do more. We have been in a long process of retraining ourselves to want less. To really look at what our choices and actions are saying about our family's values. What are the effects of each thing or activity on my children? Is it worth it?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

sprouted mung bean curry soup with cheese pancakes

Sprouted Mung bean soup with home made beef stock and a touch of curry is my favorite winter meal. The only thing that makes it better are these cheese pancakes.

Cheese Pancakes 

1 C millet flour
1/4 C tapioca flour
1 C yogurt (or coconut milk)
2 eggs
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 C soft goat cheese
1/4 tsp  baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Sunday, January 22, 2012

children of the earth

Last week we had the opportunity to spend the morning in a nature class given by a teacher from The Children Of the Earth Foundation. It was a beautiful crisp morning and we all enjoyed our time in nature.  Even Scout settled in and nursed as we walked. I think we all needed the fresh air.

Friday, January 20, 2012

this moment: big brother

This is a special moment from the past week that I want to stop, savor and enjoy.  Check out other moments this morning at soulemama.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

recycled collages

This week we had a couple friend over and made collages using only recycled material. The night before the project John ran around our neighborhood and raided peoples recycle bins scoring some pizza boxes that we used as our canvas. We had been collecting recycled materials all week including toilet paper rolls, popsicle sticks, egg cartons, plastic bags, buttons and old magazines to make into art. We also planned on going out for a trash walk the morning of, but it rained and we decided to just make due with what we had. The only other supplies we used was paint, glue and brushes. 
Pilot made a sunburst by folding paper fans and gluing them together.

We made flowers out of folded and cut plastic bags stuffed into toilet paper rolls and then painted them. 

I made a tree of life by ripping up a plastic bag, twisting it with glue and sticking into to my pizza box lid in the shape of a tree. All in all a fun art project for all.

Part of the Thursday Blog Hop at

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the ties that bind us

The day you become a parent and you look into the eyes of your child for the first time, you know in an instant that your life has changed forever. You can feel your body make a shift to include this little being into your own. You know in that moment that no matter where he goes or how he grows, he will always be a part of you. You know that when he is in pain, you will be in pain. You know that when he smiles, your whole heart will smile with him. He is you and you are him. And at the same time you know he is his own person. You know that from that moment that he takes his first breath he is on his own and you are only there to watch and help the best you can. You know that he will feel the pain and joys of life and you will not always be there to break his fall. You know that there will be times when you will only be able to hold his hand through the storm and you hope that will be enough.
Yesterday I had the gut retching experience of thinking I lost my son. As I was giving the police a description of him and imagining the worst, I felt in that moment a part of me was dying. The air became so thick I literally could not get a breath and my belly, where I had carried him for 9 months, was in a knot, trying to hold on to him somewhere. You can never believe how strong these cords are until you have an experience of losing a child. In that moment, I was feeling the pain of all the mothers who lose a child and I wondered how the world could ever turn again. As everyone was running around, I stopped myself for a moment and got really calm and just asked "tell me where they are". I think my Grandmother was watching over me. My feet started to move slowly and as I walked, I suddenly saw them. They were hiding all the way down the street in a bramble bush. John and everyone had already check there, but they had hidden and stayed quiet. When I found them they had sheepish grins on their faces and I think were a bit confused as to why I was crying and the street was full of police.

After that we came home for some needed quiet time. The whole incident made us feel so vulnerable. The thought of losing our son was unimaginable. We are strong believers in letting kids be kids and letting them run free but we immediately felt ourselves pull the ropes in and want to hold on tight and NEVER let go. We never wanted to let him outside again. We never wanted him to make US feel that way again. That was too much pain and we knew that if the outcome had been different we would have been changed forever.

But we know that when we chose to become his parents, we promised to not just care for his physical needs, but also his emotional and spiritual needs. We knew that it would not always be easy. The more he grows into his own body, the more we have to trust that he is on his own journey and we are merely his safe place to come back to. We are here to try and keep him safe, but we have to also accept that he will get hurt. I am not sure I feel truly up for the task, but here I am. I guess I am doing it. My love runs so deep that I feel it just might strangle him and yet I know I must let him run free. To find himself in this world without fear prevailing. Though I think for the next couple of days I need to keep him close to me before he goes back out into his world, playing in the trees and swinging free.

Monday, January 16, 2012

winter's rhythm

While talking with friends at the ice rink today the subject of family rhythm came up.   Why you may want to have a rhythm for your family, how to create one, and thoughts about what one might look like. I can see how each family has to look within to find what works for them and find those things that matter most. I know that establishing a rhythm for our family has been a key component to having a mostly peaceful home life. I like to have a daily rhythm, but also move with the seasons. A rhythm is not a schedule. Instead of something that you must conform to and that stays static, Rhythm breaths and flows and is alive. It is there to serve you.  Right now I am snuggling into our family's winter rhythm and enjoying all that it brings to us. Most mornings you can find me sitting with my two oldest kids on the couch reading a story to them or each of us may be reading to ourselves snuggled under a single blanket while John and the baby sleep in. When they get up I make breakfast while the kids empty the dishwasher and John makes a fire. We eat together and after breakfast I do about an 1.5 hours of a main lesson or a project with Jetta and Pilot if he is interested and then the kids go out to play while I nurse the baby by the fire and catch up on my reading. Everyone comes in for lunch and then most days we have a 30 min-1 hour rest time where everyone is in their bed reading, playing quietly or sleeping. The kids usually go out again to play until dinner when I have to drag them in from the cold. Some afternoons we have another lesson. Knitting, Piano, Painting or sculpting.  Before bed John brushes the kids teeth, reads them a story and tucks them in. We always end the day by saying "Sleep tight, see you when the sun is bright. All the angles and fairies will surround you. I love you."  We do have days where we have lessons or play dates that we fit into the schedule, but we work hard to not get too booked (though we are not always successful). Of course the winter activities like ice skating every Monday or taking a walk through the woods on Fridays make this time of year fun and exciting. It is cold outside, but it is warm by the fire. We are always exploring our world, but it is the rhythm of our family that brings us back home. The warm reassuring feeling of being home with a soup bubbling on the stove and someones loving arms to enfold you is at the heart of our winter rhythm.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Moment: my team

This is a special moment from the past week that I want to stop, savor and enjoy.  Check out other moments this morning at soulemama.

Monday, January 09, 2012

don't forget

Moments you never want to forget seem to fade with time, lost in a sea of life. These are just a few from the past week that I captured in a picture so I don't have to let go just yet.
....those irresistibly delicate and soft baby legs and toes
.......flying high on the tree swing

.....a proud toothless smile

........a sweet smile and a cuddle

......meeting his honorary uncles for the first time

.......making a box plane with a working twist tie propeller with Grandma

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake Roll for her Birthday

We celebrated Grandma Boo's birthday this weekend. I wanted to do something special for her, as she has been such a very important part of my life for so long. We appreciate all that she does for our family, but most of I we just love her to death.   What could possibly sum all that up? Well, I think this cake came pretty close.  I decided to do a twist on my yule log and make a pumpkin cake roll filled with fresh raw whipped cream. I think it turned out great and Boo said it was her all time favorite. I was just glad to be able to help make her day as special as she is. Happy Birthday Boo!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake Roll

1 C 100% pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 C date sugar
1 t gluten-free vanilla extract
2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 t xanthan gum
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
2/3 C millet flour (fresh milled is best)
1/4 C tapioca flour
1 cup chopped crispy almonds or pecans

Whipped cream filling

2 C Heavy cream
1 T gluten-free vanilla extract
1/3 C honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 10 x 15” jelly roll pan with greased parchment paper. Mix together pumpkin, eggs, vanilla and date sugar until well blended. Add baking powder, xanthan gum, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and flour and mix well. Pour onto lined pan, gently spread out. Bake for about 15 minutes until set but still soft to the touch. Turn cake upside sown on a linen dish towel and remove paper from cake. Roll up pumpkin roll in cloth making sure that the cloth is always between the layers of cake. Cake never touching cake. Let it cool for 30min - 1hr on the counter. While it cools prepare your whipped cream filling. Whip cream with vanilla and honey until very stiff peaks form. Unroll and spread cream filling on cake. Sprinkel chopped nuts over cream. Re-roll. Drissle a little honey on top of roll and sprinkel with extra nuts and coconut flakes.  refrigerate.