Love Thy Self

Did I just teach a child self hate?

Okay, I might be overreacting……it all began as I walked through the front door of my Bro in law’s house. Snowflakes adorned the walls, blue and silver twinkled from all corners……..winter is coming.

Rather, the house was Elsa-fied in honor of my neice’s Frozen themed fifth birthday.

Balancing Pepper on my knee atop bar style chairs as watermelon juice ran down her chin and into my lap. I multitasked and wiped Pep’s face and rationed snacks and attemoted to contribute to the conversation. Birthday girl’s older sister pulled up a chair and joined in.

Sis just had her own birthday party, a ninja turtles bash. She’s a girl who wants to play and get dirty, who has no time for the book work of kindergarten, who gives exactly no shits about what six year old girls are about. She is who she wants to be.

The ladies began chatting about hairstyles, remarking on one little girl’s rad pixie cut with one side buzzcut short. She chose her own style and loves it. I mention that I’ve always wanted to cut my hair that short, but I don’t think I could pull it off as my head is monstrously large.

And suddenly I had set off a wave of women comparing the things they hate about themselves.

And I caught big sis’s eyes, following the conversation around the room, and taking it all in. The look on her face instantly struck me as that of a child who never considered not doing something because of the way she looked. Who never cared what people thought of her hair. Who never once thought that people would or should inhibit themselves and their happiness because they feel bad about themselves.

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Who never thought that women dislike how they look. Who never thought that this how women interact, by picking out their faults and comparing them. Who watched us all reinforce eachother’s behaviour by smiling and nodding and relating to the next woman’s insecurity.

Who maybe just learned that she’s not supposed to like herself.

Who may have just had life long seeds of doubt planted into her innocent little mind.

Who is absorbing more than we realize.

who might be my own child in a few years.

I don’t know how to teach myself self love, let alone teach a child. I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin, and it’s really only since being pregnant that I’ve at the very least cared less what other people thought. But on bad days, tired and grumpy days, I can be found muttering to myslef in the mirror as I struggle to wrangle my hair into something resembling a style. I can be heard to grumble, ‘I look disgusting/fat/gross/ugly. ‘

I don’t lnow how to love myself more, but I think I need to learn. And the first step is to keep my insecurities under wraps, to rise above them and not give them any of my coveted energy.

I know that self love is a valuable attribute, but can it ever really be unconditional?

“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

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On the Menu

As we’ve switched onto whole cow’s milk, there’s been a struggle to find balance. Pep would drink a gallon a day, if I’d let her, but the more she drinks, the more of her dinner splats on the floor. She’s quite the jackson pollock with yogurt. It took me a while to realize that my, until this point, good eater, was just not hungry.

well, I scaled back the milk, and, lo and behold, Pepper is back to at least consuming some of her veg and decorating with a little less.

on the menu today, a creation for the sad zucchini lingering in the fridge: zucchini fritters!

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these beauties whip together so easily. A little grating, a little mixing, a quick fry and a drizzle of ranch or sour cream, or even plain greek yogurt. Bam! You can actually build this meal while the kid is awake ( so long as you have a bowl and spoon for her to pratice her stirring in, too).

I had two small zucchini, and, grated and compact, it amounted to close to a cup. Be sure to squeeze out all the liquid you can! You can glob the zucchini on a clean dishtowel and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.

2 small zucchini (grated and squeezed)

1/3 cup grated romano cheese (parmasean works)

1 egg

pinch salt

dash of pepper

1 clove minced garlic

a handful of finely chopped green onions

3/4-1 cup AP flour

mix first seven ingredients until all are combined

gradually add flour until a thick batter forms ( pancake batter consistency is good)

heat a little oil in a skillet

add a tbs of batter to the hot oil, flatten a little with a spatula ( you want the, fairly thin so they cook through. If they’re too thick, they’ll be doughy inside)

cook about 1-2 minutes on each side.

let cool and serve!

they’re crispy and warm, and the zucchini keeps thfrotters amazingly moist. The pop of garlic and onion combines with the cheese for a delightfully savory meal component.

Pepper devoured them with a serving of salmon!

I have dreams of creating a sweet apple version with a drizzle of honey and a few leaves of thyme.

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Two Years

A Summer, Gone

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A summer, gone, with stormy skies

weighed on my shoulders, weighs on my mind

two years passed since I felt a heart

beat below mine, a running start

a tiny life that ceased to grow,

that stopped, and my heart didn’t know.

two years since my body held another

two years since I was made a mother

two years, a child I didn’t meet,

a still spot where a heart should beat,

a grief, a lasting shattered place,

a tragic loss I couldn’t face.

Days spent in shadows, comforts gone,

and all the while, the world kept on,

Though mine was hurt beyond repair,

by a tiny life no longer there.

I sobbed, I ached, I whispered, why?

I tried and tried to say goodbye

Two years have come and gone since then,

I’m in a different space again,

a child that lived, that fills my heart,

now eases the sting of being apart,

my heart aches as summer storms fall, still,

and though healing now, it aways will

how strange that two years have slipped away,

since a soul defining day,

simce I was not invincible,

since I suffered pain, formidible,

beyond any other, beyond belief,

two years since I slipped into grief.

Two years, since from the ash, I rose

Two years of time I’ve had to grow,

two years have led me to this space,

a much more balanced, peaceful place,

the storm I travelled slowly through,

shows me now how much one life can do.

Two years have passed since my first pregnancy ended at 17 weeks gestation. I felt a loss like no other, and a pain I had never experienced. I don’t talk about it much, anymore. It makes most people uncomfortable, they seem to think it’s gone, it’s over, it needn’t be addressed. But, beyond the loss of that little life, the loss of security, hope and the blissful feeling that things will always work out. I can never get that back.

I haven’t forgotten that tiny child, that tiny life, who’s ‘birthday’ looms. Summer’s start will, likely, always dredge up feelings of unease and loss. I will try to embrace my time with my rainbow girl, and not wallow in the memory of hurt, but I will recall the growth I felt as a result of her life, the new person I’ve become, thanks to my brief time with her.  I will try, to remember, with gratitude, the way I managed to regain my strength and embrace life, all because of a few brief moments, the flutter of a tiny heart, and the moment that heart stopped.

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Mirth and Laughter

My frosting melted.

And then my resolve melted.

I am a terrible host, I put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself, and, like a fool, ran about the house tidying, cooking, cleaning and organizing, then realized, at lunch, I had missed breakfast. I had a brief meltdown about runny frosting, but managed to salvage the icing and my day. Thank God, for the husband and his good sense to just start helping without being directed.

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Miss Pep was a bit panicked at first, but out came the watermelon and she cheered up in a hurry. We ate more than we needed to, and fanned ourselves lazily in the sweltering heat. The house is a mess and my feet are somehow covered in filth (flip flop season, huzzah).

My big girl is one, and I survived her first birthday party. I didn’t even do fancy themes and games and favors and all that charming pinterest stuff. But no one went away hungry, and Pepper smashed up the cake, just as she was meant to.

Now, here’s hoping I get better at this with time, and maybe I can learn to have a little more fun with the prep. After a week of preparing for our trip and then a week spent regrouping after said trip and organizing for this party, I am exhausted and it feels like it’s been ages since I chilled out, played with pepper, and actually focused on what we were doing.

I miss the girl, a little, in fact.

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here’s to a summer of experiments and sensory play, baking and cooking and swimming, scratching bug bites and muddling mojitos, messy paint play and strawberries. Here’s to cuddles with Pep, and a little less cream cheese frosting in the days to come.

Here’s to me chilling out a bit and embracing my giggling girl attempting to figure out wrapping paper. Here’s to a girl in a party dress in a pile of dirt. Here’s to left over rice krispie squares. Here’s to my girl on her belated birthday, and here’s to learning to be better at all this kid stuff.

Here’s to many more birthdays.

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
William Shakespeare

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Hazy Days, Not So Lazy Days (the flight of the bumblebee)

One.

She’s one.

My tiny girl, my wonderful little daughter has turned one. And somehow she’s suddenly become taller, wiser and more sophisticated overnight. She’s rather interested in walking backwards aka falling down and getting mad.

we were far from home on her birthday, away on Vancouver island for the wedding of one of my best friends, for which I was a co-maid of honor. Thus, Peppers fist birthday was spent with her dad, largely. I admit, I cried when I left her that morning. The rest of the wedding party certainly thought I was nuts, tears in my eyes as we met for our style appoinments. I bounced back quickly, and Pepper had a lovely day splashing about in mud and salty water with her dad.

I’m not sure why it hit me so hard, somehow it felt integral that I be with her on that day….i know that day, as Pep’s birthday, will be hers for years, with parties and gifts, sleepovers and sugar highs. But for now, as she’s yet so little, she’s still mine, in my eyes, and that day is ours. It’s the day I remember when my eyes first met hers, when I first heard her angry little scream, when I first kissed her cheek, when I first held her hand, when my heart swelled beyond belief and my world became brighter. When she became my world.

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It tore my heart a little being away from her that day, and as i stood up next to my friend as she was married to her best friend, I scanned the room and then likely ruined some photos smiling goofily at Peps up on her dad’s shoulders.

we had a good trip, Pep slept and ate and napped like a champ, and only stRuggled with the tinkling of glasses and racous applause at the wedding reception. My homemade cheese crackers were a huge hit and amazingly convenient on airplane rides.

we’re having a BBQ this weekend for Pep, mostly because we have large families and feel obligated to host a party. I’m rather socially awkward and uncomfortable with hosting events, but we’ll make it work. Homemade carrot cakes with cream cheese icing will be on the menu, though I’m already dreading turning on the oven. In northern alberta, we go straight from spring to summer, and,as our winters are so long and dark and cold, we all forget what sunshine os, and no one has AC.

for now, I’ve got roasted peach BBQ sauce simmering on the stove, and I must get started grating carrots while the girl naps. When she wakes up, I’ve got a distraction bin f leaves, sticks and pinecones ready for play. Now, off to rescue a bumble beethats gotten trapped in the house (and by rescue, I mean run around the house with a container and a piece of paper, and scream quietly so as not to wake the girl.)

summer has begun.

(as a side note, I hate using my ipad to post on wordpress, it inexplicably jumbles everything and improperly spellchecks……and I cannot get that damn photo to move)

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The Most Wonderful Shit Show

Today is mother’s day. Peps woke me up at six, crying. By the time I was awake enough to deal with it, she had fallen bavk to sleep. She slept until nearly nine, and though my sleep in plans were crushed, i had a blissful coffee outside with my book. The husband made us breakfast ( with a mimosa for mom). He then had to go off to work. I had high hopes for a fun day with my baby! The weather is amazing!

Today Pepper ate a mouthful of dirt. This sent her into a spiral of gloom.

We tried making adorable footprint crafts. Pepper hated it. As I rinsed her feet in the sink, she opted to plunk her fully clothed self right in the water. I gave her some cups. She played for an hour. We took this time to facetime with grandma and grandpa, as the ipad was within reach. I dried her with dishtowels (also in reach). I got drenched.

Peps got angry with the cat for deserting her.

I tried cheering her up with the wading pool. I started filling it and she climbed in clothes and all. It was ice cold. I carried my panicked baby inside (soaking my own clothes again. )

I dried her, got her suit on and distracted her with cheerios while I added hot water to the pool, kettlefull by Kettlefull.

once in the pool, she played happily for about twelve minutes. Then dissolved into tears and screams. I took her out, set her down to dry her. She lost it. I cuddled her (soaked again!) and sang the itsy bitsy spider until she chilled out.

I got up to take her inside. She screamed manaically, as only a toddler can.

i found myself rocking her in my wet clothes, hiding under a tipped over beach umbrella, sweating amd hungry (missed my lunch window because I was filling that damn tub). My eyes ache from exhaustion,  I’m on my fourth outfit, I have literal dirt on my face. There’s laundry all over the house.

thank the good lord for naptime.

Pepper is now happily chirping and singing and playing with a tupperware container filled with baby spoons.  Her hair is full of sunscreen. It lookslike a mohawk. This is my first Mother’s Day with her.

it has been a real shit show.

I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. This time last year i was a week from my due date and anxious every day. I couldn’t wait to have her safe in my arms.

the year before, I was pregnant. I didnt know that the baby inside me had died.

If I fall into bed tonight in exhausted tears, covered in sunscreen and poop, my house a train wreck and possibly a little wine drunk, I will still have a smile in my heart. This is my very best Mother’s day.

To all the moms, moms to be, moms without children and children without moms: kindness and love. I hope your day was gentle on your soul and that your hearts are full, with love, memories and hope.

i’m too tired to edit this. I hope it makes sense.

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Comfort Food for a Frosty Spring

This week in my kid’s belly:

-homemade tomato soup

-homemade cheddar crackers

-‘green grilled cheese’

I’ve been a blatant fan of Izy Hossack’s lovely blog and cookbook Top With Cinnamon. It’s from her fabulous book that I tracked down my recipe for tomato soup. As a keener, I, of course, made my own vegetable broth a few days before rather than buying the salty concoction you find on grocery store shelves. This way I could control my own flavours and the level of salt involved.

Thy-y-yme is on my side

Thy-y-yme is on my side

This worked in my favour, as I now have oodles of frozen pucks pf flavorful broth in my freezer (freeze in muffin tins and then pop out and store in freezer bag). Her recipe calls for a couple of cans of tomatoes (I used low sodium tomatoes, and though I HATE the metallic taste of canned tomatoes, I recognize that at this time of year, in northern Alberta, our fresh tomatoes are usually from Chile or some such exotic locale, and they taste like nothing at all. I added a couple of handfuls of fresh Roma tomatoes anyway.)

I won’t poach her recipe word for word, but the jist of it is, saute some onion (I added a bit of garlic too) until softened and translucent. A little butter and flour to make a roux, and a bit of milk (Izy calls for almond or soy, I used 1 percent cow’s. Homogenized would lend itself well, with a bit of richness).   Some tangy balsamic vinegar adds a bite of flavour. A handful of torn basil, a tablespoon of sugar, a pinch of salt. A couple of cans of diced tomatoes, a couple of cups of vegetable broth. Simmer and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drizzle of balsamic vinegar, sprinkle of feta and a lil bit o basil for feelin' fancy

Drizzle of balsamic vinegar, sprinkle of feta and a lil bit o basil for feelin’ fancy

On the side? Green grilled cheese. Yes, that would be steamed and chopped broccoli mixed with shredded cheddar and grilled to gooey broccoli cheese soup-ish perfection. Feeling crazy?  Mix in some steamed and minced cauliflower. Pepper loved it! New sneaky veg trick: veg grilled cheese!

The final touch, homemade cheddar crackers.

I got this idea from a blog that pops up on my radar often, focusing on Baby Led Weaning ideas.

I tried their recipe for strawberry crackers, and while it was a new and interesting idea for snacks on the go, I didn’t find them too flavourful, and Peps could take or leave them. SO, I said to myself, I said, Cheese! Cheese it up! My Cheese Cracker recipe:

1 cup shredded cheddar

1 (ish) cups AP flour

4 tbs margarine

4 tbs cold vegetable broth (aha! It comes in handy again!)

Mix cheese, flour and margarine. Just use your hands, pinch it around until combined. Add broth and mix into a soft dough. Add a bit more broth, a bit more flour to get the consistency you like. Not too sticky, firm enough to roll out after resting a bit.

Divide dough into two disks, wrap and store in fridge for 30 min or so.

Preheat to 375 F, line baking sheets with parchment

Roll dough (on floured surface) to about 1/8 in thickness.

Use pizza cutter to cut squares, or be fancy and use tiny cookie cutters. Place on sheets and bake for about 7-10 minutes or until edges brown.

Let cool.

These are delicious. YOu MAY want to triple the batch!

These are delicious. YOu MAY want to triple the batch!

These crackers are soft and cheesy, satisfying and addictive! Next time, I’m making a lot more. They’re an excellent snack to throw into the diaper bag, and Peps adores them!

Admittedly, she wasn’t that crazy about the soup. I don’t think the flavour was the issue, but the ease of distribution. No matter how chunky with crackers I made it, Pep got far more on the floor than in her mouth, and she’s in a phase of fierce independence. There will be no eating from a spoon help by any parent!!

A warm and comforting meal, tomato soup and grilled cheese hits the spot. Currently, I’m mourning the loss of our green grass and budding trees, here in the north. Out my window, the after effects of a random snowfall warning. This is how we do spring, people.

Stay tuned for some tasty sweet treats coming up in a few days.

On a side note; did you know that May 3 was International Bereaved Mother’s Day? Women worldwide are living and grieving without their children. Mother’s Day is salt in the wounds of many. Don’t know what to say (on either day)? Say, I’m sorry your child isn’t here with you. If that child has a name, say it. That child was here, that child lived, that child made an impact, even if (in the case of pregnancy loss, miscarriage, stillbirth) that child on briefly met this world, or not at all. Afraid to make someone cry? Guess what? If it’s a new loss, she’s going to cry anyone, at least you’ll be with her, not leaving her to cry at home alone. If it’s been some time, she’ll be touched that you cared enough to reach out. If she cries, hold her hand, give her a hug. Bring her some tea. Ask her about her child. Be kind. And say something.

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