As previously mentioned here, we enjoy a first- snow- of- the -season- hot- chocolate tradition in our home. It dates back to Big Brother’s childhood nights, almost 10 years ago.
It was December. It was days before Christmas, and it was finally snowing! We had tucked our 10 year old into bed hours ago, and being the excellent sleeper that he has always been, he was more than likely, sleeping soundly.
I’ve always held a special love for the Christmas season and the romance that a first snow brings (perhaps because my future self would have two Christmas babies!) So when those fat, white chunks fell from the sky, and the brown earth slipped away under the floof, I ran into his bedroom, summoning E from under his warm, horse-print sheets and dragged him out to enjoy the late-night snowfall.
“Come on!” I shouted out the front door that was reserved for the kind of company that didn’t know us well. I ran and jumped through the snow, feeling so grateful for the opportunity to feel childlike again.
Of course, having been woken from his slumber, the child stood in the doorway beside his father, staring. They muttered things like “well, she’s lost it”, and “what the?”
Eventually, I was cold and wet enough to come indoors, only slightly disappointed that no one shared my joy. As he turned to head back to bed, I asked Big Brother the 4 magical words that seem to have stuck over the years… want some hot chocolate? And just like that, a tradition was born.
I’m sure at this point, I pulled down some sort of ‘Nestle’ crap in a tub, boiled water and mixed the marshmallows- included powder together, but it was the beginning…
We’re 4 kids into this tradition now, and everyone seems to enjoy it. Here’s the recipe I’ve perfected over the years…PNourishing Hot CocoaPrep Time5 minsCook Time5 minsTotal Time10 minsCourse: DrinksIngredients
- 2 cups Milk of Choice I’ve used 2%, cashew milk, or even heavy cream
- 4 tbsp Fairly Traded Cocoa Powder
- 1 tbsp Organic Collagen optional for added protein
- 1 tbsp Raw Honey or Coconut Sugar or to taste
- 1 tsp Salted Butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- .5 tsp cinnamon
Combine ingredients and heat slowly, whisking always.
Be careful not to overheat. This is most important if you are using raw honey and wish to preserve the beneficial bacteria.( If you enjoy your drink extremely hot, save your honey on a spoon to dip and stir as your beverage cools.)
Once heated, pop into blender for 30 seconds to create a yummy frothy texture.
Add optional whipped cream topping.
Enjoy with garnishes such as chocolate curls, coconut, sprinkles etc.
I’m thinking this evening, about my choices and how they’ve lead me here
….here to my home where I grew up, home to my partner who always supports me even though he may not agree, with my children who believe I’m special even when I can’t understand why.
Of course, there were other hands involved in this journey, the hands of luck and of privilege, not to mention the hands of those who helped me up…for them I am grateful.
Though there are things to work on, I’m content. On a daily basis I experience happiness. My life is full, my home is warm, and there is food in my fridge. I really couldn’t ask for much more.
wishing the same for you,
Wonder is all around me.
It’s knocking on my door whether or not I’m here to answer…
It seeps through the cracks between hustle and hibernation, calling for me to take notice.
It. Knows. My. Name.
Will I choose to accept its calling?
Or will another moment whither away, my hands deep in the dish water, my mind wracked with thoughts of lists and things that are, in fact, quite important.
Or will I crouch to greet the face who clings to my legs, calling out ME! ME! MEEE!!!
The least helpful advice to give to a mother with young children is to forget the dishes, these years pass too quickly.
Though the message comes with good intentions, believe me, she already knows. She can see how quickly the moments stack up like bills, debts she hasn’t yet paid to herself or her children. Those pants she meant to sew for the last baby didn’t meet the sewing machine and now he’s teetering on two. Despite all of the times she turned away from the soapy water to pull his small face into her hands, kiss his marshmallow cheeks, and toss him up to the counter to help, time slipped on by.
And besides, who IS going to do those dishes?
Somedays, I’m obliged to choose the sudsy sink, but today I chose wonder.
Wishing you wonder and someone to mop your floors,
I can feel the change in the air.
I haven’t worn my sandals for several weeks now, and we’ve turned the heat on long ago.
Rather than living outdoors, we simply visit.
Need I say it? Fall is here, leading us quickly towards winter.
I haven’t put my gardens to bed yet, and I still have to pick up my winter veggies from the local farm. I haven’t washed and sorted through the hats and mittens yet, nor have we piled the wood into the shed. But we’re feeling the sense of urgency that comes with a chill in the air. This weekend better watch out!
Suppers have transitioned from greens to roots and we’ve trimmed our smoothie making habits way back. Lately we’re making hot chocolate, my famous recipe I’ve mastered over the years. Some days we even have it with breakfast.
But I’m not sad about this shift. Though I love the feel of the sun on my body, I equally love the sound of the wood stove’s fan and the smell of the chimney smoke while we play in the woods.
This life is always changing– one season gives way to the next, one year into another, one child into a grown man (18 next month!)…it doesn’t make sense the try to stop it, squeezing it so hard the juice spills over our hands. I’m reminded of this each time I dig my heels in shouting “I’m not ready yet!”
…..it’s better just to flow.
This morning I woke up determined to make this a better week, or at least, make Monday really great so that the natural decline in mom-awesomness (momsomeness?) that tends to coincide with the days of the week, would at least plateau by Friday rather than plummeting into abyss.
I was pleased as punch to see that Sparrow let us sleep until 8am, though slightly less impressed that it was Moonchild who finally leaned over and whisper yelled into my ear that he ‘couldn’t lay in bed anymore’.
So we got up.
And then we went outside because there is nothing like fresh air to spruce up my mood. Yes, mom, you were right.
I knew that the best way to bring a sense of calm to our home was to bring back our rhythm…some of the usual staples, and some new ideas. I took the opportunity to dig into my back pocket of tricks to pull out a Hay-child pleaser, anything stemming from a nature walk. So we foraged and identified various plants and their seeds which branched into creating our own ID cards….and on and on it flowed.
Though of course, Mother Nature had other plans for our walk. We tucked under the lean-to just in time to avoid being completely drenched.
Once we made it back inside, my shoes were soaked and our bellies were rumbling. A pot of tea and some warm applesauce quickly brought us back to life. The day wasn’t anything spectacular, but I kept on top of the dishes, made healthy meals, ran through a good four hours of lesson time, and folded the laundry. I even snuck in a few episodes of something for me while I worked.
Success. Small, but mighty.
Sometimes I feel like I’m rocking this mom game, and other days, I feel like I can’t keep any of the plates that I’m juggling from crashing down. This was one of those weeks…
There were plenty of sibling disagreements, messes, toddlers on kitchen counters, and no clean, matched socks. Morning lessons were not on our itinerary, nor were crafts or field trips.
I’d hate to give the impression that everything here is peachy and keen all of the time, so this small post is just to let everyone know … shit gets real here.
I managed to snap some photos that reflect the turn of events this afternoon, when I finally managed to fold and sort the laundry and we made it outside to play together….
Fresh air has a way of making us appreciate everything a bit more.
Seven years ago, on Thanksgiving Monday, I drove home after holding my father’s hand. He took his last body-shaking breath, and just like that, he left his earthly body.
Grief is an unpredictable thing. It’s a bit like the ogre analogy from Shrek, the one about the onion? It seems the sadness can be healed, but underneath each layer is another with a story that’s been waiting for its turn to appear. Just when I think that I’ve got it mastered, osmosis kicks in and I’ll find myself with oniony tears stinging my eyes.
I spent this past Thanksgiving with my in-laws and most of that time with my father-in-law. It felt comforting to have conversation with people who are more grown up than I, and to be honest, I hadn’t given a lot of energy to this (un)anniversary, until I leaned in and hugged Pa (the name that has lovingly been given to my children’s grandfather) goodbye, catching a whiff of that Old Spicey scent.
Smells are like the powerhouse of memories…the times, all of the times my dad kissed me on the cheek and scrubbed my face with his whiskery beard…they all found me. Though, it’s a bit of a relief knowing that something as simple as a sniff can dig up some of the oldest memories because then I know he’s not entirely gone.
Sometimes I feel like I’m running from a bear… the ominous term my partner and I use to refer to the burden of stress.
We are all familiar with the bear; maybe it visits you in the thumping of your heart, or the cyclical thoughts that keep you awake at night. However it visits, the bear encompasses our fear of failure, of not being enough, of not doing enough, of not being respected.
The bear is anxiety and sadness and unhealed trauma. It keeps us from caring for ourselves and of course, from providing helpful care for each other. It’s very difficult to love someone else properly, while our own cup is empty. It’s the reason we can find ourselves leaching our needed energy from the people we love, draining them of their resources. It’s the reason we over-eat, drink, and drown our sorrows in Netflix and 2X4 screens only to turn around and see that the bear has doubled in size and strength. It’s a culture-wide issue.
Here is what I have learned…I can only minimize the bear, with self care.
For me, that typically follows a levelling up system that looks something like this….(Mamaslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?)
Basic physical care…. showering, brushing teeth, combing hair, eating healthy food, adequate rest…
Once I’ve cared for my physical body, I can add in…
Daily spiritual needs… a few minutes to myself, something interesting to read or learn, a few minutes of intentional movement, fresh air
And then I can work on more detail and routine…
30 minutes of exercise, a course to expand my knowledge, meditation, an artistic project…Once I hit this level, I start to feel like I’m making progress.
Most importantly, completing steps on my personal self-care checklist as though they are tasks to be ticked will give me the same sort of emptiness that comes from a household chore to-do list unless I complete them with the right intention….that I, too, deserve to be cared for, and that these few moments will help me step into the real me. Before I know it, the bear is just large enough to drive me, but small enough for me to know peace.
Mother of Hays
Wildflower requested a fall celebration. Her description entailed food that was ‘just harvested’ and apple pie, fall decor, and all of us sharing a meal together around the table. That used to happen a lot more than it does now that Big Brother has a life all his own.
But tonight, the timing was just right, so together we all pitched in and began our meal prep at 3pm. With Big Bro on Sparrow watch, Moonchild on table decorating, and Wildflower making apple crumble, we made magic happen. I roasted a chicken with rosemary, fresh garden onions, and apple cider, cut corn off the cob to be served warm with butter, made ham and raisin sauce, and even snuck outside to dig up some new potatoes.
On the way back, Moonchild helped me salvage some of the garden’s carrots. He was excited to see how large they had become.
A little roasted pumpkin turned into a crustless pie and we were only waiting for Papa Bear’s arrival home…
Needless to say, it was a lot of work. I know I could have said ‘no’ the way I often do, but sometimes I say yes to the work for a chance of memory making. The photos displayed here are nothing but a few semi-decent phone snaps to give you a glimpse into the experience we enjoyed, but mostly the moments were preserved in our hearts and minds, and of course, with our bellies. Tonight the work was worth the win.