Twinkle, Twinkle

This past fall was supposed to be my term of “rest and relaxation”. Yes. I am being slightly tongue-in-cheek when I say that, but hear me out. With some of my more time-consuming volunteer roles coming to their natural conclusion and the kids back in school full time, I envisioned large stretches of time in which I was going to live my best life. Rather than settling into the rhythm of this new time in my life, I spun around like a toy top for most of September, October, and even November. To be honest, I’m not sure what I accomplished in those fall months other than devise elaborate plans for how I was going to accomplish all the projects I wanted to tackle and then proceed not to follow a single one of those plans.

As American Thanksgiving rolled around, and with it the start of the holiday season, something in me shifted and I moved into high gear, working to finish 2 projects that have been cluttering my mind and my office for years. The first involved actually assembling memory books for each of the kids. Since 2008 and the birth of my son, I have been collecting ephemera in the from of school and team photos, certificates of achievement, and various programs for concerts and plays and performances. I had always intended to put all of these bits and bobs into proper “scrapbooks” along with photos taken at each of the events, but had just never gotten around to it. And the longer I waited to start the project, the bigger the pile of ephemera grew, and the more daunting the project became.

The second of these projects involved making a Christmas quilt for each of the kids beds. Again, this is something that I’ve wanted to do since both kids were in big kid beds – but a surfeit of Christmas quilting cotton left over from the mask-making endeavours of the past few years and this discovery of a super-cute and relatively easy quilt pattern left me with few excuses not to get started.

Of course, taking on both of these projects that were so deeply steeped in memories and nostalgia during the insanity of the holiday season left me yearning for something soothing to read when I wasn’t gluing, cutting or sewing, which lead me back to Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller. This in turn lead me to listening to some of her Dharma talks, which then got me to thinking a LOT about living in the moment. As in, I tried to remind myself to live in the moment an focus only on the task at hand when my brain started to swerve off into the endless abyss of “what-ifs” (what if I don’t finish these projects in time for Christmas, what if I just abandon them all together, why do my kids need Christmas quilts anyway … they’re essentially both teenagers and they won’t even like them). To my great surprise, this little act of focusing on exactly what was in front of me helped to silence the what-ifs and renew my concentration on what I was doing.

Which, in a very circuitous way, brings me to today, and the start of the new year. As I have done for the past several years, I have chosen a word for my year ahead. This year, I wanted a word that I could truly use as a mantra whenever the “what-ifs” threatened to take control, that would remind me to ground myself in the current moment, and not in all the moments that could follow. Of course, I also wanted a word that felt special, or had a certain “je ne sais quois” about it . . . and so . . . my word for the year is:

Without getting into the etymology of the word, a twinkle is defined as “the duration of a wink” (a moment), but twinkle also has so many wonderful connotations – when has anything malevolent ever twinkled? – that it just seemed perfectly perfect as a word to guide me and ground me this year.

I’m sure you all are desperate to know, before I close off this post, what happened in the end with those projects I was working so furiously to finish and that required so many reminders to ground myself in the present? Well, I finished them both. The quilts (which I actually made into duvet covers for several practical reasons and also because my kids prefer to sleep with duvets over quits) were finished in the first week of December and put on their beds on the first Friday of the month. They were both THRILLED with them (I had somehow managed to keep this project and what I was doing sewing about a million present quilt blocks with Disney-themed Christmas fabric from the family the entire time I was working on them) and equally sad to see their regular duvet covers return the day before New Years. I am SO glad I made these keepsakes for the kids – I honestly hope that one day they can pass them on to their kids – and selfishly, it made me so happy every day of this December to walk past their rooms and see that I made one of my dreams come true.

As for their memory books, well I finished those too, and gave them to the kids on the morning of the 24th. They loved looking through all of the tangible pieces of their history and thinking back on all the happy memories that were made.

And so, on that note, it’s off to start the new year, grounded in the present and guided by my North Star for the year, the word “twinkle”.

Happy New Year!

Featured post


I’ve spent a good part of this past week learning about energy and electricity. This unit of study was not my choice, but the by-product of quizzing my daughter in preparation for her science test. And while I enjoyed re-learning the finer points of energy and electricity, I enjoyed far more making connections between the physics lessons and real life. The idea that some resources are finite (time) and some are infinite (love); The idea that if you can reduce resistance, you can substantially increase the amount of energy that you transmit; The idea that some materials (people) are conductors of energy and others are insulators; These ideas all rolled around in my head quite a bit this week.

Of course, no study of electricity is complete without leaning about some of the greatest innovators in the field, including Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent lightbulb. Edison received only a few years of formal schooling, with. most of his education taking place at home, under his mother, who it is said allowed him to follow the ideas in which he was most interested. Not surprisingly, he was most interested in chemistry and electronics and performed countless experiments in the lab he set up in his home.

As an adult, Edison became a prolific inventor, and even set goals to have minor inventions every 10 days, and major inventions every six months. Perhaps what I find most fascinating about Edison is his seeming complete lack of concern about his failures along the way to his successes. It is said that he developed over 3,000 theories in the process of developing the incandescent light, and tested over 6,000 fibres before he found the best one for the filament in his lightbulb.

This post isn’t meant to be a physics, or history, or biography lesson though – it’s meant to be about the role of the parent and how the concepts of energy, electricity, and invention can be applied to the real world. As a parent, I have to use the finite time I have with my kids, and the infinite love that I have for them, to guide them and to teach them, and to encourage them to follow that in which they are most interested. Of course, the temptation as a parent is to remove as much resistance as possible for your kids, and to insulate them from any and all failures or negative experiences. But we have to resist these temptations, and instead focus on supporting our kids though each their failures, of which there may be many, while hoping that with each failure they come closer to finding their own kind of incandescence.


This week has been all about welcoming the new year. From re-establishing old habits to forming new ones, this has been a week of transition in many ways.

As I put away (or got rid of in the case of holiday treats that were still left in the house) the straggling holiday decorations, my mood turned melancholy. Perhaps influenced by the book I was reading last week, Bomb Shelter, by Mary Laura Philpott, I kept thinking of how few holiday seasons I had left with both kids living in the house with us, and not just home visiting over a school holiday. Just as quickly as our family has transitioned from having little kids at home into having a teenager and an almost-teenager, we will transition into having just one kid at home with us, and then to no kids at home with us. These are not a transitions I am eager for . . .

My low mood was not helped at all by the weird weather we have had so far this winter either. Last week consisted of day after day of dark clouds, damp cold, and rain. With temperatures well above freezing, there has been no snow, the grass is practically green again, and it seems as though we have missed out completely on the normal transition to winter. Not that I like winter. In fact, I despise winter. The cold does bother me. And I would much rather exist anywhere where boots are never necessary footwear. However, this lack of winter is almost as bothersome as actual winter is for me. And it certainly meant that in this last week of Christmas holidays, the kids were kept cooped up indoors – there was no tobogganing or snow-man making – there was only hot chocolate to be consumed while we watched the rain fall.

And then of course, there is the fact that the Husband and I have both transitioned into a Dry January, along with other dietary improvements, including a severe reduction in sugar consumption and an increase in our trips to the gym. While I actually feel about a million times better after just one week of this “healthier” regime, I find it very difficult knowing that the only things I have to soothe my nerves are fruits, veggies, and a good workout – reaching for a glass of bubbles or a handful of chips was far easier and one could argue far tastier!

While I will admit to spending most of this weekend searching for ways to escape the dark, damp, dreariness of this week, there has been a lot of good that has come out of this week of transition. By facing my feelings about the kids growing up so fast, I’ve been able to appreciate the time I’ve had to spend with them this week. From watching movies together as a family to family walks and even an outing to the Disney Animation Immersive Experience this morning, we have had some fun adventures that we can always look back on fondly.

Since there is nothing I can do about the weather, and moving to a warmer clime isn’t in the cards for our family, all I can do is learn to endure it. I have tried valiantly over the years to find ways to embrace this season – and came close after reading Wintering by Katherine May last year – but I think these past few years of lockdowns and quarantines have ruined any chance I had of embracing this season of slowing down and enjoying hibernating. However, my inability to embrace winter does tie in nicely with the improvements the Husband and I have been making to ameliorate our dietary and exercise habits. I have decided that at the end of each of these winter months during which I am able to stick to my dietary and exercise goals, I am going to buy myself something. I haven’t quite decided what that something will be (shoes, jewellery, a purse?), but it will be something that brings a material kind of sunshine to my life, and warms me from the inside out. Knowing that I’m 1/4 of the way through this month and that much closer to choosing my reward will hopefully make the next 23 days go by that much faster and make them that much easier to endure.

Next week will see even more transitions in our house, with the kids going back to school, and regular activities for all of us starting up again. However, with a week of practicing our new habits, I’m sure each of the transitions we face next week will seem much easier compared to those we faced this week. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead with nothing but smooth transitions!

A Few Small Thoughts on Renewal

The word “renewal” always held big connotations for me; renewal always seemed to go hand in hand with major life events, like renewing your vows, or renewing the house (via renovations and redecorating, neither of which usually end up being small undertakings), renewing one’s outlook on life, and so on. 

But then I came across this quote, which got me thinking about renewal on a decidedly smaller scale.  

Since the start of the new year, I have been playing with Gretchen Rubin’s #rest22in22 year-long challenge (in which you rest in some way for 22 minutes each day), along with other new rituals meant to help me refocus each day, week, month, on what is really important to me.

Perhaps these small acts that have been helping me come back to myself and allow me to start again each day, week, month, are actually my daily, weekly, monthly acts are in fact self-renewal.  And perhaps, by thinking of these little things as little bursts of renewal, I will feel even better when I’ve done them.  

What We Do Today…

Do you ever do something and then immediately wish you could undo it?  That happened to me this past weekend – when in my excitement of downloading all of our photos from our vacation last week, I decided to compare them to photos taken on previous vacations to the same resort. 

Let me clarify.  In previous years (aka pre-COVID), I worked out a lot.  During COVID, I didn’t workout a lot.  In fact, I barely worked out.  At least not the way I had before.  I did lots of yoga.  And pilates.  And sometimes I ran.  And sometimes I lifted a few weights. And never did a single one of those workouts remotely resemble anything I had done and loved before.  

And, not surprisingly, I stopped looking the way I did before COVID.  While I understood this intellectually, the photographic proof of the results of my choices were startling.

Of course, my immediate reaction was to create complex and detailed plans for how I was going to find my way back to that smaller, fitter me.  But somewhere down the path of trying to decide between a ½ marathon or full marathon training plan, if I could work in a weight training program amongst all the running, and where the yoga and pilates I’ve come to really love could also fit in, I gave up and decided that maybe I was going to just be ok with how I had come to do things over these past few years.

But, with the dawn of this sunny Monday morning, with spring in the air, and the promise of better days ahead, giving up doesn’t seem like the right answer. I can’t un-do the choices I made over the past two years. And I can’t leap back right to where I left off (if that’s even what I want to do). Rather, today seems like the perfect day to re-awaken and renew the joy I found from my daily workouts, because, after all, what I do today is what matters most. 

I Ran runDisney Virtually This Year . . . and LOVED It!

So many beloved athletic events have had to change in order to implement COVID restrictions — but don’t let these changes stop you from participating!

I’ll never forget the first time I learned about runDisney. We had just arrived in Orlando and were aboard the Magical Express, making our way to our hotel, when I saw the signs down the side of the highway warning about traffic and road closures for the “Princess Half Marathon Weekend”. The idea that you could run a race IN DisneyWorld filled me with more joy and excitement than you can imagine. 

As soon as we got home from our trip, I began to research these magical races and figure out how I could participate.

It was a few years more (while I recovered from a brain tumour surgery and regained my physical fitness) before I took the leap and signed up for my very first event — the Tinkerbell 10K in Disneyland. While I journeyed to DisneyLand with my family, I was the only one who was going to be running. I will admit, I was a bit nervous, heading to the starting line all by myself. But as I slowly made my way from my hotel to the corrals, I was stunned by the sheer number of people running — and the COSTUMES they were wearing! There was so much to look at that I was kind of glad I was by myself so I could take my time and really look around and soak in the atmosphere.

As the race began and the course took us through backstage areas that guests wouldn’t normally get to see, and then past some amazing scenery (running through Cars Land as the sun rose is something I will never forget), all the while being able to stop and take photos with characters along the way, I was hooked!

Next up was my first Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. This time, I ran with a friend, and we only ran the 1/2 marathon portion. Again, I was blown away by the costumes that everyone was wearing and amazing scenery and characters that we got to see was we ran. But as I crossed the finish line and made my way to the spectator stands to meet my family, I realized that some people were receiving an extra medal! That’s right — for running both the 10K and the 1/2, you also received a Fairy Tale Challenge medal.

The only obvious thing to do was to sign up for the Fairy Tale Challenge the following year. And then, the year after, the 5K as well as the Fairy Tale Challenge. I completed all 3 races in February of 2020.

And then . . . COVID. 

In 2021, the Princess races went virutal. I was preparing to complete all the runs by myself, sad that I wouldn’t be running around Epcot, or through the Castle, that I wouldn’t get see so many amazing runners in their amazing costumes, and that there would be no character sightings. 

But then it hit me. I was home. With my family. Who had never had a chance to experience the fun of actually running a runDisney race (although they were experts at spectating).

And so we all took on the challenge. For the kids, it meant breaking the race up into smaller, achievable distances. But for the Husband and I, it meant powering through the full distances in one go. We cheered each other on, and celebrated our big finishes with a special Disney-themed dinner, while watching our favourite Disney shows.

A few weeks later, the medals arrived in the mail — the kids were so proud to receive tangible evidence of their accomplishment. And to commemorate the achievement, I purchased a medal hanger to display all our new hardware!


From this, a new family COVID tradition was born.

We completed the Wine and Dine Challenge in the fall, the Dopey Challenge this month, and we’re looking forward to the Princess Weekend next month, and the Springtime Surprise Weekend in April.

To be clear, running these events at home is no where near as fun as being in Disney. But running these events, with my whole family, being able to cheer each other on, and share in the excitement of finishing, is certainly something wonderful! And this is why I’m loving these virtual races this year!

Spreading Joy In a Time of Crazy (Or how baking a new kind of cookie was a recipe for family happiness.)

Given what we have all lived through these past two years, I can’t honestly believe I’m writing this but . . . these first few weeks of January have been some of the craziest yet. We have had completely mixed up weather – from having warmer than normal temperatures and now snow, to freezing temperatures and now snow, to freezing temperatures and more snow that we’ve had in a decade – it feels like every day has been an environmental guessing game. But it’s not just the weather that’s making us all scratch our heads. We’ve had two weeks of online school following the Christmas break, and a full month with all activities shuttered due to COVID. Now the kids are back in school, but have to quarantine for 5 days if they, or any of us in the house, have any COVID symptoms, so online school remains a distinct possibility.

All of this uncertainty has been hard for all of us. Well, maybe not so much for the husband who heads down to his office in the basement, a schedule that is unaffected by weather, or stay at home mandates. But the rest of us haven’t been such big fans of it all.

So, as a mom who found herself tied to the house these past few weeks to assist in the running of online school, there was only one thing I could do . . . cook. Besides, in my post-Christmas, pre-New Year’s cleanup of the pantry, I uncovered a not insubstantial amount of baking supplies that really did need to get used up (I excel in over-buying in the event of catastrophes and am currently trying very hard not to overbuy anything right now in the case of a 5 day mandatory quarantine for us all).

And what is more quintessentially motherly than whipping up a fresh batch of homemade cookies?

Well, I couldn’t think of anything, so I got to looking up new recipes. Ok, not so new recipes. I got to looking at every recipe I have saved over the past however many years on Instagram (maybe this should be one of my monthly challenges this year – to cook all the recipes I have saved). But I digress. I looked over the cookie recipes and decided I could wing it, base a new recipe off of tried and true cookie recipes and see what came of it.

The result was a cookie that EVERYONE loved. They loved them as a homework snack, as a post-shovelling refuelling snack, apparently even as a post-breakfast snack (I need to stop storing them on the kitchen counter evidently). Anyway, my point is, these cookies were such a hit that I have been asked to make them weekly, and have also been asked to make them for their teachers and their friends.

I hope you have a chance to make these cookies – and if you can, make them with your kids, your husband, your dog . . . there is NOTHING happier in this whole world than being in the kitchen creating something wonderful with someone you love.


  • Servings: ”45
  • Difficulty: ”easy”</p>
  • Print

These cookies are a real family favourite in our house. We prefer to use Smarties, but feel free to use M&M’s or any other candy coated chocolate treat – I’m sure they would be delicious with Reese Pieces too!


  • 2 sticks / 1 cup butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if you used salted butter)
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cook oats)
  • 1 1/4 cup Smarties
  • 1 bag (just over 1 cup) mini semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (we use the Enjoy Life brand)
  • 1 bag (just over 1 cup) white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown and granulated sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add in the vanilla and the eggs and egg yolk and beat again until everything is well combined. Scrape down the bowl once or twice during this process.
  3. Add in the baking soda, baking powder, flour and oats. Mix again on slow and then medium until these have all been combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix again to ensure everything is well mixed.
  4. Add in the Smarties and chocolate chips and mix again slowly until they are well mixed into the batter.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, divide the batter into balls about 1/4cup in size. Place cookies about 2″ apart on a cookie sheet and using the palm of your hand, flatten the balls slightly.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes, then turn the pan and bake for an additional 4 minutes.
  7. ENJOY!

My family’s new favourite cookies!

A Multitude of Small Delights

For the past several years I have chosen a “word of the year”. I started this tradition when I first enrolled in Ali Edward’s “One Little Word” class and have kept up the tradition of choosing the word ever since. This year, I noticed more and more chatter on social media about choosing a word of the year. It seemed everyone from The New York Times to Gretchen Rubin were choosing words. No matter the source, though, it seemed that that everyone who chose a word did so as a way to guide them through the year, which is precisely why I love having a word of the year.

My word last year was “Believe”. I wanted to believe that COVID would come to an end, that life would go back to normal. I wanted to believe in my health, and that I would gracefully cross the 10-year anniversary of my tumour without any recurrences. I wanted to believe in lots of things. But as COVID raged on, I found it harder and harder to connect to my word. Put differently, I found it harder and harder to believe that good things were coming, when every day seemed to bring, if not more bad news, certainly not any good news.

And so, this year, I wanted to find a word that could inspire me to feel good; to “spark joy”. And while I was folding my 1,000th load of laundry late in December, the word came to me: “Delight”.

A multitude of small delights constitute happiness

-Charles Beaudelaire

No matter how bad a day may be going, there is always a way to find some small delight. And the idea that stringing together small delights can create happiness – well, that spoke to me on so many levels given the uncertainty over what 2022 will bring.

Over the past two weeks, I have applied my word in so many different ways. I have found delight in purchasing fresh flowers for myself each Sunday, so I have something beautiful to look at while I work. I have found delight in trying new recipes for the family (sometimes the kids have delighted in these new meals, and sometimes not). I have delighted in reading more, and especially in reading more of the books the kids have been reading. I have delighted in having everyone home, and even in having morning coffee during the work week with the Husband when he would normally be at work. Reminding myself to look for the small delights when I start to feel down about all that is not normal in our lives right now has made a big difference in my outlook on life!

And while I will never be able to eradicate the foreboding I have over what this year will bring (thanks to all things COVID), I am optimistic about the multitude of small delights I know this year will deliver.

What I Read This Week:

  1. LA Weather by Maria Amparo Escandón
  2. How Crafting Saved my Life by Sutton Foster
  3. The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron
  4. The Babysitter’s Club #18: Stacey’s Mistake by Ann M. Martin

What I Cooked This Week:

  1. Roasted Cod and Potatoes – everyone ate this, but no one loved it
  2. Cheesy White Bean Bake – 3/4 of us loved this – will definitely make again
  3. Tomato and White Bean Soup – 3/4 of us loved this as well and will keep this in the soup rotation this winter
Two of my biggest delights in one of the most delightful spots in the world – Mount Cadillac, Maine – watching the sun rise.

Don’t Stop Believing

I started the year with the idea that this was the year I was going to believe. Believe, after all, was what I had chosen as my “word of the year” for 2021. I wanted to believe in goodness and kindness in the world, in myself, and, I guess, in the fact that COVID would end and life would go back to some semblance of “normal”. But about a month into the new year, I lost sight of my word, and shifted from wanting to believe, to, well, to enduring; enduring lockdowns and homeschool, and isolation from friends and family, and the things we most love to do.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that last year felt less like a year for dreaming and believing and more like a “keep your head down and keep putting one foot in front of the other and be glad for the happiness you find along the way” kind of year.

I got dragged down more times than I’d like to admit when things didn’t go the way I had hoped and dreamed they would this year. And as I wallowed in what couldn’t/shouldn’t happen, I forgot to do lots of the things that I could/should have done. Instead of working out, I talked to my friends about COVID. Instead of reading and working on projects, I read articles about COVID. Instead of making healthy meals, I spun in circles with worry over COVID. And the more I talked and read and worried about COVID, the further down I got dragged.

But here’s where I digress for just a little bit . . . over the past few days I put all the Christmas decorations away, and started a good cleaning up/out of the house. In doing so, I realized that it was really time to update some of the photos I had on display and between ordering new picture frames deciding what frames needed new photos, I got to looking at all the pictures from the past twelve months. And it turns out . . . that despite feeling like I somehow worried the year away . . . we did have some pretty great times. From family movie nights, to an extended stay at the cottage, and even a stint “Glamping”, there was a lot of happiness that we had this year, and some of it that we maybe wouldn’t have had in the absence of the disruption that was COVID. For all my being dragged down into the pit of COVID anxiety, it was actually a year filled with wonderful moments – including many with our new pal Rosé – the giant inflatable flamingo – complete with glitter in her wings!

Rather than being dragged down by the less than wonderful parts of the year, I could just as easily have been uplifted by the fantastical things that happened.

And so, as I finish reflecting on the past year, and start look to the new year, I can conclude that I should have used a whole quote to guide me these past 12 months, and not just one word . . . and that quote should have been:

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.

On that note, Happy New Year – may 2022 be a year of wonderful things for us all. xo

You Just Need…

I read a great quote over the weekend on the Project Happiness Instagram feed. It read:

It’s so funny how so much of ‘finding yourself’ in adulthood is simply getting back to who you were and what you loved as a child

-Project Happiness

Now that the kids are back in school full time, and with one already vaccinated, and the other hopefully able to be vaccinated soon, the risk of lengthly quarantines seems to be diminishing by the day. But diminishing right along side this is my role as teacher, lunch lady, recess supervisor, and technical support. While the last almost two years have been challenging, as my friend wisely said, they also postponed the inevitable decision on what to do when the kids are self-sufficient and I am no longer so needed to attend to the kids.

Like so many other women I know, I stopped working when I became a mom. It was the right decision for our family. At the time it seemed like the job of full-time mom would last forever. But now it seems like the years are flying by an an ever-increasing clip, and my job of full-time mom is going to come to an end sooner than I’d like. Knowing that I am no longer qualified to go back to the job I held before kids, the idea of re-examining who I was and what I loved as a child seems like a very logical way to start my journey to finding out how to start out on this new phase of my life.

But knowing what it is you love isn’t much use if you don’t have the self-confidence to allow yourself to pursue what it is that you love. And this brings me to my quote of the day:

So . . . you can find true happiness in your life if you just remember what it is that you loved as a child, have the courage to pursue whatever it is that delights you, and you believe in yourself and what you’re doing wholeheartedly. Seems simple enough . . .

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: