40. Rainbows

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As I was sitting on my front porch after dinner trying to gather my thoughts after a hectic day, I looked up to find a beautiful rainbow gracing the early evening sky.

I’ve had the lyrics to the Rainbow Connection song in my head ever since (I grew up watching The Muppets and my kids are growing up watching them too).

Of course there’s that other famous song about rainbows … You know “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue”.

But neither of these songs are particularly uplifting nor do they capture the beauty and magic inherent in witnessing a rainbow.

Yup  you guessed it … I looked up the symbolism of rainbows and found some truly fascinating interpretations of seeing a rainbow.  But of all that I read, I found this to be the most wonderful explanation of all:

“In essence, a rainbow is a symbol of reprieve – a symbol of hope and promise – a gift of grace”

(you can read more about the symbolism of rainbows Here)

As I have embarked on new journeys this week, stumbled, questioned my direction, and wondered if I’ll ever find the right path, I’m going to rest well tonight knowing that the rainbow I saw this evening is a sign of hope and promise for what’s to come.

Xo

39. One Second a Day

By now you’re probably catching on to the idea that I life to document life . . . that I enjoy taking photos . . .and that I equally enjoy writing about life and the photos I take.  Right now, I’m working on this 100 Day blog challenge, I just finished my 100 Day creative challenge, and I’m simultaneously continuing with my photo-a-day project (I’ve been doing this for almost 8 years now) while working on my daughter’s week-in-the-life project.

But for some reason, it wasn’t until a story I saw in passing on a website about how recording 1-second a day of your life made a woman realize some things about her life that I got to thinking about these projects more in depth.  Which in turn lead to poking around on the internet and then on to Cesar Kuriyama’s TED Talk where he talks about documenting one second of every day of his life.

I’ve talked in the past about how my photo-a-day project of the kids has helped to to realize there was still lots of happiness even in the darkest days of “tumour land” when I was feeling my absolute worst about life and my situation.

But this project has also helped me see just how fast time flies by.  And how things that were SO important (insert any adjective you choose) at one point in time, can be completely out of the picture (literally and figuratively) just a few short weeks later.  And of course, with that comes the realization that, it really is true, it time, everything really does pass.

And so, as I, and all the other moms I was talking to at an event at my son’s school this morning, are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, underprepared, and dis-organzied . . . I want to remind myself, and everyone else, that this too will pass.

If you’ve never done a photo-a-day or a one-second-a-day project, I highly recommend them.  I love that I have so many tangible memories of my kids and their childhood.  And all of the insights that come from looking back through all those photos.

 

 

 

38. I’m In Love with the 1-Minute Rule – And You Will be Too

I was inspired this week to try out the one-minute rule.  Haven’t heard about it yet???  You can read about it here on Gretchen Rubin’s site.  Or I can explain it to you in a single sentence: If you can do a task in a minute or less . . . DO IT.

For me, this has meant getting rid of a lot of the paper work that I find piles up . . . Bills get filed as soon as they’re opened – it takes less than a minute and saves me the hour of sorting and filing that I used to spend once every few months in the past.  As soon as I get home, a load of laundry goes in.  Ok, so, doing constant loads of laundry may not sound like the most fun, but I’d rather sort just one basket of laundry a day than 5 baskets of clothes in a single go once a week.  And of course, there’s all the stuff the kids bring home – I have a folder in my kitchen for all the school stuff I may need on a moment’s notice (class lists, spelling test lists, that kind of thing).  Everything else gets put into it’s rightful place right away . . . forms are filled out and put right back into their backpacks, art work is “filed accordingly” (either in the blue bin, or in the “keep forever” bin), and garbage, dirty clothes, leftover snacks, all get dealt with as soon as we get home.

Of course, this is all well and good . . .but there are 2 other little people and one other adult that live in this house too!  But you know what, it’s a whole lot easier to get buy-in from the other adult, and especially the little people, when I ask them to do something that is only going to take one minute.  With the kids, I often make it a race . . . who can make their bed in less than one minute?  Who can clean up the most in one minute?  And with the Husband, well, it’s far easier to take little things quickly through the course of the week than try and fit in an hour or more of little chores during the weekends.

So . . . I have a (relatively) tidier house, I’m more on top of things than ever before, and there has been buy-in with this project from the whole family . . . what’s not to love???

 

37. Making Time . . . and Forgiving Ourselves When We Don’t

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We had an absolutely fantastic drop off on the first day of a brand new school for the older one today.

While I thought I had today, this week, this month all planned out, organized, and sorted, I didn’t even manage to stick to the plans I had for today.

Not that it wasn’t a great day . .  .it was fabulous in every way . . . but it was yet another reminder for me, that things come up, things happen, and life doesn’t always go according to plan.

It was also a great reminder that my plan NOT to over schedule the kids, me, the Husband, and any combination thereof was a good one.  Without downtime, quiet time, unscheduled time written right into the calendar, it’s hard to keep balance and composure when things don’t quite go according to plan.  Because we had spare time built into our schedule for today, having to run a few extra unexpected errands wasn’t the end of the world.

And of course, as I’m writing this at 9 at night, having had little sleep last night and a far busier day, getting far less of the things I had planned/expected/wanted to get done, I’m reminding myself that it’s ok when we don’t quite manage to make time for all the things we wanted to do.

Tomorrow is a new day and, in this gloriously less-scheduled regime we now have, I just may get back some of that time I lost today!

 

 

36. Goodbye Summer . . . Hello School

No one wanted to leave the cottage this morning.  No one.  Not only were we leaving on a gorgeous day after a summer that will go down as one of the bests yet, but we were leaving to head straight back into schedules, routine, and . . . school.

With the older one going to a new school tomorrow, and the younger one going back to her old school, but with all but one of her friends gone (what happens when you’re only a JK but put in the SK class at a school that ends at SK), it’s a pretty fresh start for them.  And for me.  The “mom” networks that I’ve relied on for the past two years are all gone – hopefully to be replaced by new ones!  But nonetheless, tomorrow signals a big change for all of us; not just the start of school.

So, starting on the drive home, I got to work on some of the things I had wanted to do over the course of the last week, but neglected in favour of spending some extremely precious moments with the kids and the Husband.

First up was creating new charts for the kids – I’m trying to teach them to take ownership of their work and their activities.  To that end, each kid gets a chart at the beginning of each week.  And each time they complete one of their activities – like practicing piano – they get a sticker.  Sometimes I get really creative and give incentives if they do 3 or more things on their chart every day of a week.  But mostly I just use it as a way to keep them focused on what they need to do.

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I planned this week’s menus and updated this week’s “calendar at a glance” (because even though I have everything in my Google calendar, sometimes it’s nice for me, and the Husband, to have a visual reminder of what’s what, right there on the fridge).

I sat down with my planner before dinner too . . .and got everything for this week sorted, planned, and organized.

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I also got backpacks, gym bags, and lunch bags out and ready . . . along with activity bags for this week (skating and soccer start this week too!).

As soon as the kids are down, I’m going to try and whip up a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies (paleo, nut-free, gluten-free, and most importantly LOVED by the kids) and possibly some banana muffins too.

And then . . . well, after another load of laundry has been put in . . .I will sit down, with a glass of wine (our last for a long time as we are going to try and forgo wine for the next 60 days), and the Husband, and together, we’ll toast a summer that was all too perfect and that went all too fast.

Good luck to everyone that has kids starting school tomorrow and later this week.  May everything go smoothly for you all!!

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35. Forever

I sat down this morning to figure out the week ahead – the logistics of who needed to be where and when, what activities were starting and what corresponding bags needed to be packed, and of course, based on who had what when, what our food requirements and menus would be like for the week.

Since it’s also the first week of school (which I kind of think is a whole lot better than new year’s), I wanted to start implementing the “me” time I’m trying to carve out for myself and the projects I’m going to tackle in this “me” time.

So I opened my Simplified Planner, and was about to get to work, when I read the quote in the planner for this week:

“Forever – is composed of Nows”
-Emily Dickinson

I put the pen down, the planner away, and completely changed my objectives for the day.  The planning can wait till later tonight, or early tomorrow morning.  Today was a day for enjoyment.  Enjoying the last day at the cottage for the summer, enjoying the stunning weather, enjoying being with my kids and the Husband.

So when they beckoned me off my perch where I was taking photos of them on what we have lovingly christened “Goose Poop Island”,  I listened.  (Thankfully I was already in my bathing suit)  I put my phone down and jumped in.

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As much as I like my plans and organization, I think the fun we had today will remembered for a long time to come (forever?) . . . and really, what’s more important???

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34. Nature’s Playground

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Is it wrong of me to say I breathed a sigh of relief when the 2 kids slipped out the back door with my parents to go for a boat ride this morning?  I was thrilled for the hour and a half or so of time to myself.  I wanted to do some more yoga, maybe read a magazine, maybe do a little writing, or get in a little work on our upcoming trip to Disney.

Not five minutes into me having poured a fresh cup of hot coffee and sitting down, was my dad back in the cottage requesting my presence on the boat trip.  I immediately flashed back to my childhood and my dad saying to me “This isn’t a question . . . it’s a command” (which sounds harsher in print that it was likely meant).  So I grabbed a sweatshirt, some flip flops and a life jacket and headed down to the dock.

As I stomped down to the dock, annoyed that my one chance at “alone time” today was slipping through my hands and wondering why on earth it was so important that I go on a silly little boat ride, I caught a glimpse of my kids . . . cheering with excitement because I was coming to.  Ooops.

And the feeling of “oops” didn’t end there.  The silly little boat ride turned out be be an adventure to an island known as “The Snakes”.  We anchored the boat, hopped out into the shallow water and spent an hour exploring in what can only be regarded as one of nature’s finest playgrounds.

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If I hadn’t gone on this silly little boat ride, I wouldn’t have seen my kids run around so confidently on rocks that even a month ago they would have been just picking their way across.  I wouldn’t have heard their excitement at seeing a whole slew of pollywogs  or the school of minnows.  I wouldn’t have seen my son expertly drive the boat (with parental guidance and boat license in progress), or my daughter proficiently tie up the boat at the dock.  In essence, I wouldn’t have had about a thousand special little moments with the kids and the Husband.

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It’s hard, sometimes, knowing when to draw the proverbial line in the sand, and take some time for yourself.  My fear of missing out on adventures like the one we had today has kept me from saying no to a lot of things over the past few years.  What I learned today though, was that it’s important to listen, really listen, to the important people in your life before drawing your line in the sand.  The kids are tired out after a long day of adventures, exploring, swimming, and just generally running around.  They’re happily ensconced in front of a movie, and I am quite happily working away, undisturbed . . . Yup . . . in the end, I got my alone time, and the most fantastic time with my family.  #100morselfsofjoy

(oh . . . and today’s adventure took us suspiciously close to the lighthouse from my previous post!)

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33. How Do You REALLY Feel? And A Delicious Sugar/Gluten Free Peach/Blueberry Crisp

Right now, I’m feeling pretty fantastic.  How are you doing?  What do you feel like as you move through today?  Are you rested?  Happy?  Satiated?  All of the above?  None of the above?

I was super lucky this morning as my parents took the kids out for a long boat ride, giving me some time to myself.  I look a yoga mat, phone, laptop, planner, and some water up to my most favourite spot in the whole world, with the intention of finally laying out some concrete plans for the fall.

The yoga mat was so I could do a short yoga practice (via Yoga Download) to help clear my mind, and the rest of my accessories were there to help me with my planning project.  As I looked at calendars and commitments, and thought about how to structure our lives this fall, all I could think about was how I wanted to feel through this next season.  Yes, Danielle LaPorte has been popping up a lot lately, which may explain why I keep being drawn to how things feel.

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But I digress.  Over the past few days, in the in the past few posts, I’ve talked about how, for me, having little sugar and alcohol helps me to feel physically better, how I want to listen to my gut more, even if that means going against popular convention, and how having down time / quiet time helps me centre myself and allow my to hear what my gut has to say.  When these three things happen . . . well, I feel fantastic.  Sort of like how I’m feeling now.

So the planning continues . . . how to schedule things to allow for all of the above, but still allow for some spontaneous fun.

Sadly, this was pretty much as far as I got in my planning process today – the kids came back from the boat ride, lunch needed to be made . . . and from there, some chores, some dinner preparations, and of course, my new dessert.

As this is the last long weekend of the summer, we’re in a race to use up as much food as we can so we don’t have to take much back to the city with us.  With all the gorgeous peaches we have, and a giant bowl of blueberries that was just about to pass its prime, all I could think about was a fruit crisp.

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My aforementioned desire to consume little in the way of sugar meant that my traditional favorite crisp recipes were out.  So I started a search of the internet.  Was there a crisp that was going to taste good that didn’t include sugar or gluten?  I’m sure there are some somewhere, but I didn’t find them.  Sure, there are tons of recipes like this, but the majority of them consist of some fruit baked with almond flour mixed with a little melted coconut oil on top.  A crisp this does NOT make.  A crisp to me is a bottom layer of juicy, sweet fruit, topped with a crispy, buttery oat topping.

So I returned to my favourite recipe.  Was there a way to make it sugar and gluten free?  Armed with maple syrup and tapioca flour, I gave it a go.  And the results were surprisingly good.  (*note that this is based on the Strawberry & Rhubarb Crisp recipe that appears in the Gourmet cookbook.  If you have never made this on an early summer’s day when the strawberries have just come in and the rhubarb is on it’s way out . . . you MUST do so, sugar and gluten and all.  It is DIVINE!).  This recipe keeps the oats and the butter, but does away with the flour and all the sugar!

And once that was done . . . it was off to to get in some fun by the water before dinner!

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Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Peach Blueberry Crisp

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients

  • 5-6 peaches, peeled and cut into small wedges (I cut each peach into sixteenths)
  • 3 cups wild blueberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syurp
  • 3 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 1/4 cups organic gluten-free oats
  • 4 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Put the peaches and blueberries into a medium sized bowl.  Pour in the maple syrup and 3 Tbsp of tapioca flour.  Mix until all the fruit has been coated with both the syrup and the flour.
  3. Pour the fruit mixture into a 9×9″ baking dish (you can grease this with butter beforehand for an easier clean-up if you wish)
  4. In another medium-sized bowl, combine the oats, 4Tbsp of tapioca flour.
  5. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it into the oat mixture.
  6. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup in and stir so that the oat mixture forms small clumps.
  7. Pour this topping mixture over the fruit.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the peaches are tender (you can check this with a thin paring knife) and the topping is browned and crisp.

 

32. So. Many. Peaches. 2 Amazing Toys. And More Reflections From Yesterday’s Post.

First up . . . the peaches.  There is SO much to like about this time of year.  The sweet final days of summer.  The excitement of back to school.  The sense that the new school year is, in so many ways, a time for fresh-starts and new beginnings.  And of course, it’s PEACH season.  Personally, I don’t think there is anything  better than a perfectly ripe, juicy peach.  And while the Husband points out every year, a peach is perfect for all of about 20 minutes – before that, they’re too hard, and after that glorious 20 minutes, they turn mealy and mushy.  But in that 20 minute window . . . perfection.

Last week, the Husband came home from the market with about 2 dozen peaches.  I was in heaven.  And then I panicked.  What on earth was I going to do with so many peaches???  As much as I love them, there is a limit to how many I can eat in a day.  And I’m still having nightmares about choking down those almond ginger peach muffins I made last year at this time (so much almond meal went into those muffins, I couldn’t in good conscience toss them . . . and so I ate them . . .one painful muffin at a time).  And our freezers are quite full, so I wasn’t sure a batch of my favourite  gluten-free (paleo) peach muffins was the best idea.

So I made peach “ice cream”.  And a peach marinade that I put on pork tenderloin and then grilled.  Both were fantastic.  I’ll put the recipe for the marinade at the end of this post . . . I strongly suggest you make it.  And don’t just use it as a marinade . . .serve it as a sauce with any white meat you like . . . serve it over ice cream . . . or mix it with yogurt and granola.  Its SOOOOOOOO good.  Also, it makes a lot, so you can freeze the leftovers for future meals.  (I didn’t write down the ice cream recipe as I made it, so I’ll “have” to make a 2nd batch and then I can post the recipe!)

Now for the amazing toys . . . The weather up north has turned cool.  And the bears are out in full force (a summer that yielded little to no berries has created a severe food shortage for the local bear population).  So rather than spending our day out in the sun swimming and playing with the water toys, we’ve spent most of the day inside.  We have few toys up here – because we spend most of our times out of doors – but the few we do have, are exceptional, in the sense that the kids, through the years, will play with them for extended periods of time.

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The first is Fisher Price Trio.  Sadly, it’s been discontinued, but you can still buy it on Amazon and eBay.  We have a bunch of sets that have all been dumped into one big bin and the kids will spend hours coming up with different creations.  Today they made vehicles, cakes, and giant towers. It’s better than lego, because even the littlest of kids at the cottage can play with it, but sufficiently complex creations can be made out of it that the oldest of kids will still play with it too.

The second is Zoob toys.  We have a Fastback H2H set that my son was given as a birthday present a few years ago.  The kids make all sorts of different vehicles using the different pieces and LOVE to race them against each other down the hallways of the cottage.  I can’t say enough good things about this toy . . . and it’s readily available!!

Which brings me to the reflections part of the post.  I said yesterday that it is when we create quiet spaces for ourselves that we can tune into what our gut / intuition is telling us, and from there, we can make much better choices for ourselves and our families.  Today, since we haven’t been swimming or playing outside, I’ve had some quiet time, including a long nature walk, with the kids.  In the absence of errands to run, screens to watch, and other city disruptions, I’ve been amazed at the things the kids have been asking and saying.  For as long as I’ve had kids, I’ve heard mothers exclaim how important it is to keep kids “busy”, to “tire them out”.  And I’ve gone along with that line of thinking.  But in the quiet of today, I’m starting to realize that my kids may be craving some quiet time too.

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And now for the recipe.

Summer Peach Marinade / Sauce

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients

  • 5-6 peaches, pitted, peeled and cubed
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp bourbon (optional)

Directions

  1. Put the peaches, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Turn the heat down to low, and simmer for about half an hour, or until the mixture has decreased in volume by about half.
  2. Remove the pan from heat, and let cool.
  3. Using a blender, puree the mixture.
  4. Transfer to a small bowl and add in the vinegar and bourbon.  Stir to combine.

I used this as a marinade on pork tenderloin.  I put the tenderloins on a grill that had been pre-heated to 450 degrees and then spread a thick coat of the marinade over the tenderloins.  Each time I rotated the meat, I spread on more marinade.  This would work equally well with chicken or turkey.

Leftover sauce can be used as a dipping sauce, or eaten over ice cream, or mixed in with yogurt and granola (you might not want to add the bourbon if you want to have this as part of breakfast!)

31. To The Lighthouse

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A girlfriend posted on Facebook earlier today “If you had to explain in a single sentence what is the purpose of your life what would it be?” (thanks @ayamcmillan).  During the course of the day, I managed to eek out enough time to read Shauna Niequest’s book Present Over Perfect.  And late this afternoon, we had a boat trip out to see the lighthouse, whose light we can see far off in the distance from the cottage at night.

The confluence of these three things today came to me as I sat down to write this post.

I have been musing of late as to what exactly my purpose is.  But my time up north this summer as made me acutely aware of what I don’t want my life to look like come next week and the advent of the new school year.  I don’t want to run my life like some sort of frenetic marathoner trying desperately to please everyone.

But you see, therein lies the problem.  I find it all too easy to get swept up in the current (although it feels like a tidal wave at times) of things I should be doing – for the kids, for the Husband, for the family, and superficially, for me.

While I have been able to draw a line in the sand when it comes to the things I and the family eat and drink, I just don’t seem to find it as easy to follow my gut when it comes to other things.  And this friction between what I find myself, and the family doing, and what I feel in my gut we should be doing, well, no one likes to feel ill-at-ease with how they’re living life.

Cue the trip to the lighthouse.  A half hour boat ride through choppy waters and at times significant waves, and we found ourselves in front of the lighthouse.  A lighthouse – built to be a beacon to ships sailing in the dark, or rough, stormy waters; a means of illuminating the right path to take, warning sailors away from dangerous, rocky territory, and hopefully preventing shipwrecks.

As humans, we all have a built-in lighthouse – our guts, or our intuition – if we look out for what our gut or our intuition is telling us, it can be our beacon when we find ourselves fumbling in the dark, or trying to make our way through choppy waters.  But how many of us have created the quiet space we need to hear what our gut is telling us?  As Shauna Niequst says:

“(We are) Too busy, too tired, too frantic and strung out on the drug of efficiency”

As I return home, and to my city life, I will strive to make room for the lighthouse within me.  I will no longer silence what my body, my gut, my intuition is screaming out for simply to please, to prove, or to go along with someone else.  And in pruning my life to allow for this, perhaps my purpose (for the next few years anyway), will come to me.

Oh . . . and today . . . I captured this.  An apt photo for my frame of mind, and the thoughts in my head today – a dark cloud, fully lined in sliver, with the sun emerging from behind the shadows . . .

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