Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
1 - 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Mix together and store in the fridge. To make, brew one cup of strong black tea (I used regular Orange Pekoe since it was what I had on hand) and mix in 2 tsp of the chai concentrate. Stir until dissolved, and enjoy!
I love this part of my boys - the sweetness, nurturing, caring and compassion. What a wonderful gift and challenge we mothers face - to protect and encourage these qualities, as well as strength, courage and intelligence in our boys, so they will grow into the kind of men who will really make a difference in this world.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Here is the link - the story follows.
A man sat in a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin. It was a cold January morning. He played 6 Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people made their way through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
A minute later the violinist received his first dollar tip. A woman threw the dollar in the till without stopping and continued on her way.
A few minutes later someone leaned against the wall to listen to him. But the man checked his watch started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a three year old boy. His mother, hurried, tagged him along, but the boy stopped to hear the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the boy continued to walk, turning his head back all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All of the parents, without exception, forced the children to move on.
In the 45 minutes that the musician played, only 6 people stopped to stay a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the top musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out a performance at a theatre in Boston where the prices averaged $100 per seat.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing in the subway was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment looking at people's perception, tastes, and priorities. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate time, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate beauty? Do we recognize it in an unexpected context?
If we do not have a moment to stop to listen to one of the worlds best musicians play one the the best pieces of music ever written, how may other beautiful things are we missing each day?
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I am sure we will be going back in the near future - Will has his sights set on the top of the boulder - a huge climbing structure with a platform on the top. The kids climb up to the top, and then take a rest before coming back down. He made it most of the way up today, but still needs a bit of practice. I imagine that climbing down will be a whole other story, but I am trying not to think about that part too much!!
Friday, January 22, 2010
I was only there for a few minutes (little people were waiting at home for the milk that I went out to buy) but it was such a nice feeling to take it all in. Sometimes in the rush of our busy days, we forget how little time it can take to find a moment of peace: some fresh air, bright sunshine, clear water, and green trees. Nature really does have the power to heal.
Cranberry Nut Bread
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp grated orange peel
2 tbsp shortening
1 egg - well beaten
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Mix together dry ingredients until well blended. Beat in orange juice, orange peel, shortening, and egg. Beat until blended. Stir in cranberries and pecans. Spread into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for approx. 55 minutes, or until done. Cool completely before removing from pan.
Recipe from Ocean Spray
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
On Sunday of this week, I was in the grocery store (on my own, thankfully) and noticed the front cover of the Toronto Star. Anyone local would likely have seen it too - not something that you can easily forget. The front page of the newspaper showed, in great detail, the naked body of a Haitian man, his legs bound (apparently after having been dragged through the streets). He was being beaten to death with a wooden plank as a crowd looked on. Now, I have many, many issues with this. First, I highly doubt that any of us need to see this sort of photo to bring home for us the reality of what is going on in Haiti. And apart from a total lack of respect and compassion for this man and his family, the picture appeals only to the worst aspects of human character in order to sell newspapers and make money.
But my biggest issues is this - As an adult, I can choose which media I turn to to gather information on what is going on in the world. If I don't like how a newspaper, e-coverage, radio or television show covers the issues, I can choose to go elsewhere. I also have an intellectual, experiential, and spiritual framework to help me understand photos like that. MY FOUR AND SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILDREN DO NOT!!!! I believe that the publisher has the right to print almost whatever they want, in an effort to tell their story. They also have a moral responsibility to think about where and how their product will be displayed (as do the shop keepers, by the way!). That photo was out, directly at a child's eye level, in every grocery store, convenience store, and sidewalk newspaper box throughout most of the province.
My kids know that there was a really bad earthquake in Haiti. They know that many people were hurt, and that their homes were destroyed. At their ages, that is all that they need to know (and many Mamas would argue that even that is too much, too young). They know that we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help. If any small bit of good can come out of this tragedy, I hope it is that our children will find a sense of the power they have to help, and a feeling of responsibility to act that comes from their shared humanity. This is what we should be striving for, not using it as a chance to display all that is vile and violent in human nature.
Most importantly, to me that image feels like poison. It is in my mind, and I cannot get it out. As I am working on some mundane task of daily life, it flashes across my mind and I wonder about this man - about the people who love him and are missing him right now. I am struck by how terrifying and painful his last moments must have been. I am horrified by the looks on the faces of the witnesses in the crowd. Why on earth would we, as a society, allow our children to be poisoned like that?
I have written a letter to the editor about this, and I will share if I hear any response. If you are finding yourself with a few extra minutes today, I hope that you will do the same. Just maybe, it will give someone at the paper pause to think about whether they would want their own children or grandchildren to see photos like that.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Unfortunately, the last half of last year saw our book club slow down a fair bit - we were down to 3 active members (although three wonderful members, I must say!) and we seemed to have a hard time finding dates to meet. I have missed that group so much while it has been 'dormant' - I find that I get so much comforts and strength from having other women in my life. So this year, our book club is re-launching at full force. We have picked our dates for the whole year, so that we can plan our lives around them as best we can. We have made it a kid-friendly night, so that no one has to miss out because of lack of child care. We have introduced a gourmet club aspect every other month, so those women whose lives don't allow for very much book time have a chance to finish the book before we get together to talk about it, and we have invited many new wonderful ladies to share this adventure with us. I can't wait to get started.
Here is our planned year .....
February: Indian Food
March: People of the Book by: Geraldine Brooks
April: Breakfast / brunch recipes
May: One Night in Twisted River by: John Irving
June: BBQ and grilled foods
July: The Story of My Life by: Helen Keller
August: Local Harvest
September: The Other Boleyn Girl by: Philippa Gregory
October: Greek Food
November: Christmas Recipes (everything but the turkey)
December: Consumed by: Benjamin Barber
I have to admit, some of these books I am more excited about than others, but really, that is the point, isn't it? To pick up a book that you might otherwise leave on the shelf? To be able to talk about why you did or didn't like it rather than just casting it aside?
Happy reading ( and eating!!) everyone!
But today, I have been inspired by all of the wonderful ways (small and large) that others are helping out. Realizing that each of the many families who are doing their own little thing, together make a very real difference in the experiences of people whose world has (literally) crumbled around them. It won't solve all of the problems that they are facing. It won't even solve most of them. But each little bit of help, every small measure of comfort (or at least reduced suffering) that we can offer is worth while. After all, doing nothing is in itself an action, isn't it?
So we did what felt best for us - cooking, which always calms my mind, and calling on our friends and neighbours, which gladdens my heart. William and Charlie set off this afternoon with a basket full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and hand written thank-you's. They came home with $143.50 to pass on to those who need it the most. And they also came home with a reminder for me - a lesson in how the only cure for paralysis, is action.
In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
When I was a kid, often when I asked my mother if I could have my friends over for a slumber party (which was fairly often, as I recall!!) the answer would be "Not tonight - I am too tired". That answer would frustrate the heck out of me - what did the fact that my mother was tired have to do with my friends sleeping over? She didn't have to stay up late with us after all. After last night, I sooooo get it!!! My sincere apologies, Mom, and thanks for all of the sleep-overs that you did tolerate.
Over the past 2 years, we have been scaling back William's birthday parties from the "invite-everyone-that-you-know-who-has-a-child-the-same-age " sort of thing that you get into with your first child, to more reasonable celebrations. Now we have a family-focused party, full of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The boys can then also pick 1-2 close friends to do something really special with.
This year, William really, really wanted to have a sleep-over. Sigh. So on Friday, Ben, Maddie, and Iain can over. As well as being a few of William's best friends, they are also neighbors, which made for easy trips home in the middle of the night, should they be required.
As it turned out, only Iain ended up actually spending the night - Maddie headed home at 9:30 after a Nerf Dart to the eye incident, and Ben lasted to a very respectable 11:30pm. By Midnight, when the rest of the boys went to bed, they had no problem falling asleep!!!!
Well, as you can see, I didn't manage to get a single photo of the event. In fact, under the circumstances, I didn't even try to get it out. But, just for a few laughs, I though that I would share a few of the things that I overheard while the kids were enjoying themselves...
*Welcome to the party, Old Man Jenkins!
*You dance like a chihuahua (I honestly don't know where the chihuahua thing comes from).*Iain is getting married to my Mommy! We would be really old people by then.
*He put the cold fishy down my back!
*I shot Mommy in the bum!!!!!
*Say my Daddy's initials: P.P. (followed by peels 7 year-old of laughter)
and of course, More popcorn, please!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
*Letting go of my hope of getting back into some sort of routine this week.
*Letting go of the expectation that I will be able to get somewhere, anywhere, on time.
*Letting go of my right to have a shower every day (or even to pee alone in the bathroom, for that matter).
*Letting go of my internal clock that tells me that it should not take 2 1/2 hours to make a batch of cookies.
*Letting go of my prejudice against Kraft Dinner.
*Letting go of my sense of urgency that we (still) have not made it even half way through William's math lessons for the year.
*Letting go of anxiety about problems and circumstances that are beyond my control.
*Letting go of my guilt at having to put myself into numerous time-outs today.
*Letting go of my belief that I am the only Mama who has days like this.
Hope that your day is going better than mine!!