A New Journey

Oh, Harper.

I’m writing this from a still and quiet house while you take your afternoon nap (for which I am still so grateful).

I know I said I would be back in this space – to write and document and grieve and celebrate, but life got in the way once again and I simply had to be okay with scrambled thoughts in my rushed morning shower. It’s not enough, of course. Those scattered thoughts and memories and life lessons are not fit for anything less than proper documentation. And so here I sit, again, pounding at the keyboard hoping your rest will afford me enough time.

We’ve been through so much, you and I. So, so much.

I had anticipated that things would be different by now, you gearing up for your (third!) birthday – no longer an infant, a babe – but a little boy. And while they are, indeed, different, they are still so hard in so many ways. It is important to say that the struggles we have faced have only made the highs all the more noteworthy. Every moment of sweetness and joy I have snatched, tucked deep within and kept close to my heart.

You start preschool tomorrow. Preschool. I still cannot fathom how this has happened, but here we are. The clock will always continue to tick and you will grow and mature and become even more of your own person with each second of each day. We debated your readiness – you just meeting the designated age requirement by two short days. But I feel like it’s time- you are ready even if you don’t know it yet.

I worry, too, of course, about the transition. In the nearly three years you’ve been in our lives I have only ever been away from you for two hours at a time. It only ever happened once, and I remember the time and place distinctly. You were so needing of me – nursing so frequently, needing me to care and comfort you and deciding, right from your very first breath, that I would only ever be the one to be able to do for you. No family. No babysitters. No leaving.

It was taxing, of course, and I suffering physically and emotionally a great deal – but it was worth it in the end. You are always worth it. Just recently I left you with your Father to spend some much needed time away with my friends. Overnight. Cue the anxiety and tears (on my end!) You survived, of course. It was a reminder that things will be okay – that you ARE okay and will continue to be okay. It was a reminder that despite my reservations that I may have done things the “wrong” way … that you are capable and secure and will be well adjusted in the end.

The time has come now for you to start your own journey. I am so proud of the person you are, the little boy you are growing into, and the man I know you will become.

You are ready, even if you (we) don’t know it yet.

xx

Mama

HSwingSummer2015

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Finding My Way Back

And here we are again – a new year with new hope and anticipation and longing.

Scribbling words in notebooks in a hazy state of exhaustion wasn’t fulfilling my need for release.  It has been a tumultuous year – ridiculous, even, and yet here I am feeling the need to document again.

I always find my way back.  Someway.  Somehow.

Here’s to 2015.

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Seven Months.

Seven months.  Where did those seven months go?

My sweet, sweet boy.  You grow and change so quickly that I am having a hard time keeping up.  I wake each morning to new sights and sounds – hair that has filled in, arms and legs that are longer and reaching further, eyes that seem wider and brighter and a smile that now houses two perfect tiny teeth within.

I’m not sure when or how it happened, but my little baby has turned into a little boy.  You have the ability to read expressions on our faces and mimic them which completely blows me away.  You have such a cheeky, innocent and yet mischievous nature that it makes me both excited and terrified for our years to come.  Your giggle is infectious, your hugs warm and welcoming, and your heart so full of love that I am smitten.

I spent many nights rocking you in your room, tears streaming down my face – trying to decide what the best thing to do for you was.  We were struggling with nursing and reflux and so many different opinions and diagnoses that each day held such physical and emotional turmoil.  But there I sat, and rocked, and held you in my arms and sang the same song to you – over and over.  Because I felt every word and wanted you to know – always – that my pain was never because of you.

you are my sunshine,

my only sunshine.

you make me happy,

when skies are grey.

you’ll never know dear,

how much i love you.

please don’t take

my harper finn away.

I stopped singing that song to you a little while ago when we were trying to develop a strong sleep routine and nourish healthy sleep hygiene with you.  I created what we now call the slumber song and have worked that into your nap and night time sleep routine in it’s place.

The other night, I stopped singing the slumber song and instead started singing You Are My Sunshine while I held and nursed you.  You looked up at me, paused your nursing for a moment, and smiled – a wide, accepting and almost relieved grin.  I continued to sing, realizing you were acknowledging the moment, the words and the melody and you returned to nursing – smiling and cuddling and almost cooing with delight to hear it again.  You reached up and stroked my cheek and in your own precious way let me know that ‘you’ knew.

You remind me daily that you are so much more than you appear.

Seven months have passed in a moment – a haze of exhaustion and fear.  A blur of a new mother’s apprehension and uncertainty.  As much as I enjoy seeing you grow and learn and catch glimpses into the person you will soon become, I yearn for things to slow down.  I am trying to remind myself to enjoy you here, now … in this current moment.  Because once it’s gone it won’t be back again and you have so much to offer us already.

I love you, my precious little peanut.  I will keep singing that song to you – keep telling you how much you mean to me despite any turmoil we endure.  Because it is worth it – it will always be worth it.

Seven months behind us but with so many more to come.

xx

Mama

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Mother’s Day.

Today is Mother’s Day and I must admit to feeling awkward and disjointed at the thought of being celebrated, rather than being the one celebrating.

I never really saw myself having children – a child to call my own, to nurture and protect and raise into an independent member of society.  I was comfortable with the idea of a family of three – husband, wife, dog.

Of course, something changed.

You are here now and even though the words are often said by many other Mother’s and many more to come … I simply cannot imagine my life without you in it.  You have made the sum so much bigger and brighter than it’s parts and for that I will forever be grateful.

And so while the weather is not cooperating for us today (snow?) and while I am weighed down with exhaustion and fatigue, I look to you and smile to know that you have and will continue to make things better.  You are my tomorrow – my brighter day, my hope and promise of so many inspiring moments to come.

I will be the one celebrating, not being celebrated – despite what this day calls for.

You are worth such joy.

xx

Mama

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Disjointed and Raw.

I know I’ve failed you.

I know the words were there early on but I couldn’t pull deep down and bring them to the surface.  I was sinking – trying to tread water and each day brought it’s own new challenges.

Six months you’ve been a part of my world now – this world that I was so completely unprepared for.

I know I should have talked and dreamt and tried to bond more with you.  I know that I should have read to you, sang to you, shared and confided in you.  Instead I was too focused on the practical aspects of bringing you into our world.  I was too sick and too detached to think about creating, nurturing and fostering our relationship.

You were inside me, attached to me, connected to me.  In every fibre, every thread of the textile of who I am, you were there.

But I took it all for granted.

Almost every night I lay awake in bed when I should be sleeping.  I think back on our time together before you came into the physical world and truly created this little family of ours, and I am disappointed in myself.  I didn’t realize the gift that was given to us.  Even through the sickness I should have been able to recognize the beauty, the fortune, the hope and promise that was building more with each passing day.

We have had our struggles. I have shed many tears of doubt, of worry, of frustration and of guilt.  I was beyond afraid that this would be our legacy – that I would continue to walk around in a haze of uncertainty and regret and despair.  Before having you I read that Mothers can take weeks to grow to feel this – this weight in their chest and pain in their heart.  This all consuming, undeniable, terrifyingly forceful love.

It might have taken longer for us, but it is finally here.

I would accept the illness and the doubt and the worry to be here with you.  I would accept the physical pain, the struggles, the uncertainty and the fear all over again in an instant, if it means being in this place. To feel my heart bend and bleed with it’s overwhelming love for you. This moment in time is challenging in it’s newness, yes, but it is all I have ever wanted.  I just didn’t understand that until now.

I will move mountains for you, Harper.

Anything you will ever need you will find in me.  Always.

xx

Mama

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I Have Not Forgotten

The words are still there – brimming and churning deep within.  Nearly a year after writing this post the feelings are flooding back and I am reminded of how severely I wanted exactly what I have now – my precious little family.

We went to New York that December and held hands, reconnected and made new commitments.  In January we set out to make it happen and in February we were fortunate enough to celebrate the good news.  In October everything finally, profusely changed as we welcomed our little Harper Finn into the world and we have not looked back since.

I am hopelessly in love and now even more hopeless with juggling everything in my life.  The changes are real, but they are welcomed with an open heart and an even sweeter smile.

I am trying to find my way back here.  I don’t want to forget and I cannot accept that it is easier to let it go.  “The world does not wait” someone once wrote, and it is true.

I have not forgotten.

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Red (Winter) Cabbage Slaw

I’m well aware that we are entering the very last full weekend before Christmas.  Most people are spending time in their kitchens baking up holiday treats of spiced cookies, bars, cakes, cocktails and puddings.  What have I been doing?  Making this slaw salad.

Having said that, I indisputably stand behind this slaw as being more than appropriate for the holidays.  It has many things going for it, most obvious being it’s vivid colours – a platter of celebratory red and green permeated with seasonal sensation.  Ludicrously lit up from within, it appears to glow on the table.

It’s festive in it’s own right.

When you find yourself preparing and eating this salad at least twice a week without reservation, you know it’s faultless.  What makes it hard to feel guilty about continually finding my way back to this slaw is how hopelessly easy it is to make and just as effortless to eat.

Our days have been short and hauntingly dark as of late.  Winter finds itself creeping into our heads and our hearts, calling to us in unforeseen whispers.  Just seeing this dish at the table brings an unexpected sense of assurance. 

Simply put, it brings light into the darkness.

This winter slaw is outstandingly sharp and biting – the ruthless tang of the citrus really elevates the humble red cabbage to a moment of grandeur.  When yielding, rich, stewed and braised foods are a common thread throughout the bitter months, it is a great relief to have a dish with such texture and freshness.

Because I tend to favour a heady dose of heat in bright and intense salads as these, I add quite a bit of fresh red chili.  And because I like my slaws so severely sharp and so ruthlessly astringent, I really douse the cabbage with the lime juice.  When I have radishes on hand, I will typically julienne and include those as well.  What follows, truthfully, isn’t actually a recipe.  Simply combine the raw ingredients with the lime juice and oil and toss – the rest (amounts and ingredients) is up to you.  The point, really, is that this slaw can be adapted any number of ways to suit your personal needs and to make this salad your own. 

I do know that I will continue to make this dish, likely until spring rears it’s long overdue head.  These days, I will seek out illumination and intensity however I can. 

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw

Red (Winter) Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients:

¼ – ½ head of red cabbage – finely shredded

1–2 cups of brussels sprouts – cored, outer leaves discarded, and finely shredded

1–3 fresh red chilis – thinly sliced

1 scallion – finely sliced (optional)

1 cup radishes – julienned (optional)

3-4 limes – juiced

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Maldon Sea Salt

Method:

(1)  Combine shredded, sliced and julienned vegetables in a large bowl.

(2)  Douse slaw with lime juice.  Add olive oil to your liking.  Season with sea salt.  Toss to combine.

* I prefer lime juice, here, to lemon.   Adjust to your own preference.

Vera’s Banana Bread

You might be wondering what has happened to prompt three wordless posts in a row.   To be honest, the words haven’t been there to write.

It has been said time and time again that I fail to properly communicate – with others, with myself.  Growing up I was constantly afraid of asking for what I wanted, of being rejected, of hearing ‘no’.  These days of my adult life haven’t swayed too far from that same reality.  Communication problems exist between myself and many others in my life – it’s my one constant.

Not only do I struggle to verbalize and truly communicate with those close to me, but I find myself continually living inside my own head.  Truth be told, it can be a dark, lonely existence.  I have heard, however, that patterns can be broken and so I am determined to try to put an end to the cycle and finally step out from within myself.

After just waking from an entirely unsuccessful night of rest, I find myself sitting here at this computer screen, bathed in the glow of Christmas lights from all directions, watching the snow make it’s way onto the early morning ground.  I cannot help but think about my past, present and future in a whole new way.  There are very clear things that I want – no, need – in my life.  As I tossed and turned to see each hour passing on the clock throughout the night and into the morning, it all became clear – the world does not wait.  There will never be a perfect moment in which to have that specific conversation, a more appropriate time to ask for what you need or a better circumstance in which to let someone know how you feel about them.

There are many things I am attempting to work through in this head of mine, but the universe has made one thing quite clear to me over and over again these last few months – the importance of telling people how you feel about them and what they mean to you.  It’s really that simple.

Words may fail me a lot of the time, but I do know that I try my best, in other ways, to reach out.  Instead of necessarily vocalizing my appreciation, I communicate my admiration and affection for others through food – cooking, serving, feeding.  The desire to nurture and nourish lives deep within.

It just might be my second constant.

I have been filling this house which isn’t quite our home with the aromas of comfort and warmth the only way I truly know how.  Many pots of stock have been simmered, many soups have been ladled, many meals prepared and offered with the hope and promise of a calmer tomorrow.

What, then, can be as representational of acceptance as a family recipe – passed from generation to generation?  I made this Banana Bread from my husbands side of the family – it was the recipe his mother used and so I knew it would bring him comfort.  While it may not be the best banana bread you have ever tasted (we all have our favourite family recipe), the recognition in the act is the same.  The flavours here are quite muted and gentle on the palate, which can soothe rather than stir – something that has it’s own redeemable quality.

Despite it being nothing more of a quick bread, what it offers, like so many of my favourite recipes, is ultimately so much greater than it’s humble parts.  This bread represents home.  It is a symbol of comfort, of speaking without words, of letting someone know that they are your family.

Tell a friend that you appreciate the person they are.  Let someone else know their words impact you. Thank those around you for being there, because we really don’t know when that relationship could end.  And if someone takes the time to do this for you, please recognize that act and thank them.  Shine a light on someones day and take the mere moment to perhaps change the outlook of another person for the better.

Give the gift of aromatic warmth to someone you love.

It really is that simple.

Vera’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

6 tbsp butter – softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup bananas – very ripe and mashed

Method:

(1)  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and blend.

(2)  In a separate bowl beat butter with sugar until soft and light.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Then add the vanilla.

(3)  Fold in the bananas and the flour mixture, taking care not to over mix.

(4)  Bake in a 375F oven for 45-55 minutes or until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Cool 5 mins on wire rack then remove from pan.

*  For the best flavour, wrap and set aside overnight.